Fantasy Hockey: Players you need to add to improve in each category

Steven Psihogios
·7-min read

Hockey fans were treated to a two-round heavyweight fight last week between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights that ended in a stalemate.

Each team picked up a win, although Colorado fans will likely tell you their side won as the Avs outscored the Golden Knights seven to four and also picked up three points to Vegas’s two. Regardless, one noteworthy takeaway from this two-game set was the limited production from Colorado’s top three offensive players. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog combined for four points, which isn’t bad, but most opposing teams would be pretty happy about that result.

Just one player on the Avs scored a goal in both contests, and he’s worth an add if your fantasy hockey team needs a lamp-lighting boost.

Jason Robertson is right there with Kirill Kaprizov in the Calder Trophy race. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jason Robertson is right there with Kirill Kaprizov in the Calder Trophy race. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Goals: LW/RW Joonas Donskoi, Colorado Avalanche (31% rostered on Yahoo)

Joonas Donskoi doesn’t fit the typical billing of someone you can rely on for goal-scoring. Although he has recorded four goals in his last four outings, he’s not playing inside the Avalanche’s top-six and he’s not a member of the top power-play unit. The reason why the 28-year-old is a solid add is his high shooting volume in recent outings. In his last four games, Donskoi has put a very respectable 16 shots on goal, which leads all Avs players. Additionally, he’s seen a spike in ice time, topping 15 minutes in each of his last three contests. With four games scheduled for the Avalanche this week, Donskoi’s recent success is enough to warrant a pickup.

Assists: LW Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars (21% rostered on Yahoo)

While Kirill Kaprizov seems to be the front-runner for the Calder Trophy, Jason Robertson is certainly his biggest threat. The 2017 second-round pick has elevated the Dallas Stars’ first line and top power-play grouping, racking up an impressive eight points, including six assists, over his last eight games. Robertson currently sits six points behind Kaprizov in the rookie scoring race while having played five fewer games, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him close the gap down the stretch. Dallas has four games scheduled for this week and are tied for the third-most games remaining in the NHL this season. Robertson is a short-term add who could very easily turn into a long-term hold.

Plus-minus: C/LW Barclay Goodrow, Tampa Bay Lightning (5% rostered on Yahoo)

It’s never a bad idea to stash members of the Tampa Bay Lightning when the team has a four-game week, but it’s especially wise in a week like this when the Bolts have two games scheduled against the Detroit Red Wings. Barclay Goodrow will help your team’s plus-minus as he owns a respectable plus-four rating over his last six contests, and he’ll be able to boost your team’s performance in defensive categories, too. The 28-year-old has thrown an impressive 62 hits this year and has added 22 blocks. You won't see much offensive production from Goodrow, although he does have two goals and an assist in four games against the Wings this season.

Power-play points: C/LW Jared McCann, Pittsburgh Penguins (12% rostered on Yahoo)

With Evgeni Malkin, Kasperi Kapanen, Brandon Tanev, Jason Zucker and Teddy Blueger all out of the lineup, Pittsburgh is a wounded duck (or rather, a wounded Penguin) offensively. The team’s litany of injuries has forced some depth players to take on expanded roles, including Jared McCann. The 24-year-old has been thrust onto the squad’s top power-play unit and he’s filled in admirably, registering two power-play goals and an assist over his last two games. Given the way Sidney Crosby is playing right now (10 points in his last five games), being on the ice with him when the other team is shorthanded seems like an excellent way to pad stats. The Penguins have three games scheduled for the upcoming week.

Shots on goal: D Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins (48% rostered on Yahoo)

Over the last 14 days, Matt Grzelcyk is tied with David Pastrnak for the most shots on the Boston Bruins with 25. Operating in a bit of an expanded role at even strength with Brandon Carlo out, the 27-year-old’s 8.64 shots per-60 lead all blueliners and are fourth on the team, according to Natural Stat Trick. Fantasy managers can also expect to see some power-play points as he is currently quarterbacking the top unit. Now healthy, there’s no reason why Grzelcyk should be this widely available. He and the Bruins play three games this week.

Faceoff wins: C/LW Christian Dvorak, Arizona Coyotes (29% rostered on Yahoo)

Christian Dvorak is one of the absolute best in the faceoff dot. The fifth-year pro owns an impressive 54.5 winning percentage and his 361 total faceoff victories are eighth most in the entire NHL. Dvorak snapped a 15-game goalless streak on Friday and has three points over his last two contests, a sign that the 25-year-old may be heating up. Additionally, Dvorak has actually been a solid source of blocks, as he's tied for 18th among all forwards with 28. He and the Arizona Coyotes have three games scheduled for this week, including two against the Anaheim Ducks, who are allowing the fifth-most goals per game in the NHL this year.

Hits: D Mario Ferraro, San Jose Sharks (9% rostered on Yahoo)

I wrote about Mario Ferraro in my 10 takeaways blog on Friday and the 22-year-old continues to be a wrecking ball on the ice for the San Jose Sharks. Over the last 14 days, his 27 hits are third most in the NHL and his 43 combined hits and blocks are second only to Radko Gudas (47). Ferraro doesn’t have a prolific offensive background and he has just one goal and 11 assists this season, so fantasy managers shouldn’t expect high point totals. Still, his elite ability to garner defensive stats makes him a worthy add in fantasy hockey. The Sharks also play four games this week, which will give him lots of opportunities to add to his totals.

Blocked shots: C/RW Noel Acciari, Florida Panthers (11% rostered on Yahoo)

Naturally, strong shot-blocking totals are harder to find in forwards. This season, 83 blueliners have picked up 40 blocks or more while just three forwards have reached that mark. Noel Acciari’s 41 blocks are third most among all forwards, but the 18 pucks he’s gotten in front of over the last 14 days are tied for fifth most in the entire NHL. The 29-year-old is currently handling first-line center duties on the Florida Panthers because of Aleksander Barkov’s upper-body injury, and he’s been able to turn the opportunity into a respectable four points in four games. Adding point production to his already strong category coverage that includes hits, blocked shots and faceoffs makes Acciari a great short-term add. He and the Panthers have four games scheduled for this week and it remains unclear if Barkov will return to the lineup.

Goaltending: G Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes (46% rostered on Yahoo)

Where can I find a hill big enough to shout "ALEX NEDELJKOVIC NEEDS TO BE ROSTERED IN EVERY FANTASY HOCKEY LEAGUE?" I feel like I’ve done everything but that at this point and he is still somehow available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Simply put, this man is the best goalie on the Carolina Hurricanes and head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who is no fool, would be foolish to appoint anyone else as the starting goaltender even when Petr Mrazek is healthy. Ned’s (I think we’re on a nickname basis at this point) stellar 0.005 save percentage above expected is tied for seventh among all goaltenders and ahead of Tuukka Rask, Carey Price and Jordan Binnington, according to Money Puck. This Calder Cup champion is the real deal.

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