Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy's resident fantasy hockey 'expert' since 2009.
There are always some new players who enter the fantasy hockey scene who are unknown quantities. Newbies who were so surprising that they couldn’t be found in any preseason primer (except uh, mine of course). Last year it was John Klingberg. Fantasy owners scramble for information and advice on these newcomers. I’m assuming you already know about the much-hyped youngsters such as Artemi Panarin, Max Domi, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dylan Larkin and of course McEichel. So here are a few of the lesser-known fantasy newcomers – not necessarily rookies - I’m asked about the most through Twitter or via my forum…
Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues – After three years of impressive production with Alaska-Fairbanks, Parayko turned pro after last season’s 23 points in 34 games. He was ignored in fantasy circles because he was drafted late in the third round (2012) and the Blues have a decent stable of rearguards in the system and obviously an impressive top three. But he’s developed a reputation for a great work ethic and he transitioned his game to the AHL (and now NHL) quickly. The Kevin Shattenkirk injury has him putting up points faster than expected, but even with Shattenkirk back, which is soon, Parayko should still be a safe bet to approach 35 points. Eventually, he could be a 50-point player. But for that to happen sooner he would need to force his way into Alex Pietrangelo’s spot on the top PP unit. More on Parayko here at my DobberProspects website.
Vincent Trocheck, Florida Panthers – The Panthers ended a rocky 2013-14 by giving Trocheck the most minutes on the team. Down the stretch, he was their guy (18:53 ATOI in 20 games). This was because he impressed them with how NHL-ready he was as a rookie-pro. But the summer of 2014 saw the Panthers signing everybody and their mother to contracts and they couldn’t even find room for Trocheck on the roster that broke camp. By midseason, Trocheck forced his way back onto the team but as more of a depth option. Now he’s a regular and he’s forcing his way up the lineup. Trocheck’s production (nine points in nine games) is indicative of what he’s capable of – he had 109 points in his last OHL season. But it’s too soon for anything remotely close to a point per game. Instead, look for 50 points. That will still surprise, when you consider that no Panther reached that mark a year ago, but this is a good young team on the rise. And he’s a big part of that.
Oscar Lindberg, New York Rangers – With seven points in his first 10 NHL games, Lindberg has caught the attention of poolies. However, his forte is more of a two-way center. He’s fifth on the Rangers in hits and eventually he’ll get the hang of taking faceoffs at the NHL level – so those categories he can help with if you need them. He’s not great now at the dot (44.1%), but that will improve. The offense is a surprise though and I would expect that things will calm down and he settles into that 25-points area. After a hot start he has just three points in his last seven games.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins (4-0-7-7, plus-4, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 2 PPPts) – The scary thing about Eriksson’s year so far is that his 5on5 SH% is just 3.95%. Imagine his numbers if the team scored at an average clip when he was on the ice. His fantasy value is inflated right now, but in his case I think it should be. I think he’s going to surprise with his best season since his Dallas days.
Evgeni Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (6-4-8-12, plus-7, 6 PIM, 17 SOG, 2 PPPts) – It’s safe to say that Kuznetsov has arrived. Yes, his numbers will calm down, but he’s been a star in the making since well before he crossed the pond to join the Caps. What you saw last year from Vladimir Tarasenko is what you’ll see this year from Kuznetsov. Mark it!
Interestingly enough, in his first two games he saw his highest and third-highest TOI and PPTOI and yet those were games in which he was held pointless.
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (6-6-6-12, plus-3, 6 PIM, 17 SOG, 4 PPPts, 17 hits) – Any Benn owner in a roto or H2H league has surged towards the top of the standings over the past week or two. His numbers across the board are insane. This on the heels of his Art Ross Trophy win. Fantasy owners need to give this guy more love. Whatever value you give him, it’s not enough.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks (8-1-2-3, minus-1, 6 PIM, 31 SOG, 2 PPPts) – Six points in nine games to start the season isn’t horrible. But he had a three-point outing in Game 1 – after that his production has been terrible.
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets (5-0-1-1, minus-4, 2 PIM, 10 SOG, 0 PPPts) – After a pretty dominant training camp on a pretty dominant line (with Brandon Saad and Ryan Johansen) after what was a pretty dominant season for Foligno, the bottom has dropped out. Two weeks ago his fantasy owners were over the moon about this guy, but now John Tortorella reality is setting in.
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (8-1-0-1, minus-2, 0 PIM, 16 SOG, 0 PPPts) – Yikes. Kucherov is still looking for his first assist and has yet to even help you out with a penalty minute. His ice time and PP time are way up over last year, but his entire Triplets line is under heavy scrutiny this time around and they have to find a way to fight through it. I’m confident they will, but I was hoping Kucherov’s production (65 points) would build on last year and instead it looks like he’ll struggle just to match it.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Brendan Smith, Detroit Red Wings (1%) (3-1-1-2, plus-2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 PPPts) – Smith has been on the second power-play unit for the last three games. The last time he was on the power play was never. Not at the NHL level, anyway. He’s never been given a chance until now, so this will be interesting.
Nikolay Kulemin, New York Islanders (6%) (6-2-4-6, plus-5, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 PPPts) – Not getting any PP time and he’s not shooting the puck (a whopping zero SOG the last two games). But he’s playing with Kyle Okposo now and getting ‘default’ points via the second assist. That’s the only category he’ll help you out with, so this recommendation is mainly for points-only leagues.
Benoit Pouliot, Edmonton Oilers (4%) (4-2-2-2, plus-2, 0 PIM, 9 SOG, 0 PPPts) – Pouliot has been playing almost exclusively with Connor McDavid. McDavid is on a six-game points streak and Pouliot has five points in that span. The situation isn’t going to change anytime soon and Pouliot is a must own in any leagues with even a remotely deep roster.
Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals (3%) (4-2-2-4, minus-2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 PPPts) – The 20 year old isn’t getting much in the way of linemates (Brooks Laich, Chandler Stephenson) nor zone starts (30.56% in the offensive zone). But he’s seeing his share of PP time and he’s skilled enough on his own to still put up decent offense. A worthy claim if you’re in need of a depth winger.
Johan Larsson, Buffalo Sabres (0%) (1-0-2-2, plus-2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 PPPts) – It’s only one game, but Larsson looked real good with the added ice time and improved linemates. With Evander Kane out for a while, Larsson gets his shot. He’s playing with Jack Eichel and that’s all you need to know. Have faith – at least for the short term this guy will do well for you.
David Savard, Columbus Blue Jackets (17%) (2-0-2-2, plus-3, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 PPPts) – Under the new coach, Savard has seen his ice time shift a little higher and his power-play time has soared as he joins the top unit.
Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils (4%) (4-2-3-5, plus-3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 2 PPPts) – Ugh. Can’t believe I’m recommending Travis Zajac as a wire pick up. For years this guy has been overrated. Well, now he’s finally underrated and for now he’s posting pretty good numbers. He won’t fill a long-term need, but for a couple of weeks he could help.
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