By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
There’s no better feeling than kicking off the Yahoo fantasy hockey season. The drafts are done and it’s time to obsessively check your lineups for any recent injuries, line changes, or other updates. Chances are, you’ve also started scouring the waiver wire so as not to miss out on any hot starter before someone else can beat you to him.
While a few NHL clubs have barely seen any action — including four teams at just one game apiece — most have showed enough to give us an idea of what we can expect in terms of player combinations and trends. That’s why it’s important to make pickups according to who looks like they’re in favorable situations while discarding the ones who may ultimately lose a sizable chunk of their value.
In this weekly column, you’ll generally find recommendations for players who are owned by less than 50 percent of those participating in the major fantasy leagues (though exceptions may exist). Anyone listed below should be able to help in at least one of the standard categories, with some benefiting because of injuries to other players or their struggles.
Here are the initial offerings:
(Ownership rates/stats as of Oct. 11)
Micheal Ferland, CAR (Yahoo: 33%): Ferland has had the luck of switching from a gig alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan straight to becoming the newest member of a trio with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. The former Flame has already potted two goals and added three assists while averaging two minutes of power-play duty, making him one of the hottest adds of the early season.
Jordan Staal, CAR (Yahoo: 34%): Let’s double up on our love for the Canes. Staal earns the nod in this list over linemates Justin Williams and Warren Foegele due to his significant contribution on both special-teams units (and because it probably looks better if we rep other teams). So far, Eric’s younger brother has managed three goals and two helpers to go along with 14 shots on goal.
Milan Lucic, EDM (Yahoo: 33%): The Oilers may have only played once, but the initial indicators point to Lucic sitting in a prime position to succeed. The onetime 30-goal scorer lines up with Leon Draisaitl on even strength while also joining forces with Connor McDavid on the top power play, where he’s already notched a goal. There’s no guarantee Lucic stays in this spot, so enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Sven Baertschi, VAN (Yahoo: 3%): While Baertschi was held scoreless in his first two appearances, he broke out with a three-point performance on Tuesday. The Swiss winger sees most of his time on the third line during 5-on-5, but he has already recorded a goal and an assist on Vancouver’s first man-advantage group.
Nick Foligno, CLS (Yahoo: 19%): Foligno has alternated between excellent and poor efforts the last four seasons, but in three contests this year, the 30-year old has racked up four points. He’s also averaged over 16 minutes of ice time and registered an assist on the Blue Jackets’ lethal top power play.
Ryan Dzingel, OTT (Yahoo: 9%): The Senators may have been tabbed as the league’s laughingstock heading into October, but they’ve shown enough hard work in the early going to earn enough respect. At 26, Dzingel has led the “veteran” charge among Ottawa’s large youth contingent by following up back-to-back assist outings with a two-goal, seven-shot effort Monday.
Conor Sheary, BUF (Yahoo: 16%): Sheary earned two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, but his accomplishments — like the 53 points he tallied in 2015-16 — have been under-appreciated since Sidney Crosby acted as his primary setup man. Now in Buffalo, Sheary has already fit into the attack and developed a connection with Jack Eichel by striking for two power-play goals.
Alex Kerfoot, COL (Yahoo: 5%): Despite 43 points last season — including 17 on the power play — Kerfoot didn’t receive any Calder Trophy votes. The ex-Harvard star has made a point of getting his name recognized this year by notching a power-play assist in each of his first three games. Teammate Carl Soderberg and his three PPPs have also been criminally overlooked in leagues, though Kerfoot qualifies as the best buy in Denver.
Dennis Cholowski, DET (Yahoo: 9%): Cholowski may only be 20, but he’s already being hailed as the next great blue-line talent in Detroit. He began fulfilling this destiny by scoring in his NHL debut and providing two power-play assists during his second game. Cholowski is set to be out for the next two games but the Wings are carrying too many injuries on their back end to prevent him from eventually receiving his share of offensive opportunities.
Anthony DeAngelo, NYR (Yahoo: 1%): The Blueshirts’ defensive performance may sorely be lacking, but they possess plenty of attacking prowess from the back end. DeAngelo has long been touted to be a gifted playmaker, but issues on the other side of the ice earned him a place in the press box for the first two contests.
He wasted little time displaying his talent in his first appearance Sunday by dishing out two assists, including one while up a man. You may want to see if DeAngelo remains in the lineup over the next week before grabbing him, but he may not last that long.
Alexander Edler, VAN (Yahoo: 20%): Now in his 13th season with Vancouver, Edler has amassed 338 points over 761 regular-season matchups. The Swede improved his scoring last year by registering 28 assists, 14 of them with the man advantage. Edler apparently wanted to prove that effort was no fluke when he notched consecutive two-assist nights during the last week — three of those four points contributing to the Canucks’ potent power play.
T.J. Brodie, CGY (Yahoo: 9%): Brodie has served as a workhorse the previous five campaigns and has been rewarded in 2018-19 by reuniting with Mark Giordano. The ice time may have slightly decreased and the power-play minutes may be headed in the same direction, but Brodie has already posted three assists and will continue to find scoring chances as long as he sticks with Giordano.
Curtis McElhinney, CAR (Yahoo: 14%): Scott Darling was brought in last May to shore up Carolina’s goaltending but currently finds himself on injured reserve. It was believed Detroit castoff Petr Mrazek would be the one to step in, but the 35-year old McElhinney has outperformed the younger Czech and is poised to inherit the bulk of the starts until Darling’s return in at least another week.
James Reimer, FLA (Yahoo: 45%): With Roberto Luongo set to be sidelined for up to a month, Reimer assumes the top seat between the Panthers’ pipes. Michael Hutchinson was recalled to serve as backup, but Reimer’s experience (87 games over the last two years) should give him the edge behind a Florida offense that can score enough to earn its goalies plenty of wins.