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

Steven Psihogios
·7 min read
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The North Division got a whole lot more interesting this past weekend.

For most of the 2020-21 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have reigned supreme over the rest of Canada’s teams. After a loss on Saturday to the Winnipeg Jets and one to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, however, the team finds itself tied with Winnipeg for first based on points percentage. The Leafs have lost five of their last six games largely due to a dip in defensive play and goaltending that in conjunction is responsible for 23 goals allowed during this stretch.

While Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner have dominated the headlines, Nikolaj Ehlers — who has been electric all season for the Jets — proved his worth as he potted three goals and six points in the three-game set against Toronto, while one of his teammates is among the best adds in fantasy hockey for this week.

Alex Nedeljkovic has been on fire for the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
Alex Nedeljkovic has been on fire for the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Goals: C/LW Paul Stastny, Winnipeg Jets (18% rostered on Yahoo)

I wrote about Paul Stastny’s promotion to the Winnipeg Jets’ first line over a week ago and the veteran’s rostered percentage has only increased by a single point. Over his last six games, Stastny has potted five goals while playing alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. During this stretch, the 35-year-old leads Winnipeg in all-strengths individual scoring chances (19), high-danger chances (12) and expected goals (1.95), according to Natural Stat Trick. He’s a noticeable force on the ice who is also seeing time on the Jets’ top power-play unit. There aren’t many guys in an opportunity this fantasy-friendly that are as widely available as Stastny. The Jets play four games this week.

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Assists: C/LW Chandler Stephenson, Vegas Golden Knights (20% rostered on Yahoo)

Playing on the Vegas Golden Knights’ first line and top power-play unit, there’s really no reason why Chandler Stephenson should be rostered in so few leagues. He’s picked up two goals and seven assists over his last eight games and he’s also been a respectable source of defensive stats. His 20 blocked shots and 22 hits on the year are a nice boost for someone who’s been a reliable offensive contributor. Additionally, he can help those in leagues that count faceoffs as he’s second on the Golden Knights with 174 victories. Vegas plays four games this week, including a pair of home dates against the San Jose Sharks, who have allowed the second most goals per game in the league.

Plus-minus: D Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins (31% rostered on Yahoo)

Things haven’t been going well lately for the Boston Bruins, but Matt Grzelcyk is a great add for those in need of some plus-minus help. In the six games Grzelcyk has played since returning from his latest ailment, the Bruins have just two wins, but the blueliner owns a respectable plus-four rating. He’s currently playing on Boston’s top power-play unit, but more importantly, on the top defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy as both Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller nurse their way back into the lineup. The Bruins play four games over the next seven days, and it’s the two matches against the Buffalo Sabres later in the week that should really help the 27-year-old pad his numbers.

Power-play points: D Adam Boqvist, Chicago Blackhawks (14% rostered on Yahoo)

When a dynamic and entertaining young player gets a chance to quarterback one of the best power plays in the NHL, you’ve got to make him a priority add in fantasy hockey. Adam Boqvist was a dominant force on the blueline for the London Knights during the team’s 2018-19 campaign, notching 20 goals and 60 points in 54 contests. The 2018 first-round pick’s superb passing ability and excellent shooting skills have provided him an opportunity on the Chicago Blackhawks’ PP1, and he’s responded with four points on the man-advantage over his last seven games. In addition to seeing increased time on special teams, he’s also playing with the reliable Duncan Keith on the top defensive pairing at even strength. Chicago and its third-ranked power play have three games scheduled for this week.

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Shots on goal: LW/RW Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (32% rostered on Yahoo)

Alex Killorn and the Tampa Bay Lightning play an astonishing five games this week, which makes the Halifax, Nova Scotia, native the perfect add if you need to put some more rubber on goal. In March, Brayden Point is the only player on the team who has taken more shots than Killorn, as he’s directed 23 pucks towards the net in seven contests. He’s playing alongside Yanni Gourde and Steven Stamkos at even strength while seeing time on the Bolts’ top power-play unit. He and his Lightning teammates should be amongst the weekly leaders in all categories just on their busy schedule alone.

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Faceoff wins: C Brock Nelson, New York Islanders (38% rostered on Yahoo)

Brock Nelson’s 179 faceoff wins are good for 42nd in the NHL this season and his skills at the dot are an asset for those needing a jolt on draws. Nelson’s recent uptick in production suggests he won’t be a liability for your team in other categories as well. Since the calendar turned to March, the 29-year-old leads the New York Islanders in goals (6), shots (25) and he’s tied with Jordan Eberle for the team lead in points with seven. New York plays three games over the next seven days.

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Hits: LW/RW Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins (40% rostered on Yahoo)

As a team without a lot of sandpaper, the Pittsburgh Penguins really rely on Brandon Tanev to provide a physical presence. His 118 hits this season are nearly three times as many as Sam Lafferty’s 45, which ranks second on the Pens. Considering most of his minutes have come from playing in Pittsburgh’s bottom-six, he’s actually been a refreshing source of offense for the team this year. He’s recorded six goals and 13 points and is currently riding a five-game points streak. Additionally, his plus-nine rating is tied for second-highest among all NHL players in March. Tanev shouldn’t be this widely available in fantasy hockey so if he’s kicking around on waivers in your league, scoop him up before someone else does. He and the Penguins have a busy five-game schedule set for this week.

Blocked shots: D Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild (25% rostered on Yahoo)

The Minnesota Wild have the best defense grouping in the NHL and Jonas Brodin continues to be a force for the team at both ends of the ice. In March, Brodin’s 24 blocks are third in the league and he’s been finding the scoresheet as well. The 27-year-old has potted two goals and an assist over his last four contests and is currently seeing time on the Wild’s power play, which resulted in a man-advantage assist on Sunday. Minnesota has three games on the schedule for this week.

Goaltending: G Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes (32% rostered on Yahoo)

The Carolina Hurricanes have something special in Alex Nedeljkovic. Now seeing starts on a fairly consistent basis, Nedeljkovic has been nothing short of stellar. Over his last six starts, he owns a 5-1-0 record and an amazing .950 save percentage. At six-feet, the 2014 second-round pick is undersized for today’s goalie standards but that hasn't mattered one bit. He has such impressive lateral quickness that dumbfounds shooters on a regular basis. He’s the real deal and should be added wherever available. The Hurricanes have three games lined up for this week.

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