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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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This past weekend was a fun one in the NHL.

On Saturday night, Auston Matthews continued his goal scoring ways for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 23-year-old scored twice and added two assists to bring his season total to a gaudy 18 goals through 18 games. Not to be outdone was Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, who recorded a hat trick and two assists to one-up his North Division rival later that evening. Topping both, however, was Mother Nature, who helped set a new record (probably) at Lake Tahoe for longest intermission in NHL history after the matinee between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche was put on hold for roughly eight hours due to deteriorating ice conditions. The league and everyone involved learned that trying to play a hockey game in the beaming Nevada sunlight is a lot like trying to drive a sports car in the winter. Sure, it looks nice, but it isn’t practical.

The NHL, with some maneuvering, was able to successfully pull off both outdoor games without any suffering to the quality of the product. The games were enjoyable and something the league should continue moving forward.

Goals: C/LW Alexander Wennberg, Florida Panthers (3% rostered on Yahoo)

Alexander Wennberg’s five goals through 16 games this season matches his entire output from the 2019-20 campaign. A lot of his success this year has come from playing with Jonathan Huberdeau on the Florida Panthers’ second line. Huberdeau’s 15 assists are the eighth most in the NHL this season and he’s now up to 132 assists since 2018-19. 

All of this is great news for Wennberg, who is becoming a more consistent contributor in Florida’s lineup. Over the last six games, the 2013 first-round pick has seen 17 minutes of ice time or more in each contest. The opportunity to log solid minutes with one of the league’s best playmakers is always a fantasy-friendly recipe. The Panthers play four games this week so you’ll be able to slide Wennberg into your lineup fairly frequently.

Assists: C/LW Nick Schmaltz, Arizona Coyotes (34% rostered on Yahoo)

I wrote about Nick Schmaltz in my 10 takeaways article on Friday and truly believe he’s a good short-term pickup who could earn a spot on your roster. Schmaltz is centring Arizona's “Short Leash Line,” which also features Connor Garland and Clayton Keller. The strong play of this trio has led to six assists from Schmaltz over the last 10 games. 

The 25-year-old also has an impressive 57.22 Corsi for percentage (CF%) on the seasonaccording to Natural Stat Trick, which indicates he’s been able to drive offensive production when he’s on the ice. The 2014 first-round draft pick has been a decent offensive contributor in past seasons, surpassing the 45-point plateau twice across his four campaigns in the league. Now assuming an expanded role as the center on the top line and No. 1 power-play unit, Schmaltz could outperform his historic paces. The 'Yotes play four games this week.

Plus-minus: C/LW/RW Pius Suter, Chicago Blackhawks (14% rostered on Yahoo)

Playing alongside Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat on the Chicago Blackhawks’ first line, Pius Suter will likely see a bump in his plus-minus rating this week due to the team’s softer schedule. Chicago opens up the week with a pair of games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it’s the two contests against the Detroit Red Wings later this week that should catch your attention. Detroit’s minus-25 goal differential is the second-worst mark in the NHL, which means there should be lots of opportunities for Chicago’s first line to pad its stats.

Pius Suter should benefit from Chicago's soft schedule this week, which includes two games against the Red Wings. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Pius Suter should benefit from Chicago's soft schedule this week, which includes two games against the Red Wings. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Power-play points: C/RW Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres (46% rostered on Yahoo)

The Buffalo Sabres play an astounding five games this week, which is enough reason on its own to warrant a move. Since the team returned to action on Feb. 15, Reinhart has recorded four points with three coming on the man advantage. Go to your waiver wire and see which Sabres players are available right now.

Shots on goal: C/RW Jack Roslovic, Columbus Blue Jackets (33% rostered on Yahoo)

Jack Roslovic hasn’t been putting many pucks on net lately as he has just three shots over his last three contests. The reason he's being recommended is because he plays two games this week against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are allowing the most shots per game in the NHL. 

The role he plays on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ first line isn’t one that lends itself to a high-shot volume, as his job is to facilitate the puck to Patrik Laine and Cam Atkinson. The last time Columbus had a two-game set against the Blackhawks, however, Roslovic combined for six shots. Also seeing time on the team’s top power-play unit, the 2015 first-round pick should be in a position to help your team get some more rubber on goal.

Faceoff wins: C Joel Eriksson Ek, Minnesota Wild (34% rostered on Yahoo)

The top middleman at both even strength and on the power play for the Minnesota Wild, Joel Erikssson Ek has been winning his fair share of faceoffs. In the three games the Wild have played since returning to action, the 2015 first-round pick has won 28 draws, which ties him for 24th in the category over the last seven days. On the year, Eriksson Ek has been a steady source of offense as well, registering six goals and 10 points across 14 games played. Minnesota plays four games this week, so Eriksson Ek will be a frequent visitor to the faceoff circle. Regardless of category need, the Swedish center is one of the top waiver wire adds.

Hits: D Radko Gudas, Florida Panthers (30% rostered on Yahoo)

Those familiar with Radko Gudas’s line of work know that his role isn’t complicated. The guy hits people. Gudas’s 84 body checks this season lead the entire NHL and the six-foot, 208-pound blueliner likely isn’t going to slow down. You’re not going to see much offensive production from the 30-year-old as he has just two assists on the season, but that’s not why you'd pick him up. You’re looking for a hit man, and with four games on the schedule this week, Gudas will do the job.

Blocked shots: D Devon Toews, Colorado Avalanche (45% rostered on Yahoo)

With the Colorado Avalanche back in action, Devon Toews should be re-added in your fantasy hockey league. In the three games Colorado has played since resuming its season, Toews has blocked an impressive 10 shots. In addition to getting in front of pucks, Toews has been successful in putting pucks behind goalies, with his four goals this year tops of any blueliner on the Avs. Toews and the Avalanche play four games this week, so there will be lots of shots for the 27-year-old to block.

Goaltending: G Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild (24% rostered on Yahoo)

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Kaapo Kahkonen was my recommended goaltender add for last week, and while his rostered percentage did grow by 10 percent, it is still much lower than it should be. After shaking off the rust in a 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings which marked his first start since Jan. 30, Kahkonen responded by allowing just two goals over his next two outings. Teammate Cam Talbot is getting closer to returning after being placed in the league's COVID-19 protocol, but Kahkonen will still see a solid number of starts when Talbot is back. The Minnesota Wild play four games this week, and the 24-year-old Finnish goalie should be expected to start at least two of the contests.

More from Yahoo Sports:

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Colorado
-182-2.5O 6
San Jose
+155+2.5U 6