Justin Schultz, D, Penguins: Not that long ago, Schultz was a pretty big deal. He racked up 91 points in his final two years at the University of Wisconsin; he went 18-30-48 in a 34-game trial in the AHL; and he exploded with 8-19-27 in his NHL debut in Edmonton four years ago, a 48-game sample.
Since then, Schultz has been more hit and miss. Playing in Edmonton, of course, he was routinely buried in the minus. Eventually he was moved off the power play, and last year he finished up with the Penguins.
Pittsburgh doesn’t need Schultz to be a power-play quarterback — though he’ll get some secondary-unit activity — but just being on a high-scoring team agrees with him. Schultz is off to a 3-10-13 push through 27 games, with a league-best plus-16 rating. He’s scored at least one point in five straight starts, collecting 10 points over that span. Although fantasy owners have been jumping on Schultz over the last few days, he’s still unowned in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Wayne Simmonds, RW, Flyers: He’s not someone you can add in fantasy — Simmonds was a fifth-round pick in common leagues — but it looks like Simmonds is going to surpass his preseason cost. He’s leading the league in power-play goals, riding shotgun on the second-best man advantage in the NHL. Simmonds is also enjoying a bump in shooting percentage, not that 20 percent is a crazy outlier. He’s a sure thing for 30 goals, and one of these years a few bounces will go his way and we’ll see 40 markers on the board. It looks like 2016-17 could be his time.
Nazem Kadri, C, Maple Leafs: His 10-8-18 line isn’t going to knock your socks off, especially as a center-only player, but Kadri does two things always in fantasy demand — he shoots the puck (74 attempts) and he hits the opponent (53 PIMs, fourth in the league). Versatility is generally underrated in fantasy circles — heck, in common sports circles — but is most welcome here.
Nick Holden, D, Rangers: Just about any regular defenseman on a winning team can be fantasy-approved, so long as he’s not a total zero when it comes to handling the puck. Holden isn’t a power-play man for the Blueshirts, but we’ll accept his 3-9-12 haul along with a plus-11; that’s life in the big city. Holden is free to add in 76 percent of Yahoo leagues, and teammate Dan Girardi, using the same frame, is even more available.
Cory Schneider, D, Devils: When does a bad start become a bad season? The New Jersey blue line isn’t coated with glory right now, but Schneider’s percentages (2.72, .911) are shockingly bad. The only reason Schneider has a winning record is because New Jersey’s offense, the worst in the league last year, has taken a step into the middle of the rankings. You can’t move Schneider right now, but if he puts a little run together, you might want to go to market at that time.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Coyotes: We accept the minus rating as a price of doing business, but we can’t take the point drop sitting down. OEL’s first issue is shooting the puck — after being over three attempts per game in the previous two years, he’s only offering 2.15 times per start this year. He’s not getting much help from the lads in the desert, as the Arizona power play is one of the worst in the league.
Nick Leddy, D, Islanders: There are a bunch of Islanders we could put in this spot, so Leddy stands in for many of his teammates. He’s a part of the league’s worst power-play (Johnny Tav, where are you?), and he’s lugging a minus-12 rating around. Leddy is shooting more than ever and he’s been a little lucky with puck luck, but if this power play doesn’t get fixed — with or without Leddy — there isn’t much fantasy goodness to be found here. You need to shoot higher for your secondary defensemen.