(Ed. Note: We’re once again pleased to partner with Dobber Hockey to provide fantasy hockey insight throughout the NHL season. Here’s Steve Laidlaw, the Managing Editor of DobberHockey, as your new fantasy hockey smarty-pants!)
By Steve Laidlaw
Scoring is up but will it continue? Last season saw 5.42 goals per game. We are up nearly a full goal to 6.39 through one week and 48 games. That’s just under four per cent of the regular schedule and still an incredibly small sample size. Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper thinks that the young talent in the NHL may be the reason for the scoring increase.
It could equally be that all the young talent hasn’t had the fun coached out of them and that it’s actually lapses on the defensive side that are opening things up. Give the coaches some time, they’ll find a way to get scoring down.
Perhaps we’ve simply had an unlikely run of poor goaltending. League-wide save percentage is way down after reaching a peak of 0.915 the past couple of seasons. The goalies are too good not to rebound.
Power play efficiency is up to 19.1 per cent from last season’s 18.7, and power play opportunities are up nearly one chance per game but that’s not enough to amount to an increase of a full goal per game. The difference is closer to an extra goal every four games. In any case, it’s likely that we’ll see power play efficiency drop as teams gather more film and figure out how to slow the opposition. We’ll also see penalties go down as we get into the meat of the season and referees start to put away their whistles.
When scoring does drop, a whole bunch of fast starters will see their scoring totals dry up. Until that time, you should jump on some of these hot waiver wire options who are producing today.
Travis Konecny – C – Philadelphia Flyers – 10 per cent owned
This one will be tough to fit in as Konecny is currently eligible at the center position only, despite playing on Sean Couturier’s wing. This spot has been extremely productive for Konecny as the rookie has assists in all three games of his career. With the Flyers playing four games in the next seven days, Konecny is a good streaming option if you have room.
The big winger is skating on the Wild’s top line with Zach Parise and Eric Staal and has a point in each of the first three games. He is also the net-front presence on the Wild’s top power play unit. Coyle has upped his point total every season since entering the league and if he continues that trend he’ll need to improve on last season’s 42 points. The extra power play time will help as his career high is just six PPP. If you aren’t buying the potential breakout for Coyle, you still have to appreciate that he is on a hot streak. With the Wild playing four games in the next seven days he makes a solid streaming option.
Lee Stempniak – LW/RW – Carolina Hurricanes – 17 per cent owned
Another year and Stempniak finds himself sneakily producing for the top line on some team no one is particularly interested in for fantasy. The Hurricanes’ top line of Stempniak, Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner isn’t the sexiest but it’s really good. Stempniak has points in each of the first three games of the season for five points in all.
Zach Werenski – D – Columbus Blue Jackets – 21 per cent owned
Werenski is already the Blue Jackets’ top offensive defenseman. He is second on the team in ice time to linemate Seth Jones but is tops in power play time. He is the lone defenseman on the top power play unit, which means he’s getting plenty of opportunity to produce.
With a point in each of his first two games, Werenski is taking advantage of that opportunity. Equally important, he has nine SOG thus far. If he can even sustain a rate of 2.5 SOG per game, he’ll hit the 200 SOG mark and assure some level of fantasy relevance. He is a must-add.
Mike Green – D – Mike Red Wings – 51 per cent owned
The former superstar defenseman was written off by most following his downer of a 2015-16 season in which he scored just 35 points in 74 games. Most alarmingly, his shots fell to just 124, the first time his shot rate had fallen below two per game since his rookie year. Green remains the Red Wings’ top defenseman option so he sees all the minutes he can handle, particularly on the power play, where he scored 20 points last season (over half his total). With the sort of usage Green expects to see, he could certainly improve on last season’s total, assuming he can also stay healthy.
Health is always a concern with Green who has missed an average of 10 games the past three seasons, and far more than that throughout his career. But don’t fret the injuries today, for he is healthy now. And if Green does get hurt you can move on to a healthy option at that time. Green makes an especially interesting option for the short term because of the four games that Detroit plays in the next week.
Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.