By Neil Parker, RotoWire Senior Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
The quarter pole is in sight, and a lot has changed since the season started Oct. 4. There have been a number of significant injuries that have opened the door for players to step into larger roles, and a number of young players have proved they’re ready to contribute at the highest level. The majority of the following recommendations fit into those two scenarios.
While we can’t predict injuries, Daniel Sprong and Nikolay Goldobin are young players off to hot starts in the AHL. If promoted to scoring roles with their parent clubs, these two could be featured in this column later this season. Remember, Jake Guentzel had a huge impact down the fantasy stretch last season but was completely off the radar at this point a year ago. In cavernous leagues, it’s not out of the question to consider some of these young players if the bench space exists to stash them.
Here’s the schedule for the next scoring period, Nov. 13-19:
Two games: Ducks, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Devils, Sharks, Lightning, Maple Leafs
Four games: Hurricanes, Stars, Panthers, Kings
All other teams play three games next week.
Remember to keep an eye on players who were cut in your leagues, and note the handful of the previously covered players listed below who might still be on your waiver wire.
(Yahoo ownership as of Nov. 8.)
Mathew Barzal, NYI (32 percent): A repeat mention, Barzal has found the scoresheet in nine of his past 10 games for three goals, 11 assists and four power-play points. The rookie played a season-high 18:59 last time out and should have a long leash on his gig on the No. 1 power-play unit going forward.
Bo Horvat, VAN (40 percent): The 2013 first-round pick has improved in each of the past two seasons, and 2017-18 looks like his true breakout. Horvat has collected four goals, 11 points and 26 shots while logging a hefty 18:54 of ice time (2:52 with the man advantage) through his past 10 games.
Pavel Buchnevich, NYR (37 percent): The 22-year-old Russian just continues to score. He’s up to six goals, 10 points and 24 shots through his past eight games, as Buchnevich has quickly established himself as the Blueshirts’ most dangerous offensive weapon. He should remain in a go-to role moving forward.
Brock Boeser, VAN (49 percent): Another rookie who’s frequented this column, Boeser has notched five goals and 14 points (six with the man advantage) through just 12 contests. He’s locked into a go-to scoring role and owns tremendous offensive upside. This is also likely last-call for the emerging scorer.
Boone Jenner, CLM (26 percent): After missing the first seven games of the campaign and crawling out of the gate upon returning, Jenner has notched six points – two goals – through his past five games. The offense is unsustainable, but don’t forget he’s a former 30-goal scorer who moves the needle in the peripheral categories.
Adrian Kempe, LA (36 percent): There are a few red flags here, as Kempe struggled to score in the AHL (48 points through 104 career games), has shown inconsistency and owns an unsustainably high 33.3 shooting percentage. However, with seven goals, 11 points, eight PIM and a plus-13 rating through his past 10 contests, it’s difficult to ignore the rookie. It’s worth noting that centering long-time linemates Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson is a solid gig, too.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLM (6 percent): Receiving consistent minutes and power-play time, Bjorkstrand has quietly collected five goals, seven points and 17 shots through his past nine games. The 22-year-old forward has the offensive acumen and shooting arsenal to be a reliable goal scorer moving forward.
Alexander Kerfoot, COL (2 percent): While the 23-year-old rookie has an impressive seven points – four goals – through his past seven games, offensive peaks and valleys should be expected moving forward. It’s worth noting that Kerfoot logged a season-high 20:49 of ice last time out, which also aligns with the departure of Matt Duchene, so the freshman could also be in line for an expanded role.
Tom Wilson, WAS (5 percent): A tough sell in most settings, Wilson’s value is tied to PIM and hits. He’s collected just two goals and four points through 12 games to start the year, but three of those points have come in his past four outings. He’s already up to 46 PIM and 28 hits, so just modest offense will move the needle.
Tim Heed, SAN (12 percent): While Heed has missed the scoresheet in consecutive games, he’s still tilted the fantasy scales with eight shots and an average of 3:49 of ice time with the man advantage. Skating with the No. 1 power-play unit is a cushy setup, and Heed has an impressive seven points (two goals) through 12 games.
Brandon Montour, ANA (39 percent): The 23-year-old defenseman continues to log consistent power-play minutes (2:48 per contest) and has a respectable four goals and eight points through 15 games. With Cam Fowler (leg) out long term, Montour will continue to be leaned on heavily, which positions him to remain a reliable fantasy contributor.
Michael Stone, CGY (2 percent): With Travis Hamonic on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, Stone projects to see more minutes and an increase in fantasy value. With the added playing time, Stone should return to being a solid cross-category contributor in most settings. He’s a good bet to post a positive plus-minus rating, too.
Esa Lindell, DAL (6 percent): Little about Lindell’s game or stat line jumps off the page, but he’s moving the needle across all categories and is locked into a big role for the Stars. While definitely more of a deep-league option, Lindell has 35 shots with an average of 21:33 of ice time (1:43 on the power play) through 15 games. He’s offers sneaky value.
Erik Johnson, COL (8 percent): Logging a career-high 26:19 of ice time per game, Johnson is posting solid peripheral numbers with 43 shots, 10 PIM, 20 hits, 30 blocked shots and a plus-4 rating. Offensively, he has just four helpers, but the 29-year-old veteran is receiving plenty of power-play time (2:44 per contest), so there is upside for more offense – especially considering his high shot volume.
Jacob Markstrom, VAN (41 percent): Vancouver currently ranks lowest in expected goals against and is allowing a middle-of-the-pack 10.9 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five. So, while there are certainly personnel shortcomings, head coach Travis Green has the Canucks playing sound defense. Markstrom’s .917 save percentage and 2.36 GAA are rock-solid marks in all settings, and they’re likely also fairly sustainable.
Antti Raanta, ARI (26 percent): The Coyotes have been a mess, and it’s highly unlikely that Raanta is going to be their savior. However, he’ll see a huge workload and should be able to post a respectable save percentage. As long as fantasy owners are selective with his matchups, the first-year Coyote should be a serviceable asset in most settings.
Charlie Lindgren, MON (24 percent): Similar to Vancouver, the Habs are playing respectable defense. Montreal is allowing the fewest high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes in the league while also sporting a middling ranking in expected goals against. Lindgren has won consecutive games with a .949 save percentage entering his start against Minnesota on Thursday. Just note that his fantasy value could be fleeting.
Kari Lehtonen, DAL (5 percent): The veteran has settled into backup duty with two wins, a .959 save percentage and 1.17 GAA through his last three appearances. The Stars have a back-to-back set in each of the next three weeks, so at worst, Lehtonen is worth a look as a spot-starter for the next month.
Players to consider from past columns: J.T. Miller, Josh Anderson, Yanni Gourde, Anders Bjork, Jakub Vrana, Jason Pominville, Reilly Smith, Michael Del Zotto, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Darnell Nurse, Damon Severson, Victor Mete, Philipp Grubauer, Joonas Korpisalo, Michal Neuvirth, Carter Hutton