Fantasy Hockey: The players you need to add to improve in every category

Steven Psihogios
·6 min read

Trying to navigate through the 2020-21 NHL season has been a massive grind for fantasy hockey managers. With games being postponed as frequently as they have, the “set it and forget it” adage need not apply. That means staying on top of your lineup has been more important than ever.

If you notice that you’re being outdone in a certain category through the first few weeks of the season, here’s a player available in over 50% of Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues that will be able to help you catch up moving forward.

Goals: LW/RW Joel Farabee, Philadelphia Flyers (41% rostered on Yahoo)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 03:  Joel Farabee #86 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center on February 3, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Joel Farabee has returned to top form for the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Did you add Joel Farabee after his opening night four-point performance expecting a second-year breakout only to receive five-straight scoreless efforts afterwards? Join the club. If you haven’t been keeping up, however, the 20-year-old has returned to his scoring ways over his last four games.

Farabee has potted four goals (including a hat-trick) and three assists over this stretch while playing 15-minutes or more in three of the contests. Philadelphia has four games this week with two matchups against the New Jersey Devils, who are allowing the seventh-most shots on goals against per-game this season.

Assists: C David Krejci, Boston Bruins (22% rostered on Yahoo)

If you’re not getting enough apples from your fantasy hockey team, David Krejci can help you get helpers. The Bruins’ centre has an odd stat-line thus far as he has yet to register a goal, but he has recorded nine assists.

Krejci has been rolling as of late as well, as he’s notched eight of his nine assists over his late eight games. The 34-year-old may not see as much ice-time with Boston’s PP1, but five of his helpers have come on the man-advantage. Boston plays three games (including games on Wednesday and Friday which have a combined three NHL games scheduled) this week so he’ll definitely be able to crack your lineup and help.

Plus-minus: D Alec Martinez, Vegas Golden Knights (32% rostered on Yahoo)

Plus-minus is an extremely noisy, luck-filled stat which can make it difficult to project, but Alec Martinez owns a respectable plus-seven rating after nine games with the Vegas Golden Knights. Martinez currently plays on the team’s first defensive pairing with Shea Theodore, a duo which has combined for 15-points. Additionally, Theodore and Martinez rank first and second on the club in 5-on-5, on-ice expected goals for, according to Natural Stat Trick. With four games on the schedule this week, including three against clubs .500 and worse, Martinez is worth nabbing to help you in this category.

Power-play points: LW Nick Ritchie, Boston Bruins (27% rostered on Yahoo)

Big Nick Ritchie has carved out a role on Boston’s top power-play unit as the man in front of the net. The power forward has done an excellent job playing to his identity, and as a result, he’s actually tied with Brad Marchand for the second-most power-play points (PPP) on the team with seven. Operating in a high-traffic role on a man-advantage that is clicking at 33.3% this season, there’s reason to believe Ritchie will keep piling on the PPP. The Bruins play three games this week, including two contests on quiet Wednesday and Friday nights, so he’ll be able to slide into your lineup and help you in this category.

Shots on goal: RW Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (25% rostered on Yahoo)

In his last two games of playing alongside Connor McDavid on the Edmonton Oilers’ first line, Jesse Puljujarvi has done an admirable job of putting pucks on and in the net. The 22-year-old has put seven shots on goal, with three beating the netminder. Additionally, Puljujarvi played a season-high 19:54 of time-on-ice in Edmonton’s latest game against the Calgary Flames, a potential sign that he may be gaining the trust of the Oilers’ coaching staff. Edmonton also plays two games against the Ottawa Senators this week, who have allowed the eight-most shot attempts against in the NHL this season.

Faceoff wins: C Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes (23% rostered on Yahoo)

Since the Carolina Hurricanes returned to action on Jan. 28, only Ryan O’Reilly (81) has won more faceoffs than Jordan Staal (77). Despite sliding in as the team’s third-line centre, Staal has been receiving a respectable amount of time-on-ice, surpassing 17-minutes of ice-time in four of his last six games. In addition to his faceoff-dot domination, Staal has also been producing offensively. In his last six games, the veteran middle man has recorded an impressive nine points. Carolina plays three games this week, including one on a lighter Monday night.

Hits: RW Garnet Hathaway, Washington Capitals (4% rostered on Yahoo)

This player doesn’t require a lot of analysis: Plain and simple, Garnet Hathaway rarely passes up an opportunity to throw a hit. His 45 body checks are the sixth-most in the NHL this season and he plays four games with the Washington Capitals this week. Hathaway has also recorded two goals, five points and a plus-4 rating on the season, so he’s likely not going to sink you in other categories.

Blocked shots: D Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg Jets (23% rostered on Yahoo)

Josh Morrissey isn't a shot-blocking specialist, but he’s certainly been able to help fantasy managers with his 15 blocks this season. The 25-year-old draws my attention for this week and next because he can block shots and he also quarterbacks the Jets’ top power-play unit. After Winnipeg’s Tuesday matchup against the Calgary Flames, it plays a pair of games against the Ottawa Senators this week and two contests against the Edmonton Oilers next week, with both ranking in the bottom-10 on the penalty kill this season. Although his zero goals and four assists are highly disappointing, there’s some enticing matchups that suggest some offensive production may be on the way. Morrissey’s a nice add if you are looking to boost your blocked shots while also receiving some solid offensive production.

Goaltending: G Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (20% rostered on Yahoo)

With Anton Khudobin’s short-term status uncertain after a surprise scratch on Sunday, 2017 first-round pick Jake Oettinger will be manning the crease for the Dallas Stars until further notice. Oettinger has been decent for the Stars in 2020-21, owning a 2-0-1 record with a .915 save percentage. His save percentage above expected is actually slightly higher (-0.088% to -0.732%) than Khudobin, according to Money Puck, and he played well in his most recent outing, turning aside 33 of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 35 shots in an overtime loss on Sunday. Dallas plays three contests this week, and it’s not out of the question that Oettinger starts in all three if Khudobin remains sidelined.

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