As another year of fantasy hockey gets underway, there’s no doubt that this is Connor McDavid’s world and we’re just living in it. To the surprise of no one, Edmonton’s young captain is off to a stellar start and the production will continue all season long.
It seems like this year more than others, there’s a cast of plenty who are roaring up the fantasy hockey ranks. From McDavid to P.K. Subban to Aleksander Barkov in Florida to Toronto’s super rookie Auston Matthews – the NHL game is better than ever.
There’s plenty to discuss and we’re not even a week into things.
Quick goes down for the Los Angeles Kings
The Jonathan Quick injury put an early season damper on many fantasy owners across the world. What a tough blow for the Kings! Let’s hope he returns sooner rather than later. With Quick’s injury, the door has seemingly opened for Jeff Zatkoff to get the majority of LA’s starts going forward. For the first time in his NHL career, he’s probably a viable free agent option at this point in time and that scares me. That being said, it’ll be interesting to see what Kings GM Dean Lombardi does or doesn’t do. I’d watch this situation closely. I’m not sure how much faith I have in Zatkoff.
Injury Bug: The Buffalo Sabres
It has been a rough start to the season for the Buffalo Sabres. Jack Eichel will miss significant time after getting injured in practice and then, Evander Kane went down in Buffalo’s season opener against Montreal. Who will pick up the slack? You would think someone will step up and I have my eyes on Sam Reinhart and Matt Moulson in this specific situation. Watch these files closely.
There’s no question – the NHL is a young man’s league and several rookies are off to ridiculous starts. Look no further than the Toronto Maple Leafs who currently boast a roster littered with first year players. How about scoring four goals in your first NHL game? Not too shabby. Well, that’s what Auston Matthews did and there’s plenty more where that came from. Mitch Marner and William Nylander are also off to torrid starts. Elsewhere, in Philadelphia, two rookies to have on your radar are Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov.
The following players are off to strong start. Some are proven and some are not but the intrigue is always the best part.
Paul Stastny – C – St. Louis Blues
Call the local fire department because Stastny is off to a red-hot start. Through the first couple of games, the 30-year-old has tallied two goals and four assists for six points. While it’s unlikely that he maintains this pace, I think he’s poised to have a strong season for St. Louis. I could see a scenario where he puts up 60-65 points.
Richard Panik – LW – Chicago Blackhawks
I’ve received plenty of tweets regarding Panik already. He’s had a great start but is it sustainable? Only time will tell but probably not. If he continues to produce, he’ll stay up in a top-6 role. It’s way too early to make a free agent splash on Panik in expense of a proven asset. Let’s see how the next couple of weeks go for him. Don’t Panik. (See what I did there?)
Aleksander Barkov – C – Florida Panthers
Bold fantasy prediction: Barkov will be a top-20 rank by season’s end. This kid has it all and he’s had a solid start after a breakout season last year. Through the first two games, Barkov has two goals and an assist – one of his tallies was an OT winner in the season opener against New Jersey. No question – Barkov is primed for a terrific season. BUY, BUY, BUY!
Kevin Shattenkirk – D – St. Louis
Another St. Louis player cracks the list. For me – it’s more the mystique and intrigue behind this file. Shattenkirk is coming off a so-so year where at times – he was fantasy hockey irrelevant. You can blame that on Colton Parayko’s dominance maybe. Simply put – it’s a contract year for Shattenkirk which means points, points and more points. He’s a highly motivated guy with money on the line. I think it’s a given that he has a monster bounce back season.
It’s never too early to scour the waiver wire in hopes of bettering your squad. One bit of advice: BE PATIENT with your team.
Richard Panik – LW – Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Marchessault – C – Florida Panthers
Joe Colborne – C – Colorado Avalanche
Nathan Beaulieu – D – Montreal Canadiens
Thomas Vanek – LW, RW – Detroit Red Wings
For those who don’t know, I’ve started a Fantasy Hockey Podcast that will be available every Monday on SiriusXM ON Demand.
In episode 1, Pete Jensen of NHL.com joined me. Tune in!
For all inquiries and thoughts, you can find me on twitter: @thegoldenmuzzy
#NAFantasyFix for your questions.
Talk next week!