With it being Super Bowl season, there’s no better time to discuss team building. After all, you’re only as strong as your weakest link and yes, you can correlate that easily over to fantasy hockey.
We’re getting to that time of year when you need all your guys to be contributing. It’s hard to believe it but the fantasy hockey playoffs are just around the corner.
We all know it – without your big guns, you’re nothing. With that in mind, there’s a plethora of players having dynamite seasons who are getting minimal publicity. These truly are the guys who lead you to fantasy hockey success. You can consider them your ‘lunch pail’ players.
Mikael Granlund – C, LW, RW – Minnesota Wild
This might be the quietest story in hockey right now. Not many are aware of it but Granlund currently has the longest point streak running – 12 games and counting. After his hat trick and one assist performance against Vancouver on Saturday night, the 24-year-old’s stat line firmly holds him inside the fantasy hockey top-15. It’s pretty damn impressive – 15 goals, 33 assists, 48 points, +30(!), 12 PPP, 3 SHP, 2 GWG and 109 SOG. He’s literally done it all. Is this a big shock? Well, the timing of his breakout sure is. It’s hard to believe the Wild selected Granlund 9th overall all the way back in the 2010 draft. Better late than never – right?
Peter Budaj – G – Los Angeles Kings
Where would the LA Kings be without this veteran netminder? We’ll ignore the fact that he surrendered four goals on 15 shots in a 5-0 loss to Washington to Sunday afternoon. Yeah, LA’s five game win streak was put to rest quite convincingly. If it weren’t for Jonathan Quick’s unfortunate injury, there’s no telling what Budaj would be up to right now. It’s safe to say he’s made the most of his opportunity. Although his week ended poorly, the previous couple games were outstanding. The 34-year-old has a league leading seven shutouts and has notched 25 wins on the season – that’s six off his career high of 31 that he set in his sophomore campaign with the Colorado Avalanche.
Mikael Backlund – C – Calgary Flames
It’s good to be named Mikael in the NHL these days. Given everything that’s happened in Calgary this season, the evolution of Backlund’s game has been a huge surprise. He’s arguably been their offensive MVP to-date. Similar to Granlund, it’s taken longer than usual for Backlund to breakout. He’s 27 and remarkably already in his eighth year in the league. The Swedish pivot is on pace for career numbers across the board. This is how the stat line currently looks – 15 goals, 22 assists, 37 points, +6, 13 PPP, 3 SHP, 5 GWG and 135 SOG. There’s no doubt Backlund will be in contention for waiver pickup of the year in regards to my Silver 7even awards handed out at the end of the season.
J.T. Miller – C, LW, RW – New York Rangers
Miller is another guy that is just going about his business. The Rangers grabbed him 15th overall in the 2011 draft and the move is really starting to pay off. Through 52 games, he’s notched 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points. With roughly 30 games remaining, the 23-year-old is just three points shy of his career high. Add in the fact that he’s pretty responsible defensively as his +14 rating would show and he’s been the total fantasy hockey package this season. If you’re looking for projections, 25 goals and 55-60 points is definitely achievable.
Justin Schultz – D – Pittsburgh Penguins
Who knew we’d be sitting here on February 6th, 2017 and Schultz would be the fourth highest ranked fantasy defenseman. Well, that’s what’s up and sure, playing in Pittsburgh has something to do with it. With that in mind, the 26-year-old still deserves a ton of credit for figuring things out. Kudos to Jim Rutherford for taking a chance on him. With 30 games left, Schultz has already tallied a career high in points (37) and is two goals shy of his career best 11 back in 13/14. Mike Sullivan has used him very effectively. That +29 rating is pretty sexy.
Patrick Marleau – C, LW – San Jose Sharks
Seriously – how can anyone dislike Patrick Marleau? He’ll go down as one of the most gentlemanly and modest players in NHL history. Year after year, he’s been the poster boy for consistency and longevity. This past week, he eclipsed 500 goals – no easy task which will surely help his bid to get into the Hockey Hall of Fame someday. At the ripe young age of 37, Marleau has been one of the league’s hottest players lately. He’s up to 19 goals and 30 points and weirdly enough, he’s been getting better as the season progresses.
Patrick Marleau – C, LW – San Jose Sharks
Marian Gaborik – LW, RW – Los Angeles Kings
T.J. Brodie – D – Calgary Flames
Kyle Palmieri – RW – New Jersey Devils
Alex Killorn – C, LW – Tampa Bay Lightning
Rob Conway of SiriusXM Canada joined the conversation on Super Bowl Sunday – Episode 14 of the Fantasy Fix Podcast.
It’s all available exclusively ON DEMAND with the SiriusXM APP and online at Siriusxm.ca or SiriusXM.com
For all inquiries and thoughts, you can find me on twitter: @thegoldenmuzzy
#NAFantasyFix for your questions. I’ll answer them on my podcast.