If you are looking for high-end players to help your team out in every category in fantasy hockey, then these are the five best options for you to target. Generally, people tend to lean towards players who just put up lots of points. This may look good on paper, and that team could win the goals, assists, and power-play points in a lot of weeks. But what happens when those players go into slumps and don’t produce like they normally do.
This is where targeting good all-around players for your fantasy team does wonders for your record. Scoring can dry up at times, but physical play tends to stay the same or increase when a player is struggling offensively. All of these players play very hard and put up numbers in every category in leagues that use the default settings, such as in Yahoo Fantasy Hockey.
Each forward on this list will provide your fantasy team with double-digit numbers in each point category, with my qualifications to make the top-five being able to record more than 50 penalty minutes (PIM) and over 100 hits.
5. Sam Bennett
The lowest on Yahoo’s preseason rankings in fantasy, Sam Bennett was already a physical player, regardless of his point production. But when he was traded to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline last season, something clicked. Maybe he was just in desperate need of a change of scenery. If you don’t remember, Bennett was a fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The offensive potential was there, we just hadn’t seen it since his rookie campaign.
Bennett looks comfortable in the second-line centre position with Jonatha Huberdeau on his wing. The exposure alone to this very underrated and very talented player should boost Bennett’s offensive numbers. Of course, it will be difficult to replicate the offensive success that he had when he arrived in Florida for 10 games, as he put up 15 points in that time.
Bennett also projects to centre the top power-play unit, and a lethal one at that, per Daily Faceoff. This covers the one stat that he was lacking last year and what slots him into this list of most valuable players who can get your fantasy team points in each category. The stats you won’t have to worry about with him are the PIM and hits. In all six seasons he’s played in the NHL, he has recorded over 100 hits. Not only that but he’s only failed to exceed 50 PIM twice, one season being a shortened disaster season for Bennett.
4. Matthew Tkachuk
A player that can play both wings, Matthew Tkachuk checks all the boxes nicely for a fantasy hockey stud. Not only is he a three-time 20-goal scorer and has topped 40 points in all five seasons in the league, but the physical categories are off the charts. He has managed over 50 PIMs every season and over the past three years, his hits have only been increasing while the games have been decreasing in the league.
Tkachuk shoots the puck a lot, which is one of the advantages he has over Bennett. Shooting the puck a lot means on the offence a ton, increasing the chances of extra points at any time. Along with those stats comes an important one that you always want your top fantasy players to have, power-play points. There are no worries there with Tkachuk. Even though the Calgary Flames didn’t have the best season, he was always at the head of the action. They look to have a bounce-back season with this gritty player at the forefront.
3. Andrei Svechnikov
Andrei Svechnikov is a deadly shooter but can also pass the puck. He looks to play on the Carolina Hurricanes’ first line with Sebastian Aho, a top player in this league and someone he’s built great chemistry with. Svechnikov is a player who has visibly improved since making his NHL debut, and with a great amount of exposure to the Hurricane’s other elite players, he will run up the points. This includes power play too, where as a team they were second in the league with 25.6 percent.
Along with elite-level offensive talent that is only improving, Svechnikov likes to lay the body a significant amount, as well as take a good amount of penalties. Good for your fantasy hockey team but not so much for the Hurricanes. He projects to hit 30 goals, over 200 shots, and north of 150 hits. You want to jump all over this player, as his ability and ceiling for points is higher than people are giving him credit for.
2. Brady Tkachuk
The younger of the Tkachuks on this list and even more of a complete player. Though he wasn’t on the greatest of teams, the Ottawa Senators didn’t disappoint when it came to scoring goals. They were the only team to not get shut out last season. Coach DJ Smith says, “we’re at a stage where the rebuild is over…” and this speaks to the players taking the next steps and producing even more than last season.
Tkachuk was a force and a leader for the Senators in 2020-21, leading them in points and commanding the shots, hit, and penalty minute categories. He is a must-need fantasy player. He finished second in the league in hits and shots, two behind the leader in each category.
Tkachuk’s point production should continue to rise as he, the team, and the players around him continue to get better. This player plays top-line minutes, both five-on-five and on the power play, meaning he should be able to put up a good number of power-play points for your fantasy team as well.
1. Brad Marchand
You knew Brad Marchand had to make this list. He just lives to disturb and throw off the other team while playing on the wing of maybe the most efficient line in the league, offensively and defensively. There’s no question as to whether he is going to be in every scrum and come out with some PIM, all while playing very hard in the corners and for loose pucks to create hitting opportunities. His offense is underrated due to his other antics, but he is a very skilled player.
He is part of a Boston Bruins team that has the second-best power play in the league over the past two seasons combined at 23.8 percent. Most of the offence on that top power play is attributed to the line of Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron, who all have incredible chemistry with one another.
Marchand finished 2020-21 in third in scoring with 69 points in 53 games and was a plus-26. We know he can shoot the puck a lot at times and score on a regular basis. He is a 10-time 20-goal scorer and scored well over 30 goals in four consecutive seasons. He will try getting himself into the 100s in points again.
These are very important players to win in fantasy hockey leagues. Sure, you could go with highly offensively-gifted players and then take a couple goons, but players who can give you both are normally some of the most valuable in any league. They sometimes may seem a little high in the draft rankings, but remember that they cover every stat, whereas the players surrounding them do not.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. As a fantasy hockey veteran, he will be informing you on the best weekly options for your matchups to begin the week and mid-way. He will also keep you in the loop for weekly news and updates on the Oilers & Flyers.