Fantasy Hockey Week 1 is upon us, and there are lots to discuss already. Maybe you aren’t keen on some of your late-round selections, and are looking for an advantage going into the first week. There are some teams that play more games than others, and some players that are receiving opportunities to start the season with top players on their team currently out. We will take a look at the best options to pick up and start the season off on the right note.
The first week of action is unpredictable, as some teams play one game, while others play as many as three. Some goalies increase their value with their team playing in a back-to-back, but some get into the action with the normal starter set to miss some games to begin the season. Catch up on all of it below.
Teams to Target Players From
There are a number of teams that play three games in week one of the NHL, with boosts coming to backup goalies who will get an opportunity to start and earn points right away. The teams that are scheduled to play three games are as follows:
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Dallas Stars
- Montreal Canadiens
- New York Rangers
- Ottawa Senators
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Seattle Kraken
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Vancouver Canucks
So, there are lots of options to fill your team with during a late draft or through free agency if you happened to draft a few players that are currently on the injured reserve (IR).
Of these teams, there are bound to be players available if you want the extra games. From the ESPN Fantasy Hockey free agent board, the highest percent of adds come from Vince Dunn (owned 49.0%) with a change in rostered percentage of plus 19.8. Justin Holl (owned 18.8%) has an increase of nine percent, as he plays three games against generally easier opponents in the Canadiens (1) and Senators (2).
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Covering the forward group, I have three options for you to consider, Jordan Eberle (owned 55.0%), Tyler Toffoli (owned 49.8%), and Kaapo Kakko (owned 15.0%) (“Fantasy trends and hidden gems: Jordan Eberle, Dougie Hamilton and more familiar faces in new places”, The Athletic, Sept. 24, 2021). Both Eberle and Toffoli project to play on the first lines of their teams and are known goal-scorers in the league, while Kakko is looking much-improved heading into the 2021-22 season.
Last up are the goalie options worth considering for your team this week. Ilya Sorokin, Jake Allen, Alexandar Georgiev, and Jaroslav Halak. Sorokin is set to be the New York Islanders’ starter while Semyon Varlamov is sidelined with an injury. Though he finds himself against two tough opponents, the Islanders team in front of him are very defensive-minded. Jake Allen gets the starting position for the time being with Carey Price out at least a month for personal reasons. He should get two to three starts in week one for your team. Georgiev and Halak find themselves more of a backup role this season, but they should get their shot when their teams play the Stars and Detroit Red Wings on the back-end of a back-to-back.
Remember, these players may just be streaming options and you can look for players to get your fantasy team more points at the beginning of next week.
Teams to Avoid Picking Up Players From
There are a number of teams that you should avoid picking up players from, as they won’t help your team out much in week one. The teams that only play one game this week are listed below:
- Boston Bruins
- Calgary Flames
- New Jersey Devils
- Philadelphia Flyers
- San Jose Sharks
- St. Louis Blues
The main reason to stay away from these teams is that the first week is already cut a bit short, with the season starting on Tuesday and only two games of action the first night. The next week is where we should start to see more teams play four games in a week and less play only one.
To make things even more clear, three of these teams, the Flames, Sharks, and Blues are set to face off against three good clubs, the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, and Colorado Avalanche.
Though players like Keith Yandle, Yegor Sharangovich, and Jordan Kyrou may be enticing, wait until next Monday to see if they are worth adding for the week or longer. There is activity around their names in free agency in many pools, but you would be wise to wait and maximize the games for your fantasy hockey team and gain the most amount of points possible.
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Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.