Every NHL team has now played a game after the first week of the 2021-22 regular season. Some teams are rolling with three games under their belts, while others are a little behind with only one game played. As we head into the second week of fantasy hockey, here there are a few factors to consider when planning out the seven days.
You should always be looking at the free-agent market and asking yourself if a player is just having a good start or if he can keep it up for an extended period of time. If you think he’s going to slow down soon, think about using him as a streaming option if the team happens to play four games in a week. You can always drop him later.
Here’s a look at players you should target on teams that are doing well and that play four games, as well as which teams to avoid. I’ll fill you in on whose stock is up and some trending players to keep an eye on.
Target: Predators, Red Wings, Islanders
Five teams play four games this week, which is the most and generally the most you’ll see in a week. The teams are the Anaheim Ducks (1-1-0), Detroit Red Wings (1-0-1), Nashville Predators (0-2-0), New York Islanders (0-2-0), and San Jose Sharks (1-0-0). Not the best group, but you can find value in each of them.
Funny enough, I’m going to tell you to look at the Predators and Islanders. Both teams ran into the powerhouse Carolina Hurricanes last week and are the only two winless teams of the group. They have a solid chance to bounce back and provide good value for your pickup.
The Islanders face two teams that are struggling mightily, Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes, a Vegas Golden Knights squad that just suffered a big blow offensively, and a Columbus Blue Jackets team that is off to a strong start under rookie head coach Brad Larsen. The Islanders are a good team that needs to find their footing on the road because they will be there a while before returning home.
The Ducks and Sharks don’t play a home game this week either and considering they aren’t that good to begin with, these road trips may not bring the best results. The Red Wings look like an improved team, but it is still a hit to play without sniper Jakub Vrana. They have the easiest four-game slate this week, matching up against three teams without a win, Blackhawks (0-2-1), Montreal Canadiens (0-3-0), and Coyotes (0-1-1). They start the week against the surprising Blue Jackets.
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On teams that were projected to be below average, the number of players available that could give your fantasy team value has increased. If you want real value in your pickups and possibly get five games out of your players, target the Ducks or the Seattle Kraken, who play back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday, then swap the player out for a player on the Boston Bruins, Predators, Red Wings, Islanders, Sharks, or Golden Knights.
Avoid: Stars, Senators, & More
It’s tough to tell you to avoid two teams that did well in week one, but that’s how it goes when those teams don’t have the scheduled games that players need to make an impact each week. So, I will warn you about picking up anyone from the Hurricanes or Pittsburgh Penguins this week, unless you’re getting them for the long haul and want to snatch them up before they’re claimed off free agency.
There are three other teams you should stay away from, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who play twice and against the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche, the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars, who battled Sunday and play two times as well. The rest of the teams play three games this week, and here is where you can find the rest of the information on opponents and dates.
Who’s Trending Up
Somehow Jesse Puljujarvi is still under 50 percent owned in ESPN fantasy leagues. With an increase of 20.6 percent, people are noticing his hot start and adding him as soon as possible. Hopefully, you read this in time and can add a player you should have already drafted. The Oilers play three games this week, so he will get you games and be very valuable if you hold on to him.
Strike while the iron is hot, and Max Domi and the Blue Jackets are just that. The team is 2-0, and Domi has put up four points with a plus-four rating. He’s now on the third line, but that could change if he continues to put up points and play well. He is only owned 5.5 percent of the time, so he’s available if you want him.
John Marino & Moritz Seider
These two young defencemen are off to quietly productive starts. After a down season, John Marino looks like he’s back to his old self and putting up points on the Penguins’ second defensive pairing. Even with Kris Letang in the lineup, Marino’s ice time has drastically improved, averaging almost 22:30 a night.
Moritz Seider is a rookie for the Red Wings and has the opportunity for a big offensive season playing beside Nick Leddy. Detroit should be able to put up more goals than they did last season, with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi back from long injuries and given the youth that’s been injected into the lineup. Seider already has three assists in two games, and his team has the most games and easiest schedule of the week. Owned only 13.6 percent of the time, his stock is rising, and you would be wise to add him before it’s too late.
Tyler Bertuzzi is off to a very hot start for the Red Wings. Again, with the easiest schedule and most opportunities to get your fantasy team points, he is worth adding in any format, for this week at least, before he has to sit out games when his team travels to Canada. With four goals and five points in the first two games, he shouldn’t cool off just yet, if at all.
It’s more difficult to properly determine a goalie’s stock unless the team’s top goaltender gets injured. We saw that with Jake Allen, but the Canadiens can’t seem to win a game either way. Braden Holtby and Jeremy Swayman are also options, as their teams chose them to start the first game of the regular season over the popular choice.
Calvin Petersen is the starting goalie for the Los Angeles Kings and had a good first outing against a tough opponent in the Golden Knights. The team can score goals, which will help them win games. If the Kings are much improved this season, it will bode well for Petersen’s win category and will boost his save percentage and goals-against average.
Sleeper Options: Dach, Carter, Dadonov
Here’s some information on players that should be trending up soon, if they aren’t already. There are always going to be injuries, so those playing lower down in the lineup should get a chance to move up and play with better players.
The Blackhawks are trying to change things up to get something going. Tyler Johnson started as the first-line centre, but you knew that couldn’t stick for too long with young talent filling out the bottom-six.
Still looking fr their first win, head coach Jeremy Colliton reunited Dach with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. Dach was already projected to have a breakout season, and playing with these elite players increases the chance that it happens sooner than later.
Jeff Carter & Danton Heinen
The Penguins are still riddled with injuries, and a couple of players have taken advantage: Jeff Carter and Danton Heinen. Both are playing on the top line while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are out. They are good pickups if you’re looking to cover an injury on your fantasy team for a while since Carter will just drop to the second line when Crosby comes back, and Heinen should continue to play on the right wing on the first line as long as his production continues. Carter (owned 23.0%) and Heinen (3.9%) can fill all positional voids upfront if you need it.
Max Pacioretty will be out for about six weeks, which means someone from the Golden Knights’ bottom-six will be promoted to play with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson and possibly fill a spot on the first power-play unit as well. Evgeny Dadonov is the clear replacement here, and the Golden Knights knew what they were doing when they brought him in. He’s known to produce points and play high in the top-six.
With five teams and 10 players laid out, there are tons of options for you to choose from to get the advantage on your opponent this week and into the season. Don’t wait too long, as there aren’t many days to get the jump on your opponent, and other fantasy owners may catch on to some trending players.
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.