– Your Weekly Fantasy Hockey Breakdown
Each Monday, we’ll take a look at the past week in fantasy hockey. Specifically, we’ll dive into which players are heating up, which players are cooling down, players to target on the waiver wire, and an update on fantasy-relevant injuries. From week to week, a lot can change in a player’s fantasy outlook due to line combinations, injuries, or just a simple tweak in their game and we will have you covered.
Jake Gardiner – TOR (D)
After recording just a single point in a nine-game span, Gardiner appears to be turning it around for his owners. He’s now tallied five points (one goal, four assists) in his last five games, with three of the helpers coming on the power play.
He plays on the second power-play unit, which is a bit deceiving given it’s arguably more productive than the current top unit, and includes the likes of Auston Matthews and William Nylander. As long as he remains on the power play, he’s certainly reliable to produce going forward.
William Nylander – TOR (RW/C)
With just one point in six games, Nylander owners were likely getting a little antsy. But he’s back to his normal ways of late, posting six points (one goal, five assists) in his last five games. He remains a focal point of the Maple Leafs offense, both even strength and with the man advantage, and should always be in your lineup, regardless of a slump.
Max Pacioretty – MON (LW)
It’s been a season of big ups and big downs for Pacioretty so far. He started the campaign ice cold, then heated up in a significant manner, before cooling off again. Well, after going pointless in six games, he appears to be ready to fire up a hot streak again, tallying four points (one goal, three assists) in his last four games. He remains a key component of the Canadiens offense, and although he may continue to have his hot and cold moments, he should still be in position for another 60-plus point season.
Mark Giordano – CGY (D)
For a normally reliable fantasy defenseman, Giordano has really struggled of late, and even for the entire season. He’s now been held pointless in his last six games, and currently sits with just eight points in 26 games this season.
On the bright side, he still possesses a firm hold of his position on the top defensive pairing and second power-play unit and is still racking up shots on goal. The production will no doubt return as the Flames also begin to turn it around, but for now, he’s tough to trust.
Erik Karlsson – OTT (D)
After being listed in this section last week, nothing has changed with Karlsson. He continues on the downward trend, with his pointless drought now at nine games, which translates to almost three weeks. That’s a long time for owners to go without a point from one of their top draft picks. There’s no question he’ll return to his elite form, but the length of this dry spell is certainly one of the most frustrating droughts in fantasy hockey right now.
Ryan O’Reilly – BUF (C/LW/RW)
Despite the struggles of the Buffalo Sabres this season, O’Reilly was actually having a respectable season until recent days. He’s currently on a run of six games without registering a point after tallying 16 points in his first 21 games. His demotion to the second power-play unit certainly doesn’t help his attempt of breaking out of this slump, but it’s also not going to be a permanent move. It’s only a matter of time before he’s back on the scoresheet regularly, but for now, he’s tough to trust.
Waiver Wire Targets
Gabriel Landeskog – COL (LW – 46% owned)
It appears Landeskog was dropped in a lot of leagues after his four-game suspension was announced. Well, their loss is your gain.
Keep in mind he’s currently sitting at 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 22 games this season, and plays on the top line and top power-play unit – a unit that’s been scoring at will this season. He will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup on Thursday, so if he was dropped in your league, pick him up now.
Alex DeBrincat – CHI (RW/LW – 41% owned)
It appears the Chicago Blackhawks have discovered DeBrincat is good at hockey, and are now putting him in positions to shine. The rookie is now up to 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 26 games this season, including a hat trick, and likely won’t slow down anytime soon. Although he’s currently playing on the third line, his fantasy value lies in his position on the top power-play unit. His ownership has shot up of late, but he’s still available in more than half of leagues. If he’s free in yours, change that now.
Reilly Smith – VGK (RW/LW – 40% owned)
After being listed here last week, Smith’s ownership has risen by eight percent, and for good reason. With 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 25 games, he continues to be one of the top scorers on the Vegas Golden Knights, who have shown no troubles finding the back of the net. Smith remains locked in on the top line and second power-play unit and is showing no signs of slowing down. He may still be available in your league, so don’t make the mistake of passing over him.
Adam Henrique – ANA (C – 37% owned)
Since being traded to the Anaheim Ducks, Henrique appears to be fitting right in, which can have big fantasy implications. He’s tallied two points in his first two games with the Ducks, bringing his season total to 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 26 games. With Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler still on the shelf, Henrique is being used on the top line and top power-play unit, which may translate into big-time fantasy production. If he’s available in your league, he will be a nice addition until Getzlaf and Kesler return, and possibly afterward, too.
Tyler Myers – WPG (D – 35% owned)
It’s always difficult to find consistent fantasy defensemen, and although Myers won’t produce elite numbers, he’s certainly putting together a nice season so far. He’s now up to 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 26 games this season, and plays on a Jets power play that finds success consistently. If you’re in need of a defenseman, there’s a chance Myers may be available – he makes for a solid addition.
Jeff Carter – LAK (Ankle)
After being cut by a skate in the LA Kings game on Oct. 18, Carter is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Recent reports say he could be out until February.
Andre Burakovsky – WAS (Thumb)
Burakovsky is expected to miss 6-8 weeks after suffering a broken thumb in the Washington Capitals game on Oct. 21. In a Saturday workout, he was seen receiving passes and taking shots, showing good progression in his recovery.
Ryan Getzlaf – ANA (Upper Body)
Getzlaf was placed on IR on Oct. 31 after suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 29. He underwent surgery to repair his zygomatic bone and is now expected to return in mid-December.
David Backes – BOS (Surgery)
Backes returned to the lineup on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ryan Kesler – ANA (Hip)
Kesler remains on track to return around Christmas time.
Zach Parise – MIN (Back)
Parise underwent successful back surgery on Oct. 24 but is expected to be sidelined at least two months. He began skating this past week, and is progressing nicely in recovery.
Scott Hartnell – NSH (Undisclosed Injury)
Hartnell is expected to miss 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on Nov. 11 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Marcus Johansson – NJD (Concussion)
Johansson returned to the lineup Friday against the Colorado Avalanche.
Marc-Andre Fleury – VGK (Concussion)
Fleury suffered a concussion back on Oct. 13 and still has no official return date. He recently passed all his tests and is set to practice this week. Although no firm return date is set, there’s a good chance it will be mid-December.
Brad Marchand – BOS (Undisclosed Injury)
Marchand returned to the lineup Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Artturi Lehkonen – MON (Lower Body)
Lehkonen was placed on IR on Nov. 18 after suffering a lower-body injury on Nov. 11 against the Buffalo Sabres. No timetable has been set for his return.
Richard Rakell – ANA (Upper Body)
Rakell was placed on IR Friday but is expected to rejoin the Anaheim Ducks in Las Vegas on Tuesday with a chance to play. He’s missed the last five games.
Antti Raanta – ARI (Upper Body)
Raanta suffered an upper-body injury, possibly a concussion, on Nov. 22 versus the San Jose Sharks. He has been placed on IR this past week with no definite return date.
Alexander Wennberg – CBJ (Upper Body)
Wennberg returned to the lineup on Nov. 28 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Evgenii Dadonov – FLA (Shoulder)
Dadonov suffered a serious shoulder injury on Nov. 25 against the Chicago Blackhawks, and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
Radim Vrbata – FLA (Face)
Vrbata returned to the lineup on Dec. 1 against the San Jose Sharks.
Shea Weber – MTL (Lower Body)
Weber returned to the lineup on Dec. 2 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Kyle Palmieri – NJD (Foot)
Palmieri suffered a broken foot on Nov. 20 against the Minnesota Wild. He was placed on IR and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
Ryan McDonagh – NYR (Abdominal)
McDonagh returned to the lineup on Dec. 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Evgeni Malkin – PIT (Upper Body)
Malkin returned to the lineup on Dec. 1 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Martin Jones – SJS (Lower Body)
Jones returned to the lineup on Dec. 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
David Perron – VGK (Upper Body)
Perron suffered an upper-body injury on Nov. 24 and was placed on IR on Thursday. He was seen taking shots in practice Saturday, but still has no return date set.
Jakob Silfverberg – ANA (Upper Body)
Silfverberg suffered a lower-body injury on Nov. 29 against the St. Louis Blues. He’s missed the Anaheim Ducks past two games, but remains day-to-day.
Corey Crawford – CHI (Lower Body)
Crawford was placed on IR on Friday, but is not expected to be out long-term. He’s considered week-to-week, but is expected to return to the ice at some point this week.
Cam Talbot – EDM (Upper Body)
Talbot suffered an upper-body injury on Nov. 28 and was placed on IR on Nov. 30. He’s expected to miss at least two weeks.
Jared Spurgeon – MIN (Groin Strain)
Spurgeon will miss at least two weeks after suffering a groin strain. His earliest return will be mid-December.
Jonathan Drouin – MTL (Lower Body)
Drouin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He’s currently missed two straight games.
Ryan Johansen – NSH (Undisclosed Injury)
Johansen suffered an undisclosed injury on Dec. 3. The severity of the injury is unknown and he’s considered day-to-day for now.
Mika Zibanejad – NYR (Concussion)
Zibanejad suffered a concussion on Nov. 24 and is out indefinitely.
Matt Murray – PIT (Lower Body)
Murray suffered a lower-body injury on Nov. 27 and is considered week-to-week.
Tyler Bozak – TOR (Illness)
Bozak missed Saturday’s contest due to illness and is considered day-to-day.
I’ve been writing for over three years and have work published by the Calgary Herald, National Lacrosse League, Hard Knocks Fighting and The Weal at SAIT. Although I’ve covered many different topics as a journalist, sports writing remains my main passion and strength.