It has been a rough season for the Montreal Canadiens. With a record of 18-20-4, they find themselves sixth in the Atlantic division, 13 points out of a playoff position, and seven points out of the final wild-card spot. While things have certainly not gone right for the team as a whole, the is no shortage of valuable players on the roster to consider in fantasy hockey.
In this edition of Habs Fantasy Hockey Roundup, we will take a look at the top fantasy performers on the Canadiens midway through the season, and determine whether they deserve a starting position on your roster for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
This Season: 26 GP, 6 G, 10 A, 75 SOG, 6 Special Team Points, 1 GWG, 66 Hits, 59 Blocks
Availability is the best ability in hockey, and unfortunately for Shea Weber and fantasy owners, he is currently listed on the injured reserved list with a foot injury. He is expected to be out of the Canadiens’ lineup until at least after the All-Star break. The prognosis is bleak for now, but Weber has been one of Montreal’s top fantasy players this season while healthy.
Averaging 2.88 shots, 2.54 hits, and 2.27 blocks per game, the Habs’ alternate captain is an all-around player in the fantasy world. He is scoring 0.24 goals per game, third highest on the team, and has recorded at least a point in 10 of his 16 appearances this season. Weber is also a major threat on the power play due to his cannon-like slap-shot, making him an asset in leagues that count special team points. When he returns to action, he is a must start in all leagues, and should remain a fixture in starting lineups throughout the season.
This Season: 42 GP, 16 G, 7 A, 131 SOG, 7 Special Team Points, 2 GWG, 41 Hits, 25 Blocks
Brendan Gallagher has been without a doubt Montreal’s most effective forward so far this year. With a team-leading 16 goals, he is on pace to reach the 30-goal mark for the first time in his six-year career. The 25-year old right-winger is averaging over 3 shots on goal (3.12), and just under one hit (0.98) per game in 42 contests. His success this season can be credited in large part to his 12.2% shooting percentage, the highest its been since his rookie campaign, and 2.6 percent higher than his career average. Like he’s been all season long, Gallagher is a must start every night that the Canadiens play.
This Season: 42 GP, 10 G, 13 A, 165 SOG, 9 Special Team Points, 3 GWG, 66 Hits, 16 Blocks
Max Pacioretty’s struggles have been widely apparent all season long, so much so that there have been constant rumblings of a possible trade to another team. While his goal and point totals have been below his standards, he remains a valuable fantasy player thanks to his shot production. Averaging 3.93 shots on goal per game, Pacioretty is sixth in the NHL in that category. He can also be counted on in leagues that count hits, as he’s managed to average 1.57 per game thus far. With two goals in his last two games, the Canadiens captain may just be breaking out of the cold-streak that seems to have lasted all year-long. Whether or not the goals start coming in bunches like they have throughout his career, Pacioretty remains another must start Habs player in all league formats.
This Season: 42 GP, 4 G, 12 A, 84 SOG, 8 Special Team Points, 1 GWG, 96 Hits, 61 Blocks
In the absence of Weber, Jeff Petry has stepped up nicely, making him the most valuable blueliner for the Canadiens in fantasy right now. This season, Petry is averaging two shots on goal per game, but his real worth comes in leagues that count hits and blocks. In 42 games, he is averaging 2.29 hits and 1.45 blocks, third and sixth highest on the team, respectively. In nine games since Weber was place on injured reserved, Petry has recorded one goal and four assists, meaning that his value in fantasy will likely decrease once Weber returns. However, until then, Petry can be counted on in 12-man leagues, and is a quality spot-start throughout the year.
This Season: 42 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 83 SOG, 7 Special Team Points, 56 Hits, 20 Blocks
As one of the most versatile players on Montreal’s roster, Andrew Shaw brings value to fantasy owners in many different facets of the game. This season, he is averaging just under two shots on goal per game, and is currently tied for third on the team with 10 goals. Shaw can also either play right-wing or centre, making him eligible in two different positional slots, which is convenient when setting rosters on nights with a lot of games scheduled.
Recently, with the troubles that Jonathan Drouin has been having playing centre, it has been wondered if head coach Claude Julien would slide him onto the wing. In that case, Shaw would be a top candidate to replace the first-year Canadien, and could find himself centering a line with Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk. Shaw’s value is minimal in fantasy for now, but if that line ever materializes, keep on eye on him, as he could end up being an important depth centre in your lineup.
Honorable Mention: Phillip Danault
This Season: 42 GP, 7 G, 15 A, 84 SOG, 3 Special Team Points, 2 GWG, 52 Hits, 26 Blocks
While it has been a down season in terms of point production for a few Canadiens players, the fact that Danault is the second highest scorer on the team with 22 points in 42 games, should not be understated. Playing on a line with Pacioretty and rookie Charles Hudon, Danault has found some chemistry, averaging over two shots per game in the last five contests. The 24-year is most valuable in leagues who count faceoffs wins, as he’s averages over seven per game. While he has been one of the better fantasy options on the Canadiens this season, Danault should only be considered a spot-start in leagues with faceoffs.
I cover the Montreal Canadiens and Laval Rocket for The Hockey Writers. I am currently a student at the University of Concordia studying journalism in the hopes of one day becoming a full-time sports reporter. I have previously covered the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League for Pro Football Spot.