A ton of NHL games are being postponed but as of now, some teams are still playing their games a bit shorthanded. This creates the opportunity for many players to step up and get into the lineups while top-six players are on COVID-protocol (“Flames among 3 NHL teams shut down through holiday break amid rising COVID-19 cases”, CBC, Dec. 17, 2021). Pickups will be key this week, as your team is most likely affected by games being postponed.
Think of more of these players as rentals until the NHL can get healthy again. Keep in mind, that the NHL will have a few days off at Christmas as well but some teams will still try and squeeze in three games in the next four days.
Teams that play three games include the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, and Montreal Canadiens. While there are a few teams that don’t play at all including the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators. Players from these teams may not help you early this week but could serve you in the longer run.
(Rostered as of Dec. 19, ESPN Fantasy Hockey)
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators (rostered 6.1%)
The Nashville Predators are on a seven-game winning streak. Despite not playing for the next four days, Tanner Jeannot has stepped up and has been playing on the top line with Filip Forsberg. He has two goals and four assists over the past five games.
The added value in Jeannot, even if he gets demoted a little when players start to return, is the number of penalty minutes he gets. He has 38 so far, and over an 82-game span, that adds up to over 100. Anytime a player can combine grit and points, it automatically raises his value in most fantasy hockey formats.
Ondrej Kase, Toronto Maple Leafs (11.7%)
There’s more value in adding Ondrej Kase for the short-term rather than thinking he will provide necessary fantasy points for the rest of the year. With Mitch Marner out with an injury, that gives it a more unpredictable timetable for his return. In the meantime, Kase has assumed first-line duties beside Auston Matthews and has taken full advantage.
Since being promoted, he’s seen his ice time increase by five to six minutes and played close to 21 minutes in their last game. An underrated talent since he’s been held back by injuries, Kase knows how to produce if given the opportunity. He recorded three goals and seven points in his last five games dating back to even before he got promoted.
Warren Foegele, Edmonton Oilers (0.3%)
Warren Foegele was one of the forwards on Edmonton that really needed to get going. During their six-game losing streak, despite the effort, pucks were just not finding the back of the net. His work didn’t go unnoticed as he was promoted to the top line with Connor McDavid after Zach Hyman got injured and was listed as day-to-day, missing the past two games.
Since being elevated, he has scored three goals in the past two games. With Jesse Puljujarvi and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in COVID-protocol, he received power-play minutes, scoring on one of them. The power-play time won’t last and neither will his top-line minutes. But take advantage of his play while he is on the ice with McDavid and keep an eye on him after the Oilers’ players start to return, as his confidence has definitely risen and it will make the third line more effective.
Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche (28.5%)
Valeri Nichushkin has gone under the radar in most fantasy hockey leagues. A once highly-touted player, his career started in a different manner and went off the rails. Once returning and signing with the Avalanche for cheap, he has found his stride and is consistently putting up points this year.
He’s got a bit more opportunities with injuries to top players, especially now since Nichushkin is skating with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the top line while Gabriel Landeskog is on the injured reserve. He is well worth the add for the long-term as Colorado is a very high-scoring team and he has 16 points in 18 games this season.
Oliver Wahlstrom, New York Islanders (6.8%)
Oliver Wahlstrom appears on the suggested players to pick up once again. Sooner or later, he will get that spot on the first line, but for now, he was finally elevated to the second line to play beside Anders Lee and J.G. Pageau. He has three goals and five assists in his past seven games on a New York Islanders team that is scoring a bit more. He adds more value in taking penalties and shooting a ton.
Alexandre Carrier, Nashville Predators (0.6%)
Alexandre Carrier has been a very solid player who’s flown under the radar for most people. He has four assists in his past three games and adds a great mix of plus/minus, penalty minutes, and hits. He is locked in on the second pairing with Mattias Ekholm.
The Predators have blown away expectations after trading away the likes of Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis, and with offensive production, Carrier will continue to benefit off of it.
Noah Dobson, New York Islanders (14.3%)
The injury to Ryan Pulock has really elevated the stock of Noah Dobson. He is being relied on more to play bigger minutes while pulling duties on the first power play. While his ice time was hanging around sub-20 minutes per night before, he has been well over 20 minutes per night, playing 26:14 six games ago.
He has also been shooting a lot more since having an increased role on the team while adding three goals and five points over a span of seven games.
Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers (10%)
With Philadelphia back to its winning ways after a long slide, Travis Sanheim is taking advantage of the increased production offensively. On a team that has generally struggled throughout the year, he isn’t one that fingers have been pointed at. Over the past three games, Sanheim has two goals and two assists, half of his totals on the year.
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (2.6%)
Mike Smith is inching closer and closer to returning but in the meantime with Mikko Koskinen struggling, Stuart Skinner has started in back-to-back games, helping the Oilers snap their six-game losing streak. The Oilers have been widely outshooting opponents since game three of their six-game slide and the goals have finally started to come, giving Skinner the goal-support he deserves.
He now has four wins in nine starts while sporting a .916 save percentage (SV%). The confidence and the shooting percentage of the Oilers is back, so in the short-term, even if Skinner has an off night, the team may be able to cover that up as they did for Koskinen on a number of occasions earlier in the season.
Anton Forsberg, Ottawa Senators (3.4%)
It looks like Anton Forsberg‘s crease to lose, as he has started seven of the past eight games for the Senators. Before dropping two games in a row, he was holding the team in there for five consecutive wins. The goalie market is always scarce, so you could benefit from a starting goalie who can put up decent stats and give your fantasy team starts.
This will be a weird week in fantasy and you should expect it to carry over to week 12. Some of these players may not hold value for more than a week, so take advantage while they’re hot and have a great opportunity to contribute to your fantasy team. Check back next Sunday for the preview of next week.
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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.