Finally there is real hockey to talk about and actual fantasy results coming in! By now most leagues are done with their first match up and owners are starting to gain some insight into how their draft really went. Keep in mind that there is still a long season ahead, and unlike the Philadelphia Flyers, hitting the panic button after the first week of play is not a wise fantasy sports strategy.
Eric Staal is owned in 100% of leagues, but has not contributed anything worth mentioning to the fantasy score sheet as of yet. Does this mean you should panic and drop Staal for one of the players listed below in the watch list? NO. Staal is well known for starting slow, but he always seems to pull it together once he works off the rust.
Two years ago, I hit the panic button within the first month of the season when I dropped Scott Hartnell. I honestly cannot remember who I picked off the waiver wire as his replacement, but what I do remember is that Scott Hartnell went on to become one of the highest scorers in my friend’s lineup. Needless to say I learned my lesson about giving up on a player too early.
This does not mean you should not take a risk on a player off to a hot start, but understand that hot streaks come and go. If a player is off to a surprising start, they could very well turn cold in an instant. Lines that are favorable to fantasy value could change due to shuffling or injuries.
Value your assets accordingly and if you do want to take the risk on a waiver wire pickup, make sure it is one of your late round sleeper picks that you are dropping. Which is more likely: Eric Staal has a complete bust of a year, or that Damien Brunner continues his current scoring pace? Keeping things in perspective is key.
Union and Blue Fantasy Fix 004: Weekly Watch List:
Lars Eller (F) MTL: They may hate their EGG Line nickname, but Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher are off to the hottest start in the NHL. Galchenyuk and Gallagher are likely already owned in your league, but Eller is still available in 13% of ESPN leagues. As long as the EGG line is intact, they should provide excellent fantasy value.
Damien Brunner (F) NJ: Brunner is off to a fast start with NJ and is one of the biggest waiver pickups after the first week of play (+46.4%). He is still available in 13% of ESPN leagues. He did show some promise with the Red Wings, but was not a factor last year in fantasy. However, the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk left a giant hole in the Devils offense. So far Brunner has been given a chance to be one of the top scoring threats for the Devils. Playing alongside Patrick Elias further increases his fantasy value.
Seth Jones (D) NSH: Originally the consensus #1 pick for the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones fell further down the list and into the hands of the Nashville Predators. He is immediately getting top D pairing minutes alongside Shea Weber. After skating for 18:35 minutes in his NHL debut, he spent 25:46 on ice against the Avalanche and 25:02 on ice against the Wild. We are still awaiting his first NHL goal, but he did earn his first assist last night and as long as he is paired with Weber the points should come soon and fast. Jones is still available in 70% of ESPN leagues and is the perfect pickup if you are looking for a deeper D sleeper pickup.
Tomas Hertl: (F) SJ: Hertl was not seen as a factor in fantasy hockey at the start of the season, but then last night’s 4 goal game happened. To say Hertl is off to a hot start is an understatement, as he has 6 goals and 1 assist in his first 3 games. His ownership in the last 24 hours has increased +59.8%, but he is still available in 37% of ESPN leagues. Up front, it is highly unlikely that Hertl continues this scoring pace, but if you need a pickup to fill in for an injury or can make a low-risk drop, Hertl’s hot streak will be fantasy gold. Keep in mind that he can immediately turn cold over night.