It’s getting to that point of the fantasy hockey season where owners need to start evaluating their teams. While some players still really haven’t played enough to give much of a sample size – Paul Stastny, Dany Heatley, all goaltenders – most teams have played at least 10 games so far this year. That gives us enough of a sample to work with which direction teams as a whole are going, as well as how players within those teams will be used by their coaches.
Remember, though, it’s still too early to give up on high draft picks. Guys like Anze Kopitar, Eric Staal, Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jeff Skinner need time to get into their groove (most of them because of injuries). Waiver wire adds shouldn’t be at the expense of anyone taken in the first four or five rounds this year.
With that said, here are a few guys to look at, with their accompanying ownership rates.
Charlie Coyle (Minnesota – C/RW) – 3.6-percent owned ESPN, 7-percent owned Yahoo
Minnesota has been shuffling their lines around quite a bit so far this year, and the latest round of shuffling has found Charlie Coyle playing on a line with Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu. He’s also playing on the second power play unit for the Wild.
This add for now would be a short-term add. This isn’t a situation that’s ideal for the rest of the season. Coyle, though, is riding pretty high percentages right now, a big reason why he’s carrying a plus-7 rating. But his individual shot attempts at even strength has gone up a bit from last year, his shots on goal are up a bit from last year, and he should be able to avoid tough matchups on the road as those will go to the Granlund line. All those factors mean that Coyle’s unsustainable percentages should be able to maintain at least for another few weeks. Again, this is a Band-Aid option, not a long-term fix.
Alex Killorn (Tampa Bay – LW) – 0.8-percent owned ESPN, 5-percent owned Yahoo
It has been a frustrating season so far for fantasy hockey owners who have hitched their wagons to the ancillary players in Tampa Bay. Guys like Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin have both been on the top line in Tampa Bay alongside Steven Stamkos, neither has lasted.
Of late, that position on the first line for the Lightning has gone to Alex Killorn. Killorn had a nice first 82-game season last year for the Lightning, posting 41 points in those contests, with 63 penalty minutes and over two shots per game registered. The downside was that of those 41 points, only eight came on the power play, less than 20-percent. Ideally, for fantasy hockey purposes, one-third of a player’s points will come on the power play, no less than 25-percent as a floor. As of today, Killorn has four points in seven games, with no power play points.
So why the recommendation? Well not only has he been put alongside Stamkos at even strength, he’s also been placed on the top power play unit. Their power play units are clicking along over 26-percent, it’s obviously a great spot to be. As a result, I would expect Killorn’s power play points to start going up. Maybe he doesn’t last, but for now, he’s a must-own in head-to-head leagues until his situation changes.
Morgan Rielly (Toronto – D) – 9.9-percent owned ESPN, 10-percent owned Yahoo
For those that include plus/minus in their league categories, having a Toronto defenseman isn’t necessarily ideal. This is a team that gives up a pile of shots, and that’s something that can lead to negative ratings.
Hopefully Morgan Rielly can be the exception here. So far this year, Rielly leads the Leafs’ defense corps in offensive zone start percentage (via War On Ice). That should lead to a good possession number, which it has, as he’s at 56.9-percent CorsiFor at ScoreClose. His relative possession numbers put him ahead of names like Duncan Keith and Ryan Suter so far this year (though situations aren’t similar). He’s being put in a position to succeed, and he’s doing just that.
Rielly is also getting second unit power play time, which is a bonus. What truly separates him, though, is his shooting: among 159 defensemen with at least 100 minutes played at even strength so far this year, Rielly leads all of them in individual shot attempts per 60 minutes (via Hockey Analysis). It’s by a good margin, too: he’s over 16-percent ahead of both Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, and is over 30-percent ahead of players at the bottom of the top-10. His shots can lead to offense, and his usage can too.
Niklas Svedberg (Boston – G) – 32.6-percent owned ESPN, 12-percent owned Yahoo
Svedberg was in this column last week, consider this the last call for him.
Boston has played 12 games so far this year, with eight starts going to Tuukka Rask and four starts to Svedberg. In those four starts (five games total), Svedberg has a .940 save percentage at all strengths.
The key number isn’t his save percentage – who knows what his true talent level is – it’s the starts. If Boston plans to give him one-third of the starts, that’s 25-30 games. Doing that on a team like Boston could lead to a top-20 finish in roto leagues by the end of the year. He should be owned in any league 10 teams or bigger where at least three goalies can be rostered.