The Florida Panthers may be playing awful this season but Tomas Kopecky is quietly producing.
Analysis: Tomas Kopecky has nine games under his belt and the fantasy world is starting to take notice. The first thing that stands out is the 14 penalty minutes. Couple that with the six points he has this year and you have an intriguing fantasy forward. Kopecky is only a minus-3 this year on a team that has a negative 11 goal differential, so that isn’t too bad. Another surprise with Kopecky this year is his ice time. He’s averaging eighteen minutes of ice time per game which is a career high for the thirty-one year old.
Kopecky is shooting more than ever as well. He has amassed 24 shots in just nine games this year and has 8 shots in his last two games. He’s getting power play minutes/points, penalty minutes, ice time and he’s scoring. In fact, he’s the highest fantasy rated Florida Panther this year ahead of Tomas Fleischmann. At the moment Kopecky is available in over ninety percent of fantasy leagues. Keep an eye on him for a few more games and see if he continues to contribute in at least five fantasy categories.
The Washington Capitals have not been playing well but Joel Ward has been one of the few bright spots thus far this season.
Analysis: Joel Ward has 4 goals and 2 assists in 7 games played this year. He is a plus-5 on a team with a minus 10 goal differential. He’s been posting up shop in front of the net for the most part is putting away the garbage. Ward was on a line with Mike Ribeiro Thursday night and scored a goal on a beautiful pass from him. Ribeiro is a playmaker and a permanent spot on his line would do Joel Ward some good. But… Adam Oates has been changing lines pretty much every game for the Caps this year as they struggle to find chemistry. Regardless, Ward is coming in to his own as a net-front power forward this year.
Ward isn’t a universal pick-up at this point, he still has a lot to work on from a fantasy perspective. He’s never been a big penalty minutes guy nor does he receive tons of ice time(14-15 min/g) but he is shooting more than ever and is getting some valuable secondary power play minutes. Ward is available in over ninety percent of leagues.
Valtteri Filppula is one of the most heavily dropped fantasy forwards thus far this year yet he is still contributing.
Analysis: Valtteri Filppula has five points in six games this year. He’s chewing up nearly eighteen minutes of ice time per game and has a plus/minus rating of plus-3. He even offers center and left wing position eligibility. I understand that in such a short season fantasy owners cannot wait for players to get through a slump but Filppula is not slumping. His knee appears to be fine and if it becomes a problem THEN you drop him from your squad not BEFORE like so many seem to be doing now. If you have been watching Detroit this year you know his play has been solid. Keep in mind that he’s coming off of a career year- 66 points, plus-18 and he’s still only twenty-eight years old.
Filppula isn’t going to rack up tons of power play points or penalty minutes but he does have a place in most leagues. If five points in six games, eighteen minutes of ice time and a solid plus/minus rating isn’t good enough then have fun losing your fantasy hockey league this year. Filppula is available in 20-30% of fantasy leagues nationwide so pick him up if he’s been dropped in your league.
Dan Hamhuis and Victor Hedman are off to great starts early this year yet they still are not getting much love in the fantasy world.
Analysis: Dan Hamhuis was a 37 point defenseman last year(22nd in NHL) that was also plus-29(2nd among D-men). Those are key stats for fantasy hockey owners but Dan Hamhuis is only owned in about half of fantasy leagues and only fifteen percent of dreaded ESPN leagues. Thus far this season Hamhuis has three points in four games and is averaging twenty-two minutes of ice time on an average of twenty-seven shifts per game. There is no excuse why he isn’t universally owned in fantasy leagues.
Victor Hedman is one of our sleepers this year and he too has been playing well. You really cannot judge Hedman strictly on his points per game production but he does have two points in four games. He chews up ice time(21 min/g) and will be contributing in plus/minus this year(plus-6 so far) because Tampa Bay is one improved hockey club. I know it’s early but he is the 27th ranked defensemen this season and he will finish in the top 40. Hedman is available in about forty percent of fantasy leagues.
Vladimir Tarasenko is the most polished rookie in the NHL this year and he is wasting no time scoring in bunches. Tarasenko has been a point per game player in the KHL over the last three years and has matured into a very special forward. Vlad already has 3 goals, 2 assists and 8 shots in two games this year. Expect about 40 points from the twenty-one year old Russian in this shortened season. But… keep an eye on his ice time- in two games he’s only averaging 14 minutes per game(the Blues are deep and defense oriented).
Mikael Granlund is probably the most anticipated European rookie this year after having spent the last few years playing in SM-liiga. Granlund does have one point in two games this year but he will not be relied upon much in Minnesota this season unless injuries hit the Wild. The off-season acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to go along with Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi will limit Granlund’s impact this year. Granlund is also averaging only 14 minutes of ice time per game thus far but don’t expect 40 points from him this year.
If you want to go the rookie rout in deeper leagues and I’m not talking about Nail Yakupov, you may want to consider Jakob Silfverberg, Cory Conacher or Jonathan Huberdeau(if he stays past five games).