Nikolaj Ehlers - USA Today Sports Images


A quick look at the Young Stars games, brief World Cup talk, plus a path to taking advantage of mid-range depth …


I left a talking point at the end of my recap of the Kris Versteeg trade.

When are you going to confidently roster Versteeg this season in the majority of leagues?

He'll probably have to be in the midst of a hot streak, have a number of games in a short period of time, and a few of those games will have to be cushy matchups.

Personally, it'll take a free fall on draft day for any Hurricane to end up on my roster. And Justin Faulk and Eric Staal are the only two I would draft anyway.

Carolina aren't going to be very good or score many goals, which means you're looking at a lot of minus ratings without the offensive numbers to buoy fantasy value.

Are you going to want Versteeg locked into a left-wing slot for the California swing?

In daily fantasy, we look for these mismatches on a nightly basis, but seasonal players who view the waiver wire as an extension of their bench should also stream JAGs (hat tip to Cliffy, and for those who missed it — Just a Guy) in and out of their lineups based on matchups and favorable short term schedules.

In weekly head-to-head formats, it may look like having two rotating roster spots each week devoted to adding players who play four games. The likelihood of Versteeg out producing Tyler Tofoli in a given week is a lot higher if Versteeg has four games on the docket and Toffoli has three.

Is Toffoli just another guy, probably not, but he may be depending on the depth of the league and how willing you are to take on the risk of chasing upside and counting stats.

Obviously, there are transaction and games limits in a number of leagues, and this doesn't apply as seamlessly to dynasty formats.

Still, the deeper your league, the more open to streaming at least two skater slots on your roster you should be. The replacement level is just so high, and the variance in categories makes so many players valuable in certain ways.

Most importantly, though, is you'll often hook onto a hot player, and can ride out the streak. Next thing you know, he jumps up the depth chart and has a solid two month run.

When he slows down or is demoted, you move onto the next player. This is especially true for defensemen who land power-play time.

Matt Niskanen held value for most of last season in deep leagues when you just blindly look at his year-end totals. 16 of his 31 points came in just two months, though. So, if you rode the hot hand in November and went back to the well in March you had a high-end offensive defenseman. And he wasn't even doing damage with the man advantage.

Versteeg strung together a 20-point run over 16 games with a plus-12 rating and 13 penalty minutes last year.

Heck, David Booth went on an 11-game spurt with five goals, nine points, eight penalty minutes and a plus-four rating last season.

Is it going to work every time? 


However, when you assemble your team on draft day are you looking for your endgame picks to carry your team?

These periodic streamers should be viewed as the mortar holding your bricks together.

For example, say you drafted a balanced team but came up short in blocked shots the first two weeks of your head-to-head matchups, adding a defensemen with four games who blocks a lot shots weekly can make you more competitive in the category.

Set-and-forget players are great, but there aren't that many of them. 19 players scored 70 points last season, and 15 players scored 30 goals. There just aren't a lot of skaters well above replacement value.

77 players scored between 20 and 29 goals last season and 141 players posted between 40 and 60 points.

There are skaters who bring more to the table across categories who elevate themselves out of replacement level, but a lot don't.

So determine who are your lineup building blocks and take aim at the best mid-range players on a weekly basis. In non-weekly formats, keep a constant eye on when you can gain an advantage based on favorable matchups, game volume within a time period or just chase the hot hand.




One of the Toronto talk radio shows — maybe Leafs Lunch? — brought up Conor McDavid being handled with bubble wrap to ensure he enters the season healthy.

During the Young Stars game Friday, McDavid received a "big hit" from Jake Virtanen. McDavid also scored a goal and added an assist in the tilt, but you have to wonder how long the Oilers are prepared to run McDavid out there in meaningless games against guys trying to make an impression and stand out.

We're living in a bubble-wrap generation, though, and I don't have a firm stance on whether McDavid should be handled differently. There seems to be a lot at stake for a meaningless game, though.




I'm not sure if these have been shared before, but the World Cup of Hockey has dished out a number of articles on the teams. Looks like Finland and Russia are left, but I'm not sure how many teams there even are. Eight, right?


Czech Republic



United States

Team Europe

Team North America


I haven't made international hockey a must-watch priority in a long time. There is something about fringe fans emerging as passionate and devoted fans just because the teams are now organized based on imaginary lines.

However, because this happens, these events are essential for the hockey's growth, and the game needs fans, and it needs to appeal to a wider audience. I'm just cranky about stuff and already think people drive too fast in my subdivision.

I'm on board with the kid team and multi-national team, though. It is new and intersting.

The National Football League is the most successful empire in sports, and they're consistently tinkering with their product, for better or worse, in an attempt to improve.

It is nice to see something unique being attempted with the World Cup of Hockey. Maybe the kid team wins, wouldn't that be great?




Speaking of kids, Nikolaj Ehlers was held off the score sheet in his first game during his Young Stars game. He skated on a line with Brendan Lemieux and Nic Petan.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 of 20 shots.

In the previously mentioned game between the Oilers and Canucks, Brendan Gaunce scored and added an assist during their blow-out loss. I remember Gaunce intrigued me coming out of junior and in the draft.


Here is what the prospect guide had to say about Gaunce:

"The 2012 first-round pick was never drafted to be a fantasy star. A big, blue-collar centerman Gaunce plays a strong twoway game and knows how to use his size (6-2 205) in front of the net. Quick hands in tight and having the power to get to those areas earn him his points, but the bottom-six is where he is eventually destined to land. He will compete for a spot in camp along the fourth line with the big club, but another season of American League play to see if he can build off his strong playoff finish last year (five points in eight games) is no doubt in the books."




Enjoy your weekend, all.