Eastern Edge – Not your Typical Second Liners

Eric Daoust

2016-06-28

Jack Eichel - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

A closer look at a few secondary scorers to target in fantasy drafts …

 

In the fantasy hockey world, secondary scorers play an important role. While they usually do not produce at the same level as bigger-name stars, getting the most out of them is essential in separating your team from your fiercest league rivals. This is made more difficult by the wide range of point totals we see from these players. With the team’s top players played to their strengths and receiving top-level ice time, this can come at the expense of those lower on the depth chart.

There are many factors that will greatly influence these second-line players. As with most players, overall ice time and opportunities on the power play are key. Zone starts also play a role in some instances, especially when good two-way forwards play in difficult situations, freeing up others to play in more offensive situations. An underrated factor is injuries throughout the lineup. When the team’s depth thins out, secondary players could be left with weak linemates which evidently has a negative impact on the score sheet. On the other hand, injuries can also help new players rise to fantasy-relevance.

As mentioned last week in the Wild West, David Krejci and Evgeny Kuznetsov are extreme examples of players not on their respective team’s top line but produce like stars. Today, we will look at other examples of secondary scorers set up for success throughout the Eastern Conference. The goal is to look at these players and find which factors help them find success. This will help identify similar situations in the future.

 

Jack Eichel – Buffalo

Last year’s second-overall pick had a very successful rookie campaign with 56 points. In addition to his immense talent, the Sabres did well to surround Eichel with sufficient offensive players to put him in a position to succeed out of the gate. The top acquisition was Ryan O’Reilly, one of the better two-way centers in the league. O’Reilly logged a ton of minutes and was deployed more in defensive situations (47 percent zone starts) which allowed Eichel (53 percent) to play a more sheltered role.

Even though he is listed as the Sabres’ second-line center, Eichel still logged more than 19 minutes per game including an average of three minutes on the power play. This gave the rookie plenty of time to pick up points while his top-unit power-play assignment put him out there with the team’s best players.

There is a possibility the Sabres could make a splash this summer including their attempt to land star free-agent Steven Stamkos. If the team were to acquire a big name, Eichel would not be pushed down the depth chart. He has golden boy status and will always have good linemates whenever possible. In fact, landing someone at the level of Stamkos would bolster the Sabr