Lining Up: The First Week of the 2018-19 Season
Hey you! Yeah, I’m talking to you. You seem like the type of person to make smart decisions. You know how I know that? Not only did you click on this article, but you also follow me on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza for the latest line combinations and injury news. Above all, I know you’re a smart cookie because you purchased the Dobber Fantasy guide from or shop over here. New research suggests that purchasing our fantasy guide instantly doubles your IQ, and I know our readers are the most intelligent out there. In all seriousness, the guide is an awesome reference throughout the season as you evaluate trades and decide who to add and drop. But don’t take my word for it, check out one of my favourite quotes: a famous person once said (probably), “behind every fantasy hockey champion is a Dobber Fantasy guide.” Profound stuff!
Here on ‘Lining Up’ we like to evaluate various line combinations during the season, analyzing whether or not they have the legs to survive a gruelling 82-game marathon. Since the season hasn’t quite started, this week our focus will be on waiver wire targets. More specifically, players who will be playing a lot of games alongside quality line mates. While the length of this opening week might vary depending on your league’s host platform, we’re going to consider the longer week, which runs from Wednesday October 3rd to Sunday October 14th. During that span, teams play anywhere from three to six games. Here’s a more detailed look…
Six Games Played – Five Teams
Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights
Five Games Played – 16 Teams
Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets
Four Games Played – Six Teams
Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins,
Three Games Played – Four Teams
Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning
As you can see, most teams play five games over the next week, but there are a handful of teams that play six. Reviewing the line combinations of those five teams should help us identify a few players to target for this week.
Ryan Getzlaf has proven his value in fantasy leagues time and time again. He has the tools to be a point-per-game player in the NHL and hasn’t shown any significant signs of slowing down. While he was limited to just 56 games last season, most of the time he missed was due to a fractured zygomatic bone. How did that happen? He took a puck to the face. Definitely a case of bad luck, not an example of his body slowing down due to age-related decline.
Rickard Rakell is another name you’re probably familiar with by now, and for good reason. The 25-year-old forward has been consistently improving throughout his career and took a huge step forward with 69 points in 77 games last season. If he and Getzlaf can stay healthy, I fully expect both of them to break the 70-point barrier this year. What makes guys like Getzlaf and Rakell even more valuable is the fact that Anaheim plays more than 60% of their games on off-days (Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday). That’s the highest in the league by a fair margin!
While big names like Getzlaf and Rakell probably aren’t available on the waiver wire, the third member of this line can provide some sneaky value this week. 21-year-old Troy Terry is still available in 95% of leagues and will be given a bigger role in Corey Perry’s absence (out five months after knee surgery). Terry – a skilled puck handler – managed 48 points in 39 games for the University of Denver in 2017-2018. For more insight into Terry’s development, check out what the boys at Dobber Prospects have to say here.
Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny are very good hockey players who both have the ability to break the 60-point mark this season. Pacoretty is a prolific goal-scorer and Stastny is the best centre he has ever played with – a match made in Vegas! Since the Golden Knights’ top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith was so good last season, they’ll probably remain intact and leave Pacioretty and Stastny on the second line. While the third member of the second line isn’t quite set in stone, that role currently belongs to Erik Haula. The 27-year-old forward tallied 55 points in 76 games last season but was avoided in many drafts due to the uncertainty surrounding where in the lineup he would play. Haula should at least begin the season with Pacioretty and Stastny, making him a good add for this first week of action. He’s currently owned in just 25% of Yahoo leagues!
I know this isn’t San Jose’s top line, but I figured guys like Hertl and Meier would be much more attainable in fantasy leagues than the likes of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane. The 21-year-old Meier was drafted ninth overall in 2015 and posted 36 points in 81 games last season. He should take another step forward this season as he continues to develop. Tomas Hertl is slightly farther along in his development, but the results seem underwhelming so far. While Hertl hasn’t yet reached the 50-point mark in the NHL, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens this season. His C/LW/RW eligibility should make him easy to integrate into your lineup.
I’m going to be completely honest, I have no idea what the top-six is going to look like in Carolina because of all the young talent they have. I’m not sure how the team is going to play highly-touted prospects like Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov. At this point, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho are the only players whom I know will be on one of the top two lines. Maybe Micheal Ferland and Jordan Staal as well? What’s made this even more interesting is the emergence of two amazing names I’ve never heard of before: Valentin Zykov and Warren Foegele. For what it’s worth, Foegele had seven points in five preseason games and spent time alongside Aho and Teravainen on what might be the team’s top line. His hard work impressed coach Rod Brind’Amour who remarked, “even if he doesn’t produce points or whatever, you just feel like he wins his shifts”. While it might be smart to wait until the Hurricanes have announced who’s playing where, I wouldn’t fault you for adding one of Necas, Svechnikov or Foegele.
The landscape of Toronto’s forward lineup should change once William Nylander re-signs, but until then, Tyler Ennis is in a great spot beside Matthews and Marleau. While I wouldn’t recommend Ennis long-term, he makes a good add for this week considering the Leafs play a league-high six games between October 3rd and October 14th and he’s currently available in 96% of leagues! Although, with a name like T. Ennis, I’m surprised he decided to play hockey! (His name spells out tennis.) After both making and explaining that awful joke, I’m beginning to question why Dobber even lets me write these articles…
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