More Pettersson Magic, Chabot Channels Karlsson, plus more…
The season is now underway for all of the NHL’s 31 teams. Let’s take a tour around the league on the first busy Saturday of the NHL season, which featured numerous underdogs (Ottawa, Montreal, Dallas) knocking off some of the league’s top teams (Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Winnipeg, respectively).
Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac each scored two goals in the Devils’ 5-2 win over the Oilers in Gothenburg, Sweden. Miles Wood assisted on both of Zajac’s goals. Palmieri will be owned in the majority of leagues since he plays on the top line with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. The two-goal effort will likely vault Zajac to the top of the rankings of many unowned player lists, but Zajac has not scored more than 14 goals in each of the past four seasons. So I’m not really paying much attention here.
In a losing cause, Milan Lucic scored a power-play goal and added an assist. Why does that matter? In spite of being a preferred first-unit power-play option last season, Lucic scored just 3 PPG and 7 PPP last season. To boot, all of those power-play goals occurred before Christmas. But when you have five years left on a contract that pays $6 million, you’re going to receive plenty of rope in terms of opportunity. By the way, Lucic scored just one goal of any kind after Christmas.
It might only be two games, but the Montreal Canadiens haven’t looked that bad. After taking the Leafs to overtime on Wednesday, the Habs walked into Pittsburgh and defeated the Penguins 5-1. With the “A” on his jersey still fresh, Paul Byron scored two goals and added an assist to lead his team to victory. Artturi Lehkonen continued his strong start, assisting on both of Lehkonen’s goals. I mentioned Lehkonen recently as my dark horse, so I won’t reiterate on him. The slight, speedy Byron could also be a player to watch, though, as both he and Lehkonen form a line with newly acquired Max Domi.
In that same article, I mentioned Matt Murray as my bounceback. So far that prediction hasn’t looked so good, as he’s already allowed 11 goals over two games. Again, too early to press the panic button, but at least you’ve been alerted.
Conor Sheary looked sharp on Saturday, scoring two power-play goals in nearly 19 minutes of icetime in the Sabres’ 3-1 win over the Rangers. His performance and deployment on Saturday means that I’m fielding questions like this one:
I’m not one to make knee-jerk reaction roster transactions, especially early in the season. But there was a vast contrast of linemates between these two, at least on Saturday. Sheary was on the top line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Kevin Fiala lined up with the lesser combo of Frederick Gaudreau and Zac Rinaldo (I didn’t even know Rinaldo was still in the league!) Not surprisingly, Fiala was held without a point in just over 10 minutes of icetime. If you’re a Fiala owner, that’s difficult to stomach.
Ideally, I’d wait a bit, considering that line combos change all the time and the fact that Sheary’s projections could be all over the map. But the Dobber point projections for these two were actually fairly close. I don’t see the Preds wasting Fiala’s talents this way over the long term. But if this is truly a sign of things to come for Sheary, then I’d make the move.
Speaking of the Preds, Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals, including this beauty below which no doubt has Steve Laidlaw beaming.
Thomas Chabot doesn’t have the same upside as Erik Karlsson, but he’s building a very strong case for ownership in more fantasy leagues (only 26 percent of Yahoo leagues at the time I’m writing this). Chabot scored two goals and added an assist with a plus-4 and five shots on goal in 21:31 of icetime. And oh yeah, the Senators won 5-3 in Toronto. It will probably only go downhill from here for both, but don’t let the Sens’ super-low preseason projections sour you on Chabot. Someone has to occupy those first-unit power-play minutes that once belonged to Karlsson.
Also of note for Ottawa: Maxime Lajoie also received first-unit power-play minutes beside Chabot. The rookie scored a goal and added an assist in his first game. Although he didn’t get in on the scoring in Saturday’s game, he did see nearly 22 minutes of icetime. His Dobber Prospects profile doesn’t list him as a must-own in fantasy leagues, but his name is at least worth remembering in this season of transition in Ottawa.
Slow starts are par for the course for Frederik Andersen, who allowed four goals on just 19 shots to the Senators.
It seems to be common knowledge nowadays that Jonathan Toews isn’t a top-drawer fantasy option. Yet there he was on Saturday recording a hat trick, including the overtime winner. Alex DeBrincat assisted on two of Toews’ goals while lining up with Toews and newcomer Dominik Kahun. Toews is off to a fast start with five points over his first two games. Toews may turn out to be a worthwhile value pick outside the top 100.
We like to talk about lines here, so it’s worth mentioning one of the league’s top lines and what they were able to accomplish against one of the league’s top teams. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov combined for ten points in the Stars’ 5-1 win over Winnipeg. Seguin led the way in filling the statsheet with two goals, two assists, and eight shots on goal. The Stars’ scoring attack literally falls off a cliff after that, so don’t be surprised to see new coach Jim Montgomery split up this line of what are clearly his top three forwards. But the best scenario for the fantasy owners of the three aforementioned forwards would be that they stick together.
Will this Dustin Byfuglien hit from behind on Connor Carrick result in supplementary discipline? Completely unnecessary.
Saturday wasn’t without at least a couple of notable injuries. Roberto Luongo left Saturday’s game after teammate Frank Vatrano fell on his leg. James Reimer should already be one of the more commonly owned backups out there and is worth an add for those who need goaltending help. But the update below suggests that Luongo may not be as long as originally expected, although the extent of the injury is not known.
James van Riemsdyk also left Saturday’s game against Colorado during the first period with a lower-body injury.
The goaltending performance of the night goes to John Gibson, who stopped all 41 shots he faced in the Ducks’ 1-0 win over Arizona. Honorable mentions go to Carter Hutton, who stopped 43 of 44 shots he faced in earning a win; Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 42 of 43 shots he faced in earning his own W; and Devan Dubnyk, who stopped 41 of 42 shots even though he could not stop the Golden Knights in the shootout.
Elias Pettersson scored a goal and an assist in an exciting NHL debut, so what did he do for an encore? How about even more magic, scoring two more goals and adding an assist. There is a certain buzz whenever Pettersson touches the puck, between his quick shots and amazing passes. Truly talented players make others around them better, and that is what Pettersson is doing for linemates Nikolay Goldobin and Loui Eriksson – especially Goldobin. Each also have points over their first two games. You can’t ignore this upside – it’s time for Pettersson to be owned in all fantasy leagues by now.
Goldobin nearly had a goal on Saturday, but he was robbed by Mike Smith with this spectacular save (or was that Mike Vernon?) But watch the pass from Pettersson right before – you’ll see what I mean.
Pettersson has replaced Brock Boeser as the shiny new toy on the Canucks right now, especially on the first-unit power play. While everything Pettersson touches seems to turn to gold, something seems off with Boeser at the moment. After his season-ending back injury, Boeser would have had a late start to his offseason training. Yet so far Boeser has been held without a point and just two shots on goal, even though the Canucks have scored nine goals over their first two games. It may just take time for Boeser to get up to speed, but I can’t help but be worried that either his back or his wrist still aren’t 100 percent.
Another Elias was a difference-maker for the Flames. Elias Lindholm scored two goals and added an assist while earning power-play time with Calgary’s big boys and totaling over 21 minutes in icetime with the Flames. Hopefully you weren’t quick to drop him after he was held without a point and was a minus-4 after the Flames’ opener on Wednesday. So far the platoon with James Neal on the Flames’ top line has been tilted heavily in Lindholm’s favor. Perhaps Lindholm would be owned in more leagues if fantasy owners could trust that will be the case going forward.
Not to be outdone for the Flames, Matthew Tkachuk recorded four assists, including three on the power play. And Mark Giordano looked like the Giordano of old, scoring a goal and adding two assists with a plus-4 in 27 minutes of icetime. So far Gio has averaged 26 minutes per game over the first two games, although that can be explained by the fact that the Flames have had a combined total of 13 power plays. It’s possible that Giordano will be leaned on more heavily on the power play with Dougie Hamilton gone. Newly acquired Noah Hanifin has averaged only six seconds of power-play time over his first two games.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.