Frozen Tools Forensics – Pleasant Surprise Starts
Last week we covered some names out there in the fantasy universe bringing dismay to their owners early in the season. This week, let's embrace positivity that would make any human resources department gleeful and look at some players who are providing nice value despite lack of name brand recognition for their respective squads. Whilst none of the following is leading the league in scoring, several are either much later picks in drafts or still hanging out on the waiver wire in shallower leagues. If you drafted any of them, you look quite savvy to your competition and are enjoying their surprising usage in real life. Should they stick in their current roles it would surely provide the means for career seasons for each.
Many of you probably are reading this name and saying who in the world. A non-factor for anyone in 12-team settings or shallower, the 26-year old Swede is flying under the radar on the New York Rangers seeing frequent time on the top line with power forward Chris Kreider and red hot Mika Zibanejad. A Swiss Army knife player who can be deployed on any of the four lines, he possesses enough offensive ability to compliment the two aforementioned while providing stellar defensive play to allow them to focus on scoring. Fast has hit the 10 goal, 30-point plateau twice in his career playing in a more limited role under Alain Vigneault who never put him in the top six. Should he continue to see frequent time on a scoring line, he can easily cross the 40-point plateau, as the Rangers do not possess many right handed forwards and he’s one of them. With an underrated shot, let’s hope David Quinn keeps using Fast in an offensive role allowing owners to take advantage of a nice depth option on the waiver wire.
Vince Dunn gets a nod here solely because of the top power play spot he is currently holding. Nobody could have foreseen him usurping their captain for this position but Alex Pietrangelo is in for a horrendous season after having triplets and his one assist in eight games so far is no surprise to me. Though Dunn’s ice time is not strong seeing him fall below 15 minutes a night at times, if the points are flowing so be it. With three goals and one assist through six games played, the 21-year old is on a 55-point pace. Though I cannot see him even passing the 40-point plateau this early in his career, anything is possible, especially if he retains that cushy primary man advantage spot alongside Vladimir Tarasenko. Mike Yeo perplexes me choosing to put Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn on the second power play for the sake of talent spread but here’s to hoping a cold spell for the top unit leads to a super group in time. While you shouldn’t be leaning on Dunn in anyway whatsoever to anchor your defensive corps, he makes for a nice depth piece that could still come at a relatively cheap cost. Not strong in peripheral categories, look to Dunn for complimentary point production on your fantasy unit(s).
Here for the exact same reason as Dunn in that he has stolen the top power play spot away from Dustin Byfuglien, Josh Morrissey has taken the reins and gone on a hot streak so far this campaign. With seven points in the past eight games played and seeing almost 22 minutes a night on average, the Calgary native has been a bargain bin producer for those that invested. Morrissey has gotten slowly but surely better over the prior two campaigns to this one with increased point totals, shots, blocks, and ice time. Now in his third campaign in Manitoba, his role on the primary unit could propel him towards the 40-point plateau if not beyond should he stick. For unlike Dunn, who has pretty good talent around him, Morrissey is surrounded by dangerous studs on the Winnipeg Jets top unit that can score in bunches. The unit is firing at 32% currently which is entirely not sustainable but it would not surprise me to see the unit operate at or above 25% all year. If you selected the former Prince Albert Raider/Kelowna Rocket, you surely did not anticipate him taking Byfuglien’s place on the power play, so enjoy the production and pray it lasts.
The Ottawa Senators
A shout out to this team as a whole because all offseason they were disparaged left and right. Countless times I read the likes of “do not invest” and “no thanks”, when regarding selecting off their roster but look who's laughing now in the first quarter of the year. Erik Karlsson leaving was supposed to be the end of existence in the Canadian capital but high flying Thomas Chabot has stepped right into a more featured role and really asserted himself with 10 points in the first eight games. Matt Duchene is keenly aware he’s in a contract year and producing healthily to secure himself a long term deal either with the Senators or elsewhere while Mark Stone has nullified any thought he cannot produce on his own. Chris Tierney, an afterthought perhaps in the Karlsson deal, is showing he’s more than just a third line center. Add in hope for the future with a great start prior to injury for Brady Tkachuk and things are a lot brighter than they were supposed to be in Ottawa. Sitting currently at 4-3-1 in the standings many would’ve expected those numbers to be in reverse order. Although it is still quite early and things could go south quick, you have to love this team’s cohesion early on.
Neal Pionk showed up late on the scene for the New York Rangers in 2017-18, suiting up in 28 games total while registering an impressive 14 points, albeit 13 assists, from the blue line. The undrafted University of Minnesota-Duluth alum has been a gem for the Rangers since coming into the organization and now finds himself playing over 25 minutes a night at times this campaign, pacing the entire roster. The best all-around skater on the team by a landslide, he has added to his sneaky fantasy value recently by securing a role on the top power play in Manhattan. While this unit is by no means as dangerous as the Jets top deployment, there are tantalizing options for him to feed that can absolutely rip the puck. Though he’s a distributor at heart, Pionk has a good enough shot to score some goals if he keeps seeing time on the power play. I cannot foresee this being the case permanently but whether with power play time or not, he’s likely available on the waiver wire to fill holes for those that have lost the likes of Alexander Edler, Torey Krug, and Justin Schultz. On pace for 70 points currently, expect the eventual cool off but do not be shocked to see him go off for games at a time when he’s seeing important minutes consistently.
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