It still feels strange that there's cold weather yet no NHL hockey being played. But it's business as usual here at the mailbag, where I answer your fantasy hockey questions while also giving advice that should be useful to all poolies even if they don't own the specific players being discussed. As a reminder, if you want your fantasy hockey question answered in the next mailbag, check out the end of the column, where I explain the ways to get it to me. The earlier you send me a question the more likely it is to be included, and the deeper dive I can provide with my reply.
Question #1 (from Anthony)
I'm in a 12-team points only keep four league where each team starts 5F, 3D, 1G. I've narrowed potential keepers to: Nathan MacKinnon, Evgeni Malkin, Mark Scheifele, Mika Zibanejad, and John Carlson. My sure things are MacKinnon and Carlson. Which of the other three does not make the cut?
One missing piece of information is whether there are IR spots; however, for purposes of answering this question, I'll assume there are. This is relevant when talking about Malkin, as he's still as elite as they come when healthy; but if there was no IR, that would be a factor.
I totally agree about MacKinnon and Carlson. MacKinnon should be a top three, or at worst top five, scorer for the foreseeable future. Carlson, although turning 31 in January, has undoubtedly the best deployment of any rearguard when it comes to scoring and has shown he's a points machine.
If there is an IR, I think Malkin has to be a keeper. Looking at the last three seasons, each of which came after Malkin turned 30, he's cumulatively sixth in the NHL in points per game (1.21) with two of the top 16 points per game outputs in these three seasons. And although he does miss time each season, let's say misses 15 total games. If he gets 1.21 points per game in the 67 he plays, that's 81 points; and when you add the output of the player who takes his place, you get 90-95+ points from that lineup spot. So even with him all but assured to miss time every season, if there's an IR he's still a must keep.
Zibanejad has arrived as an elite NHLer. Yes, his shooting percentage last