In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll discuss early answers to some questions we had during the offseason.
Is there fantasy value in Toronto's supporting cast?
The Leafs dished out numerous low-cost contracts during the offseason to round out their roster. Michael Bunting, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie were among these signings and became intriguing fantasy options due to anticipated deployment beside Toronto's superstars. Of the three players, Bunting has been the most valuable so far, tallying five points through nine appearances. He seems to have solidified a top-six role for himself, averaging 15 minutes a night with frequent deployment beside William Nylander. In contrast, Kase has been stuck in a depth role, seeing 12 and a half minutes per game, mostly skating beside David Kampf and Pierre Engvall. Nick Ritchie has probably been the most disappointing of the three, tallying just one assist through nine outings despite many opportunities in the top-six alongside different combinations of the Leafs' best forwards. It's important to note that Toronto's offense has underperformed so far this year, sitting 27th in the league with 2.33 goals per game. Perhaps the team's supporting cast will see a boost in fantasy value once the young stars inevitably find their groove.
Who's the top power-play defenseman in Philadelphia?
Following the offseason acquisitions of Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle, the Flyers entered the 2021-2022 campaign with four defenseman who were qualified to play on the team's top power-play unit – the three newcomers and Ivan Provorov. In October, Keith Yandle held the most prominent power-play role among Philly's blueliners, claiming a 58-percent share of the team's total time with the man advantage. Through seven appearances this season, Yandle has five points – two of which were scored on the power play. Now, Ellis and Ristolainen have missed some time due to injuries this year, so what we've seen so far may not be a reliable representation of what's to come. In fact, during Monday's practice, Provorov was skating on the top unit with the team's top offensive forwards, while Ristolainen and Yandle were on the second unit. Ellis is still sidelined with a lower-body injury, so we'll see how things change once he returns to the lineup.
Who's the most valuable netminder in Boston?
The Bruins have only played seven games, so it's too early to make confident conclusions about their goaltending situation. With that being said, Linus Ullmark has outperformed Jeremy Swayman in this small sam