Wild West: An Avalanche of Points

by Kevin Wickersham on January 22, 2018

While Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Bernier are the headline grabbers of Colorado’s ten-game win streak there is much other Avalanche value to be had.

MacKinnon’s Hart-worthy efforts have been quite impressive. During their winning streak, the NHL’s longest this campaign, his eight goals and 11 assists have boosted him to second in the league in total points with 59 (23 G, 36 A in 45 contests). Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov tops him by only two, posting 27 G and 34 A playing in one more game.

Since Matt Duchene’s early November trade out of Denver, MacKinnon leads the league by a decent margin as top scorer. Registering 45 points in 31 games (19 G and 26 A) he’s six points ahead of his nearest challenger John Tavares who has six fewer points (14 G, 25 A) in three more contests.  

Top line partner Mikko Rantanen is also lighting up the scoreboard, surpassing a point-per-game pace in the same time span with 12 goals and 22 assists. That ranks in the NHL’s top 20 in points during the time span. It’s a real breakout for the 21-year-old Finn who managed 20 goals during last year’s nightmare in Denver rookie campaign, but has doubled his production from 0.51 points per game to 1.02 over the course of 2017-18.

Skating with those two, Gabriel Landeskog rounds out what might be the NHL’s best line contributing 16 goals and 34 points along with 65 hits (fourth on the squad) this year. His scoring too has increased without Duchene, landing 11 goals and 13 assists in 27 games. He has a good chance of surpassing his career best 65 point total gained In Colorado’s division winning 2013-14 campaign. Impressive rookie pivot Alexander Kerfoot doesn’t sit far behind the Avs’ top three racking up 30 points, totaling 14 on the man advantage which is good for third on the club, and a tidy 0.71 points per game average.

If you’re really hunting for hits and blocks in a deep multi-category league Gabriel Bourque can provide a boost. In Bourque’s first regular role since his 69-game 2014-15 Nashville campaign he’s picking up points in the scrappy categories (2.5 hits and a little over a block per game) skating primarily next to Tyson Jost and Colin Wilson.  

Erik Johnson (available in 35% of Fantrax leagues) leads a crop of blueliners that, buoyed by Colorado’s forward production as well as the resulting plus/minus benefits, have had a solid few weeks.

After a goal and an assist in Saturday’s home victory over the Rangers, Johnson has seven points in his last ten games. That’s somewhat of a recent phenomenon, pushed by the injury absence of Tyson Barrie, as he registered just 12 in his first 31 contests. Regardless of his scoring bursts and droughts, Johnson munches the minutes (25:40 per game, with that number climbing over 26 minutes minus Barrie) and offers significant peripheral production (76 hits, 92 blocks and 52 PIM for the club lead).  

Lightly-owned in Fantrax leagues, Colorado defenders Patrik Nemeth (21%) and Nikita Zadorov (37%) can each contribute to your multi-cat squad. As his ownership indicates, Zadorov is probably offers the most fantasy value of the two averaging 3.0 hits per game (118 in 40 contests, good for fourth among West rearguards) and chipping 55 blocks and a few points – three goals and ten assists.

Tied with Landeskog at plus-16 in spite of a -4.7 CF% rel, the left shot Nemeth has been a strong and physical force for Colorado since claimed in late October off waivers from Dallas. While playing in 12 fewer games than runner-up Johnson, his 97 blocks leads the squad and 3.1 blocks per game leads the league for defensemen getting regular play.

We’ll see how Barrie’s pending return influence this mix, but with the Avalanche playing so well they don’t need to rush him back. 

Bernier has run with the number one spot in Semyon Varlamov’s stead. With their usual top netminder posting a 13-9-2 record yet some tougher peripheral stats (2.87, .912) prior to re-aggravating his groin injury on January 2, Bernier has earned a 6-0-0 record with a 1.33 goals against and .962 save percentage. And he’s still only owned in 56% of Fantrax leagues.

Considering how Varlamov’s groin has bothered him in recent years, Bernier just might see extended time in net for a dangerous Colorado squad making a playoff push.

(Stats from prior to Monday’s games)

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