Fantasy titles are won often by those who make a good number of deft pickups throughout the year rather than relying too exclusively on the players they drafted. Particularly in deep, multi-category leagues it’s crucial to monitor those who rack up peripheral stats than can round out your lineup in the less glamorous and/or gritty areas such as hits, blocks, penalty minutes, plus-minus and faceoffs. Here are some you might want to target emerging as we hit the one-quarter mark of the Western Conference schedule.
Note: all ownership percentages pertain to Fantrax leagues
Derek Dorsett, RW – Vancouver - 41% owned
Injured and out most of last year, Dorsett has returned with a vengeance. Serving as the Canucks’ third-line right wing he leads the league with 74 penalty minutes and stands second on Vancouver with seven goals, including two short-handed which sits just behind Evander Kane’s three for the NHL’s most. With a 26.9 shot percentage his pace is likely to slow, but Dorsett is valuable in so many other areas. His 1.9 hits per game average isn’t earth-shattering but also a valuable asset if you need a peripheral boost.
Antoine Vermette, C – Anaheim – 18% owned
One who is perpetually on this list as a master of the faceoff, Vermette ranks sixth in the league with 229 and an ungodly 64.3% success rate. That gives him a chance to reach 1,000 faceoffs by season end, a feat he’s achieved once in his career – 1,005 with the old Phoenix Coyotes in 2013-14. Last year just Ryan O’Reilly, Patrice Bergeron and Duck teammate Ryan Kesler reached that mark. It’s no coincidence Vermette’s elevated numbers coincide with the severe injury rash Anaheim has endured thus far, but even if his faceoffs slow down he may keep his current role on the second power-play unit. While he’s yet to register a point on the man advantage this campaign his eleven power play points last year, five of them goals, show he can bring additional benefit.
Colton Sissons, C – Nashville – 11% owned
Sissons is another all-around, deep-league add that provides consistent quality across a variety of categories. In a third-line pivot role sandwiched between Calle Jarnkrok and Miikka Salomaki he’s registered three goals and four assists, two on the power play, contributing an impressive 59.6% faceoff success rate with the squad’s second-best faceoff win total at 146. He’s a staple in Nashville’s defensive scheme seeing a miniscule 29.6% offensive zone starts that makes his offensive production, on target to hit about 30 points this year, all the more impressive. He’s racked up 25 hits as well, and averaged nearly two a game last year.
Brandon Sutter, C – Vancouver – 14% owned
Centering the Dorsett line, Sutter is a good source of faceoff wins you may want to take advantage of if your league counts the stat. At 186 through 20 contests he’s ranked 20th in the NHL. That’s not bad considering most of the top faceoff men also have high scoring totals and thus aren’t readily available. It’s a bit of a one-dimensional add as Sutter won’t likely get you more than 30 points and doesn’t add much in other categories, but with centers in high demand in deep leagues Sutter could fill a niche.
Luke Schenn, D – Arizona – 15% owned
In another tough year thus far for the Coyotes Schenn remains a constant source of hits and blocked shots while paired with Alex Goligoski on their second line. If your league maintains a salary cap his expiring $1.25 M deal is a bargain considering his 71 hits, good for second in the league and an average of 3.2 per contest. While the Saskatoon native’s blocked shot totals aren’t quite as impressive, his 32 ranks in the top 50. He’s probably good for about 80 penalty minutes too having registered 82 and 85 over the past two campaigns. His 2017-18 PIM total is 14 thus far. The plus-minus isn’t pretty at minus-7, but if your roster can absorb that and doesn’t need scoring from his spot, Schenn is worth a look. Not a bad candidate for a bench blue line role as a peripheral specialist when your lineup needs a boost but doesn’t need to sweat the plus/minus.
Tyler Myers, D – Winnipeg – 50% owned
Myers is a bit more pricey than Schenn at $5.5 M over the next two years, but again that only matters if you have a salary cap. As a third pairing on the Jets’ blue line nothing in his stat line really stands out, but Myers has been a solid contributor across the board in 2017-18. Coming off a year largely lost to injury, the big Texan is on pace for a 30-point campaign with two goals and five assists in 19 contests and sports a plus-seven, a decent 14 penalty minutes total and 21 blocks, a couple of game-winners and three power-play points including a goal on the second unit. I doubt you want him as one of your top options on defense, but if he can continue in this vein and Winnipeg keeps winning (currently second in the West with a 12-4-3 record and 27 points) he might deserve a roster spot in deep leagues.
Eric Gryba, D – Edmonton – 6% owned
He doesn’t always play, and when he does he doesn’t get tons of minutes (15:09 average per game this year), but his hits and penalty minutes can help you in the deepest of leagues. He won’t cost much at $900k over the next two years while seeing bottom pairing duty, but averaging more than three hits per game (49 in 16 contests) Gryba ranks near Borowiecki and Marcus Foligno. At 25 penalty minutes he isn’t among league leaders, but he should rack up about 80 or so in limited play. A good asset if you have room on the bench and watch the Oilers’ pre-game scratch lists closely.
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