With the NHL all-star game this coming weekend, this would be a good time to have a look at who the fantasy all-stars would be.
That list would be too obvious, and be made up with a bunch of players from the Western conference and the Tampa Bay Lightning. So I thought it would be better to put together a list of players who are having great seasons, but are also underappreciated.
Obviously, much of the value depends on settings. Leagues with hits and PIM will boost certain players, while including faceoffs would boost other guys.
10. Jordan Staal
Staal isn’t getting the respect he deserves this season, especially in leagues that count faceoffs. He is on pace for 23 goals, which would his highest since 2011-12. His 0.63 points per game and 2.33 shots per game are the highest since 2012-13. He is on pace for 185 hits, his highest since 2013-14. His ice time is the highest in five years. He’s owned in 33 per cent of Yahoo leagues despite contributing in many fantasy categories.
As a Habs fan, it still annoys me that the team decided to play hardball with Radulov and let him walk instead of locking him up in the middle of last season. The Russian has been dynamite in Dallas and isn’t getting the credit he deserves. Look at his on-pace numbers: 82 games, 31 goals, 75 points, 75 PIM, 196 shots, nine power play goals and 24 power play points. He and Evgeni Malkin are the only players with at least 18 goals, 44 points, 115 shots and 40 PIM.
At the start of December, I listed Oscar Klefbom as a player I pegged to bounce back from a poor start. Part of my reasoning was there was no one else in Edmonton to take over the top power play spot. How wrong I was. It took six weeks from when I wrote that, but Nurse took over the top power-play spot on Saturday night, notching four minutes of power-play time compared to Klefbom’s 0:29. That brought Nurse’s total career power play minutes to 31 in his 162-games career. Nurse has already hit a career high in goals, assists and points this year, but is also a beast in plus-minus (17), PIM (44), shots (109), hits (89) and blocked shots (84).
7. Pekka Rinne
I used to be a big believer that Rinne was done in Nashville after next season as the team would want the younger Juuse Saros tending nets. I am slowly moving away from that train of thought. Rinne is on pace for one of his best seasons yet. Rinne has 23 wins (fourth in the league), 2.42 GAA (10th with at least 15 games played) and .925 SV % (eighth). He has 23 quality starts (fourth). In one of my head-to-head leagues that counts wins, losses, GA, saves and shutouts, Rinne has been the third best goalie.
6. Joel Edmundson
Forget about the offense (although the six goals and 15 points are a great bonus). Edmundson is killing it in the peripheral categories with 89 shots, 81 hits, 51 PIM and 107 blocked shots. He’s the only player in the league with at least 85 shots, 80 hits, 50 PIM and 100 blocked shots. That’s extremely great value for a guy who is owned in only 22 per cent of Yahoo pools. Expect him to keep up these stats as he’s averaging almost 21 minutes a night, up three minutes from last year.
5. Milan Lucic
Lucic will never get the respect that he once had even though his fantasy stats aren’t too far off from where he was at his last few years in Boston. Just compare his last three years in Boston to his two years in Edmonton:
2013-14: 80 games, 24 goals, 59 points, plus-30, 91 PIM, 153 shots, 240 hits, 12 PPP
2014-15: 81 games, 18 goals, 44 points, plus-13, 81 PIM, 141 shots, 259 hits, 8 PPP
2015-16: 81 games, 20 goals, 55 points, plus-26, 79 PIM, 124 shots, 244 hits, 8 PPP
2016-17: 82 games, 23 goals, 50 points, minus-3, 50 PIM, 175 shots, 202 hits, 24 PPP
2017-18*: 82 games, 16 goals, 54 points, plus-10, 103 PIM, 159 shots, 237 hits, 10 PPP
What were people expecting? Many think he’s been a disaster in Edmonton because he signed a long-term big-money contract, and that’s been affecting his fantasy value. He hasn’t changed much and is still the same fantasy asset you can count on.
4. Mike Smith
Smith has been unbelievable for Calgary this season, and his stats look even better when you delve into the numbers a little bit. His record is 20-13-4, but eight of those losses have come when he has allowed two goals or less, and all four of his overtime/shootout losses have come with Smith allowing only one goal. He also leads the league in quality starts. His 20 wins is his best since 2013-24 and his .925 SV% and 2.42 GAA is his best since 2011-12. In a roto league of mine that counts wins, GAA and SV, Smith is ranked third.
Somewhat lost in the Lightning hype train is Brayden Point. The 21-year-old is on pace to match what so few players have done. Point is on pace to finish with 82 games, 34 goals, 75 points, plus-34, 36 PIM and 200 shots. If Point hits each of those marks, he’d be only the sixth player in NHL history to finish with that stat line. And that’s without top power play time, although he has been moved to the top man-advantage unit the last three games (Tampa has actually been experimenting with a five-forward power play unit recently).
2. Tom Wilson
I’m in a one-year head-to-head league that includes goals, assists, plus-minus, PIM, PPP, shots, faceoff wins, hits and blocked shots. Wilson was the 32nd highest ranked player in those settings before yesterday’s game. I’ve been able to stream Wilson in and out of my lineup all season as the other GMs don’t seem to realize Wilson’s value. Obviously, you don’t pick up Wilson for the points or the power play points, but he’s valuable for PIM and hits and contributes enough in other categories to be well worth a roster spot.
While much of the focus in Florida has been on James Reimer, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, Trocheck has been easily the best Florida Panther from a fantasy perspective, contributing in almost every fantasy category conceivable: 18 goals, 25 assists, 32 PIM, 7 PPG, 13 PPP, 2 SHG, 3 SHP, 163 shots, 461 faceoff wins, 80 hits and 34 blocked shots. His only negative is plus/minus where he is a minus-six, but overall, he’s been a fantasy beast this year. It’s crazy to think he was drafted, on average, in the 14th round of Yahoo pools and wasn’t even one of the top 75 centres chosen.
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