Each week, I dive into the numbers to help make decisions when it comes time to make fantasy hockey decisions.
This week, Sean Monahan moves to Winnipeg, Troy Terry is streaking, Jonathan Quick is earning more playing time, Nazem Kadri is leading the way for Calgary, Dylan Cozens is starting to heat up in Buffalo, and much, much more!
#1 The Winnipeg Jets dipped into the trade market to acquire centre Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens. Monahan, healthy after years of having hip problems, has been enjoying a renaissance. He had put up 11 points (2 G, 9 A) in his last seven games with Montreal and while he has not recorded a point in his first two games with the Jets, Monahan does have six shots on goal and seems like he should be a reasonable option as the No. 2 centre in Winnipeg.
#2 With Monahan departing, Montreal is in dire straits down the middle of the ice behind captain Nick Suzuki. With Christian Dvorak and Kirby Dach out for the season and Alex Newhook still recovering from injury, Montreal has Jake Evans slotted into the second line centre spot, with AHL call-ups Brandon Gignac and Lucas Condotta filling out the bottom half of the centre depth chart. Evans has 14 points (2 G, 12 A) in 50 games, which is not exactly prime offensive production from a player who is already averaging a career high 15:45 of ice time per game.
#3 Anaheim Ducks right winger Troy Terry started slowly this season, scoring 13 points in his first 24 games, and that included a four-point game against Arizona on November 1. He has since picked up the pace and goes into Friday’s action riding a six-game point streak during which he has produced 10 points (4 G, 6 A) and 19 shots on goal. That’s a small sample, but the shot rate is encouraging. Terry averaged a career high 2.69 shots on goal per game last season and is sitting on 2.51 shots per game this season, so lifting his average up over three per game counts as progress and makes his production more sustainable.
#4 A bizarre goaltending season continues to wreak havoc for fantasy hockey managers. With Igor Shesterkin slumping, to the tune of a .863 save percentage in 10 games since the calendar flipped to 2024, the Rangers are now giving more starts to Jonathan Quick. For all of his career accolades, Quick is now 38 years old and had worse than average results in four of the previous five seasons. This season, he has a .919 save percentage and a 12-4-2 record in 19 appearances. With Shesterkin slumping, Quick is shockingly taking on a bigger role for the Blueshirts.
#5 While the season appears to be headed south for the Calgary Flames as a team, centre Nazem Kadri has picked up his production after a relatively slow start to the campaign. In his past 20 games, Kadri has 21 points (8 G, 13 A) and 67 shots on goal and with Elias Lindholm traded, Kadri becomes even more important as Calgary’s No. 1 centre.
#6 Following a breakthrough 2022-2023 season, Buffalo Sabres centre Dylan Cozens has not been as productive this season. However, with nine points (4 G, 5 A) and 23 shots on goal in his past eight games, Cozens is starting to look more like the rising star that he was a year ago. He is getting first unit power play time right now but has just five power play points this season, so that could be an area to increase potential point production.
#7 The goals are not coming as easily for Washington this season, but centre Dylan Strome remains a viable fantasy hockey option, at least for consideration in deeper leagues. Since December 30, he has 13 points (6 G, 7 A) and 34 shots on goal in 16 games. With Evgeny Kuznetsov in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, Strome is the most established scoring centre on the Capitals roster by a healthy margin and is naturally centering the top line between Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson.
#8 In his past 20 games, Philadelphia Flyers winger Joel Farabee has put up 21 points (6 G, 15 A) while registering 53 shots on goal. Skating on a line with Morgan Frost and Travis Konecny, in addition getting first unit power play time, is working for Farabee, who ranks 25th in the league with 35 even strength points. Farabee’s even strength production has been outstanding, but if he can become a factor on the power play, he could push towards a point per game scoring pace.
#9 Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Mikhail Sergachev suffered a broken leg in Wednesday’s loss at the New York Rangers, in his first game back after missing 17. Sergachev’s absence does open the door for Darren Raddysh to remain in a more significant role on the Lightning blueline. Raddysh has contributed eight points (4 G, 4 A) with 19 shots on goal in his past 12 games. He has played nearly 21 minutes per game over his past 20 games, the 27-year-old making himself a fixture on the Lightning blueline in his first full NHL season.
#10 While he could stand to put more pucks on net, Detroit Red Wings winger Lucas Raymond has contributed 15 points (3 G, 12 A) in his past 15 games, despite managing a modest 18 shots on goal. He is reaping the rewards of a high on-ice shooting percentage, 11.1 percent, and that is likely unsustainable, though riding with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Larkin on Detroit’s top line should help to keep Raymond’s percentages at least above average.
#11 With Jack Eichel still out of the lineup for the Vegas Golden Knights, they can be thankful that other centres have stepped up to fill the void. Chandler Stephenson has contributed 10 points (4 G, 6 A) with 22 shots on goal in the past 10 games and Nicolas Roy has 13 points (3 G, 10 A) in his past nine games. Since January 1, Roy is averaging 4.05 points per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, which is the best rate in the entire league for players that have played at least 100 five-on-five minutes. In Stephenson’s case, this re-emergence has come following a stretch during which he managed just two points (1 G, 1 A) in 12 games.
#12 Seattle Kraken right winger Jordan Eberle has had trouble getting on track this season but is making progress lately. In his past seven games, Eberle has put up nine points (4 G, 5 A) with 14 shots on goal. He is skating on a line with Tomas Tatar and Jared McCann and they have had some success. McCann has 13 points (6 G, 7 A) and 26 shots on goal in his past 10 games, while Tatar has four points (2 G, 2 A) in his past five games.
#13 In his second full season with the Buffalo Sabres, winger JJ Peterka has been the leading goal scorer for the team, which is a credit to Peterka, who has 18 goals after scoring seven points (5 G, 2 A) with 21 shots on goal in his past six games, but it’s also something of an indictment of more established scorers like Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson, and Alex Tuch, who have not produced to the levels that they have in previous seasons. Peterka is skating on a line with Dylan Cozens and rookie winger Zach Benson, a trio full of potential and a group that should get plenty of ice time for the rest of the season.
#14 There is not a lot to bring excitement to the San Jose Sharks’ season and it is rare to bring forth Sharks players for potential fantasy value. With that disclaimer out of the way, managers in deep leagues should keep tabs on William Eklund, the 21-year-old who was the seventh pick in the 2021 Draft. Eklund has six points (1 G, 5 A) in his past five games and is getting some reps at centre. He is also getting significant ice time, including first unit power play time, playing more than 20 minutes in four of his past seven contests.
#15 It has been a challenging season in Columbus, too. Johnny Gaudreau leads the Blue Jackets with just 32 points in 50 games. Patrik Laine is in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, and star rookie Adam Fantilli is out for two months with a lacerated calf. One bright spot has been the development of Yegor Chinakhov, the 23-year-old winger who was a surprise first-round pick in 2020. Chinakhov has seven points (4 G, 3 A) and 19 shots on goal in his past seven games and is up to 14 goals on the season. Like Eklund, Chinakhov is more of a concern for those in deep or dynasty leagues.
#16 There are few players that are worthy of fantasy consideration that play as little as Detroit Red Wings right winger Daniel Sprong. He was one of the most efficient players in the league with Seattle last season, scoring 46 points (21 G, 25 A) in 66 games while playing just 11:25 per game. When he signed with Detroit, the expectation was that Sprong would see a bump in ice time but, for the most part that hasn’t materialized. Even so, he has put up 10 points (4 G, 6 A) with 38 shots on goal in his past 13 games, while playing just 11:46 per game, since the calendar flipped to 2024.
#17 A defenceman who scored a career-high 20 points as a rookie in 2017-2018, Jan Rutta is suddenly contributing offensively for the San Jose Sharks. Not only does Rutta have six points (3 G, 3 A) in the past six games, but he is averaging 22:45 of ice time per game over that stretch. This is a more significant role for the veteran defender, but it’s also for a terrible team and he does not have a significant role on the power play, so maybe don’t rush to the waiver wire immediately, just consider him as a potential short-term option if injuries hit your blueline.
#18 The Jordan Binnington experience can be a bit of a roller coaster, with ups and downs, thrills, and spills, but when he is on, the St. Louis Blues netminder can be a difference maker. In 10 games since the Christmas break, for example, Binnington has a 6-3-1 record with a .928 save percentage. That will play in any league and makes Binnington a much more appealing fantasy option.
#19 Although it is difficult for any goaltender to put up great numbers in San Jose, Mackenzie Blackwood is doing his level best. In nine games since the Christmas break, the 27-year-old netminder has a 4-3-1 record with a .923 save percentage. It would be only the deepest of leagues that could justify taking a Sharks goaltender, but Blackwood is at least making himself a viable fantasy option and the way that goaltending has fluctuated throughout the league this season, it’s always worth considering one that is on a good run.
#20 Among players to play at least 150 minutes in all situations since January 1, the leaders for individual expected goals per 60 minutes are: Zach Hyman (2.64), Dmitri Voronkov (1.91), T.J. Oshie (1.89), Matthew Tkachuk (1.83), Chris Kreider (1.79), Kyle Palmieri (1.77), Yanni Gourde (1.71), John Tavares (1.64), David Pastrnak (1.62), and Joe Pavelski (1.62). A few things stand out. First, is that Hyman is getting way more chances than anyone else in the league but players like Voronkov, Oshie, Palmieri, and Gourde are all available in quite a few leagues. Fantasy hockey rewards actual goals rather than expected goals, but the process of generating expected goals should have a payoff with real goals at some point, too.