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CULLEN: 20 FANTASY POINTS – Kane is on his way to Detroit – Bruins are still getting big production from their centres – Neighbours is turning into a sniper in St. Louis plus much more ..

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 24: Look on Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) during the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on January 24, 2023, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

Each week, I dive into the numbers to help make decisions when it comes time to make fantasy hockey decisions.

This week, Patrick Kane is on his way to Detroit, the Bruins are still getting big production from their centres, and Jake Neighbours is turning into a sniper in St. Louis.

#1 The Patrick Kane Sweepstakes ended with the 35-year-old right winger signing with the Red Wings. Kane is coming off hip surgery and last season’s 57 points in 73 games represented the lowest per-game scoring rate (0.78 ppg) of his career. He could end up on a line with Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat, which would obviously be a favourable situation, but context is necessary. While Kane should be able to add skill to the Red Wings attack, but there is risk that the combination of his age and the fact that he is recovering from hip surgery might not be the ideal situation for producing a point per game like he used to on a perennial basis.

#2 When the Boston Bruins lost Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement in the offseason, there was naturally some skepticism that they would be able to fill those holes in the lineup. Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha are the two veterans who have needed to handle that responsibility down the middle of the ice and they have thrived. Coyle has 17 points (9 G, 8 A) in his past 18 games and Zacha has 17 points (8 G, 9 A) in his past 17 games. Coyle’s career high in points is 56, set in 2016-2017 with Minnesota. Zacha’s career high is 57 points, set last season with Boston.

#3 St. Louis Blues winger Jake Neighbours is starting to find his range after a slow start to the season. The 21-year-old has found his way to the top line with Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich, scoring eight points (7 G, 1 A) in his past eight games. That is his only assist in 22 games, so there is room for improvement there, but the 2020 first-round pick is in a spot where he can make the most of his finishing ability. He has played more than 20 minutes in each of his past two games, and nothing will boost a young player’s confidence like a coach showing that kind of faith in his ability.

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: Look on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson (8) during the Tampa Bay Lightning versus the Montreal Canadiens game on March 21, 2023, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

#4 Prior to joining the Montreal Canadiens last season, defenceman Mike Matheson recorded a career-high 31 points in 2021-2022. Since then, Matheson has produced 51 points (13 G, 38 A) in 71 games which is good for 0.72 points per game, ranking 16th among blueliners that have played at least 50 games. It puts him just behind Victor Hedman and higher than Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Burns, Morgan Rielly, and more.

#5 There are just two players on the Seattle Kraken with more points than Eeli Tolvanen, last season’s waiver acquisition from the Nashville Predators. In his past 16 games, Tolvanen has 14 points (6 G, 8 A), giving him 16 points on the season. With injuries to Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Burakovsky, Tolvanen is getting more ice time and making the most of the opportunities afforded to him.

#6 The leading goal scorer for the Los Angeles Kings this season is Trevor Moore, the speedy winger whose career high was 17 goals in 2021-2022 but already has 11 goals and eight assists in 20 games this season. Moore has consistently played with Phillip Danault as his centre, and they now have Kevin Fiala on the left wide, which raises the offensive ceiling for that line.

#7 Acquired from New Jersey in the Tyler Toffoli trade, Yegor Sharangovich started very slowly in Calgary, with two points (1 G, 1 A) and 15 shots on goal in his first 10 games. He has five points (3 G, 2 A) in his past seven games, and has secured a spot on a line with Andrew Mangiapane and Elias Lindholm. Sharangovich played a season-high 21:56 in Monday’s win against Vegas before playing 21:29 in Thursday’s victory against Dallas. That’s a huge role.

#8 It has taken Carolina Hurricanes left winger Andrei Svechnikov some time to get going as he works his way back from a torn ACL, but it does seem that the 23-year-old winger is getting into a groove. He has five points (1 G, 4 A) and 14 shots on goal in his past five games. That should not be unusual for a player of Svechnikov’s skill, but with just one goal through a dozen games this season, he is still trying to get his production to more typical levels and that does make him something of a buy-low candidate at this stage.

#9 It is entirely possible that fantasy managers should steer clear of the epically awful San Jose Sharks but in deep leagues or if your team is in a desperate situation, perhaps consider Fabian Zetterlund as a possibility. He has a modest five points (3 G, 2 A) and 29 shots on goal in his past 11 games but he has also averaged more than 19 minutes of ice time per game in that stretch, so he is getting every opportunity. Certainly it would help to have more skilled teammates but such is the story of the 2023-2024 Sharks.

#10 He has surrendered his number 88 jersey to Patrick Kane, but Red Wings right winger Daniel Sprong continues to be an efficient producer. He has six points (1 G, 5 A) in his past seven games and has played more than 15 minutes in a game just three times in 22 games this season. Since the start of last season, Sprong has recorded 2.90 points per 60 during five-on-five play, which ranks sixth among players to play at least 500 five-on-five minutes. The top five: Nathan MacKinnon (3.19), Jeff Skinner (3.03), Elias Pettersson (2.95), David Pastrnak (2.94), and Tage Thompson (2.91).

#11 With Dylan Larkin away from the team for the past couple of games, J.T. Compher has stepped up for the Red Wings, but he was already on a good run before that, too. Compher has 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in his past 13 games, and while his offensive potential is certainly higher when he is skating on the top line, Compher ought to have some quality wingers when the Red Wings get to full health and have Patrick Kane joining the fray.

#12 Calgary Flames winger Blake Coleman started slowly this season, managing three points (2 G, 1 A) in his first 11 games, but he has been much better since, accumulating 10 points (4 G, 6 A) and 32 shots on goal in his past 12 games. Skating on a line with Mikael Backlund and Jonathan Huberdeau, Coleman does have more offensive talent around him, so that does offer greater potential for Coleman to continue his scoring ways.

#13 Before his hat trick in Thursday night’s win at Anaheim, Washington Capitals right winger Tom Wilson would have been worth considering as a buy-low option. In his previous seven games, Wilson had managed a single goal with zero assists, but what was encouraging about Wilson’s recent play was his ability to generate shots on goal, putting 22 on net in the seven games before firing seven shots on goal against the Ducks. When he returned to the Capitals lineup last season, after recovering from a torn ACL, Wilson averaged a career-high 2.48 shots on goal per game. This season, he is up to 2.79 per game after averaging more than three shots per game over the past seven.

#14 When he isn’t snakebit the way he was last season, when he scored six goals in 76 games, Lightning winger Tanner Jeannot is a banger league delight. He ranks second in the league with 77 hits and already has five goals and nine points in 24 games. Edmonton’s Evander Kane is the only other skater in the league that has at least five goals and 60 hits.

#15 After Corey Perry had his contract terminated and Taylor Hall landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired winger Anthony Beauvillier from the Vancouver Canucks. The 26-year-old winger recorded a career high 40 points (18 G, 22 A) last season but had a modest eight points (2 G, 6 A) in 22 games for the Canucks this season. He was only playing 13:39 per game this season, which is his lowest average time on ice since his rookie season. Beauvillier is a skilled enough winger to hold a middle six role and that should not be taken for granted in Chicago. In Vancouver, Beauvillier’s departure should make Nils Hoglander’s spot in the lineup more secure.

#16 As November wraps up, there are some backup goaltenders that could be forcing their way into a bigger role. Washington’s Charlie Lindgren has a .934 save percentage in seven starts. Arizona’s Connor Ingram has a .924 save percentage in a dozen games. After posting a .891 save percentage in 33 games for the Sabres last season, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has rebounded with a .918 save percentage in 11 games. Teams might have intentions regarding what the split of playing time will be for their goaltenders, but putting up good numbers is the easiest way to find more playing time.

#17 The flip side to that coin is that there are a handful of starting goaltenders trying to give away playing time: Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka is getting pushed by Ingram and has a .892 save percentage in 11 games. Buffalo’s Devon Levi entered the season with high expectations, but his .876 save percentage in nine games has opened the door for Luukkonen to take a bigger role in the Buffalo crease. Seattle’s Philipp Grubauer struggled in his first two seasons with the Seattle Kraken, but this season’s .881 save percentage represents the low water mark for his career.  With Jack Campbell already jettisoned to the American Hockey League, Stuart Skinner is getting the lion’s share of the work in Edmonton, but a .876 save percentage in 16 games suggests that he might not deserve such a heavy workload. Minnesota’s Filip Gustavsson had a breakthrough season in 2022-2023, but he has stumbled to a .891 save percentage in a dozen games this season. He is not getting pushed too hard, though, since Marc-Andre Fleury is rocking a .875 save percentage in nine appearances this season.

#18 While he has had trouble finding the net, scoring four goals through 22 games after tallying 37 goals last season, St. Louis Blues right winger Jordan Kyrou has been able to contribute in other ways. Notably, he has six assists in his past six games. Playing with Brayden Schenn and Kevin Hayes, Kyrou adds speed to the line and the goals should start coming. He is averaging more than 3.3 shots per game this season, which is not far off the pace he set in 2022-2023.

#19 Maybe the coaching change in Minnesota can help Marcus Johansson get back on track. The veteran winger has zero points and 11 shots on goal in the past nine games, which is terrible production for anyone, but he is holding a spot on Minnesota’s second line, with Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy, so there should be more from the 33 year old who scored 18 points in 20 games after he was acquired by the Wild last season.

#20 This is probably only going to matter to those managers in the deepest of leagues, but Chicago Blackhawks center Jason Dickinson has produced eight points (6 G, 2 A) and 18 shots on goal in his past eight games. He went for a career high 30 points last season, so long-term expectations need to be held in check, but that production should not be ignored altogether.