Fantasy Hockey: Players you need to add to improve in every category

Steven Psihogios
·7 min read

Fantasy hockey managers are going to be without Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson for a little while as the polarizing player earned a seven-game suspension by adding another dicey hit to his highlight reel on Friday night against the Boston Bruins.

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The power forward launched himself up high on defenseman Brandon Carlo, knocking him out of the game and into the hospital. Carlo has since been released from the hospital, but his return to Boston’s lineup is unknown.

In fantasy hockey, players like Wilson are unicorns. There are just three players in the NHL this season with 70-plus hits and 15 or more points, and he’s the only one who’s not Keith Tkachuk’s son. When Wilson is on the ice, he’s one of fantasy hockey’s best category stuffers. The issue is, he’s crossed the line too many times and every game he plays comes with the risk of a long-term absence.

For fantasy managers looking to replace Wilson’s production, there are a couple of options below who should be able to help.

Marcus Foligno has been rolling for the Minnesota Wild.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
Marcus Foligno has been rolling for the Minnesota Wild. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Goals: C Paul Stastny, Winnipeg Jets (18% rostered on Yahoo)

Paul Stastny’s fantasy appeal rocketed last week when he was promoted to Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler's wing on the Winnipeg Jets’ first line. In the three games since being promoted, Stastny has potted three goals and is tied for the team lead in scoring chances for with nine, according to Natural Stat Trick. The 35-year-old has also seen an uptick in deployment recently, as he’s played 19 minutes or more in three of his last four games. Winnipeg plays three games this week against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Assists: LW/RW Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks (27% rostered on Yahoo)

Anybody who has played fantasy hockey for a few years has probably rostered Rickard Rakell at least once. His back-to-back 30-plus goal campaigns from 2016-2018 had fantasy managers clinging to the Swedish forward, hoping he could return to form. While it doesn’t seem like Rakell will return to being that guy, he has been playing better lately and can help your team if you need a few more apples. Over the last five games, the 27-year-old has notched six assists while also finding the back of the net three times. Additionally, Rakell’s 81 shots are tied for the 10th most in the NHL. He and the Anaheim Ducks play four home games this week, including two against the San Jose Sharks who are allowing the second-most goals per game in the league.

Plus-minus: LW/RW Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (29% rostered on Yahoo)

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s second line of Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde and Steven Stamkos has combined for 12 points over the last three games, while Killorn specifically has recorded five points and owns a plus-five rating during that stretch. The 31-year-old is a solid add for those looking to boost their plus-minus score this week as the Bolts play three games, including two against the lowly Detroit Red Wings. Killorn should finish this upcoming week with one of the highest plus-minus ratings in the league.

Power-play points: C/LW Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes (40% rostered on Yahoo)

Martin Necas isn’t playing on the Carolina Hurricanes’ top power-play unit, but I don’t hate the idea of loading up on members of the team’s second power-play grouping given their upcoming schedule. Carolina plays three games this week with two against the Nashville Predators, who own the third-worst penalty kill in the NHL, and one against the Detroit Red Wings, who have the league’s second-worst penalty kill. Necas has been playing well lately with seven points over his last four games.

Shots on goal: LW/RW Frank Vatrano, Florida Panthers (11% rostered on Yahoo)

Frank Vatrano has been excellent lately for the Florida Panthers, resulting in a promotion to the team’s first line. During his last six games, Vatrano has potted four goals and an assist while playing 17 minutes or more in four of those contests. Over the last 14 days, the 26-year-old’s 26 shots are tied for the 11th most in the NHL, making him an elite source for pucks on net. His upcoming schedule should lend itself to high shot totals, as he and the Panthers play two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have allowed the eighth-most shots per game in the NHL, and one game against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are currently surrendering the most shots per game in the league.

Faceoff wins: C/LW Christian Dvorak, Arizona Coyotes (44% rostered on Yahoo)

The offense has started to dry up for Christian Dvorak as he has posted no goals and two points over his last six games, but he has been an excellent player for faceoff wins lately. Over his last two games specifically, the Palos, Illinois, native has won 32 draws. Over the last 14 days, the 25-year-old’s 82 faceoff victories are fifth most in the NHL. Dvorak and the Arizona Coyotes have four games scheduled this week, meaning he’ll be a frequent visitor to the faceoff dot.

Hits: LW/RW Marcus Foligno, Minnesota Wild (22% rostered on Yahoo)

There are players who throw the body a little more than Marcus Foligno, but if you’re looking for a bruiser who won’t be a complete zero in other categories, this is your guy. The Buffalo, New York, native’s 54 body checks lead the Minnesota Wild and he’s been one of the team’s most consistent offensive players recently, too. During his last eight games, Foligno has registered five goals and 10 points while currently playing alongside Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek on the squad’s first line. The Wild play four games this week, so expect Foligno to rack up the hits.

Blocked shots: D Jordan Oesterle, Arizona Coyotes (3% rostered on Yahoo)

Jordan Oesterle hasn’t been a bad source of blocked shots this season as his 40 blocks are tied for 29th in the NHL, but I expect him to get in front of a decent amount of pucks this week, particularly in the Arizona Coyotes’ two games against the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado’s 61.1 Corsi for percentage (CF%) is the second-highest mark in the NHL, meaning the Avs are one of the league’s most shot-happy teams. The Avalanche’s ability to pepper pucks on goal means there should be lots of opportunities for Oesterle to get in front of a few shots. He may be able to supply a little bit of offense for your team, too, as he’s registered points in three of his last four games.

Goaltending: G Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (40% rostered on Yahoo)

I’m sticking with what worked. Still available in over 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, the 25-year-old is likely the best goaltender still kicking around on your waiver wire. Head coach Barry Trotz stood by his words and played the Russian puckstopper more last week, giving him a pair of starts. Although both games were against the Buffalo Sabres, he limited the struggling squad to just two goals in each outing. The New York Islanders play four games this week, including a back-to-back set against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and Sunday. I expect Sorokin to start in at least one game during this stretch with a chance for two.

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