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

Steven Psihogios
·6-min read

The Nashville Predators went from major disappointment to playoff contender within the span of three weeks.

Less than a month ago, it seemed like the Preds were going to be major sellers at the trade deadline. The team was floundering in the Central Division with its season fading by the day. Ever since Juuse Saros returned from an upper-body injury on March 18, however, the team has looked incredible, rattling off eight wins over its last 10 games. Led by Saros’s dazzling .968 save percentage during this stretch and the emergence of a certain rookie listed below, Nashville now finds itself in a playoff spot.

Juuse Saros and the Nashville Predators have plenty to smile about these days. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Juuse Saros and the Nashville Predators have plenty to smile about these days. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Goals: LW Anthony Beauvillier, New York Islanders (7% rostered on Yahoo)

Looking to supplement the goal-scoring that has been lost since Anders Lee’s season-ending ACL tear, Anthony Beauvillier has been a consistent supplier of offense for the team lately. Over his last seven games, the 2015 first-round pick has potted seven goals. In his most recent outing, Beauvillier scored a pair of markers and played a season-high 21:15, a sign that he may be gaining the trust of head coach Barry Trotz. At just 23 years old, the fifth-year pro is very experienced for his age and considering his goal-scoring history in the QMJHL and in the NHL thus far, it’s not surprising to see this kind of success. The Isles play four games this week, making him a solid choice for those needing goal support.

Assists: C David Krejci, Boston Bruins (28% rostered on Yahoo)

David Krejci has certainly been heating up lately, recording nine assists and 10 points in his last seven games. During Saturday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins, head coach Bruce Cassidy shuffled up the Boston Bruins’ first and second line, placing David Pastrnak and Nick Ritchie on the 34-year-old’s wings. The results were great as the three combined for five even-strength points. With a busy five-game week ahead, loading up on Bruins isn’t a bad idea at all.

Plus-minus: LW/RW Valeri Nichuskin, Colorado Avalanche (11% rostered on Yahoo)

The math behind this suggestion is pretty simple. The Colorado Avalanche score more goals than their opponents on most nights, therefore, players on the team are more likely to be in the positive side of the plus-minus column. In its last 14 games, Colorado has won 12 contests and over the last 14 days, Nichuskin’s plus-8 rating leads all members of the Avs. Additionally, the 2013 10th-overall pick has been heating up offensively, registering seven points in his last eight games. Colorado plays four games this week, including two against the Anaheim Ducks, a team the Avalanche have scored 17 goals against in their last three meetings.

Power-play points: LW/RW Eeli Tolvanen, Nashville Predators (39% rostered on Yahoo)

Eeli Tolvanen has turned into a power-play assassin for the Nashville Predators. The rookie has generated 19 points, and an unearthly 11 of those have come on the man advantage. On the season, the Preds’ power play ranks 15th in the NHL, clicking at 21.1 percent. Ever since the 2017 first-round pick recorded his first power-play point on Feb. 23, however, Nashville’s man advantage sits third in the league, running at an impressive 27.8 percent. The Finnish forward, who is the go-to add for fantasy managers looking for a special-teams boost, is a major reason why the Predators have reestablished themselves as a playoff contender in the Central Division.

Shots on goal: RW Craig Smith, Boston Bruins (8% rostered on Yahoo)

Pucks on net is the name of Craig Smith’s game as the winger ranks 44th in the category since the 2017-18 season, sitting ahead of players like Sidney Crosby, teammate Brad Marchand and Gabriel Landeskog. As mentioned earlier, Boston shook up its top-six and as part of the alterations, Smith was promoted to Line 1 with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Sure, Smith’s presence may not make this trio a "Perfection Line," but that doesn’t matter at all in fantasy hockey. The 31-year-old is a high-volume shooter and playing with elite offensive talents while seeing more minutes will only help drive those numbers higher. With a hefty five-game schedule ahead, this is the player to add for an uptick in shots.

Faceoff wins: C Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils (4% rostered on Yahoo)

This is the week I finally give Travis Zajac some recognition. The 35-year-old quietly had a solid month of March, posting three goals and 12 points through 17 games. His solid offensive production has carried into April so far, as the veteran middle man has two goals in two games this month. Zajac has won a respectable 241 draws this season, which ranks 40th across the NHL. The New Jersey Devils play four games this week, including a pair against the Buffalo Sabres.

Hits: D Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars (17% rostered on Yahoo)

There’s nothing flashy about the way Esa Lindell plays, but the Finnish blueliner continues to log heavy minutes on the Dallas Stars’ back end. He leads all members of the Stars in ice time (23:31), and his respectable 76 body checks are second. Over the last 14 days, Lindell has dished out an impressive 26 hits, tying him for sixth in the NHL during this span. There’s not too much else Lindell will contribute as he’s totalled just four goals and nine points this season, but if you need a bruiser, he’s a sensible add. The Stars have four games scheduled for this week, so he’ll be able to deliver the hits.

Blocked shots: D Alex Goligoski, Arizona Coyotes (8% rostered on Yahoo)

Alex Golisgoski has done an excellent job getting in front of pucks lately, as his 15 blocks over the last 14 days ranks 10th among all players in the NHL. In addition to blocking shots, the 2004 second-round pick has offered solid category coverage. In his last six games, Goligoski has picked up one goal, five assists, a plus-7 rating and seven body checks. With four games scheduled for this week, there will be lots of pucks to block, making the 35-year-old a nice, well-rounded add.

Goaltending: G Calvin Petersen, Los Angeles Kings (28% rostered on Yahoo)

No goaltender available in under 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues has a better save percentage than Calvin Petersen’s .926 mark, which makes it kind of incredible that he is available in more than 70 percent of leagues. His sterling save percentage ranks sixth among all goalies with 10 or more games played this season. For leagues that count saves as a category, Petersen has been solid in that regard lately, as he’s turned away 33 shots or more in three of his last four games, including a pair of 40-plus save starts. With four games scheduled this week, the 26-year-old should make at least two starts and potentially three with the Los Angeles Kings trying to keep themselves in the West Division playoff picture.

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