In 2000, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild joined the NHL. Now, 16 years later, the two teams are among the elite teams of the league and debatably the two best.
Neither team was projected to be great at the beginning of the year, but after a 12-game winning streak by the Blue Jackets and a 10-game winning streak by the Wild, the two teams have vaulted to No. 1 and No. 5 in the league standings respectively.
Not surprisingly, over their recent win streaks the two teams have produced a plethora of fantasy assets.
Last week it was Eric Staal leading off our Hard Knocks section, and this week it’s another Wild forward.
HARD KNOCKS – A look at the hottest fantasy forward, defenceman, and goalie in the NHL this week.
Charlie Coyle Minnesota Wild: GP 3; G: 2, A 3, +1
To be honest, I would have put Staal here again, but for fear of repeating myself I’m going with his teammate Charlie Coyle.
The 24-year-old had a heck of a week, albeit most of it came in his last game on Friday against the New York Rangers. Coyle had a goal and three assists that night and was a major factor as to why Alain Vigneault pulled 2011 Vezina-winner Henrik Lundqvist in a 7-4 drubbing.
Coyle’s production has been increasing each year reaching a career high of 42 points in 82 games last year. In this year’s breakout campaign, he already has 27 points in 33 games. While it is unlikely that he keeps producing at this rate, especially when the Wild’s win streak is over, he is easily going to surpass his 2015-2016 totals.
Mark Giordano Calgary Flames: GP 3, G 2, SHP 1, GWG 1
Mark Giordano has gotten off to a slow start this season after posting three straight seasons with approximately 50 points (47, 48, 56). Through 36 games this year he’s only got 14 points (five goals, nine assists). Whether he is poised to go off or not, Giordano is coming off a two-goal game against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.
Devan Dubnyk Minnesota Wild: GP 2, 2-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .962 Sv%
When we look at Devan Dubnyk, we may be looking at the league’s/world’s best goalie (sorry Carey Price fans … also you may want to stop reading here). He is off to a 17-6-3 start to his season and has been nothing short of spectacular in the process. Not once this season has he allowed more than three goals in one game. He’s only two seasons removed from resurrecting his career from the dumpster, and is now en route to a Verzina caliber season.
LEVELED – A look at the coldest fantasy hockey forward, defenceman and goalie in the NHL this week.
Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues: GP 3, G 1, A 0, -3
Vladimir Tarasenko has always been a bit of a streaky scorer and right now his fantasy owners are experiencing a cool dip in production. Over the last four games he has only managed to score one goal and that was against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 19 where he also finished the game minus-one.
During the last two games, he has faced the underperforming Dallas Stars and the injury-riddled Tampa Bay Lightning and was kept off the score sheet in both. Against the Lightning he was on the ice for two of Tampa’s five goals.
Shayne Gostisbehere Philadelphia Flyers: GP 3, G 0, A 0, -2
Another victim of the sophomore slump and Shayne Gostisbehere does not look like he’s snapping out of it anytime soon. Over the last five games, ‘Ghost’ has exactly zero points. Since the Philadelphia Flyers ended their 10-game winning streak, Gostisbehere and the other Flyers have been underperforming.
On the season, he only has four goals and 12 assists over 34 games. He’s on pace for just 38 points through 82 games this year, a far shot off the 46 he put up over just 64 contests last year.
Carey Price Montreal Canadiens: GP 2, 1-1-0, 2.02 GAA, .897 Sv%
Newsflash: Carey Price is human after all. He has posted a sub-900 save percentage three times over his last eight starts and in two of those he allowed four goals. While he is still arguably the best goalie alive (see above) he just hasn’t been same Price that he traditionally has been.
PICK EM UP – Three players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues that must be picked up immediately.
Mark Letestu Edmonton Oilers: GP 33, G 7, A 10, +1
Seven goals and 10 assists may not seem too impressive through 33 games this season, but Mark Letestu has notched 11 of those points since Dec. 1. At the rate he is playing now, it’s better to buy early on the 31-year-old and enjoy this hot streak for as long as it lasts. Over the last six games he has points in four of them totalling seven points. His biggest night came against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday where he registered a goal and two assists. Fair warning: the Oilers only play twice this week.
Kyle Turris Ottawa Senators: GP 34, G 12, A 12, +2
I’m surprised how available Kyle Turris actually is this year. He’s got 12 goals and 12 assists but more importantly he’s been producing consistently all season. It may be due to the fact that he’s a centreman, the deepest position in fantasy, but there must be at least one team in every decent-sized league that can use this 50-60 point producer.
DROP THE GLOVES – If these guys are still on your roster, it’s probably best to move on.
Filip Forsberg Nashville Predators: GP 33, G 5, A 14, -7
I’ve been holding this guy from the drop list for some weeks now, but I can wait no longer. This guy has been a disappointment all season long. This is a guy who burst on to the fantasy scene in 2014-2015 by putting up 63 points in 82 games, and then followed up that by putting up 64 points in a full-seasons work the next year. This year, he’s on pace for 47.
He’s just been too inconsistent this year and it started right from opening night. It took him 14 (!) games for this guy to finally find the back of the net and he’s only done it four more times since then. Sure, the guy is an assist machine, so if you need help in that department then you can maybe hold on to him, but that’s if you can swallow his ever-growing minus rating. He has been coming on as of late by scoring three goals in his last five games, but I’m not convinced he’s going to carry that forward. It just feels like a down year for the young star.
John Klingberg Dallas Stars: GP 33, G 2, A 15, -7
John Klingberg’s another example of a highly-touted defenceman in the pre-season but ended up being just a regular guy. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he isn’t worth hanging on to all season like 91% of you are. Week-to-week you can pick up a guy and riding the highs and lows of a player like Klingberg is not going to produce as optimally as you can get out of one roster slot.