The NHL season is underway as almost every team has played their season openers (only the Islanders and the Hurricanes have yet to get in on regular season action). One game, or two in the case of the Canadiens, Bruins, Flyers and Flames, is hard to put any real analysis into, no matter how good or bad things appear to be. Even if it was really bad.
Instead of offering up a rundown of what happened fantasy wise in the opening games of the season, let's look at what this article will provide for the year moving forward. We will want to examine the best performances of the week from a fantasy hockey perspective. Remember, for fantasy it is not about wins and losses but whether you get the performance from a player you expect. So when top five draft pick Corey Perry drops a hat trick like this in an opening night defeat, you feel pretty good about yourself.
It will also talk about the worst or most disappointing performances in the week, the feelings that are summed up by every person who started Mike Smith in goal last night and watched him blow up in the opening period and finish the game stopping only 21 of 27 shots for a morbid .778 save percentage and a 6.00 goals against. Hopefully it's a callback to the way Smith started his Coyote career and much, much better days are ahead.
Then there will be a quick overview of the week that was for the Coyotes from a fantasy perspective and what to watch for moving forward.
Finally, there will be a quick little list of five things that caught my eye on the week, fantasy wise, general hockey wise or maybe some mix of culture and hockey.
For today, the list will be about the five Coyote players that should be drafted in every fantasy league. Starting with number one.
Five for Fantasizing
The Five Must Draft Coyotes Players
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson: He will get you a ton of minutes and around 30-40 points on an average year. He plays all situations so he can help you special teams scoring (whether your league counts just power play, short handed or combines them). He is solid defensively so his plus/minus won't be to bad and he shoots just under two times per game. He's the clear top Coyote pick and a fringe top five fantasy defenseman.
- Keith Yandle: Yandle is the Coyote's most consistent scorer, having led the team in points for two consecutive years. Good for 40-50 points a season and well over two shots on goal per game, her is as dominant an offensive fantasy player from the blueline as their is in the game. The downside to Yandle are his plus/minus numbers are never great (and a -24 last season was U-G-L-Y) and he doesn't see the minutes of other top tier d-men. Yandle will end the year among the top 20 fantasy blueliners and is a solid and safe pick. Plus he plays every game. He has never missed an NHL game for any reason. Ironmen are valuable fantasy commodities. Set him and forget him.
- Mikkel Boedker: Boeds added the first Coyote goal for the season, and as the crazy guy who predicted a 60 point year from the Dane, it was an encouraging sign. Boedker had top level speed and the only thing holding him back from being a top 50 fantasy forward was his willingness to shoot. He's shooting more now than he ever has and being firmly entrenched on the Coyotes top unit will make him a valuable fantasy piece. If he can find a way to make a bigger impact on the power play, look out, he could jump Yandle in fantasy relevance.
- Shane Doan: The Captain may be 38, but he still plays the game hard and well. He was the one Coyote who looked ready and engaged from the getgo on Thursday and he will provide 20-25 goals and 40-50 points. He gives you penalty minutes, hits and is a power play cog for this team. He won't be the best player on your fantasy team, but guys who fill multiple scoring categories are how you win leagues. The only worry is how many games can he give you.
- Mike Smith: Hopefully last night was a blip on the radar and night a sign of things to come. But clear cut starting goaltenders are draftable in any fantasy league. Hopefully you don't need Smith to be your number on goalie and he can settle into your lineup as your number two guy or number three if you went goalie heavy.
That's what to expect every Friday in your Five for Howling Fantasy Focus. Let's have a fantastic season and enjoy your fantasy games. Good luck and high scoring.
Five for Howling Fantasy League Update.
There was quite a bit of interest in the fantasy league but not enough sign ups to get the league off the ground for this season. Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in joining and I will spend the year continuing to build it so that next season we will have enough lead time to make it the best league possible.
However, just because the league isn't going doesn't mean we can't have a fantasy game with the site, so here's the deal. Starting next week, I am issuing a weekly roster challenge. It's a simple and easy game that anyone can participate in. Here's the rules:
- You choose three forwards, two defenseman and one goalie.
- The segment length will be two weeks, going from Saturday (in this case starting Saturday Oct.18) to the second Friday (Halloween, Friday the 31st).
- The counted stats will be goals, assists, shots on goal, special teams points for skaters, and wins, save percentage and shutouts for goalies.
- I will track the totals for every entry over the course of the season.
- Each new two week period, you must choose a new set of players. You can use each player only once during the season.
- To submit your entry, make it in the comments section of the weekly Friday Fantasy Focus post or tweet it to me @TwoTonTwenty1.
So with that in mind, here is my roster for the opening week of the challenge:
F - Nicklas Backstrom
F - Kyle Okposo
F - Phil Kessel
D - Mark Giordano
D - Victor Hedman
G - Cory Schneider
Choose yours in the comments or tweet me. Good luck and have fun.