Welcome to Friday Fantasy Freak Out, where we look at some of the options for fantasy hockey general managers who are desperate to have a strong weekend.
Weekends can make or break weekly, head-to-head fantasy leagues. No lead is safe, especially with the high number of games that usually occur on Saturdays. You’ll either want to fortify your lead or mount an improbably comeback. The players we believe can help you do either one will be examined here.
It takes a healthy level of recklessness to make bold weekend fantasy moves. You’re not waiting to see how things pan out with a player: You need results immediately. There is often great risk involved with these players, which is why each has been given a recklessness letter grade. The higher the grade, the more your fellow poolies will question your moves if not your sanity. But there’s also a higher potential for reward as well.
William Nylander, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
Admit it: you’re a little curious about the handsome Swede’s fantasy value. He’s been up and down in his six games since being called up to the Maple Leafs from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, where he scored 45 points in just 37 games. The scoring touch is definitely there, even if he has looked out of place at times. But Leafs coach Mike Babcock called Nylander’s game on Wednesday against the New York Islanders his best “by a mile.” We’d tend to agree. (Nylander, who saw 15:59 of ice time, took three shots, dished out a hit and scored the tying goal with 1:13 left in regulation; Toronto went on to win in a shootout.
The more rope Nylander is given by his coach, the more he will feel at ease unloading his explosive offensive capabilities. He’s got a great shot and loves to use it, so keep an eye on him in that category. He’s scored two goals in six games and Babcock will use him on the power play. Also, if you’re rounding out your dynasty league roster, Nylander might be a good pickup for the long haul. The Leafs are at home to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night and the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday evening. Those games will be big showcases for the rookie and you have to imagine he’ll want to take full advantage.
Recklessness grade: B+
Boone Jenner, F, Columbus Blue Jackets
I’m often surprised by how many leagues in which Jenner is available, given his status as an emerging fantasy stud. He scores goals, (24 this season) shoots a ton (188 total, same as Sidney Crosby and Zach Parise) and hits like a madman (177; 14th among NHL forwards). I like to think of him as a poor man’s Wayne Simmonds, but he won’t be for long. He’ll likely go high in your next draft once people catch on to his stats.
This weekend, however, Jenner and the Jackets might be playing catch-up the whole time. With a Friday night game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning, don’t expect him to have as much free reign on the ice as he normally does. He’ll draw some defensive attention and may not be able to help pad your team's stats as much as he would against weaker opponents.
Recklessness grade: D
Alex Goligoski, D, Dallas Stars
Goligoski is owned in many fantasy leagues, but if he's available in yours, you may want to take a look at him this weekend. His respectable four-game points streak was snapped in Tuesday’s 4–3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, but his 26 assists this season are nothing to sneeze at.
He leads the Stars in ATOI this season, which means he gets his chances, even if most of those looks are at even strength and not on the power play. The risk surrounding Goligoski this weekend involves the Stars’ opponents: the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night and the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, both at home. Those are two of the league leaders in goals-against average so you have to wonder exactly how many of Goligoski’s chances he will be able to convert. If you’re a believer in the Stars’ ability to break out in big division games, then go for it. Otherwise, you may want to err on the side of caution.
Recklessness grade: B-
Louis Domingue, G, Arizona Coyotes
It’s been a rugged stretch as of late for Domingue, who has been given the reins as the number one goaltender in the desert. He faces a ton of shots, but he gives a weak Coyotes team a chance to win.
And the Yotes will have no better chance than this weekend when they visit the Calgary Flames on Friday night and then travel to Edmonton to play the Oilers on Saturday evening. Those are two of the most beatable teams in the league right now, and given the faith that Coyotes coach Dave Tippett has shown in Domingue, you have to believe the keeper will reward him with a win this weekend. He might get both starts, so if you need to squeak out a win in your goalie stats, take a look at Domingue.
Recklessness grade: C