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.
Tomas Hertl, F, Sharks
After an early season stint at center, Hertl has since shifted to the wing and has been playing on a line with Joe Thornton. And that usually means one thing: getting dished the puck very, very often. Playing alongside one of the league’s premier playmakers (Thornton is tied for second in the NHL in assists) hasn’t exactly translated into a ton of goals for Hertl but he’s certainly getting in on the offense with three points in his last three games.
Hertl is listed as dual positions (C, LW) in many leagues, so that could help fit him into your lineup. While the Sharks host the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon, their Sunday evening tilt against Arizona is the one to keep an eye on: the Coyotes have trouble keeping the puck out of their net (they are tied for the third-worst GAA in the NHL) and while Hertl hasn’t been pumping the goals in as of late, that should change by the end of the weekend. He scored in his last game and could be enough to keep your “goals” category fed.
Recklessness grade: B-
Adam Henrique, F, Devils
The Devils aren’t exactly a goal-scoring machine but Henrique and his 23 are worth taking a look at. He plays on the Devils' top power play unit, which has the ninth best conversion rate in the NHL. This weekend sees New Jersey playing a home-at-home on Saturday and Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that also has trouble stopping goals (NHL's second-worst GAA).
Henrique scored two goals on Thursday night after being held off the score sheet in his last four games, but he had a three-game point streak before that. The Devils, of course, own the worst goals per game average in the league. That means you will likely always have your doubts when dancing with a Devil off the waiver wire. But two games against the lowly Jackets are enough to make me want to gamble.
Recklessness grade: C-
Michael Stone, D, Coyotes
This is definitely the kind of waiver wire pickup that will have other fantasy owners in your league scratching their heads. Stone’s offensive totals (5 goals, 33 points, 13 power play points) are just fine, thank you very much, but his peripherals are what might set him apart.
Stone ranks among the NHL's top 25 defenseman in blocked shots. This weekend the Coyotes are at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and then travel to San Jose for a Sunday evening tilt. Both teams are no slouches when it comes to putting the puck on net so expect Stone to have to get in front of more than a few shots. Blocked shots are certainly an overlooked category, but if it’s one that you’re close in, look long and hard at Stone. Any extra offense from him would be a welcome bonus.
Recklessness grade: B+
Matt Murray, G, Penguins
When you’re a young goalie and you have one of the best in the league ahead of you on the depth chart, you don’t see the ice that often. Murray has played in just three of the Penguins' last 11 games, which makes sense given that the team is fighting for a playoff spot.
But the 21-year old goalie got the nod on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and played well, stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 4–2 win. He could get another start this weekend. The Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon in an important Metropolitan Division matchup and host the Washington Capitals on Sunday evening. These are games for which Marc-André Fleury seems like the ideal starter. But Murray’s .935 save percentage through seven games this season is nothing to scoff at. It went well Thursday night for him so don’t shy away from grabbing Murray for a possible start this weekend.
Recklessness grade: C