NHL Fantasy Preview – Week 3

Ep. 85 - Nichushkin

Table of Contents

NHL Fantasy Preview – Week 3

Episode 85 of the Fantasy Hockey Hacks Podcast! Week 2 of the NHL was an eventful one, filled plenty of highlights, and injuries! As we do each week, we’ll check in on John’s list, “hack” our way through the NHL’s Headlines, go through the week’s schedule, make recommendations for waiver wire adds, and discuss our weekly Top 200 Rankings – Powered By Left Wing Lock.

Subscribe to our podcast on all major directories; and stay up to date with the latest in fantasy hockey news and fantasy hockey advice. Be sure to visit LeftWingLock.com, the best source for fantasy hockey intelligence; and The Hockey Podcast Network for more great hockey-related content.

  • Enter to win a Hacks Holiday in Vegas!
  • The injury bug bit hard this week!
  • Jakub Vrana enters player NHL and NHLPA Player Assistance program
  • Are the Sabres and Flyers actually good?
  • Valeri Nichushkin is earning his new pay cheque!
  • Dan Vladar gets an extension in Calgary
  • Gary Bettman says the salary cap could be going up
  • Aaron Ekblad placed on LTIR
  • Gabriel Landeskog undergoes knee surgery, out long-term

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John’s List

If you have been listening to our podcast for a while, you’ve undoubtedly heard about “John’s List”; which is basically John’s $h!t list of players past and present. If you have any suggestions for players/subjects we should add to the list, let us know!

Matthew Tkachuk – I just don’t like the guy… ALSO, involved in more garbage this week…

Fantasy Lock Of The Week (October 17-23, 2022) | Presented by Left Wing Lock
🔥Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW, 90% Rostered (Yahoo)

8 Points (3 Goals), 2 PPP, 13 SOG, +4, 69% PP Share, 19:30 ATOI in 4 games played during week 2.

Headlines W/ The Hacks | October 17 – 23, 2022

News This Week
  • Injury news to start the week. Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings will miss the next 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury
  • Nick Schmaltz of the Arizona Coyotes will be out 6-8 weeks with an upper body injury
  • Washington Capitals center Evgenii Kuznetsov has been suspended one game for high sticking Vancouver Canucks forward Kyle Burroughs. He was originally given a 2 minute minor penalty on the play for attempted decapitation or as the NHL calls it high sticking. 
  • The Los Angeles Kings place forward Alex Iafallo on IR with a lower body injury. 
  • New York Rangers forward Vitali Kravtsov has been medically cleared to rejoin the Rangers. After being crushed into the boards by Victor Hedman on opening night.
  • Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers has been placed on LTIR with a groin injury. He will miss the next 24 days or 10 games. 
  • Jake Muzzin of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been placed on IR with an upper body injury. It is believed to be a neck injury
  • Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out for the next 12 weeks
  • The Washington Capitals placed forward Connor Brown on IR after suffering a lower body injury.
  • The Detroit Red Wings have placed forward Jacob Vrana on IR. Vrana has entered the NHL and NHLPA Player Assistance program. We wish him all the best and a speedy recovery to whatever he is battling. 
  • The Calgary Flames signed goalie Dan Vladar to a 2 year contract extension worth $2.2 million per season. Good signing by the Flames. I have a feeling his worth will be higher after this season. 
  • The Winnipeg Jets have placed forward Nikolaj Ehlers on IR with an undisclosed injury.
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Board of Governors meeting this week that current revenue projections are strong, and player escrow debt could be retired this season; meaning a potential salary cap increase of up to $4.5 million next summer!
  • What is going on with the Buffalo Sabres (4-1-0) and Philadelphia Flyers (4-1-0)?
  • Some interesting info for the night. As of October 23rd. Minnesota has a league worst Goals Saved above Expected at -8.8, The Montreal Candaiens are 4th at +5.3, The Philadelphia Flyers are 3rd at +5.9 and 1st place goes to the Buffalo Sabres at +7.9. Oh yeah and for you Oilers fans. Edmonton is 16th +1

Edge Work | NHL Schedule, Week 2

The segment where we put in the work to give you the EDGE in your fantasy hockey leagues! 

Need To Know: 

The NHL is busy again in Week 3 with a total of 52 games on the schedule. However, there are a total of 4 “light days” (50% or fewer NHL teams in action) with Monday (6), Wednesday (3), Friday (6) and Sunday (5) being a bit slower. As is usually the case, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday will be the busiest days on the schedule, with 10, 10, and 12 games respectively. 

In terms of optimizing the schedule, New Jersey, Vegas, and Winnipeg all play 4 games next week, with 3 of those games taking place on “light days”. Anaheim also plays 3 games on light days, but does not offer a 4th game on the schedule. New York (Rangers), Pittsburgh, Edmonton, St.Louis, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, and Minnesota also all play 4 games this upcoming week. 

According to Left Wing Lock’s Strength Of Schedule metric, the Washington Capitals have the most favourable schedule at -32, taking on the New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars, and Nashville Predators – all on the road. The Edmonton Oilers have the most difficult schedule with a rating of +50, facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home before heading out on the road to face St.Louis, Chicago, and Calgary.

Calgary, Nashville, and Philadelphia all play just 2 home games next week, with no back-to-backs, and no games on light days. The New York (Rangers) and Pittsburgh are the only teams on the schedule this week with 2 sets of back-to-back games.

  • Monday – 6 Games
  • Tuesday – 10 Games
  • Wednesday – 3 Games
  • Thursday – 10 Games
  • Friday – 6 Games
  • Saturday – 12 Games
  • Sunday – 5 Games

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Edge Work | Waiver Wire Targets, NHL Week 3

Waiver wire targets will be focused on players with ownership ~50% or less. SOS = Strength of Schedule, according to Left Wing Lock. Lower number = Easier Schedule, Higher Number = Harder Schedule.  

Top Waiver Wire Targets

🎯 Danton Heinen (LW/RW), PIT | Rostered: 3% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (DAL, DET, @CBJ, -25 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Crosby & Rakell, PP2) 
  • This might be my waiver wire add of the week! Danton Heinen finds himself playing LW1 with Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell. The cherry on top is that the Penguins have a great 4-game schedule as they make their way through western Canada and Seattle. Crosby has a history of making average players look like superstars, should Heinen be any different? 6 points and 3 goals posted through the first 5 games of the season, and time on PP2. Ice time is progressing favourably, going up to almost 16 minutes against Columbus on Saturday, where Heinen scored twice on 4 shots on goal. Just shy of 3 shots on goal per game this season. NOTE: 21.4 iSH% and 17.5 tEVSH% point to regression at some point. 
🎯 Sean Monahan (C), MTL | Rostered: 4% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.MIN, @BUF, @STL, +14 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Caufield & Suzuki, PP1) 
  • Through 5 games so far this season, Sean Monahan appears to be well on his way to a bounce-back year. On-pace for 50 points, Monahan’s highest offensive production since 2019-2020. Shot volume (2.6 SOG/GM) and time on ice are also the best we’ve seen from the former Flame since 2018-2019. When you consider his deployment with Caufield and Suzuki on the top line, along with the first unit power play, it’s surprising Monahan is available in 96% of leagues. 
🎯 Nico Hischier (C), NJD | Rostered: 36% (Yahoo) | GP: 4 (Vs.WSH, @DET, Vs.COL, Vs.CBJ -10 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Palat & Bratt, PP1) 
  • The Devils captain is healthy and producing! Bottom line: if he is available in your league – go grab him now. 5 points (2 goals) in 3 games played so far this season; career-best 4.3 SOG/GM, 60.4 FOW%, and 64.2% PP Share. Linemate Jesper Bratt broke out last season and new addition Ondrej Palat can’t hurt offensively either. NOTE: 15.4 iSH%, 16.6 tEVSH%, and 100 IPP are definite indications of regression.
🎯 Gabriel Vilardi (LW/RW), LAK | Rostered: 41% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.TB, Vs.WPG, Vs.TOR, -1 SOS) | Line: 3 (w/ Byfield & Kaliyev, PP2) 
  • Many were hoping for this, not sure many expected it – 7 points (4 goals) in 6 games played for Gabriel Vilardi. The 23-year old is seeing career-highs in production, shot rate (2.3 SOG/GM), time on ice (16:14), and power play time (4:08/GM). NOTE: Vilardi’s 28.6 iSH%, 20.8 tEVSH% and 87.5 IPP are sure signs of regression, so ride the wave while you can. 
🎯 Oliver Wahlstrom (RW), NYI | Rostered: 12% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.NYR, @CAR, Vs.COL, -1 SOS) | Line: 2 (w/ Lee & Nelson, PP2) 
  • Fantasy managers everywhere have been waiting for Oliver Wahlstrom to break out, and with Barry Trotz moving on it may finally be possible. Wahlstrom received less than 10 minutes of ice time in his first game of the season, but is averaging over 12 minutes per game now, including time on the second power play unit. 4 points (3 goals) in 3 games played; averaging 3 shots and 5 shot attempts per game. Finally getting a shot in the top 6 should go a long way to boosting his fantasy value.   
🎯 Jaden Schwartz (LW), SEA | Rostered: 22% (Yahoo) | GP: GP: 3 (Vs.BUF, Vs.VAN, Vs.PIT, +16 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Beniers & Eberle, PP2) 
  • The former Blue is off to a really solid start to the season, posting 5 points and 3 goals in 6 games played. Producing at a 68-point pace is the best we’ve seen from Schwartz since 2017-2018; and he’s also shooting at a career-best 3.2 SOG/GM. Linemate Matty Beniers is enjoying success in his young career as well – 13 points, 4 goals in 16 games.
🎯 Kevin Hayes (C), PHI | Rostered: 24% (Yahoo) | GP: 2 (Vs.FLA, Vs.CAR, -7 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Konecny & Farabee, PP1) 
  • Kevin Hayes (and the Philadelphia Flyers) are off to an incredible start this season. Hayes extended his point streak to 4 games, only 3 players in franchise history have posted longer streaks. 6 assists in 4 games played. First line and first PP unit to go along with over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
🎯 Nick Ritchie (LW), ARI | Rostered: 4% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (@CBJ, Vs.WPG, Vs.NYR, -11 SOS) | Line: 2 (w/ Hayton & Guenther, PP1) 
  • I know, Nick Ritchie? This surprised me too, but as we all know, players on poor teams often receive better deployment than they typically would on competitive clubs. Ritchie has posted 4 points (all on the PP), 3 goals, 8 PIMS, 7 Hits, and 7 SOG through 4 games played. Top 6 minutes and a spot on the first power play unit (4:09 PPTOI, 62.8% PP Share) make Ritchie an appealing short term option, despite a tougher schedule next week.
🎯 Adam Larsson (D), SEA | Rostered: 18% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.BUF, Vs.VAN, Vs.PIT, +16 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Dunn) 
  • Adam Larsson scored the game-tying goal for Seattle against the St.Louis Blues earlier this week, his second of the season. Larsson is not generally a source of offence, but a great source for peripheral categories, including 13 SOG, 15 Hits, and 11 BLKs in just 6 games played so far this season. Points are a bonus, but exposure to Seattle’s top line makes it more probable that he chips in with the odd goal or point. 
🎯 Calen Addison (D), MIN | Rostered: 27% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.COL, Vs.VAN, @BOS, +1 SOS) | Line: 3 (w/ Goligoski, PP1) 
  • After receiving deployment on Minnesota’s top power play unit, Addison was a very popular waiver wire pick late in pre-season. Through 6 games, the Wild rookie has produced 6 points (4 with the man advantage) and has received 85% PP share!
🎯 Bowen Byram (D), COL | Rostered: 83% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (@NYR, NJD, NYI, +1 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Makar, PP2) 
  • Devon Toews is currently day-to-day, having missed a couple games with an undisclosed injury. This has opened the door for young Byram to play on the top pairing with Cale Makar, in addition to time in the second power play unit. 5 points, 2 goals, 9 SOG, 12 Hits, and 7 BLKs in 6 games played to date. Currently on a 3-game point streak in which he has posted 4 points, thrown 10 hits, and played over 24 minutes per game. 
🎯 Kaiden Guhle (D), MTL | Rostered: 5% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.MIN, @BUF, @STL, +16 SOS) | Line: 1 (w/ Savard, PP2) 
  • With injuries on Montreal’s backend, the 20-year old rookie has been given some added responsibility – playing over 21 minutes per night and receiving some secondary power play time. Guhle has just 2 assists through 5 games, but has covered some peripheral categories, including 13 hits, 8 blocks, and 7 penalty minutes. 
🎯 Eric Comrie (G), BUF | Rostered: 23% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (@SEA, Vs.MTL, Vs.CHI, -17 SOS) | Role: Starter (75% Net Share)
  • The Buffalo netminder was spectacular against his hometown Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, stopping a total of 46 shots, 23 of which came in the 3rd period alone! Comrie followed that up with a 41-save performance against the Calgary Flames. Buffalo plays Vancouver on Saturday, and if the 27-year old can provide another quality performance, the net may just be his for the foreseeable future. 3.01 GAA, .930 SV%, 3.07 GSAx.
🎯 Mackenzie Blackwood (G), NJD | Rostered: 16% (Yahoo) | GP: 4 (Vs.WSH, @DET, Vs.COL, Vs.CBJ -10 SOS) | Role: Starter (80% Net Share)
  • Many fantasy managers wrote off Mackenzie Blackwood following last season and this summer’s acquisition of Vitek Vanecek. However, through 5 games this season, Blackwood has started 4 of 5 games for the Devils and over his past 3 starts has performed very well – 3-0-0, 1.33 GAA, .933 SV%, and 2.02 GSAx. A favourable schedule next week is just the cherry on top for reasons to grab Blackwood now!
🎯 James Reimer (G), SJS | Rostered: 29% (Yahoo) | GP: 3 (Vs.VGK, Vs.TOR, Vs.TB, +9 SOS) | Role: Starter (71% Net Share)
  • After Sunday’s 30-save shutout performance, James Reimer now has 2 wins in 5 starts this season, over the past 4 starts Reimer boasts a 2.01 GAA, .940 SV%, and 0.46 GSAx, significantly better numbers than Sharks backup Kakko Kahkonen. Tough schedule this week, but all 3 contests are at home, and there are no back-to-backs.

Also Consider: Dylan Strome (26%), Arthur Kaliyev (12%), Vital Kravtsov (3%), Shane Wright (19%), Anders Lee (29%), Jonathan Toews (6%), Jeff Carter (6%), Pavel Zacha (5%), Alex Iafallo (4%), TJ Oshie (35%), Reilly Smith (13%), Matty Beniers (50%), Mason McTavish (30%), Cole Perfetti (20%), Ross Colton (5%), Corey Perry (2%), Matt Dumba (44%), Matthias Ekholm (16%), Jacob Slavin (63%), Spencer Knight (84%), Calvin Petersen (16%), Connor Ingram (0%), Martin Jones (2%)

Edge Work | Weekly Rankings (Powered By Left Wing Lock) | Coming Soon

New to Edge Work this season, the Hacks will provide weekly player rankings, powered by our partner, Left Wing Lock! The full weekly rankings list can be accessed here; and each episode we’ll work our way through the risers and fallers in fantasy.

Rankings Risers

📈Tyler Seguin (C/RW), DAL | +23 | #128 
  • The Stars second-line center is on a point-per-game pace through five games, despite being used on the second power play unit. He sees strong offensive zone starts (55%), but keep a close eye on that tEVSH% which currently sits at 16.6%.
📈Matt Boldy (LW/RW), MIN | +20 | #100
  • The Wild may be off to a poor start (just 1 win in 5 games), but this has not slowed down the 21-year-old winger. He has 6 points in 5 games and is generating 2.8 shots per game. The shot production (buoyed somewhat by lots of PPTOI) is a strong signal for fantasy managers. Keep an eye on his SH% though which currently sits at 21% (remember: there is no such thing as a 20% shooter in the NHL — at least not for very long).
📈Rasmus Dahlin (D), BUF | +19 | #143
  • The fantasy managers who jumped on the Owen Power hype train are getting railroaded by an incredible start for Rasmus Dahlin. He’s scored 8 points in 5 games including a goal in every game he’s played. His 27.8% SH% is obviously ridiculous and will come back down to Earth, but his 3.6 shots per game is music to a fantasy manager’s ears!

Rankings Fallers

📉Brock Boeser (RW), VAN | -22 | #137
  • Vancouver remains the only team that has yet to win a game. Their record now sits at 0-4-2 and the team has a goal differential of -1.83 goals per game. Boeser has failed to score a goal this season despite 2.5 minutes of power play time per game. One worrisome detail here for the Canuck forward: he’s producing just 1.5 shots per game (down from 2.7 shots per game last season).
📉Timo Meier (LW/RW), SJS | -17 | #76
  • With the Sharks averaging just 1.7 goals per game (through seven games), that lack of offense has trickled down to their star players (or is it the other way around?). Meier has just 2 points in 7 games. That’s a huge disappointment for fantasy managers who spent an early 4th round pick on him in their drafts this Summer. Is there a glimmer of hope here? Yes. Meier’s shot production remains robust at 4.1 shots per game and both his SH% and tEVSH% are very low (he’s been unlucky) at 0.0% and 2.5%, respectively. Expect this Shark to turn things around shortly.
📉MacKenzie Weegar (D), CGY | -9 | #161)
  • There was a lot of buzz surrounding Weegar and his move to the Flames this Summer, but his production has been lackluster. He has 3 points in 5 games; he is producing just 1.6 shots per game (down from 2.5 last season), despite seeing 2.27 minutes of power play time per game. His tEVSH% and IPP are high at 10.0% and 75%, respectively.

New To The List (NTL)

📈Nick Blankenburg (D), CBJ | NTL | #180
  • The Columbus blue liner debuts on the Top-200 list at spot #180. He has two points in his first three games and is seeing heavily sheltered minutes (over 70% offensive zone starts).

Contest Announcement | Hacks Holiday!

Help the Hacks celebrate 100 episodes of fantasy fun! We truly appreciate all the support we’ve received from listeners, partners, and guests, making this first 100 episodes a genuinely enjoyable experience. All of us on the podcast enjoy creating fantasy hockey content, and will do so for as long as people will listen. To show our appreciation, we are sending one listener and a guest on a “Hacks Holiday” to Las Vegas next February! Thank you to our partners – Lucky Bastard Distillers & Left Wing Lock – for their support in making this contest possible. Winner will receive: 

  • 2 tickets to a Vegas Golden Knights home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning – Saturday, February 18, 2023
  • 2 round-trip tickets to Las Vegas
  • 3-night accommodations at a hotel near T-Mobile Arena
  • 1 year FREE subscription to the Left Wing Lock iPhone app! 

Go to the contest page – FantasyHockeyHacks.com/HacksHoliday – and follow the directions to enter the contest. 

“HACK THE CODE” Number For Episode 85: 25

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