Week 1 NHL Fantasy Preview

Just like that, a brand new season is here! For those of you not familiar with my work, my name is David Carey. I am one of the Fantasy Marskmen, based out of Edmonton Alberta. Each week, I provide strategy-based Fantasy Hockey content aimed at giving you the upper hand throughout the season.

Some of the topics that I cover on a weekly basis include:

  • Team Trends
  • News and Notes
  • Games per day
  • Team games per week
  • Players to Add
  • Players to Drop
  • Advanced Stats
  • Tip of the week

Team Trends

Hot Teams

  • Minnesota Wild – The Wild have won 5 out of 6 games played and have a +11G differential. Kirill Kaprizov is poised to lead the Wild in scoring this year and land among the NHL’s top point producers. The key with Minnesota will be to find the key players who contribute alongside Kaprizov. Winger Mats Zuccarello may very well be that player while lining up opposite Kaprizov on the Wild’s top line and top Power Play Unit.
  • Carolina Hurricanes – The Canes have played just 5 games thus far in pre-season action but have amassed a league-leading 4.8 goals per game. Carolina looks to be one of the strongest teams in the league, on the Wing. Teravainen, Svechnikov, Necas and Jarvis will start the year inside the Hurricanes top 6 group until Max Pacioretty comes back from IR later this year. Newly acquired Brent Burns could provide a spark as an offensive-type Defenseman this year. Keep an eye on him as a potential bounce-back veteran who could outproduce his ADP.

Cold Teams

  • Tampa Bay Lightning – The Bolts haven’t played their typical brand of hockey through 4 preseason games scoring only 4 goals and getting peppered for a -13 goal differential. The absence of Center Anthony Cirelli into November could cause a slow start for Tampa Bay in 2022. Prepare to look deeper than the typical names of Kucherov, Stamkos and Hedman as Lightning will be asking players like Nick Paul, Ross Colton and Vladislav Namestnikov to play a bigger role.
  • Vancouver Canucks – The Canucks have a league-worst -14 goal differential through 6 preseason games. While the Canucks project near the middle of the Pacific Division a slow start to the season could hinder their chances at a playoff position. Prior to Bruce Boudreau taking over in 2021, the Canucks started the year 8-15-2, essentially putting themself behind the 8-ball to start the year. Watch out for the Canucks early on as they haven’t shown us anything worthy of building up our confidence or expectations.

News + Notes

The regular season action kicks off Friday, Oct 7th with the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators playing on back-to-back days from Prague, Czech Republic in the first part of the NHL Global series. You can expect another set of games in early November when the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets play their own set of back-to-back games from Tampere, Finland.

While these games are exciting from a Fan’s perspective, it’s also worth noting that the teams will have significant travel time allotted around these trips. Consider some fairly low totals for the week from players you roster on those teams as you won’t be able to count on them for more than 3 games played.

Games per day

Week 1 of the Fantasy season spans 10 days from Friday Oct 7th through Sunday Oct 16th. While that may sound rather long, 3 days of this week have no action, leaving us with the typical 7 days of games.

  • Friday – 1
  • Saturday – 1
  • Sunday – 0
  • Monday – 0
  • Tuesday – 2
  • Wednesday – 6
  • Thursday – 10
  • Friday – 4
  • Saturday – 14
  • Sunday – 0

Thursday (13th) and Saturday (15th) are the only days of the week where Managers will have to pick and choose players to start or sit. The remainder of the nights are fairly quiet as the year kicks off.

Teams playing 4+ games this week

Week 1 doesn’t have any teams playing 4+ games in total. This will be one of the only weeks of the season where no specific teams have a significant advantage from a volume perspective.

The key with this list, on a weekly basis, is to identify teams whose players are going to produce more Fantasy Statistics resulting from the extra games played. The importance of games played rises in leagues with a larger assortment of stat categories. Specifically, accessory categories like Shots, Hits, Blocks, Faceoffs and PIMs. Keep an eye on this section throughout the season and consider pairing some of your weekly add/drops with players who will give you an advantage in games played for the week.

Teams playing 2 or fewer games this week

More than half of the league’s teams fall into this category to kick off the year so let’s narrow our focus to the teams which have only 1 GP on the week.

  • St Louis Blues
  • Winnipeg Jets

The Blues and Jets both start the season with only 1 GP in the opening week. While the Jets flip to playing 4 games in week 2, the Blues play only 2 games respectively. This total of only 3GP is a concern if you are relying on a small number of goalies in a minimum appearance league format. While this isn’t a reason to pivot off of key players from either team, its helpful to consider when potentially dropping a fringe level player from your roster in favor or another position of need.

Players to Add this week

Like most sports, Fantasy Hockey presents a number of key players to add right out of the gate from the <50% rostered range. I can’t impress enough that these early-season additions to your Fantasy team will be some of the most important moves you make all year long.

Players routinely make significant leaps from year to year and also come into the NHL from different streams that lead to an opportunity from a Fantasy Hockey perspective. Given the amount of suggested add/drops you should be making throughout a Fantasy Hockey season, it doesn’t hurt to go after players who are trending leading into the upcoming season.

Here are a few that I recommend picking up in exchange for some of your late-round picks or, better yet, while moving a drafted player into an IR spot.

Andrei Kuzmenko (LW) VAN – 34% Owned

  • Projects to open the regular season on Elias Pettersson’s left wing
  • Will play on Vancouvers top PP unit
  • Has 5 points in 3 preseason games

Artturi Lehkonen (LW,RW) COL – 49% Owned

  • Playing L1 minutes for Colorado while Gabriel Landeskog is out
  • Appearing on Colorado’s PP1 unit during pre-season with projections that see him continuing in this role during the regular season

Matt Murray (G) TOR – 59% Owned

  • Projects to open the season as the starter for Toronto, despite competition from Ilya Samsonov
  • Career .911 SV% between Pittsburgh and Ottowa
  • Likely to see 2 starts in W1 as the Leafs open up the year on a back to back and a 3GP week

Anthony Duclair (RW) FLA – 21% Owned

  • A strategy add for anyone who does not currently have their IR or IR+ spots filled on their rosters.
  • Duclair scored a career-high 31G in 2021/2022 and tallied an excellent 18.6% shooting percentage
  • The Panthers look like the frontrunner for the Atlantic Division this year bolstering an expected +/- for Duclair in his return
  • He figures to slot into Florida’s top-6 forward group once he returns from an Achilles injury suffered during off-season training

Players to Drop this week

Carey Price (G) MTL – 19% Owned

  • Somehow owned in nearly 20% of Yahoo leagues, mostly based upon name value
  • Likely to miss the entire 2022/2023 season due to setbacks in his recover of his injured knee
  • Placed on LT-IR by Montreal

TJ Oshie (C,RW) WAS – 39% Owned

  • Currently battling an UBI and likely less than 100% entering the season
  • Tallied only 11G and 14A as a -12 in 2021/2022 while missing 38 games
  • Oshie has fallen outside the top 6 forwards for Washington and can now be replaced by younger players with a higher ceiling in all Fantasy formats

Stats Central

ixG = Individual Expected Goals Created

This stat category captures the individual efforts of some of the leagues best players and, more specifically, goal scorers. ixG is a great place to source young and undervalued talent in the goal scoring department. Players like Michael Bunting fly under the radar in most hockey markets but present a significant value for goals created via individual effort. Go ahead and cross reference this list from 2021-2022 with draft capital and you’ll find a number of players able who’s fantasy value would be widely regarded as “stand-alone.”

Fantasy Tip of the week

Positive Games Played = Positive Outcomes

We will revisit this topic repetitively throughout the year because it is amongst the simplest ways that you can go about trying to win. Whether you play in a categories league or a points league, you benefit significantly from having the most games played over any period of time. The more categories, or point-scoring categories the better. We want to maximize the number of games our players play relative to our competition. In a sense, we can make up the same totals that 2 good players would put up by using 3-4 average players within the confines of our leagues add/drop regulations.

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Thank you very much for joining me to kick off the 2022/2023 Fantasy Hockey season. I”ll be aiming to provide you with helpful trends, data and player suggestions all season long. Be sure to check out our Fantasy Hockey Rankings for 2022/2023 and stop by next week for my week 2 Preview.

Follow me on Twitter @87_Carey and @fantasymarksmen

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