Fantasy hockey: One player to add for each category

Tyler Johnson (middle) has plenty of exposure to Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, making him valuable in fantasy hockey. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson (middle) has plenty of exposure to Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, making him valuable in fantasy hockey. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NHL season is less than a week old, but there’s already a lot you can learn about your fantasy team.

With the book closed on Week 1, it’s important to look at how your team performed in each category. Maybe you scored well in goals and assists but struggled in blocks and hits. It’s possible that your goaltending let you down, or maybe you need some more power-play points. Either way, there’s no better place to look for help than the waiver wire.

Here’s one player for each category that can help your fantasy hockey team.

Eeli Tolvanen was very impressive in the Nashville Predators’ season-opener against the Seattle Kraken. In 14:09 of ice time, the winger potted one goal on a hefty six shots while also earning a plus-one rating. He didn’t record any points in his second outing of the year against the Carolina Hurricanes, but he once again tallied six shots while playing 15:12.

Now in his second season, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Finnish forward take his game up a notch. In his rookie campaign, the 2017 first-round pick notched 11 goals and 22 points across 40 games. Seeing time both on the second line and power-play unit, Tolvanen has a chance to emerge as an elite offensive contributor on a Preds team that needs one.

Nashville has four games scheduled this upcoming week.

Logging minutes on the Anaheim Ducks’ top power-play unit and first defense pairing will give Jamie Drysdale plenty of opportunities to factor into the team’s scoring this season.

The 2020 sixth-overall pick has averaged over 19-minutes of time-on-ice this campaign, and he’s registered one power-play assist thus far. Drysdale’s a likely candidate to continue producing because of his opportunity and pedigree. In 112 games in the OHL with the Erie Otters, Drysdale compiled 16 goals and 87 points. That type of production is solid from a blueliner, and there’s an enormous amount of upside for the youngster this year.

He and the Ducks play four games this week.

Plus-minus: RW Craig Smith, Boston Bruins (12%)

The Boston Bruins are a great team to target on the waiver wire this week as the team plays three games on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, which all happen to be quieter nights in the NHL.

The reason why I like Smith, in particular, is due to his shoot-first style. His 132 shots were fourth on the Bruins last season, and in very simplified terms, the more a player shoots the more likely he’s on the ice for a goal. Boston also plays against the Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks, a pair of teams that’ll likely shape out as basement-dwellers.

Power-play points: C/RW Tyler Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks (22%)

Talent-wise, there aren’t many power plays in the NHL better than the Chicago Blackhawks’.

Patrick Kane is absolutely lethal on the man advantage and his playmaking ability pairs perfectly with the sniping styles of Alex DeBrincat. Being on the ice with those two players is about as good as it gets for fantasy, and that’s why Tyler Johnson is worth an add.

Johnson plays with the two talented wingers at both even strength and on the power play, centring each unit. On Friday, Johnson recorded two power-play helpers against the New Jersey Devils and he should continue to pile on the points while playing with Kane and DeBrincat, even if he was held off the scoresheet on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Johnson’s also contributed five hits and two blocks thus far, making him one of the better players to target on the waiver wire in general. The Blackhawks play three games this week, including a battle against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, which has just four games scheduled.

Shots on goal: RW Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks (5%)

The Ducks have four games scheduled in Week 2, and Jakob Silfverberg is the guy you want from this team to help you put more pucks on net. In two games, Silfverberg has fired eight shots on goal, which leads Anaheim.

Additionally, he’s been quite productive to start the campaign, tallying one goal and two assists while seeing the second-most ice time of any Ducks forward.

Faceoffs won: C Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Islanders (48%)

Jean-Gabriel Pageau just makes the cut as someone who’s available in at least half of all Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues, and if he’s available in yours, he’s worth picking up if you need help at the dot.

Last season, his 472 draw victories ranked 17th in the league, and he’s won 18 in two contests this year. With four games on the schedule for the New York Islanders in Week 2, he should finish right near the top of the category.

Hits: LW/RW Brandon Tanev, Seattle Kraken (33%)

If it moves, Brandon Tanev will hit it.

Not many players blend speed and sandpaper the way Tanev does, and while he’s mostly known for his physicality, he can also pull off plays like this.

Through three games, Tanev’s three goals lead the entire team while his 11 hits are tied for the fifth-most of any forward in the league.

Blocks: D Mario Ferraro, San Jose Sharks (6%)

One of my favourite players to watch, Mario Ferraro is a must-add for anyone in need of defensive category help this week.

The San Jose Sharks’ blueliner is a masher. In 56 games last season, he recorded 96 blocks and 155 hits. He’s continued that style of play this year, as he picked up four hits and three blocks in the team’s 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

San Jose plays four games this week, making him a priority add for those in need of some grit.

Goaltending: G Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars (30%)

After Anton Khudobin allowed three goals in a losing effort to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, the Stars will likely turn to Braden Holtby in their next game Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Through two starts this season, Holtby has been very good. Although he doesn’t own a win, he has earned an impressive .939 save percentage.

He also made this incredible save against the New York Rangers last week.

Dallas only plays two games in Week 2, but adding Holtby is a move that could pay off in the long run. The Stars are a good team, and whoever emerges as the 1A in this crease will hold a valuable position.

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