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Fantasy buzz: Impact of Matthews injury on Maple Leafs lineup

Elite forward sidelined against Wild on Wednesday; Marleau moving to center

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Senior Fantasy Editor

All season long,'s fantasy hockey staff will have you covered with daily lineup news, production trends and injury notes from around the League. We will identify how these developments affect fantasy owners in year-long (Yahoo) and daily (DraftKings) formats.


5 p.m.
DraftKings value picks for Wednesday

All season long,'s fantasy staff will provide daily picks for DraftKings NHL contests. This article includes expensive and value plays and can be used as a basis for your roster decision-making.


Value pick: Tyler Johnson, TBL ($3,500 at SJS): The fantasy results have been disappointing for Johnson, who has played mostly on the Tampa Bay Lightning's third line with Alex Killorn at even strength. That said, Johnson still has a respectable DraftKings points per game average (2.5) playing on their second power-play unit with forwards Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Johnson and Sergachev ($4,500) form a cheap, underrated forward-defenseman stack against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV); Johnson has five points (three goals, two assists) in six road games, and Sergachev has six points (three goals, three assists) in as many road games. 

Other option: Sean Kuraly, BOS ($3,200 at NYR)


Pavel Buchnevich, NYR ($5,000 vs. BOS): The New York Rangers' forward depth is much thinner compared to recent seasons, but their top line is arguably more dynamic now with Buchnevich flanking center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider. Buchnevich has struggled on the road, but is a glaring value pick at home against the depleted Boston Bruins on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV); he has 11 points (five goals, six assists) with six power-play points in 11 home games this season. An example of finding value on this light slate is a look at Buchnevich's price compared to William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nylander ($6,700) will be without elite linemate Auston Matthews (upper body), and Buchnevich is much cheaper with a similar DraftKings points per game average (3.2; Nylander: 3.3).

Other options: Mitchell Marner, TOR ($4,600 vs. MIN)


Value pick: Ryan Suter, MIN ($4,900 at TOR): The Minnesota Wild have dealt with significant injuries to their forward group, but are still within striking distance of Stanley Cup Playoff position and now have Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter healthy and productive again. Suter plays on the first power-play unit with Niederreiter, Granlund and Mikko Koivu, and has a favorable road matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, FS-N+, NHL.TV), who are allowing the most DraftKings points to opposing defensemen. Suter has a high DFS floor because of his blocked shots and shots on goal production, and is averaging 4.3 DraftKings points per game in six road games.

Other option: Tim Heed, SJS ($4,200 vs. TBL)


Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL ($7,500 at SJS): It could end up being a goaltender duel in the game between the Lightning and Sharks given how well Vasilevskiy has started the season and how well Martin Jones is playing lately. Vasilevskiy is 11-1-1 with a .924 save percentage and one shutout, yet is priced fourth out of six starting goaltenders Wednesday and $600 cheaper than top-priced Frederik Andersen (Maple Leafs). There is little reason to doubt Vasilevskiy given his road success; he's 4-1-0 with a .927 save percentage in five road games. The Sharks also haven't exactly been impressive offensively; they are tied for 22nd in goals per game (2.69).


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12:30 p.m.
Matthews out for Maple Leafs on Wednesday

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews will not play against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, FS-N+, NHL.TV) because of an upper-body injury. Matthews hadn't missed a game at the NHL level prior to this game, scoring 88 points (50 goals, 38 assists) in 98 games over his first two seasons.

Matthews, 20, is 10th overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings with 19 points (10 goals, nine assists), a plus-14, three power-play points and 53 shots on goal playing on a line with fellow second-year forwards William Nylander and Zach Hyman (C/LW, 16 percent owned in Yahoo). Matthews was a game-time decision against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday but played 21:11 with one assist and three shots on goal in the Maple Leafs' 4-3 shootout win.

He is day to day and can be stashed in a fantasy IR+ spot in season-long formats.

Third-line center Nazem Kadri (81 percent owned in Yahoo) is likely to be elevated in the lineup in Matthews' absence. Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said veteran forward Patrick Marleau (C/LW, 72 percent) will move to center on a line with Hyman and James van Riemsdyk. Forward Mitchell Marner (C/RW, 88 percent) could also provide additional center depth if Matthews misses any extended period of time.

From a DFS standpoint, Kadri ($5,800 in DraftKings) and Marleau ($5,200) are worth spending up for, and Marner ($4,600) and Tyler Bozak ($4,000) are appealing value picks against the Wild at home. Matthews is by far the most important offensive player on the Maple Leafs, but the fact that they rank second in goals per game (3.75) and sixth in power-play efficiency (24.1 percent) speaks volumes about their scoring depth.

Forward Connor Brown (RW, 6 percent owned in Yahoo) is also a candidate to see bigger minutes, especially on the power play, with Matthews out. The 23-year-old has occupied a top-six role for much of the season and has nine points (six goals, three assists) in 16 games despite averaging 14:49 per game. Brown is averaging 2.28 points per 60 minutes this season, sixth among Maple Leafs skaters.


Blue Jackets shuffle lines, power play with Atkinson back

With the return of right wing Cam Atkinson from a lower-body injury, the Columbus Blue Jackets adjusted their top-nine forward group in their 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Atkinson played on the top line with left wing Artemi Panarin and center Alexander Wennberg at even strength, and also was on the first power-play unit with Panarin, center Nick Foligno and two defensemen, Zach Werenski and Seth Jones. Columbus' power play went 0-for-4 and currently ranks last in the NHL at 10.4 percent through 16 games.

Right wing Josh Anderson (15 percent owned, 112th in Yahoo), who provided fantasy owners with strong category coverage on the top line with Panarin and Foligno in Atkinson's absence, remained with Foligno on the second line at even strength with rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois on his opposite wing. Dubois scored the lone goal for Columbus on a season-high four shots on goal. Right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand played on the third line with forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner.

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