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Fantasy buzz: Islanders insert Pulock to spark power play

Rookie defenseman to make season debut, play on struggling first man-advantage unit

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

All season long, NHL.com'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.

 

2 p.m.
DraftKings value picks for Thursday

CENTER

Jason Spezza, DAL ($4,100 at ARI)

The 34-year-old is in a favorable spot for the Dallas Stars on the road against the Arizona Coyotes and third-string goaltender Adin Hill on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-SW, NHL.TV). Spezza did not score a point against Arizona on Tuesday at home, but did have seven shots on goal. He's overdue for his first goal of the season despite 19 shots on goal playing on Dallas' second line and power-play unit. Spezza has a high DFS floor, reaching at least 2.5 DraftKings points in five of his first six games.

Other value center: Nico Hischier ($4,300 at OTT)

WORTH NOTING: Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Tyson Jost (C, $3,300 vs. STL) is another DFS value pick considering he has been moved to the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. The Avalanche host the St. Louis Blues (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-MW, NHL.TV), who will be on the second leg of a back-to-back set.

WING

Clayton Keller, ARI ($4,500 vs. DAL)

Keller has four points (three goals, one assist), two blocks and 22 shots on goal over his first six games. He's affordably priced against the Stars at home, where he's averaging 4.2 DraftKings points per game through three such games. Stars goaltender Ben Bishop has been solid so far (3-1-0, .944 save percentage), but it's fair to expect some pushback from the young Coyotes on the second leg of their home-and-home set.

Other value wing: Vladislav Namestnikov, TBL ($5,000 at CBJ)

WORTH NOTING: Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (W, $6,500) will play against the Nashville Predators on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, FS-TN, NHL.TV). He sustained a groin injury in the Flyers' 5-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, but will not miss any time. He is an upper-tier DFS wing option with seven points (five goals, two assists) and 19 shots on goal in six games.

DEFENSEMAN

Seth Jones, CBJ ($4,700 vs. TBL)

Jones has quietly emerged as one of the best even-strength scorers among defensemen; he's tied for the most ES points among D-men this season (five in six games) and finished tied for sixth at the position last season (35 ES points). With outstanding category coverage (10 blocks, 17 shots on goal) so far this season, Jones is a must-draft player for the Columbus Blue Jackets at home Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, SUN, NHL.TV), who are scoring 3.86 goals per game but allowing 3.14.

Other value defenseman: Ryan Pulock, NYI ($2,700 at NYR)

GOALTENDER

Anton Forsberg, CHI ($7,600)

The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a 5-2 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, but have bounce-back potential at home Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers (8:30 p.m. ET; SN1, WGN, NHL.TV), who are allowing the most DraftKings points to opposing goaltenders this season. With Leon Draisaitl (eye, concussion) sidelined again, Forsberg should get some goal support, especially with forward Nick Schmaltz (C, $5,100) healthy on a line with Patrick Kane. Forsberg stopped 39 of 43 shots faced in a 4-3 road loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in his only start this season and faces a less daunting task Thursday.

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12:30 p.m.
Rask added to Bruins' injury list

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (concussion) will not play against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, TVA Sports, NESN, NHL.TV). He was injured in a collision with Bruins rookie forward Anders Bjork at practice Wednesday.

Rask, 10th in NHL.com's latest fantasy goalie rankings, is 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage in four games prior to his injury. Boston will start backup Anton Khudobin ($7,700 in DraftKings) against the Canucks on Thursday.

The Bruins' early struggles have come as a result of forwards Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) each missing their first five games. Fantasy owners of Rask and/or Bergeron should not make any drastic roster moves, but rather wait out these injury situations. Rask finished 26th in Yahoo last season and Bergeron was close behind at 42nd.

READ: Full list of projected starting goaltenders for Oct. 19

 

11:30 a.m.
Carter out indefinitely for Kings

Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter left their game against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday after sustaining a cut to his left leg in the first period. He is having a surgical procedure Thursday and is out indefinitely.

Carter started slow prior to the injury with no goals, three assists, one power-play point and 13 shots on goal in his first six games. But fantasy owners are well aware of Carter's impact when healthy; he finished 25th in Yahoo based on standard-category performance last season with 32 goals, 34 assists, 22 power-play points and 250 shots on goal.

The Kings don't have a ton of readily available forward options worth owning in fantasy, with Anze Kopitar (C, 90 percent owned), Tyler Toffoli (75 percent) and Dustin Brown (LW/RW, 61 percent owned) being long gone in most leagues. Adrian Kempe (C/LW, 1 percent owned) burst onto the scene in Carter's absence on a line with Michael Cammalleri and Trevor Lewis, scoring four points (three goals, one assist -- all in third period). Carter's most-frequent linemates, Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, were on a line with Nick Shore.

Notable center-only options available in many leagues include New Jersey Devils rookie Nico Hischier (C, 41 percent owned), Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard (27 percent) and St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny (27 percent). Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, has been heavily dropped since the start of the season in favor of players like Vladislav Namestnikov, Jakub Vrana, Sean Couturier and Vadim Shipachyov, but has three assists and two PPP over his past two games. Stastny centers the Blues' top line with Vladimir Tarasenko, Brassard plays top-six and power-play minutes for the Senators, and Hischier centered a line with Taylor Hall in the Devils' 5-4 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

 

Islanders hope Pulock can spark power play

The New York Islanders are one of two teams that have yet to score a power-play goal this season (0-for-20 in six games; Anaheim Ducks: 0-for-21 in six games). They will insert one of their top prospects to address this glaring problem.

Defenseman Ryan Pulock (1 percent owned in Yahoo) is expected to make his season debut for the Islanders against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV). Pulock is likely to skate on the Islanders' first power-play unit with forwards John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee and defenseman Nick Leddy.

The Rangers (1-5-1) have the second-worst penalty kill in the NHL this season (74.1 percent; Edmonton Oilers: 68.2), making this a bounce-back spot for the Islanders. This matchup makes Pulock a glaring value pick in DraftKings; he's just above the minimum price at $2,700. In season-long Yahoo formats, Pulock is a viable deep-league pickup or at least worth adding to your watch list.

Pulock, 23, has four points (two goals, two assists) in 16 career NHL regular-season games over two seasons, but made a memorable impact on the top man-advantage unit during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with three points (one goal, two assists) and two PPP in six games.

 

Pieces of Maple Leafs' potent offense still attainable

Our fantasy staff praised the Toronto Maple Leafs' forward depth entering the season, and it has been as good as advertised.

The Maple Leafs lead the NHL in goals per game with 34 goals in seven games (4.86). Each of their first three lines is fantasy-relevant, and a few underrated players remain available in most Yahoo leagues after their 6-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

Zach Hyman (C/LW, 9 percent owned) looks to be a fixture alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander on the top line. He has five points (three goals, two assists), 14 shots on goal and is plus-6 in seven games. Leo Komarov (C/LW) has three points (one goal, two assists), two PPP, 11 shots on goal and is plus-5 alongside Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri on the third line with added value in a hits league (28). And even forward Connor Brown (RW, 5 percent owned), who has surprisingly replaced Mitchell Marner on the second line with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, is scratching the surface with goals in back-to-back games.

Among defensemen, Morgan Rielly (61 percent owned) has seen a serious spike in power-play minutes per game (2:55; 0:58 last season) and is currently ranked 34th overall in Yahoo (fifth among defensemen) based on fantasy performance. He has seven points (one goal, six assists), four PPP and 22 shots on goal and is suddenly worth owning in all formats.

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