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Fantasy buzz: Hidden gems based on per-60 metrics

Stewart, Kempe, Sobotka maximizing production within context of workload

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.


4:30 p.m.
DraftKings picks for Thursday


Value pick: Bryan Little, WPG ($4,600 at PIT): Little is a bounce-back candidate on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PIT, TSN3, NHL.TV). Little has nine points (five goals, four assists) in 13 career road games against them, has outstanding linemates in Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine and is priced affordably among centers. He is off to a slow start with four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games, but plays major minutes (17:28 per game) at even strength and on the power play (2:16 per game).

Spend up for: Auston Matthews, TOR ($7,800 vs. CAR)

Video: CAR@WPG: Little puts Jets on board with nice wrister


Value pick: Clayton Keller, ARI ($5,000 at NYR): The Arizona Coyotes wing has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in nine games to lead all rookies. He has a favorable road game against the struggling New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-A, NHL.TV), who will start backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Keller is averaging nearly four shots on goal per game (34 in nine games), giving him a high floor and huge upside any given night. Stack him with linemate Derek Stepan (C, $5,000), who faces his former team for the first time.

Spend up for: Phil Kessel, PIT ($6,200 vs. WPG)

Video: CHI@ARI: Keller pots backhand to tie game at 2


Value pick: Mikhail Sergachev, TBL ($4,000 vs. DET): Our fantasy staff has praised Sergachev all week, and he remains surprisingly cheap in DFS ahead of a favorable home game against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-D, NHL.TV). He has four points (one goal, three assists) and nine shots on goal in five home games, and is second among defensemen in points per 60 minutes (4.22). He's easily stackable with power-play running mates Brayden Point (C, $4,700), Ondrej Palat ($4,600) and/or Tyler Johnson ($3,500).

Spend up for: John Carlson, WSH ($5,500 at VAN)

Video: TBL@CAR: Sergachev deposits Stamkos' feed by Darling


Jonathan Quick, LAK ($7,700 at MTL): It's fair to expect a goaltender duel between Quick and Carey Price when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN2, FS-W, NHL.TV). Quick has had much more goal support on his side (Los Angeles: 3.44 goals per game, T-4th) than Montreal has given Price this season (1.89, second-worst). Quick is 5-2-0 with a .923 save percentage and one shutout in his career against the Canadiens, and is 2-1-0 with a .915 save percentage in road games this season.

Video: LAK@TOR: Quick snags Nylander's one-timer

WORTH NOTING: Anders Nilsson ($6,800; 6.9 DraftKings points per game) of the Vancouver Canucks is averaging the second-most DraftKings points per game among projected Thursday starters behind Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning ($8,400; 7.2). Nilsson is a contrarian play at home against the Washington Capitals on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, NBCSWA, NHL.TV). He has started all three of his games this season on the road, going 2-1-0 with a .949 save percentage and two shutouts.


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2 p.m.
DeBrincat joins Toews, Saad on Blackhawks' top line

Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Alex DeBrincat was moved to their top line with center Jonathan Toews and left wing Brandon Saad at practice Thursday.

DeBrincat (RW, 10 percent owned in Yahoo) has exceeded his nine-game rookie trial, meaning he may be here to stay with the Blackhawks. He has four points (one goal, three assists) and 14 shots on goal in 10 games played mostly on the Blackhawks' third line, but this development makes him worth adding in deeper formats and monitoring in all leagues because of his upside with such strong linemates.

Toews is ranked 29th overall in Yahoo based on standard-category performance, and Saad is not far behind at 56th. Chicago hosts the Nashville Predators on Friday.


Yahoo position eligibility updates

Clayton Keller, ARI: Added RW; now C/LW/RW -- 50 percent owned
Bryan Rust, PIT: Added LW; now LW/RW -- 25 percent owned
Yanni Gourde, TBL: Added RW; now C/RW -- owned in fewer than 1 percent of leagues


11:30 a.m.
Hidden fantasy gems based on per-60 metrics

Per-60 metrics, available on the NHL Stats page, indicate top performers within the context of their usage. Most of the players below who are excelling in goals, assists and/or points per 60 minutes are elite fantasy options, but some others have found fantasy relevance by maximizing their production in less-prominent roles.

These metrics should be taken with a grain of salt because high shooting percentages for secondary scorers may not be sustainable, but the below lists certainly shed some light on players around the League who are performing among the League's best in key fantasy categories despite seeing fewer minutes per game. With expanded roles in the future, specifically more power-play usage, some of these hidden gems could be here to stay on the fantasy map.

NHL leaders in goals per 60 minutes (minimum seven games played):

1. Chris Stewart, LW/RW, MIN: 3.75 (28 percent owned)
2. Alex Ovechkin, WSH: 3.63
3. Nikita Kucherov, TBL: 3.33
4. Adrian Kempe, C/LW, LAK: 3.13 (17 percent owned)
5. Logan Couture, SJS: 2.98
6. Nikolaj Ehlers, WPG: 2.95
7. David Pastrnak, BOS: 2.81
8. Sonny Milano, LW, CBJ: 2.65 (8 percent owned)
9. Auston Matthews, TOR: 2.57
10. Brad Marchand, BOS: 2.55
11. James Neal, VGK: 2.53
12. Filip Forsberg, NSH: 2.49
13. Miles Wood, LW, NJD: 2.47 (1 percent owned)
14. Jeff Skinner, CAR: 2.45
15. James van Riemsdyk, TOR: 2.35
16. Brock Nelson, C/LW, NYI: 2.33 (8 percent owned)
17. Derek Dorsett, RW, VAN: 2.24 (30 percent owned)

18. Wayne Simmonds, PHI: 2.22
19. Jaden Schwartz, STL: 2.16
20. Derick Brassard, C, OTT: 2.12 (54 percent owned)

NHL leaders in assists per 60 minutes (minimum seven games played):

1. Steven Stamkos, TBL: 5.26
2. Will Butcher, NJD: 4.33
3. Jakub Voracek, PHI: 4.26
4. Evgeny Kuznetsov, WSH: 4.25
5. Taylor Hall, NJD: 3.36
6. Johnny Gaudreau, CGY: 3.12
7. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI: 3.08
8. Blake Wheeler, WPG: 3.03
9. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH: 2.98
10. Artemi Panarin, CBJ: 2.93
11. Bryan Rust, LW/RW, PIT: 2.87 (25 percent owned)
12. Bobby Ryan, OTT: 2.76 (INJ.)
13. Evgeni Malkin, PIT: 2.68
14. Mike Green, DET: 2.60
15. Radim Vrbata, RW, FLA: 2.50 (11 percent owned)
16. Dylan Larkin, DET: 2.50
17. Alex Killorn, LW, TBL: 2.49 (13 percent owned)
18. Zack Smith, OTT: 2.45 (INJ.)
19. Charlie McAvoy, BOS: 2.44
20. Vladimir Sobotka, LW, STL: 2.41 (8 percent owned)

NHL leaders in points per 60 minutes (minimum seven games played):

1. Steven Stamkos, TBL: 6.19
2. Nikita Kucherov, TBL: 5.15
3. Chris Stewart, LW/RW, MIN: 5.00 (28 percent owned)
4. Brad Marchand, BOS: 4.68
5. Auston Matthews, TOR: 4.41
6. Adrian Kempe, C/LW, LAK: 4.39 (17 percent owned)
7. Will Butcher, NJD: 4.33
8. Jaden Schwartz, STL: 4.31
9. Filip Forsberg, NSH: 4.26
10. Jakub Voracek, PHI: 4.26
11. Logan Couture, SJS: 4.25
12. Evgeny Kuznetsov, WSH: 4.25
13. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TBL: 4.22 (69 percent owned)
14. James van Riemsdyk, TOR: 4.22
15. Alex Ovechkin, WSH: 4.00
16. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH: 3.97
17. Claude Giroux, PHI: 3.96
18. Nikolaj Ehlers, WPG: 3.94
19. Jared McCann, FLA: 3.85 (INJ.)
20. Taylor Hall, NJD: 3.78

-- Stewart, who has eight points (six goals, two assists) in seven games, has seen frequent exposure to productive centers Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu with the Minnesota Wild ravaged by injuries to wings Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle. Stewart is also seeing time alongside Staal on the second power-play unit in recent games. He has 702 penalty minutes in 605 career NHL games, so he brings added value in leagues that count the category. Stewart is priced affordably in DraftKings (W, $4,100) against the New York Islanders on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, MSG+). Dorsett and Wood are other PIMs specialists worth streaming in year-long fantasy leagues.

Video: MIN@CGY: Stewart bangs home his own rebound for PPG

-- Kempe has elevated his production since the Los Angeles Kings lost center Jeff Carter to injury. The 21-year-old has five goals, two assists, a plus-6 and 11 shots on goal alongside mostly Trevor Lewis and Michael Cammalleri on the Kings' third line. He played a season-high 15:15 in his most-recent game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, including 1:28 on the power play, so fantasy owners should monitor whether he continues to receive expanded usage during Carter's absence.

-- Sergachev has been the most-added fantasy player over the past week, jumping more than 50 percent in ownership over the past seven days. Butcher is the only defenseman League-wide with a higher points-per-60 average, and the New Jersey Devils rookie has done all of his damage in assists (no goals, nine assists in eight games). Sergachev, playing on the Tampa Bay Lightning's second power-play unit with Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat, has three multi-point games during his four-game point streak and is now tied for the most goals (four) at his position with Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues.

Video: TBL@CAR: Sergachev deposits Stamkos' feed by Darling

-- Another Lightning skater on one of the above lists is Killorn, who has been fantasy-relevant over the years and is excelling in a third-line role with Johnson and first power-play spot with Kucherov and Stamkos, the NHL's most productive point pair. Other players who have excelled in points-per-60 metrics as a result of strong linemates include Sobotka, who plays alongside Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko, Rust, who splits time on lines with Sidney Crosby or Malkin, and Vrbata, a productive veteran on the Florida Panthers' second line with Vincent Trocheck. Five of Sobotka's seven assists have been primary ones (T-9th in NHL), and Rust and Vrbata are not far behind with four apiece.

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