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Fantasy mailbag: Most-productive line trios in League

Lightning, Blues, Flyers lead list; Canucks' unit making case for top 10

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Senior Fantasy Editor

Every Friday during the season, will answer your fantasy mailbag questions. Whether you're in a year-long league or play DFS, we'll answer the most relevant questions based on Yahoo transaction trends, DraftKings value and any other developments (production, lineup, injuries) around the League. Send your questions to @NHLJensen on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


@asandhu_89: Can Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi be a top-three line? Nobody else really standing out, other than the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser trio for the Vancouver Canucks is certainly up there with the most productive lines around the League, and their youth and chemistry give them potential staying power among the top 10. The St. Louis Blues' top line belongs among the top three with the Lightning and Flyers in terms of fantasy prowess as we approach next week's quarter mark of the season. In light of your question, I put together a list of the most potent NHL line trios at this point in the season based on standard-category production, frequency of combination and fantasy-relevance as a whole.

Video: PIT@VAN: Boeser buries wrister to complete hat trick


1. Vladislav Namestnikov (15) - Steven Stamkos (2) - Nikita Kucherov (1), TBL

2. Jaden Schwartz (12) - Brayden Schenn (7) - Vladimir Tarasenko (3), STL

3. Claude Giroux (23) - Sean Couturier (17) - Jakub Voracek (8), PHI

4. Jamie Benn (30) - Tyler Seguin (16) - Alexander Radulov (71), DAL

5. Patrick Maroon (174) - Connor McDavid (25) - Leon Draisaitl (166), EDM*

6. Zach Hyman (134) - Auston Matthews (11) - William Nylander (32), TOR*

7. Kyle Connor (339) - Mark Scheifele (27) - Blake Wheeler (6), WPG*

8. Anders Lee (52) - John Tavares (29) - Josh Bailey (46), NYI

9. Chris Kreider (87) - Mika Zibanejad (28) - Pavel Buchnevich (57), NYR

10. Sven Baertschi (104) - Bo Horvat (70) - Brock Boeser (60), VAN

NOTES: Numbers in parentheses indicate Yahoo rank as of Nov. 10. ... Draisaitl has been limited to 11 of a possible 15 games because of an eye injury and concussion. ... Connor was recalled by the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 16 and has played nine of a possible 14 games. ... Matthews is day to day with an upper-body injury. … Some other strong duos or lines affected by early line changes and/or injuries (e.g. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Anders Bjork, BOS; Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana, WSH; Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, PIT) have been excluded from this list.


Other notable trios who have played together for majority of season:

-- Dustin Brown (22) - Anze Kopitar (26) - Alex Iafallo (216), LAK

-- Johnny Gaudreau (13) - Sean Monahan (47) - Micheal Ferland (191), CGY

-- Ondrej Palat (135) - Brayden Point (35) - Yanni Gourde (98), TBL

-- Evander Kane (21) - Jack Eichel (121) - Jason Pominville (139), BUF

-- Jonathan Huberdeau (75) - Aleksander Barkov (132) - Evgenii Dadonov (103), FLA


New lines to watch:

-- Filip Forsberg (41) - Ryan Johansen (261) - Viktor Arvidsson (59), NSH (reunited after Kyle Turris trade)

-- Gabriel Landeskog (141) - Nathan MacKinnon (83) - Mikko Rantanen (108), COL (since Oct. 28)

-- Mike Hoffman (63) - Matt Duchene (258) - Zack Smith (358), OTT (formed after Duchene trade)

-- Andrew Ladd (270) - Mathew Barzal (86) - Jordan Eberle (190), NYI (since Oct. 28)


@BRUINSZ: Who's got more potential in a keeper league: Charlie McAvoy or Ivan Provorov?

This is an intriguing question considering McAvoy and Provorov are two of the best young defensemen in the NHL, and each has a productive power-play quarterback in front of him in Torey Krug and Shayne Gostisbehere, respectively. McAvoy, 19, is averaging 22:58 as a rookie, and Provorov, 20, is averaging 24:42 in his second NHL season. McAvoy has a slightly higher points-per-game average (0.57) than Provorov (0.50) this season, but there's no doubt these defensemen will be neck-and-neck for years to come. In a one-year league, I would rather have McAvoy because the Boston Bruins offense could improve once Marchand and David Krejci are back healthy. But the Flyers have the better prospect pool moving forward, and Provorov has the look of a future Norris Trophy contender.

Video: NSH@BOS: McAvoy strikes in slot for first career goal


@NikkiKarek: What should I do with Rasmus Ristolainen?

Ristolainen is now week to week with an upper-body injury. The Buffalo Sabres are capable of an offensive bounce-back once he's back healthy, and he remains valuable in leagues that count power-play points and/or hits. Be patient for now and stash him on injured reserve once he's eligible. He still has a chance to finish among the top 20 fantasy defensemen when it's all said and done.


@lt_bacon: Drafted Jonathan Drouin. Should I drop him?

Drouin started slowly for the Canadiens after leaving his spot on the power play with Kucherov and Victor Hedman last season with the Lightning. He had started to turn things around on a line with Alex Galchenyuk prior to sustaining an upper-body injury Tuesday. If there's a high-upside forward available on the waiver wire (e.g. Boeser, Barzal, Buchnevich), then consider dropping Drouin. Otherwise, I would be patient with his injury, especially considering he's tri-eligible in Yahoo (C/LW/RW).


@theheck10: What should I do with Oscar Klefbom in a deeper league?

He's become droppable in shallow formats, but standard and deep-league owners should hold onto Klefbom for a few more weeks, if at all possible. The Oilers have won three of their past four games, and Klefbom should eventually get going playing on their first power-play unit with McDavid and Draisaitl. It's also encouraging that he's tied for seventh in shots on goal (50 in 15 games) among defensemen.

Video: NJD@EDM: Klefbom beats Schneider on one-timer


@Bri963 Hey...Why is Pavel Buchnevich a 'hot commodity' but just played 12:56 last game. Am I missing something?; @BaseballDN98_: Better option ROS: Buchnevich or Matthew Tkachuk?

I get that Buchnevich's low average ice time (14:53) is concerning for his staying power as a fantasy asset. But Buchnevich (LW/RW, 41 percent owned) has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) and 41 shots on goal in 17 games and is doing significant damage on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and power play (seven power-play points) with Kevin Shattenkirk. Even in a second-line, second-PP role, Tkachuk is more valuable in a league that counts penalty minutes, but I might go with Buchnevich now in a points-only league. Buchnevich has scored 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) in 58 career regular-season games over two NHL seasons; that's a 48-point pace over 82 games despite wildly inconsistent usage under New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. Buchnevich ranks 32nd League-wide in points per 60 minutes this season (min. 10 games).


@ChrisKieran: Any tips for 'winner take all' DFS lineup strategy?

Here is our DFS NHL strategy guide from earlier in the season. Having a good sense of line combinations and power-play usage around the League can help you identify value picks. For "winner take all," you can distinguish yourself by hitting on some high-upside, contrarian players, especially guys who are due to break out of slumps for multi-point games. Especially this season with top defensemen underperforming, go on the cheaper side at the position with guys like Jake Muzzin and Ryan Suter who cover categories well and provide a high floor. Then, spend up elsewhere for top-six and first power-play forwards. Same thing with your forwards; make sure you're aware of a player's shot volume so that you don't come up empty.


@ecolandreo: For deep leagues, who are your top real-life backup goalies going forward? I had bet on Philipp Grubauer but his numbers have been atrocious.

True backup goaltenders I trust as handcuffs or standalone fantasy assets moving forward are as follows: Peter Budaj of the Lightning, Carter Hutton of the Blues and Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jarry is especially intriguing given how much room the Penguins have for improvement at 5-on-5 and the fact that they have 14 remaining back-to-back sets. Despite five back-to-backs already, poor performance from previous backup Antti Niemi and a difficult schedule, the Penguins are tied for fourth in the League in points (20).


@philistweeting: Will Dustin Brown continue this pace? Back to his old self?

I thought there would be a bigger drop-off after Brown's early season surge, but he has a legitimate chance to finish among the top 50 overall in standard leagues this season (currently 22nd) because of his elite category coverage and recent uptick in power-play points. Alongside center Anze Kopitar in all situations, Brown has a high shot volume (50 SOG) and power-play points in three of his past five games.

Video: LAK@ANA: Brown taps in Iafallo's pass for PPG 


@Bigbubbaganush: Do you think it's time to let Jason Spezza go?

Yes. He's not playing on the first power-play unit or the top line with Benn, Seguin and Radulov. He's also only averaging 13:07 per game this season. Things are not working out for the veteran center under new Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. Even after the Stars split up Benn and Seguin on Friday, their new top six doesn't include Spezza.


@TomsTumshais: Hi, Pete! What you say about Jason Zucker? Is it worth to pick him up from waiver wire? One-year H2H league, 16 teams, full categories. Possible drops from my team: Brock Boeser or Brendan Gallagher. Big thanks!

Zucker (LW/RW, 27 percent owned) is on a tear lately with six points (five goals, one assist), a plus-3 and 14 shots on goal over his past three games. He's benefiting from injuries to Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise and playing on the Minnesota Wild's top line with Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter. He stuck among their top-six forward group for much of last season and finished 117th in Yahoo. He's currently 69th based on standard-category performance. Given the Canadiens' secondary scoring void with Drouin injured and Gallagher's spot on mostly the third line and second power-play unit, it's fair game to drop Gallagher for Zucker right now.

Video: MIN@MTL: Zucker nets backhander for shorthanded goal


@NerdyHockeyGirl: What do you think about Alexander Kerfoot? I'm thinking about snagging him for maybe Brock Nelson

Nelson is no longer even on the second line for the New York Islanders, so I would rather invest in Kerfoot, an unheralded rookie playing on the first power-play unit with MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen and defenseman Tyson Barrie. He has nine points (five goals, four assists), a plus-3 and three PPP and could be Colorado's second-line center moving forward. Once Tyson Jost returns from injury, that second line of rookies could keep the Avalanche relevant.

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