Burns Svechnikov CAR fantasy EDGE

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Hurricanes can return to dominant form in New Year

The Carolina Hurricanes were expected to remain among the NHL's elite teams this season but are only in Stanley Cup Playoff position by a few standings points approaching the New Year. But, in terms of underlying stats and NHL EDGE metrics, the Hurricanes should have a bounce-back second half.

Carolina has the best offensive zone time percentage (47.1) in the NHL and also the League’s best shot attempts percentage (59.5), which has been a trademark of coach Rod Brind'Amour's tenure. The Hurricanes have the top four players in SAT percentage (minimum 20 games) -- forwards Jordan Martinook and Jesper Fast are tied for the NHL lead (63.5), while Jordan Staal is in third (63.0) and Stefan Noesen in fourth (61.9) -- and eight of the League’s top 13 in the category (others: forward Jack Drury, defensemen Jaccob Slavin, Brent Burns, Dmitry Orlov).

There have been encouraging signs over the past two weeks from three players who are crucial to Carolina’s turnaround: the buy-low fantasy windows may be closing on Hurricanes’ rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov, forward Andrei Svechnikov and top defenseman Burns.

Kochetkov started the season behind Frederik Andersen (blood clotting issue) and Antti Raanta (waived, assigned to American Hockey League before since being recalled) on the depth chart but is 4-1-2 with a .931 save percentage over his past seven games. Svechnikov, who missed all of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a knee injury that required surgery, had a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, giving him eight points (five goals, three assists) in five games since returning from a recent upper-body injury. Burns has had multipoint games in each of Carolina’s consecutive wins with five points (one goal, four assists) in the span.

There is also still plenty of room for improvement in 5-on-5 shooting percentage (8.0; tied for seventh lowest in NHL) and save percentage (.898; fourth lowest). The Hurricanes' 5-on-5 S%+SV%, an indicator of progression to come, is tied for the second lowest in the League (97.7).


Kraken building momentum before NHL Winter Classic

The 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic is set for Monday, Jan. 1 (3 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT, SN, TVAS) at T-Mobile Park between the two most-recent expansion teams in the host Seattle Kraken and visiting Vegas Golden Knights. Both teams excelled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, but the defending Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights have remained near the top of the NHL standings this season, while it has been a much slower start for the Kraken.

Seattle has dealt with key injuries to forwards Jaden Schwartz, Andre Burakovsky and goalie Philipp Grubauer, but, per NHL EDGE stats, still has strong underlying numbers -- which are finally starting to translate with three straight wins and five victories in its past seven games.

Seattle is tied for the ninth-best offensive zone time percentage (42.1) in the NHL and has skated the second-most miles (1,653.83) of any team behind only Vegas (1,667.83). The Kraken are tied for ninth in shot attempts percentage (51.9) and, similar to the Hurricanes, have room for improvement with the fifth-lowest 5-on-5 shooting percentage (7.8) in the NHL.

Potential fantasy pickups from Seattle include forward Tomas Tatar (recently acquired from Colorado Avalanche), who has had two multipoint games in the first five with his new team while seeing some top-line usage, and goalie Joey Daccord, who is 4-0-2 with a .947 save percentage and one shutout in his past six games and ranks second in the NHL in mid-range save percentage (.940).


Pacioretty nearing return, can boost Capitals offense

The Washington Capitals are averaging the second-fewest goals per game (2.34) in the NHL and have the third-worst power-play percentage (12.1) but are in Stanley Cup Playoff position approaching the New Year (after missing the 2023 postseason) -- and could get a much-needed offensive boost from the upcoming return of forward Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty, a six-time 30-goal scorer, tore his right Achilles for the second time (while playing for the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 19) last season after recovering from his first Achilles tear. He scored three goals on 16 shots on goal in five games with the Hurricanes last season.

Although it was a small sample size for Pacioretty, his top shot speed (94.89 mph), per NHL EDGE stats, ranked in the 77th percentile, and his offensive zone time percentage at even strength (49.2) was in the 99th percentile. Especially after two major injuries over the past two years, the Capitals will likely ease Pacioretty into the offense and could also shelter his minutes early on with as much offensive zone time as possible -- making him worth adding in fantasy ahead of his return.