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Fantasy mailbag: Value of rookies, Shipachyov dilemma

Frk, Girard scratching surface; Vegas center can still be sleeper if recalled or traded

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. 


@CarChen: Who's the best waiver wire forward I should pick up? I want goals!

My top waiver wire pick for the week, as discussed in our Monday piece and my NHL Network segment, is Vladislav Namestnikov of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's dual-eligible in Yahoo (C/LW; 34 percent owned) and continues to produce points exposure to elite forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos at even strength and on the power play. If we're looking at ceilings on the waiver wire, Bryan Rust has to be second right now on a line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins at even strength. Rust scored his first goal of the season Thursday and has seven points in five games. But if you need goals, Jason Pominville (RW, 13 percent owned) is a deep-league option with four goals in as many games alongside Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. This line has been the only bright spot for the Buffalo Sabres.

Video: Pete Jensen talks fantasy hockey


@SslaydenMlb: Debrusk or Killorn?

This boils down to how daring you are as a fantasy owner. Clearly the more experienced Alex Killorn is the safer pick, especially playing on the aforementioned first power-play unit with Kucherov, Stamkos, Namestnikov and high-scoring defenseman Victor Hedman. He may be on the Lightning's third line, but remember it's still a good situation alongside center Tyler Johnson. Jake Debrusk is in a good spot alongside David Krejci and fellow rookie Anders Bjork at even strength and on the second power-play unit, but there should be more line shuffling to come once Patrice Bergeron and David Backes return from injuries. Killorn had four assists against the Penguins on Thursday, giving him seven points (one goal, six assists) and three power-play points in four games.


@dnk900: Girard: Good pickup or ill-advised pickup based on hype of first NHL points and goal?

The Nashville Predators, already extremely deep on defense even with the loss of Ryan Ellis (knee) to a long-term injury, are fortunate to have an emerging prospect in 19-year-old Samuel Girard (1 percent owned in Yahoo) to fill in the gap. Predators coach Peter Laviolette is playing Girard on the first power-play unit with P.K. Subban, and the results are encouraging. Girard had two points, including his first career NHL goal, against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, giving him three points (one goal, two assists), one PPP and four shots on goal in two games. Girard may not see such a prominent role once Roman Josi (lower body; day to day) returns from injury, but he's certainly a viable streaming option in the short-term and worth owning in a deep, keeper league.

Video: DAL@NSH: Girard scores his first career goal


@Bobmack13: Any thoughts on Frk?

Detroit Red Wings rookie Martin Frk (RW, 4 percent owned) has not only nailed down a roster spot but also seems to have a handle on a top-six role alongside fellow youngsters Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin at even strength and on the second power-play unit with veteran defenseman Mike Green. Frk has three goals, one assist, two PPP and 10 SOG through four games, and is a deep sleeper worth adding if your waiver wire options are thin.

Video: DET@ARI: Frk rips in PPG from the top of the circle


@shackles21: Standard categories, head-to-head league. Milano or Yakupov?

Nail Yakupov has been a great story early on a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche, but I'm trusting the second-liner on the better team. I like Sonny Milano's spot alongside Nick Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Yakupov's linemate, Matt Duchene, could still be traded at any point this season, especially if the Avalanche come back down to earth. Plus/minus will not be an issue for Columbus; it certainly could be in Colorado.


@stone_advil: McAvoy & either worth holding on to?

Bruins rookie Charlie McAvoy is the safer pick at the scarcer position. Torey Krug is back from injury and stealing back first-unit power-play action, but McAvoy should still benefit from even-strength exposure to David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Bergeron over the long haul. Alex DeBrincat has been in the Chicago Blackhawks' top-nine forward group but has been held without a point in three of his first five games.


@jzm34620: More worried about Rask or Jones going forward?

I worry about the supporting cast much more with Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks. Their top line is another year older and far less dynamic than in years past. Their scoring depth does not stack up to other Stanley Cup Playoff contenders in the Western Conference. Tuukka Rask hasn't looked good either, but much of the Bruins' slow start can be pinned on their injuries. I would have drafted Rask higher a few weeks ago and I'd still rather have him over Jones in fantasy. The Sharks have been an elite road team in recent years. That could easily change this season.

Video: BUF@SJS: Jones shuts down Eichel with a sliding save


@Despo_Hockey: Who's your sleeper pick from current AHL players?

Probably Vadim Shipachyov or Shea Theodore from the Vegas Golden Knights, especially if Shipachyov is traded to a team with a center void (e.g. Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers). Shipachyov was a top-five scorer in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, and has a chance to make it translate to the NHL level for Vegas or elsewhere. He's not with Vegas because of their ongoing roster dilemma. Outside of that situation, I would say left wing Kyle Connor, who's currently with Manitoba of the American Hockey League. If the Winnipeg Jets deal with injury at any point in their top six, Connor could step in and make an immediate fantasy impact. He's been knocking at the door for quite some time.


@K_Moneyy1: Top DFS line stack(s) for Friday?

Love the upside of spending up for two Blue Jackets forwards from their top line of Artemi Panarin, Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson in a bounce-back spot against the Rangers at home. The Rangers defense is slightly improved based on last season but still leaky, and this is a tough environment for a struggling team to visit. Columbus' top trio combined for six points in their only home game this season, a 5-0 win against the New York Islanders on Oct. 6. That trio is fairly expensive though in DraftKings, so look to duos like Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky ($4,500) or Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana ($4,900) on the road against the Devils, who are due for some regression. Avalanche top-liners Mikko Rantanen ($4,700) and Sven Andrighetto ($4,300) are easily stackable with Nathan MacKinnon ($5,700) at home against the depleted Anaheim Ducks.



@luis_saladbar: Is it too soon to start shopping Oliver Ekman-Larsson?

There's little to gain by shopping Ekman-Larsson right now. His value is low and ceiling still high if the young Coyotes find their way. Patience is key.


@Ed_Kodiaks: Thoughts on Schneider/The Devils keeping up the pace?

I think the moves to acquire Marcus Johansson on the cheap and sign Will Butcher have made this team significantly better than it was the day center Nico Hischier was drafted. Goaltender Cory Schneider and the speed of their lineup have a chance to keep them in games all season long.

Video: NJD@TOR: Schneider shuts down JVR in close


@keithcaporelli: Better to hold onto in the long run: Darling or Fleury?

Marc-Andre Fleury has been impressive for the Vegas Golden Knights, who are in the midst of a seven-game homestand. If Fleury is still looking good after the homestand, it may be a good time to sell high on the veteran in fantasy. The Carolina Hurricanes are more likely to contend for a postseason spot, so I'll lean in Darling's direction right now. Remember that Vegas' best forward, James Neal, is in a contract year and could potentially be traded before the deadline.


@iamTwigggy: Ryan O'Reilly vs. Mika Zibanejad in standard 5x5 H2H league … who has the stronger category coverage?

I would go Zibanejad. O'Reilly is just as much (if not more) of an injury risk, and Zibanejad is a beneficiary of power-play usage next to defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers center is tied for the NHL lead with four PPP. I penciled Zibanejad in as a breakout candidate entering the season and he has lived up to the billing. Neither the Sabres or Rangers have looked good thus far, but Zibanejad is in a higher-upside spot.

Video: STL@NYR: Zibanejad buries PPG from the back door


@GibSenipXXX: Worth giving up Nyquist? He's my 10th forward but a bust given high ice time. Buchnevich, Kesler, Brown, Hornqvist, Pominville and Zucker available.

Hornqvist jumps out at me from this list. He should be owned over Nyquist in your league with guaranteed power-play and top-nine usage for the Penguins. Hornqvist also has added value if your league counts hits. Dustin Brown is worth monitoring in hits leagues as well. He has the most hits League-wide since 2005-06 and is thriving offensively in an even-strength spot next to center Anze Kopitar in the Los Angeles Kings' new system.


@MackJamie: Would you drop someone like Vrana or E. Lindholm to take a buy low shot on Hellebuyck? Could use some goalie help.]

I would hang onto Jakub Vrana because of his exposure to Alex Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. As much as I think Elias Lindholm has fantasy sleeper potential, it's better to address your position of greater need. Connor Hellebuyck is 2-0-0 for the Jets (.927 save percentage) with each win coming on the road. He was given a prove-it, one-year contract and has the early edge on Steve Mason. Remember the Jets have the fewest back-to-back sets League-wide (nine), so the opportunity for Hellebuyck (38 percent owned in Yahoo) to emerge is certainly there. He should also get plenty of goal support if he runs away with the starting job.

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