The Toronto Maple Leafs are in full-on rebuilding mode, but that shouldn't scare you away from some of the young, untapped fantasy options on their roster.
William Nylander (C/RW, 13 percent owned in Yahoo) scored a game-tying power-play goal late in the third period Wednesday against the New York Islanders. It was his second goal in three games and first career power-play point. He had three shots on goal in the game, giving him 15 SOG in six games since being recalled from the American Hockey League in late February.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (RW, 5 percent owned) returned to the lineup Wednesday, so Nylander centered Parenteau and Zach Hyman, while Nikita Soshnikov (RW, 9 percent owned) continued to operate alongside fantasy-relevant forwards Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov.
Is Nylander or Soshnikov worth adding in fantasy for your stretch run? In terms of power-play usage, Nylander has the clear edge (2:25 per game; second among Maple Leafs skaters in span) compared to Soshnikov (1:01), but the latter is clearly covering more categories. Soshnikov has two goals (one on power play), one assist, six penalty minutes and eye-opening SOG (21) and hit (21) volumes through six games. Each is occupying a top-six role at even strength.
Video: NYI@TOR: Nylander ties it up late on the power play
One concern with fantasy pick-ups from a team in the depths of the NHL standings is plus-minus, but with the Maple Leafs' emphasis on possession style and metrics under coach Mike Babcock and the new regime, neither Nylander nor Soshnikov has been a liability in the category thus far. For what it's worth, Soshnikov (plus-16) and Nylander (plus-4) sport positive Shot Attempts ratios in their small sample sizes.
Soshnikov clearly has the better linemates and can help in multicategory formats, while Nylander brings coveted dual eligibility to the table in Yahoo. Pick up the player that works better for your team's specific situation within your league's category structure. At the very least, each should be on the radar of all deep-league fantasy owners.
The Maple Leafs have 16 games remaining, tied for third-most in the League behind the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers (17 apiece). In most league types, games in hand are most valuable this time of year to give you the opportunity for more production in head-to-head formats and to maximize your games played limit in rotisserie leagues.
One way or another, we should catch a glimpse of the caliber of these two young forwards as the regular season comes to a close. For those in keeper leagues and/or those who monitor potential sleepers for next season, this gives you an opportunity to feast your eyes on these prospects and see where they can fit into your team's equation moving forward.