After the all-star break the NHL season is a sprint to the playoffs; the same goes for fantasy hockey. Some teams have all but clinched a playoff spot, while others battle for positioning. In the fantasy hockey world, now is the time to make moves and fight your way into playoff contention.
In our first edition of line check we recommended picking up players like Justin Abdelkader, Nick Foligno, Nikita Kucherov and Craig Smith. Some of these players have since taken off and firmly established themselves as fantasy studs. Part of the reason could be their slotting in the lineup, or they’re just really good players. Regardless, being up-to-date on NHL lineups and where players stand is a major key to fantasy hockey success.
At the midway point, with the help again of Brock Seguin and his fantasy hockey encyclopedia of a website in www.dailyfaceoff.com, lets take a look at some players you should target.
Patrick Maroon (LW):
A previous suggestion, Maroon is finally starting to take off in Anaheim. A dominating, physical presence with a knack of getting to the net and protecting the puck, Maroon is an imposing power forward in a great position to succeed. Now playing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry- on both the first line and first power play unit- Maroon is a must own. Having registered seven points in his last six games, his offensive production is picking up while he continues to rack up hits. Grab him while you can.
David Pastrnak (RW):
The youngest player in all of professional hockey, Pastrnak is someone you should take a chance on. Any player who’s skated with David Krejci and Milan Lucic has produced in the past, and Pastrnak is Boston’s best option to play in that spot right now. Though he’s come back down to earth since his four-goal in two-game effort, Pastrnak is still in a great spot to produce and getting power play looks as well. He is an extremely talented rookie and definitely worth picking up.
Sean Monahan (C):
He’s only owned in 35% of Yahoo leagues and I have no idea how. The former 2013 first round pick (drafted 6th overall), Monahan has size, skill, and first line center status on an up-and-coming Calgary team. Playing with dynamic rookie Johnny Gaudreau and a consistent producer in Jiri Hudler, Monahan has 31 points already and could finish with a solid 50-60 point season. He’s centering the first power play unit as well and should be picked up immediately.
Jordan Staal (C, LW):
Since returning from a serious leg injury Jordan Staal has been fantastic. He has eight points in 11 games, centering his brother Eric and Jiri Tlusty. Staal is also skating on the top power play unit while registering a number of hits as well. One of the most overlooked fantasy producers around, Staal should continue to have a productive second half of the season. He’s barely owned in fantasy leagues so if you need a center or left-winger, go get him.
Brad Richards (C, LW):
Richards has experienced highest of highs and lowest of lows late in his hockey career. From being scratched in the playoffs while playing for the New York Rangers under coach John Tortorella, to centering Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp on the Blackhawks second line, it’s been a wild ride. Richards has 28 points on the season but that number should improve drastically. The Blackhawks have as much firepower as any team in the league, and playing with Kane and Sharp while seeing power play time will serve Richards very well. He’s playing much better this season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him surpass the 50-point mark.
Alex Tanguay (LW, RW):
Only 23% owned in Yahoo leagues, Tanguay makes for a solid midseason pickup if you’re looking for points. A steady producer all season long, his 33 points rank him right at the top of Colorado scorers. He will be relied on heavily in the second half, and plays the point on their second power play unit. A 50-point season isn’t out of the question for the seasoned vet, something none of us could have predicted before the puck dropped back in early October. If you need offense, give Tanguay a shot.
Aleksander Barkov (C):
More of a homerun pickup, Barkov is extremely young and has a long way to go with his development. However, having registered nine points in his past 10 games, the second year player is heating up in a top line role for this surprising Florida Panthers team. Barkov has looked terrific centering Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes, and does a great job quarterbacking the team’s first power play unit- he and Aaron Ekblad make for a deadly combination on the blueline. If you’re in a deeper league and looking for points, take a chance on Barkov.
Mikael Granlund (C):
The supremely talented Granlund caught the hockey world by storm last year, tallying 41 points in 63 games while putting together an impressive playoff performance for a young player. He has incredible hands, vision and should have a productive NHL career. This season has been rough on him as he went down early with a brutal wrist injury; but just this week Granlund was activated from the injured reserve, and claimed the first line center spot between Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek. Obviously, this is a great spot to produce; and if he strings together a solid stretch of games, grab Granlund for a potential second half surge.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS:
Mikhail Grabovski (C, LW, RW):
After making the playoffs for the first time in years, the New York Islanders are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have been outstanding at the top of lineup; scoring a ton of goals while depth, defense and goaltending have all played a role in their impressive start. Recently, Okposo went down with an injury that could very well end his season. Grabovski, one of the streakiest players in the NHL but someone with definite 25-goal talent, is taking his place alongside John Tavares and Josh Bailey. This puts him in a tremendous position to produce, playing for a team and on a line that has all the reason to fight to the finish. Grabovski scored his first of what could be many goals playing with Tavares last night, and shouldn’t remain on the waiver wire much longer.
Mark Stone (RW):
A former WHL standout, Stone has been one of the few bright spots for a struggling Senators team. Playing top line minutes in the midst of a hot streak (nine points in past 10 games,) Stone has settled in as an interchangeable top-six winger for the Sens. He’s been both scoring goals and dishing the puck (26 points through 44 games,) and should continue to produce in the second half. The Sens don’t have much for offense behind the Bobby Ryans and Kyle Turris’ of the world; so Stone will be relied on to provide some scoring depth. If you need a right-winger and are short for options, Stone may be a worthy pickup.