Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 1

Fantasy hockey is underway, so let's take a look at some moves you should be making in your leagues.

We're now approximately 10% through the NHL season, and plenty of fantasy hockey owners are ready to make some moves. Let's take a look at 12 in the first installment of Changing on the Fly.

All percent owned stats will be used from Yahoo! leagues, and we'll assume a standard 6x4 scoring system (Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Power Play Points, Penalties in Minutes, Shots on Goal; Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, Shutouts).

Add Seth Griffith, C/RW, Boston Bruins (6% owned)

Seth Griffith has been promoted to the Bruins first line, playing with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Griffith is also getting power play time, averaging almost two minutes of power play time per game. In nine games, Griffith has three goals and two assists, and playing on the top line on the top-three ranked nERD (0.72) Boston Bruins is a good spot to be in - he had 19:08 of ice time Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators. In medium to deep leagues, you can do much worse.

Buy/Add Dougie Hamilton, D, Boston Bruins (66% owned)

Last week, Zdeno Chara got injured, and the Bruins are without their top defenseman for four to six weeks. The immediate beneficiary of the extra power play time will be Dougie Hamilton, now playing 65% of Bruins power play time in the last three games with Chara out.

Add Tommy Wingels, RW, San Jose Sharks (39% owned)

Tommy Wingels’ line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau brings one of the top trios in the league. Wingels broke out last year for the Sharks (0.50 nERD) with 16 goals and 22 assists in 77 games (0.49 points per game); this year he producing at a fantastic 0.75 points per game with five goals and four assists. Prorated for a full 82-game schedule, Wingels is on pace for respectable 62 points. He could definitely keep up this pace for the remainder of the season, and even if he remains close, he deserves to be on most fantasy rosters.

Hold/Buy Brad Richards, C/LW, Chicago Blackhawks (46% owned)

When Brad Richards was signed by the Blackhawks (0.68 nERD), there was some hope that he would centre a line with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. But Andrew Shaw has drawn that duty. Instead, Richards had been playing with lesser talents Kris Versteeg and Jeremy Morin. As a result, his time-on-ice (TOI) had been greatly reduced and his production numbers were taking a hit.


It was almost time to hit the "frustrated sell" button. But Saturday, during their loss to the Maple Leafs, Joel Quenneville started shuffling lines. Versteeg ended up with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, while Richards slipped between Kane and Sharp. The results were immediate:


If Richards can keep his role on this line, he may be primed for a breakout. There may be a buy low opportunity here; at the very least don't sell just yet.

Update: Richards remained on a line with Sharp and Kane Sunday night. He amassed 11:05 of ice time and the trio was on ice for the only goal against in the 1-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Add David Desharnais, C, Montreal Canadiens (18% owned)

David Desharnais is now playing on the top line for the Canadiens (0.20 nERD) with Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty - given that top billing on a marquee team, it's baffling that he's only owned in 18% of Yahoo Leagues. He's on pace for 45 points, and if he keep his role as top-line pivot, that number could creep up to 60, with 20 goals not an unrealistic possibility.

Hold Gustav Nyquist, C/RW, Detroit Red Wings (86% owned)

Gustav Nyquist started the season playing with Henrik Zetterberg on the Red Wings (0.05 nERD), but when Pavel Datsyuk came back from injury, he was shifted down to the second line. Normally this would be of concern, but last year with both Red Wing All-Stars out for lengthy periods near the end of the season (they both played only 45 games), Nyquist had a more-than-respectable 28 goals and 20 assists in 57 games. He doesn't need Zetterberg and Datsyuk to be a productive part of your fantasy team. Besides, he's still playing on the number-one power play unit, scoring two power play goals Friday night.

Drop Brian Campbell, D, Florida Panthers (64% owned)

The Panthers (-0.90 nERD) had the 23rd-ranked power play in the league with Brian Campbell quarterbacking. Right now, Campbell is on pace for only 20 points, almost half of what he registered last year. Until he warms up, you can probably find a better option on the waiver wire.

Drop Alexander Semin, LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (57% owned)

Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch both Saturday and Sunday for the Hurricanes (-0.70 nERD). It's time for you to jump ship - Semin hasn't lived up to his $7 million salary or his average draft position. His -7 plus/minus and paltry 2 assists on the season aren't helping your team at all. Time to throw him on waivers for something that is producing better, or at least playing.

Buy/Hold Nazem Kadri, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (55% owned)

Nazem Kadri is in somewhat of a “make or break” year with the Leafs (-0.22 nERD). He started out quickly with two goals in the first three games, but then endured a six-game slump. Coach Randy Carlyle has now moved him onto the top tine with Phil Kessel. Playing with Kessel set Kadri up for a breakout that he and the Leafs desperately needed. Over the weekend, he scored two goals and added one assist while centering the Leafs top line with Kessel and Daniel Winnik. If he keeps playing with Kessel, Kadri is worth owning.

Drop/Sell Steve Mason, G, Philadelphia Flyers (70% Owned)

The preseason number-one in Philadelphia has seemed to lose his starting job to Ray Emery - the Flyers (0.03 nERD) goalie carousel keeps spinning. Ron Hextall, Garth Snow, Sean Burke, John Vanbiesbrouck, Brian Boucher, Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche, Jeff Hackett, Antero Niittimaki, Martin Biron, Mike Leighton, Sergei Bobrovsky, Ilya Bryzgalov, Steve Mason...and now Emery.

Mason played well Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, allowing 2 goals on 30 shots, but he still lost to the Florida Panthers. Having a Flyers goalie on your roster is a huge headache. Avoid it unless you are carrying 3 goalies in a 12-plus team league.

Drop Dany Heatley, LW/RW, Anaheim Ducks (22% owned)

Like Richards, there was some hope that, when Dany Heatley joined the Ducks (0.73 nERD), he would be on a line with All-Stars. In this case, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

He started the season on the injured reserve, missing the first nine games. His first game back was played with Getzlaf and Perry, and he didn't do anything, skating with the fourth line. By the weekend, like Alexander Semin, he was a healthy scratch all together (both Friday and Sunday).

With no points in two game and a -2 plus/minus to show for his season, Heatley is currently about as fantasy relevant as teammate Clayton Stoner. (Though Stoner does have 16 penalty minutes to go along with 20 hits and 18 blocked shots. Your league should count those stats.)

But I digress: drop Heatley. He isn't the player we once knew, and it's time to move on.

Sell Jonas Hiller, G, Calgary Flames, (72% owned)

Jonas Hiller has been spectacular this season, posting a 1.63 goals against average and .948 save percentage. Those numbers aren't sustainable though, especially on a Flames team that ranks near the bottom of our power ranings (-0.26 nERD). The Flames are giving up the 23rd-most shots on goal, and have a rebuilding team. If you can package him for a more reliable goaltender, do so.