Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, this time looking into potential buys and sells after the eighth week of NHL action. First I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos Discord server where you can ask questions and chat with other like-minded fantasy managers on anything fantasy or hockey-related. With that said, let’s get into the buys and sells of the week.
Guys You Should Put on Your Watch List:
Denis Gurianov, RW – DAL (24% owned on Yahoo)
Gurianov went from popular sleeper candidate to fantasy afterthought in a hurry, culminating in an 8-game pointless skid that finally ended last Sunday. He snapped a 16-game goalless streak on Saturday, but it’s the shot volume and the team play rising that’s encouraging me to get back into Gurianov. Guri is 35th in shots/60 over his last five games (prior to tonight’s game) at a healthy 17 and a half minutes a night. His individual points percentage (IPP) is on the low side at 50% and his shooting percentage (S%) should positively regress at well from 6.3%. Gurianov is also 48th in the league in on-ice expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60) over that group of games, meaning the team is coming back to normal as well. Gurianov throws a healthy number of hits as well – he’s the new Rickard Rakell in terms of shots and hits and a potential hot streak upcoming.
Dillon Dube, RW – CGY – (2% owned on Yahoo)
I hesitated on Dube here because he’s only averaging 14:37 per game over the last five games and hasn’t even been a staple on PP2 all year. But he’s put together a remarkable run since being promoted to the Tkachuk/Lindholm line, ranking 8th in the league in shots/60 over the past five games and 2nd in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60) during the same period. He’s not going to be a point per game player without more minutes but you can’t deny what he’s been able to do over this stretch and he’s worth grabbing while he’s hot at least.
Honourable Mentions: Adam Boqvist, D – CHI (14% owned), Anthony Duclair, RW – FLA (10% owned), Anthony Beauvillier, LW – NYI (6% owned), Kieffer Bellows, LW – NYI (6% owned), Valeri Nichushkin, RW – COL (3% owned), Filip Zadina, RW – DET (4% owned), Alexandre Carrier, D – NSH (0% owned), Max Domi, LW – CLB (24% owned), Nick Bjugstad, C – MIN, (4% owned), Ilya Mikheyev, LW – TOR (3% owned), Bobby Ryan, LW – DET (8% owned), Joel Armia, RW – MTL (4% owned), Jake Bean, D – CAR (1% owned), Tyler Pitlick, LW – ARI (2% owned).
Hot Streaks to Believe In:
Kirill Kaprizov, LW – MIN
Kaprizov has been lighting the NHL on fire lately, singlehandedly making the Wild one of the most watchable teams in the league. He’s undoubtedly running a little too hot right now with an 86% IPP and 21% S% in his last five games, but he’s 10th in shots/60 skating 17:46 a night and ranks 23rd in xGF/60 over those same five games. This is a legitimate point-per-game player in the league with upside for more if the power play starts to get untracked.
Shayne Gostisbehere, D – PHI
Gotta love when last week’s player to watch turns in three points in three games. Gostisbehere is as solidified as anyone in the league on the top power play unit in Philadelphia and is absolutely crushing it. Over his last five games he’s second among defensemen to only Tyson Barrie in shots/60, 8th in individual chances for/60, and while he’s not going to stay up at a 67% IPP or 15.8% S%, the team stats have more to give with an 8.5% on-ice S% which is a tick or so below league average. Long story short, GhostBear will likely give up some goals in exchange for some assists but should continue to be a reliable source of power play points from the blueline.
Honourable Mentions: Rickard Rakell, LW – ANA, David Perron, RW – STL, Ondrej Palat, LW – TBL, Kailer Yamamoto, RW – EDM.
Hot Streaks to Fade:
Evgeni Malkin, C – PIT
This Malkin run of late has felt pretty good, but there are huge red flags under the hood. Malkin’s shot rates had started to creep up at the start of this 13-game stretch that has seen him register 15 points. Penguins are still doing terrific with Malkin at 9th in the league over his last five games in xGF/60. But his recent counting stats have a lot to do with a 17.5% on-ice S%, an 80% IPP, and a 50% (yes, you read that correctly) shooting percentage. In fact, Malkin ranks 385th in those five games in shots/60 and 403rd in iCF/60, and the ice time has crept down below 18 minutes per game as well. On the season Malkin currently has 2.5 less shots/60, 4 less iCF/60, and 3 less iSCF/60 than 2019/20. Even that xGF/60 which has been the least affected is 0.7 less expected goals for per 60 than last year. It’s wildly concerning and with 27 games already in the books, I’m looking to offload my Malkin shares based on this latest streak.
Chandler Stephenson, C – VGK
Stephenson is riding an 8-game streak where he’s notched 9 points and been held pointless only once. Centering Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone has been a gold mine of assists for Stephenson, but let’s consider a few signs of potential regression looming. Stephenson is rocking a 71% IPP and 14.3% on-ice S% in his last five games, both punching above their weight. Considering that Stephenson has to be medically allergic to shooting the puck at the goal to comprehend how a player playing with two All-Star wingers could possibly be firing just 2.8 shots/60 (463rd in the league over his last five games), I’m not expecting great things rest of season for a guy who has struggled to crack the third line most of his career thus far.
Honourable Mentions: Drew Doughty, D – LAK, Kasperi Kapanen, RW – PIT, Noel Acciari, C – FLA, Brandon Saad, LW – COL, Martin Necas, RW – CAR, Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW – CLB.
Slumps that Won’t Last:
Mika Zibanejad, C – NYR
Zibanejad has been a source of consternation for fantasy owners all year, and I’ve been patiently waiting for Zibby’s shot rates to rise. Well, he’s firing 10 shots/60 across his last five games, good for 48th in the league over that span. For a player who still routinely clocks over 20 minutes a night that’s significant volume. Zibanejad has a 43% IPP and 5.9% S% that look like strong indicators for positive regression coming his way. With Panarin back in the fold the PP should provide more boost to Zibanejad’s counting stats and he still throws an above average amount of hits to boot. I’m close to calling Malkin and Zibanejad even rest of season, and I think you can probably package in an significant upgrade at a different position to unload Malkin on the unsuspecting Zibanejad owner in your league.
Bryan Rust, RW – PIT
Rust’s case for positive regression is clear: a microscopic 22.2% IPP and 4.8 xGF/60 (7th in the league) over his last five games. This is a legitimate top line winger skating 19 minutes a night firing bucket loads of shots and playing on PP1 with Crosby and Co. If anyone thinks Rust used up all his luck on his last hot streak and they’re worried about his rest of season outlook, I will be there with my Patrik Laine in hand ready to make a swap.
Honourable Mentions: Dustin Brown, RW – LAK, Gabriel Landeskog, LW – COL, Drake Batherson, RW – OTT, Nazem Kadri, C – COL, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C – EDM, Kevin Fiala, RW – MIN, Tanner Pearson, RW – VAN.
Slumps that Will Last:
Patrik Laine, LW – CLB
There’s nothing going on here. Columbus doesn’t appear to have an offensive gameplan to speak of and Laine is a supreme talent locked in a defensive system, which was my fear when he was traded at first. In 20 games in Columbus, Laine is shooting 3 less shots/60, 5.9 less iCF/60, and 3 less iSCF/60 than his previous season in Winnipeg. He has 7 goals and 5 assists in those 20 games, and everything looks either high or sustainable. It’s a bad look all around with an xGF/60 below 2.0 (Laine never registered a mark below 3.0 in four years in Winnipeg) and everything including a Tortorella benching coming through in the past week. I have no hope for Laine to be more than a 60 point player ROS at this point.
Conor Garland, RW – ARI
I can’t for the life of me figure this one out, but Conor Garland has gone ice-cold and isn’t showing any signs of life. In his last five games, Garland ranks 370th in shots/60 and 391st in iSCF/60, two metrics he dominated for the first fifteen games or so of the season. Compounding the issue is that Arizona as a team has gone cold, reflected in Garland’s 376th best 1.98 xGF/60 mark over those five games. The 6.9% on-ice S% should rebound somewhat, but Garland has a 100% IPP and a 16.7% S% in that span, meaning he’s converting everything into points right now but the chances themselves don’t exist. I like to believe in players who show the ability to drive shot and chance generation for stretches the way Garland did earlier in the season, but this decline is baffling and shows no signs of abating right now.
Honourable Mentions: Nick Ritchie, LW – BOS, Rasmus Ristolainen, D – BUF, Seth Jones, D – CLB, Pavel Zacha, C – NJD, Phil Kessel, RW – ARI, Justin Faulk, D – STL.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick
Title photo credit: Gene J. Puskar – Associated Press