Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the twelfth installment of a weekly article I write all season long in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. I pull suggestions for which players to write about for these articles from the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon members. Be sure you check out those spots to catch up with me and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Zach Fucale or any other goalies you didn’t know existed before last week. Let’s get it!
Mathew Barzal, C – NYI
So let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Barzal hasn’t played since New Year’s Day, and won’t until Thursday. That makes it really tough to assess Barzal’s performance of late, because he simply hasn’t been active. For whatever it’s worth Barzal is on an eight-game point streak during which he’s compiled 13 points (albeit just two goals). The extended break has allowed the Islanders to get healthy and Barzal should be in a position to put up points once the Islanders get back on the ice. The Islanders have played just 28 games on the season where some teams like Anaheim are up to 38 already. That means that they have a lot of games to make up from this point onwards, with the most likely spot those games are being made up in the Olympic break from Feb 6th to 22nd. Yahoo currently has Jan 31st to Feb 27th as a single matchup week – Barzal could be a week winner if he’s playing 10 games in that span while most others only play 4 or 5. This could be a solid time to acquire him.
Verdict: With lots of games to make up, Barzal is an interesting target to acquire
Zach Fucale, G – WSH
Hands up if you had Fucale getting back to back starts on your early 2022 bingo card. This is now suddenly a crowded goalie room with Vitek Vanecek back from injury and illness. Expected starter Ilya Samsonov has struggled most of this season with a .909 save percentage belying a negative delta Fenwick save percentage at even strength. Vanecek hasn’t been so significantly better as to steal the job either. Enter the 26-year-old Fucale to put up some solid work in relief of Samsonov against St. Louis and then allow a single goal on 21 shots against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Fucale’s future will undoubtedly largely depend on his performance tonight against the Boston Bruins. If he keeps putting up great efforts it will be very tough for the Capitals to go back to the Vanecek/Samsonov tandem that has been subpar to date. If Fucale performs well tonight I’d be interested in adding him if only to see how much rope the Capitals give him. We’ve seen far weirder things happen at the goalie position (anybody remember Andrew Hammond?) than Zach Fucale being a fantasy-relevant netminder for half a season on a very good Washington squad.
Verdict: If he plays well tonight he’s worth picking up just to see how deep the rabbit hole goes
David Perron, RW – STL
Perron has been a disappointment since the Christmas break with just a pair of points in five games including zero in his last three. Combine that with being dropped out of the top six forward group and you can understand why Perron managers are nervous. The unfortunately truth of Perron’s situation is that the Blues have a lot of very capable wingers and Perron was unable to crack the top six even after Vladimir Tarasenko hit the COVID list. I won’t blame you for trying to move on from Perron at this point, but it’s worth noting that the Blues are a team that shuffles their lines a fair bit and Perron could be back up in the top six as soon as Thursday when they play again. He’s still hung onto his power play deployment and fired four shots to go with four individual scoring chances for in 17:04 in Sunday’s game against the Dallas Stars, so there’s nothing wrong with Perron himself.
Verdict: Doesn’t hurt to try to move him, but I’m comfortable holding for now still
Jake Oettinger, G – DAL
Oettinger has a lot of fans, maintaining a 48% rostership on Yahoo despite his Jan. 8th start being his first since December 20th. Oettinger’s stats don’t differ significantly from Braden Holtby’s so it’s hard for me to predict that Oettinger will completely overtake Holtby for the starter’s role here. That being said I have absolutely zero faith in Holtby being able to maintain his current .920 save percentage, so if Oettinger were ever to get a couple of starts in a row I’d be pretty interested. Dallas plays next on Wednesday night and I expect that Holtby will get that start; if he doesn’t then I would definitely pick up Oettinger as he will undoubtedly get one of the Fri/Sat back to back games the Stars play later in the week. It would also signify to me that Stars believe in Oettinger as the better goalie currently, which hasn’t been the case so far this season.
Verdict: Watch for who’s starting on Wednesday – if it’s Oettinger get excited if not you can probably let him go
Yegor Sharangovich, LW – NJD
Sharangovich hit the COVID list on January 4th, right as he was in the midst of lighting things up as Jack Hughes’ partner in crime. Sharangovich scored in each of the three games he played after Christmas on Hughes’ wing, averaging four shots, six individual Corsi For, and four individual scoring chances for. We’ve seen this before from the 23-year-old sharpshooter, who went on a similar run alongside Hughes during his rookie 2020-21 season. Sharangovich seems likely to return on Thursday, making him an intriguing potential addition if you can fit him into your lineups. It will be interesting to see if Sharangovich can reclaim his spot on Hughes’ wing as Tomas Tatar has performed admirably in his stead the last couple of games. I’d probably want to wait until we get some practice lines and we have some assurance Sharangovich will be getting that Hughes exposure before making the acquisition.
Verdict: Watch the practice lines, but if Sharangovich gets back together with Hughes they’ll make music together
Before you go, I want to make sure you’re aware of the Apples and Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast and I would be much obliged if you were to give it a listen. There are two weekly shows focused on the strategy elements of fantasy hockey and I’m very excited about providing more value to the fantasy hockey community in this way. I’ve already had terrific guests like Ian Gooding from Dobber Hockey and Elan Dubrofsky from Keeping Karlsson on the show and I believe the content is top notch.
That’s all for this one folks, I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter and join the free Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have. If you want to learn more about any of the advanced stats I mentioned in this article, be sure to check out my article on applying advanced stats to fantasy hockey, or check out Natural Stat Trick’s advanced stats glossary.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!