Fantasy hockey rankings: Injured stars nearing return

The postponements have certainly tossed a variety of wrenches into the works over the past couple of weeks. But there has been a small fringe benefit to the cascade of cancellations.

That benefit was embodied by Brayden Point returning to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup on Tuesday by dropping two goals and a helper. In Point’s case, he only gains two additional games in your fantasy lineup by virtue of the cancellations, but it’s possible those could be crucial down the line.

Point skated with Alex Killorn and Mathieu Joseph at even strength, with Joseph likely keeping the seat warm for Nikita Kucherov, who is also ramping up at practice of late.

The delay in NHL action these past couple of weeks has allowed others among the wounded to get back into game shape for a potential return later this week.

Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers: What would have been a four-game absence got erased for Barkov during the past couple of weeks. Now, Barkov appears ready to return to the rink as early as Wednesday. He is likely back on a line with Anthony Duclair, who is available in 60 percent of ESPN leagues and a great candidate for your roster.

Gabriel Landeskog, W, Colorado Avalanche: The COVID-19 cancellations saved an injured Landeskog seven potentially missed games (he may have been back in time for this week’s games with Dallas, but they are cancelled too). Valeri Nichushkin did a valiant job in a limited chance to replace Landeskog on the top line, but the team’s captain will get his spot back for now. Nichushkin still has some deep-league appeal, depending on how Nazem Kadri’s line performs once the team has all its assets back.

Patrik Laine, W, Columbus Blue Jackets: It’s been a while since we’ve seen Laine, but by all accounts he should be back next time the Blue Jackets play. He’s missed a lot of games since Nov. 3, but the cancellations bought him five back. It’s tough to speculate on his line with a few top forwards still possibly on the sidelines, but Laine will be driving offense, so keep an eye on who gets to line up with him.

Mitch Marner, W, Toronto Maple Leafs: The season pause got Marner six games back into his quiver despite a lengthy injury absence. But he could be back in time for the Leafs next scheduled game on Jan. 1. It bumps Ondrej Kase out of a plum role in the top six, assuming William Nylander is out of COVID protocol by then. Either way, we saw enough from Kase during Marner’s absence to know he is a decent fantasy option should any other top winger miss time.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins are likely to have Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust back in the lineup when they play next, and it looks like Evgeni Malkin won’t be far behind. Rust has had a rough start to the season, which has helped make him available in a third of ESPN leagues. He’s a top-100 fantasy play during the past couple of seasons, flirting with top 50 at times. Don’t sleep on him. And check your league for Malkin, who remains available in 15 percent of ESPN leagues, but that window has been closing quickly.


Forwards on the move

Filip Forsberg, W, Nashville Predators (up 16 spots to No. 41): Even in his massive 2017-18 season, Forsberg wasn’t hitting these heights for fantasy production. He topped out in that season with 2.18 fantasy points per game (FPPG), slipping back to 1.93 and 1.84 these past two years. But the resurgence in offense from some of his teammates like Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen is paying dividends for Forsberg, too. Sitting at 2.57 FPPG, his fantasy points per 60 minutes (FPP60) are even more impressive. The only players with a better rate than Forsberg’s 8.44 FPP60 (minimum 10 games) are Max Pacioretty, Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, Timo Meier, Guentzel, Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Alex Ovechkin. That’s some pretty good company.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington Capitals (up 33 spots to No. 80): As expected, the Capitals haven’t been quick to bust up the Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson line with Backstrom back in the fold. Nor should they, as the trio has been among the best lines in the NHL this season. Their 20 goals at five-on-five is tied for the NHL lead with Calgary’s top line. But Backstrom will retain access to that group on the power play, and the Caps can cobble together enough wingers with T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary to keep Backstrom rolling.

Defensemen on the move

Darnell Nurse, D, Edmonton Oilers (down nine spots to No. 55): He’s still very much a valuable fantasy commodity, but after finishing third among all defensemen last season for total fantasy points, Nurse is a tad disappointing. He sits 15th among all defensemen for FPPG this season. Blame can perhaps be shared by the overall improvement to the Oilers defensive group this season, no longer requiring Nurse to shoulder such a big load.

Goaltenders on the move

Thatcher Demko, G, Vancouver Canucks (up 55 spots to No. 100): Call it the Boudreau difference. Since coach Bruce Boudreau took over the helm of the Canucks, Demko is a perfect 5-0 with the best save percentage in the league. That kind of fantasy contribution won’t hold, but there is enough of a difference here to get him back into the mix for fantasy starters.

Mike Smith, G, Edmonton Oilers (up 35 spots to No. 177): Expected to be an option for the Oilers in net again this week, Smith has been out since Oct. 19. The 39-year-old started the season with two fantastic showings before falling flat in the game he got hurt in. Whenever Smith is healthy, he should be on fantasy rosters. Mikko Koskinen was passable for the Oilers, but not for fantasy managers while Smith was out. If Smith is healthy, he’ll get a decent workload and has a much higher ceiling than Koskinen. The questions that remain are: Can he stay healthy? And will the Oilers limit him given his age and checkered injury history?

New to rankings

Marc-Andre Fleury, Jack Eichel, Jaccob Slavin, Alex Goligoski, Alex Tuch.

Just missed

Lawson Crouse, Robert Thomas, Bowen Byram, Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Skinner, Adam Boqvist, Sonny Milano, Kevin Hayes, Jake Bean, Joel Farabee, Ryan Lindgren.

Dropped out

Brandon Tanev, Danton Heinen, Martin Necas, Blake Coleman, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Top-250 rankings

1. Connor McDavid, F, EDM (F1)
2. Leon Draisaitl, F, EDM (F2)
3. Alex Ovechkin, F, WSH (F3)
4. Auston Matthews, F, TOR (F4)
5. Nathan MacKinnon, F, COL (F5)
6. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G1)
7. Roman Josi, D, NSH (D1)
8. Brad Marchand, F, BOS (F6)
9. Jack Campbell, G, TOR (G2)
10. Mikko Rantanen, F, COL (F7)
11. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D2)
12. Cale Makar, D, COL (D3)
13. Frederik Andersen, G, CAR (G3)
14. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G4)
15. Max Pacioretty, F, VGS (F8)
16. Timo Meier, F, SJ (F9)
17. Anze Kopitar, F, LA (F10)
18. Sebastian Aho, F, CAR (F11)
19. Elias Lindholm, F, CGY (F12)
20. Mika Zibanejad, F, NYR (F13)
21. Kyle Connor, F, WPG (F14)
22. Gabriel Landeskog, F, COL (F15)
23. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D4)
24. David Pastrnak, F, BOS (F16)
25. Jacob Markstrom, G, CGY (G5)
26. Jake Guentzel, F, PIT (F17)
27. Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS (D5)
28. Aleksander Barkov, F, FLA (F18)
29. Tristan Jarry, G, PIT (G6)
30. Steven Stamkos, F, TB (F19)
31. Juuse Saros, G, NSH (G7)
32. Artemi Panarin, F, NYR (F20)
33. John Carlson, D, WSH (D6)
34. Alex Pietrangelo, D, VGS (D7)
35. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D8)
36. Drake Batherson, F, OTT (F21)
37. Patrice Bergeron, F, BOS (F22)
38. Kirill Kaprizov, F, MIN (F23)
39. Seth Jones, D, CHI (D9)
40. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G8)
41. Filip Forsberg, F, NSH (F24)
42. Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA (D10)
43. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D11)
44. Vladimir Tarasenko, F, STL (F25)
45. Sidney Crosby, F, PIT (F26)
46. Brady Tkachuk, F, OTT (F27)
47. Kris Letang, D, PIT (D12)
48. Mitch Marner, F, TOR (F28)
49. Roope Hintz, F, DAL (F29)
50. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, FLA (G9)
51. Patrik Laine, F, CLS (F30)
52. Mark Stone, F, VGS (F31)
53. Mark Scheifele, F, WPG (F32)
54. Devon Toews, D, COL (D13)
55. Darnell Nurse, D, EDM (D14)
56. Chris Kreider, F, NYR (F33)
57. Cam Talbot, G, MIN (G10)
58. John Tavares, F, TOR (F34)
59. Zach Werenski, D, CLS (D15)
60. Nikita Kucherov, F, TB (F35)
61. Andrei Svechnikov, F, CAR (F36)
62. Jonathan Huberdeau, F, FLA (F37)
63. Nazem Kadri, F, COL (F38)
64. Josh Norris, F, OTT (F39)
65. J.T. Miller, F, VAN (F40)
66. Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG (G11)
67. Patrick Kane, F, CHI (F41)
68. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (D16)
69. Tyler Bertuzzi, F, DET (F42)
70. Dylan Larkin, F, DET (F43)
71. Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, WSH (F44)
72. Alex DeBrincat, F, CHI (F45)
73. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F, EDM (F46)
74. Miro Heiskanen, D, DAL (D17)
75. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D18)
76. Elvis Merzlikins, G, CLS (G12)
77. Pierre-Luc Dubois, F, WPG (F47)
78. Robin Lehner, G, VGS (G13)
79. Neal Pionk, D, WPG (D19)
80. Nicklas Backstrom, F, WSH (F48)
81. Logan Couture, F, SJ (F49)
82. Matt Duchene, F, NSH (F50)
83. Zach Hyman, F, EDM (F51)
84. Jason Robertson, F, DAL (F52)
85. Ilya Samsonov, G, WSH (G14)
86. Boone Jenner, F, CLS (F53)
87. Mats Zuccarello, F, MIN (F54)
88. Troy Terry, F, ANA (F55)
89. Matthew Tkachuk, F, CGY (F56)
90. Elias Pettersson, F, VAN (F57)
91. Joe Pavelski, F, DAL (F58)
92. William Nylander, F, TOR (F59)
93. Tony DeAngelo, D, CAR (D20)
94. Tom Wilson, F, WSH (F60)
95. Brent Burns, D, SJ (D21)
96. John Gibson, G, ANA (G15)
97. Sean Couturier, F, PHI (F61)
98. Brock Nelson, F, NYI (F62)
99. Moritz Seider, D, DET (D22)
100. Thatcher Demko, G, VAN (G16)
101. Carter Hart, G, PHI (G17)
102. Brayden Point, F, TB (F63)
103. Jack Hughes, F, NJ (F64)
104. Jordan Binnington, G, STL (G18)
105. Mathew Dumba, D, MIN (D23)
106. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D24)
107. Bryan Rust, F, PIT (F65)
108. Jordan Eberle, F, SEA (F66)
109. Joel Eriksson Ek, F, MIN (F67)
110. Darcy Kuemper, G, COL (G19)
111. Ivan Provorov, D, PHI (D25)
112. Sam Bennett, F, FLA (F68)
113. Johnny Gaudreau, F, CGY (F69)
114. T.J. Oshie, F, WSH (F70)
115. Ryan Hartman, F, MIN (F71)
116. Vincent Trocheck, F, CAR (F72)
117. Mikko Koskinen, G, EDM (G20)
118. Adam Henrique, F, ANA (F73)
119. MacKenzie Weegar, D, FLA (D26)
120. Thomas Chabot, D, OTT (D27)
121. Oliver Bjorkstrand, F, CLS (F74)
122. Rickard Rakell, F, ANA (F75)
123. Anthony Duclair, F, FLA (F76)
124. Pavel Buchnevich, F, STL (F77)
125. Nikolaj Ehlers, F, WPG (F78)
126. Teuvo Teravainen, F, CAR (F79)
127. Colton Parayko, D, STL (D28)
128. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D29)
129. Claude Giroux, F, PHI (F80)
130. Morgan Rielly, D, TOR (D30)
131. Chandler Stephenson, F, VGS (F81)
132. Tomas Hertl, F, SJ (F82)
133. Andrew Copp, F, WPG (F83)
134. Jonathan Quick, G, LA (G21)
135. David Perron, F, STL (F84)
136. James Reimer, G, SJ (G22)
137. Mikael Granlund, F, NSH (F85)
138. Ondrej Palat, F, TB (F86)
139. Quinn Hughes, D, VAN (D31)
140. Jonathan Marchessault, F, VGS (F87)
141. Viktor Arvidsson, F, LA (F88)
142. Alec Martinez, D, VGS (D32)
143. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D33)
144. Victor Olofsson, F, BUF (F89)
145. Evan Bouchard, D, EDM (D34)
146. Andre Burakovsky, F, COL (F90)
147. Lucas Raymond, F, DET (F91)
148. Artem Zub, D, OTT (D35)
149. J.T. Compher, F, COL (F92)
150. Tyson Barrie, D, EDM (D36)
151. Andrew Mangiapane, F, CGY (F93)
152. Jordan Kyrou, F, STL (F94)
153. Alex Iafallo, F, LA (F95)
154. Brock Boeser, F, VAN (F96)
155. Cam Atkinson, F, PHI (F97)
156. Taylor Hall, F, BOS (F98)
157. Ryan Getzlaf, F, ANA (F99)
158. Jesse Puljujarvi, F, EDM (F100)
159. Anthony Cirelli, F, TB (F101)
160. Samuel Girard, D, COL (D37)
161. Alex Killorn, F, TB (F102)
162. Tyler Seguin, F, DAL (F103)
163. Shea Theodore, D, VGS (D38)
164. Adam Larsson, D, SEA (D39)
165. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, ANA (D40)
166. Esa Lindell, D, DAL (D41)
167. Jake Oettinger, G, DAL (G23)
168. Bo Horvat, F, VAN (F104)
169. Jaden Schwartz, F, SEA (F105)
170. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D42)
171. Valeri Nichushkin, F, COL (F106)
172. Nick Suzuki, F, MON (F107)
173. Ryan O’Reilly, F, STL (F108)
174. Ryan Graves, D, NJ (D43)
175. Brayden McNabb, D, VGS (D44)
176. Blake Wheeler, F, WPG (F109)
177. Mike Smith, G, EDM (G24)
178. Ryan Strome, F, NYR (F110)
179. Cam Fowler, D, ANA (D45)
180. Max Domi, F, CLS (F111)
181. Conor Garland, F, VAN (F112)
182. Jeff Carter, F, PIT (F113)
183. Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN (D46)
184. Jared McCann, F, SEA (F114)
185. Travis Konecny, F, PHI (F115)
186. Erik Johnson, D, COL (D47)
187. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, ARI (D48)
188. Jakob Chychrun, D, ARI (D49)
189. Ryan Johansen, F, NSH (F116)
190. Mark Giordano, D, SEA (D50)
191. Nate Schmidt, D, WPG (D51)
192. Sam Reinhart, F, FLA (F117)
193. Justin Faulk, D, STL (D52)
194. Jonas Brodin, D, MIN (D53)
195. Brandon Saad, F, STL (F118)
196. Jakub Voracek, F, CLS (F119)
197. Pavel Francouz, G, COL (G25)
198. Jamie Benn, F, DAL (F120)
199. Nico Hischier, F, NJ (F121)
200. Joshua Morrissey, D, WPG (D54)
201. Mathew Barzal, F, NYI (F122)
202. Anders Lee, F, NYI (F123)
203. William Karlsson, F, VGS (F124)
204. Clayton Keller, F, ARI (F125)
205. Ivan Barbashev, F, STL (F126)
206. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, PHI (D55)
207. Marcus Foligno, F, MIN (F127)
208. Jeremy Swayman, G, BOS (G26)
209. Trevor Zegras, F, ANA (F128)
210. Rasmus Dahlin, D, BUF (D56)
211. Anthony Mantha, F, WSH (F129)
212. Brayden Schenn, F, STL (F130)
213. Filip Hronek, D, DET (D57)
214. Charlie Coyle, F, BOS (F131)
215. Oliver Wahlstrom, F, NYI (F132)
216. Braden Holtby, G, DAL (G27)
217. Alexander Radulov, F, DAL (F133)
218. Torey Krug, D, STL (D58)
219. Ryan Suter, D, DAL (D59)
220. Reilly Smith, F, VGS (F134)
221. Zach Whitecloud, D, VGS (D60)
222. Connor Murphy, D, CHI (D61)
223. Vladislav Gavrikov, D, CLS (D62)
224. Carter Verhaeghe, F, FLA (F135)
225. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, CHI (G28)
226. Vince Dunn, D, SEA (D63)
227. Evan Rodrigues, F, PIT (F136)
228. Justin Braun, D, PHI (D64)
229. John Klingberg, D, DAL (D65)
230. Tage Thompson, F, BUF (F137)
231. Ryan Ellis, D, PHI (D66)
232. Yanni Gourde, F, SEA (F138)
233. Jack Eichel, F, BUF (F139)
234. Anton Lundell, F, FLA (F140)
235. Jonathan Dahlen, F, SJ (F141)
236. Mike Hoffman, F, MON (F142)
237. Jesper Bratt, F, NJ (F143)
238. Rasmus Andersson, D, CGY (D67)
239. Linus Ullmark, G, BOS (G29)
240. Radko Gudas, D, FLA (D68)
241. Jaccob Slavin, D, CAR (D69)
242. Pavel Zacha, F, NJ (F144)
243. Ben Chiarot, D, MON (D70)
244. Adrian Kempe, F, LA (F145)
245. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D71)
246. Keith Yandle, D, PHI (D72)
247. Ryan McDonagh, D, TB (D73)
248. Alex Goligoski, D, MIN (D74)
249. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, DET (G30)
250. Alex Tuch, F, BUF (F146)

Original article: https://www.espn.com/fantasy/hockey/story/_/id/32957561/fantasy-hockey-rankings-injured-stars-nearing-return

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