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20 NHL Fantasy Thoughts: Joe Thornton gains value on Maple Leafs’ top line


What year is it — 2012 or 2021?

Joe Thornton has nine points in nine games, Jason Spezza has 11 in 18, Dustin Brown is top-10 in league goal scoring and Mike Smith is 4-0-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. That Zdeno Chara guy has been no slouch either.

Whatever is happening, it’s been fun to watch all these veterans find the fountain of youth again this season.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past year, it’s to expect the unexpected. This week alone, the NHL had to postpone a flurry of games in Dallas due to a severe winter storm. On top of that, we all saw what happened at Lake Tahoe on Saturday afternoon.

It’s just a weird time — all we can do is just roll with the punches. The fantasy world is no different.

1. Snatch up Thornton. As long as the 41-year-old is attached to the sizzling Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, he’ll remain as fantasy relevant as it gets. Thornton’s also been playing on Toronto’s top power play unit too.

2. Sell high on Brown. The 36-year-old has six goals in his past nine outings. Simply put, those numbers are unsustainable. Great story, but I’m in the business of maximizing value.

3. Scoop up Mike Smith — just be cognisant, there are extreme risks involved in owning an Oilers netminder. Good luck!

4. Memo to all: A Matthew Tkachuk buy-low window has opened up. The dual-eligible winger is currently riding a nine-game goalless drought, compiling just three assists in that time frame. Act accordingly.

5. Ditto for William Nylander, who can certainly be had for less than market value right now too. The 24-year-old has just one goal and one assist in his past eight games. At the end of the day, he’s bound to fire up again soon.

6. Pick up Nino Niederreiter. The Canes’ top-six winger has five goals and seven points in the past seven contests.

7. Sticking in Raleigh, Martin Necas will likely see heightened responsibilities with Teuvo Teravainen on the shelf due to an upper-body injury. Take a look at Brock McGinn too; he’s been on fire.

8. Looking for winger help? Evgenii Dadonov, Josh Bailey, Brandon Saad and Phil Kessel could be your answer.

9. Believe it or not, I see lots of buy-low appeal in Buffalo at the moment. Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall and Rasmus Dahlin are likely ripe for the taking on the trade market. I like Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart as well.

10. Aside from Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi, I’m out on all things Nashville Predators. They’re not scoring and they’re not defending, a tough recipe for success in the fantasy world.

11. With Sean Monahan banged up for the Flames, Elias Lindholm is back in the middle. Additionally, Mikael Backlund will likely see an uptick in responsibilities for the struggling Flames.

In Boston, Charlie Coyle stands to gain a promotion to the top-six as David Krejci continues to nurse a lower-body issue.

12. Externally, the following centre-eligible players can help you out: NYI Jean-Gabriel Pageau, FLA Carter Verhaeghe, NJD Nico Hischier and TOR Alex Kerfoot. Shoutout to Florida’s Alex Wennberg too.

13. Meantime, the injuries continue to pile up for St. Louis: Jaden Schwartz, Ivan Barbashev and Colton Parayko being the latest.

Zach Sanford and Vince Dunn stand to gain a boost.

14. For now, just monitor, but I like what I’ve seen lately from Alexis Lafreniere. On top of that, the 2021 first overall pick currently finds himself on a line with Artemi Panarin and Mike Zibanejad. As a whole, New York is beyond due.

15. Drop Jacob Trouba. The Rangers blue liner has a broken thumb and is expected to miss the next four-to-six weeks. Through 14 games, the 26-year-old has severely underperformed compiling just three measly assists.

For what it’s worth, rookie K’Andre Miller should see more playing time in Trouba’s absence.

16. As you all know by now, it’s slim pickings on the waiver wire these days when it comes to finding quality blue liners. Take a flier on CAR Jaccob Slavin, COL Bowen Byram, PHI Erik Gustafsson and/or NJD Will Butcher. Truthfully, plug-and-play is probably your best option.

17. Trade for Kyle Palmieri. The 30-year-old, who is in a contract year, has three goals and one assist in three games since the Devils returned to play. Palmieri could emerge as a big-time trade deadline piece for a contender.

18. Put Trevor Zegras on your watch list. The 19-year-old is ripping up the American Hockey League and it seems inevitable, at least to me, that his NHL debut will come sometime soon. The Anaheim Ducks have scored 34 goals in 18 games. That’s not very good.

19. Let’s set up the upcoming week (Feb. 22 – 28):

Monday: Eight games
Tuesday: Six games
Wednesday: Seven games
Thursday: 11 games
Friday: Three games
Saturday: 14 games
Sunday: Six games
Total: 55 games

Steer clear of Vancouver and Winnipeg. They play just twice.

20. Depending on how you look at it, the Buffalo Sabres have been blessed with the golden unicorn of fantasy schedules. Yeah, they’ll play FIVE times in seven days.

Buffalo Sabres: Mon (@NYI), Tues (@NJD), Thurs (NJD), Sat (PHI), Sun (PHI)
Waiver Looks: Eric Staal, Dylan Cozens
SN Fantasy Pool: Jack Eichel 4, Taylor Hall 3, Rasmus Dahlin 2

Also, here are the 17 four-game teams: ARI, CAR, CBJ, CGY, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, FLA, LAK, MIN, NJD, NSH, NYI, PIT, TBL, WSH.

There’s substantial value to be found below:

Colorado Avalanche: Mon (VGK), Wed (MIN), Fri (@ARI), Sat (@ARI)
Waiver Looks: Brandon Saad, Joonkas Donskoi
SN Fantasy Pool: Nathan MacKinnon 4, COL Goalies 4, Cale Makar 2

Minnesota Wild: Mon (@SJS), Wed (@COL), Fri (LAK), Sat (LAK)
Waiver Looks: Joel Eriksson Ek, Mats Zuccarello
SN Fantasy Pool: MIN Goalies 3, Kevin Fiala 2, Kirill Kaprizov 1



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