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Fantasy Hockey: Category Chaser

Matthew Tkachuk is on the rise!

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes it becomes abundantly clear that your team is severely lacking in one category. At this time you can choose to punt the category altogether and focus all of your attention elsewhere, or work on a stop gap and go all in on a player from that category to try to catch up (this is abundantly hard in Rotisserie if you fall behind the curve). Case in point, I figured out early on this year that my team was falling short on Power Play Points, I went out and picked up Alexander Wennberg who I think should see some regression in his shooting percentage but is heading up the most dynamic power play unit in the NHL right now which should allow his short power play points to continue.

Below are various categories as well as 1 (or a few) options who are under 25% owned that might be able to help out.


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C, Edm) 24% owned. He currently has 3 goals amidst 68 shots for a 4.4% shooting percentage. He's never shot that low in his NHL career. In fact, with the exception of the 2012-2013 year when he got hurt, he's never even been beneath 10%. Some of this could be Connor McDavid taking the lion share of ice time (Ryan's TOI/G has gone done from 19-20 minutes per game to 17:45 per game) but I think on the long spectrum this means teams will increasingly work to shut down Connor leaving Ryan weaker opponents. To me he's hit a small drought but will bounce back soon to pure goal scoring form, buy low on this stock while you can and reap the rewards.
Also see Matthew Tkachuk below.

Tyler Bozak (C, Tor) 13% owned. So Auston Matthews and William Nylander may have stolen the spotlight through the first quarter of the season and I imagine that's just fine with Tyler as he sits at 50th in the league in Assists with 10 (3rd on the Toronto Maple Leafs). He has 7 assists in his last 11 games as he is starting to mesh with Michell Marner who is also coming into his own comfort zone on the ice and will not shy away from firing a lot of pucks on net.
Also see Matthew Tkachuk below.

Brandon Carlo (D, Bos) 10% owned. Currently on the top unit with Zdeno Chara, they are limiting shots on net. Boston is currently the 4th best team in allowing the fewest shots on net. He's young, he's talented and he's alongside the Giant who is impossible to get around. He won't provide a ton of points but it's not unrealistic to see him get around 25 points. He will provide you with hits and blocked shots as he is defensively sound.

Radko Gudas (D, Phi) 25% owned. He was 10th last year in PIM and while I think he's received some direction to reign it in a bit after his most recent suspension he will inevitably finish a top 20 person in that category again. He comes with the bonus of both Hits and Blocked Shots much like Matt Martin.
Also see: Matt Martin below.
Also see Matthew Tkachuk below.

Power Play Points:
Matthew Tkachuk (LW, Cgy) 22% owned. File him under Goals, Assists, Power Play Points and PIM. He has 1 power play point so far this season. Here are 3 reasons why that will change soon. 1. Johnny Gaudreau is out and Sean Monahan was demoted to the third line (boy did I miss on that prediction) and they are in every effort now to shake up that top line AND top Power Play Unit (which now includes Tkachuk) to get some offense going. 2. Their Power Play Unit is currently at 10%, only one team in the last 5 years finished the year below 13% (Florida Panthers in 2012-2013 and they were abysmal) this team is not abysmal. 3. Over the course of the last weeks they continue to take any and all constraints off Matthew in effort to let him mature into the player he can be. At the start of the year he was playing 12 minutes a night, now he's up to 15 minutes.

Short Handed Points:
Mikael Backlund (C, Cgy) 10% owned. It's always tough to own a center who isn't elite as the market is flooded with talent but if you want Short-Handed Points and faceoffs accepting that you will only get around 55-60 points a year, this is your man. He was 44th last year in faceoffs but is currently 7th and seeing top line minutes with the Sean Monahan demotion. He's clearly been working on his style and it's showing. Short-handed wise he is leading the league with 3 (he had 4 last year) and he knows how to turn a play quickly and convert.

Shots on Goal:
Victor Arvidsson (LW, Nash) 11% owned. The 112th overall pick in the 2014 draft went from playing a half season with the Nashville Predators last season to being on the top line currently with Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. He is showing no desire to drop down that lineup as he sits 20th in Shots on Goal and tied for 66th in goals (but 2nd on Nashville). Not too bad for what looks to be his first full season.
Also see: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Faceoffs Won:
Mikko Koivu (C, Min) 18% owned. He's third in the league currently and he was 4th last year. He brought in 56 points last year which isn't the flashiest stat but it's not terrible. He averages just over a point every other game on average.
Also see Mikael Backlund.

Matt Martin (LW, Tor) 11% owned. This one is always easy, he led the league last year (a solid 20% above the next highest player -€” Radko Gudas) and he's leading the league this year in similar fashion. He will provide a nice PIM pop as well.
Also see: Brandon Carlo

Blocked Shots:
Dan Girardi (D, NYR) 19% owned. Over the years Dan has always been a steady source for decent +/-, good hits, great blocked shots with a few shorthanded points thrown into the mix. He is a very valuable asset to the Rangers and helps out Henrik Lundqvist as much as possible on penalty kills.
Also see: Brandon Carlo

Games Started:
Calvin Pickard (G, Col) 19% owned. It's not a stretch to say Semyon Varlamov has been pretty bad this season. Add in his current injury and Calvin "could" be seeing a bump in his playing time. His record is 4-1 and he owns a 2.03 GAA and a .932 save percentage making him an enticing option for the Aves.

Antti Raanta (G, NYR) 17%. It appears this season as if the Rangers are giving Henrik a little extra time off and Antti is all too eager to fill in those lofty shoes. He currently holds a 5-1 record with a 2.20 GAA and  .931 save % as he sits behind one of the strongest NHL teams this year. Time will be limited but when he starts he has as good of a shot as any of the top goalies to get a win.
Also see Philipp Grubauer

Jonathan Bernier (G, Ana) 13% owned. He's firmly the backup in Anaheim right now and he appears ok with this. He's not going to usurp John Gibson nor is he going to be replaced by someone in the minor leagues. Over his last 6 start's he has yet to allow more than 2 goals, with that consistency it will be hard for him to lose.
Also see Antti Raanta.

Goals Against
Anders Nilsson (G, Buf) 5% owned. On a rather injury riddled struggling Buffalo team Anders has done a great job in net. He has allowed 12 goals over 6 starts. Any goalie keeping goals allowed to 2 per game is doing a phenomenal job, especially when they are the backup.
Also see Jonathan Bernier

Goals Against Average
Scott Darling (G, Chi) 7% owned. This is as much the powerful team in front of him as anything else. Scott is a very serviceable backup but it certainly helps having the power house that is the Blackhawks limiting quality shots coming in on him. He currently holds a 2.76GAA across 7 games and that should continue going forward.
Also see Philipp Grubauer

Jacob Markstrom (G, Van) 17% owned. The unfortunate part to having this stat be important in your league is that typically the more saves a goalie is making the more shots he's facing and thus the great risk he's allowing in a few. For years Detroit worked to limit shots meaning their goalies would have great GAA's but horrible save percentages and conversely Roberto Luongo would sit down in Florida getting peppered with 40 shots a night giving him a great Save Percentage but horrible GAA.
Also see Calvin Pickard.

Save Percentage
Philipp Grubauer (G, Wash) 7% owned. The backup in Washington has been taking quality notes on Braden Holtby. He currently holds a .936 save percentage with 3 wins in his 5 starts. He's facing on average 28 shots per start and has only allowed 9 goals across those 5 starts.
Also see Scott Darling

Mike Condon (G, Mtl) 10% owned. Mike has a very streaky nature to his play. He started through the first stint of filling in for Carey Price last year very admirably with an unbelieavable Save Percentage and GAA before falling aggressively down to earth about 15 starts in. This year he already has one SO and if he gets streaky and Michel Therrien decides to ride it out, he could have a week with 2 shutouts.