Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, the fourteenth part of a series in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. First I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos Discord server which is where I gathered ideas from the members on which players to investigate. With that said, let’s discover the truth:
William Nylander, RW – TOR
Nylander has been on an earth-scorching tear of late, scoring nine points (although just one goal) in his last six games, including a four-game multi-point streak. Of more interest to me is the increased ice time: Nylander has averaged nearly 19 minutes a game in his last four games since returning from a COVID scare. Since returning all he’s done is shoot the lights out (11th in the league in shots/60) and dominate possession (first in the league in on-ice chances for/60). Nylander is well known as a streaky player and right now he’s at his best, which is great news for his owners through their fantasy playoffs.
Verdict: Streaky guy streaking don’t avert your gaze
Blake Wheeler, RW – WPG
Wheeler has become an item of concern of late, without a goal since March 26th (he did miss two weeks in that stretch due to a concussion) and posting just four shots and an ugly minus-6 rating since his return. The 100% individual points percentage (IPP) is not a good look, and as you might expect his individual scoring chances for/60 are not elite (123rd in iSCF/60) given he’s only taken four shots. But Wheeler doesn’t have to be spectacular to be fantasy relevant, and the Jets are still getting their chances with him on the ice: his 39.6 on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) ranks 21st in the league in those three games. Winnipeg has managed just a 5.9% shooting percentage when he’s on the ice (oiSH%), an indication of potential positive regression. So I’m fine holding Wheeler through Wednesday and Friday. Next week is also slow for the Jets, with games Monday/Wednesday/Saturday. If Wheeler is unable to get off the schneid in these next two games, I think it’s legitimate to consider dropping him if you’re playing a Week 16 championship given next week’s schedule.
Verdict: Hold for this week, but the leash is shortening
Claude Giroux, C – PHI
Giroux is a tough study. He finally broke out for a couple of goals on Sunday after going on a ridiculous 11-game scoring drought through much of April. The shot volume has been there of late: 6, 3, and 4 shots in his last three. He’s still seeing typical top line and split PP deployment, skating 18-19 minutes a night. Yet his SCF/60 ranks just 281st in the league over his last five games, and his iSCF/60 ranks 166th despite the recent shot volume. The 14% oiSH% suggests that he could even experience some scoring regression. The Flyers play the Devils three times this week, but their Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule is all heavy nights so there’s a solid chance you’re not even playing Giroux over your other options those nights. The Week 16 schedule is much nicer, but Giroux is a pretty meh option for this week and if you can maximize starts by getting a streamer off one of the Wednesday/Friday teams, I say do it.
Verdict: A better option in Week 16 than this week
Mason Appleton, RW – WPG
Appleton got an eyebrow-raising promotion to the Winnipeg top line and top power play unit, and actually has a decent chance of sticking there with the Nikolaj Ehlers injury. Appleton fired seven shots including eight scoring chances and five high danger chances – really strong work across 21 minutes of ice time. I’m certainly willing to give Appleton a shot for Wednesday/Friday this week and see how he does. There’s not much analysis to be done here given the recency of this lineup change, and I’d prefer to confirm the line rushes Wednesday morning if your league has same-day adds, but the upside is very intriguing.
Verdict: Worth a look as a two-game stream this week
Alex Pietrangelo, D – VGK
Pietrangelo has a goal and two assists in his last five games, and I think he’s got more to give. Pietrangelo ranks 2nd to only Jakob Chychrun in individual chances for/60 (iCF/60) in those five games, averaging 22 minutes of ice time and sporting a below-normal 30% IPP. He ranks 4th in the same span in SCF/60, indicating that he’s doing his part and his teammates are doing theirs; there should be some very solid points on the horizon here. Pietrangelo is a an absolute lock in your lineup for the rest of the season.
Verdict: Certified stud-muffin
Alex Tuch, RW – VGK
Similar to Appleton, Tuch has gotten a promotion due to injury. In this case, Reilly Smith’s injury paved the way for Tuch to join William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault on the second line. Tuch has been putting up some serious shot volume of late, ranking 14th in the league in shots/60 over his past five games while skating 17:34 a night. Combine that with a 41st best SCF/60 mark and you’re looking at a guy who is definitely in a position to put up some points. Smith is currently considered a game-time decision for Wednesday, but if Tuch can stick with the second line I’m interested in streaming him.
Verdict: Worth a stream if Smith sits, maybe even if he plays
That’s all for this one folks! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter or join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!
Advanced stats credit: Natural Stat Trick
Title photo credit: Getty Images