Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This will be the first installment of a weekly article I’ll be writing all season long in which I’ll deep dive some hot and cold players and determine if they’re worth trying to acquire or sell off. Before we dive in, be sure to check out the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon for even more content. I’m in there every day and would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Tyler Bertuzzi, Nicki Minaj, or any other successful anti-vaxxers. Let’s get it!
Too Hot to Touch
Anze Kopitar, C – LAK
Kopitar has a fantasy revelation through his first three games, scoring five goals and adding three assists to sit tied with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid for the league lead in points as of Wednesday morning. Kopitar is firing a ton of shots which is nice to see, but he also rocks a 100% individual points percentage (IPP), meaning he’s gotten a point on every single goal the Kings have scored while he was on the ice. He’s also shooting an unsustainable 38.5% versus a career 12.9%, and the team as a whole is shooting nearly 18% (referred to as on-ice shooting percentage or oiSH%) with him on the ice when 10% or so would be more in line with what you’d expect. So no, Kopitar hasn’t levelled up at age 34; he’ll be the 70-point player you drafted him as but don’t expect 100+ just because of this hot start.
Tyler Bertuzzi, LW – DET
One of the most discussed men in hockey this offseason quickly turned the conversation around him to his on-ice performance with a four-goal debut against the reigning Cup winners. But to say Bertuzzi has been a little on the lucky side through his first three games would be a severe understatement. Bertuzzi has fired 8 shots in those three games and scored on 5 of them for a whopping 62.5% S%. Without turning up his chance generation stats, I don’t see a way that Bertuzzi continues to put pucks in the net at will and similar to Kopitar, he’s probably exactly who you thought he was in terms of point production the rest of the season.
Honourable Mentions: Drew Doughty, D – LAK // Jared McCann, C – SEA // Kevin Shattenkirk, D – ANA // Mats Zuccarello, RW – MIN // Carter Verhaeghe, LW – FLA
The Right Amount of Hot
William Nylander, RW – TOR
Nylander has seen an increased role in the early going (especially in the three games that Auston Matthews missed to start the season), and has performed at an elite level. He’s seeing 19:40 of ice a night, ranking 10th in the league in on-ice scoring chances for/60 (SCF/60) and 23rd in individual scoring chances for/60 (iSCF/60). His IPP is a moderately high 80% but his 11% S% is below expectation for a shooter of his caliber and his oiSH% of 7% is quite low, suggesting that Nylander should actually be pacing above his current point-per-game pace. Nylander is certainly a streaky type, but if he continues to see 19+ minutes a night the sheer volume of chances could see him produce his first point per game season.
Timo Meier, RW – SJS
I’ve been a Meier supporter in the past, going so far as to call out Bob Boughner for not playing Meier more on a FHFH podcast episode over the offseason. Well, Boughner might have heard me because Meier has gotten an average of an extra minute per game in his first two games and has dropped four points. What’s been most impressive about Meier’s start is that he is leading the league in shots/60 and iSCF/60. For context, Auston Matthews’ 8-shot return to action Monday night still ranks below Meier’s per-60 stats in every category. Given Meier’s ability to supply hits as well as goals, his start is very exciting for fantasy managers and he’s somehow still just 42% rostered on Yahoo as I write this.
Honourable Mentions: Oliver Wahlstrom, RW – NYI // Steven Stamkos, RW – TBL // Jesse Puljujarvi, RW – EDM // Jeff Carter, C – PIT // Nazem Kadri, C – COL
Colder than Ice
Jonathan Toews, C – CHI
Toews has put up a whole bunch of zeroes in his return to the league after missing all of the 2021 season with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). It’s hard to blame him for being a bit rusty, but looking under the hood there’s nothing that makes me think he’s about to break out. Toews ranks 323rd in the league in iSCF/60 despite getting top PP time with Chicago stars Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. Until Toews starts generating some more offense on his own I’m not interested in owning him, and he’s droppable until things start to turn around in my opinion.
Tyson Barrie, D – EDM
After signing a three-year, $13.5 million dollar contract to return to Edmonton, it seemed locked in stone that Barrie would put up 65+ points alongside Oiler superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But while McDavid and Draisaitl have put up more than their fair share of points through three games, Barrie is pointless and things aren’t pointing upward for him. He ranks 224th in the league in Corsi For/60 and 237th in SCF/60. I’m not panicking on Barrie as he started slow last year too before finding his stride, but he needs to step it up soon to be worth the draft capital managers invested in him.
Tyler Seguin, C – DAL // Jamie Benn, LW – DAL // Nick Suzuki, C – MTL // Cole Caufield, RW – MTL // Ryan Pulock, D – NYI // Max Comtois, LW – ANA // Jaden Schwartz, LW – SEA
Frozen but Thawing
Jakob Chychrun, D – ARI
There is certainly reason for concern with Chychrun and it has been well-documented in fantasy hockey circles that Chychrun’s huge breakout in 2021 was predicated on some unsustainable percentages, meaning some regression was always going to be in line for him this year. Combine that with Arizona’s fire sale of anyone and everyone capable of playing hockey at the NHL level and there was reason to doubt that Chychrun could be even a mid-tier fantasy asset this season. Those fears seem to be justified through three games as Chychrun remains pointless and has been bumped from the top PP unit in favour of newcomer Shayne Gostisbehere. But Chychrun is playing a very healthy 24:55 a night and ranks 4th among all defensemen in individual Corsi For/60. Arizona hasn’t scored a single goal while he’s been on the ice which is bound to bounce back. The fears around Chychrun may have been legitimate, but I think that discount was fairly baked in on draft day in most leagues and you should be happy with Chychrun’s output by season end.
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW – WPG
Ehlers has opened his season with three straight zeroes on the score sheet, and Winnipeg’s early struggles have concerned some of his managers. But I don’t see any issue with Ehlers’ play thus far as he’s producing iSCF at an even higher rate than last year thus far while seeing 18:27 average time on ice, up from 16:53 in 2021. There’s nothing about Ehlers’ advanced stat profile that has me worried in the slightest that he can’t reproduce what he produced last season.
Jeff Petry, D – MTL // Mitch Marner, RW – TOR // Cale Makar, D – COL // Tyler Toffoli, RW – MTL // Trevor Zegras, C – ANA // Denis Gurianov, RW – DAL // Thomas Chabot, D – OTT
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, on TikTok, and 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!