Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the first instalment of a weekly article I’ll be writing all season long in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. I pull suggestions for which players to write about for these articles from the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon members. Be sure you check out those spots to catch up with me and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about John Carlson, Jack Hughes, or any other stars who have had slow starts to their seasons. Let’s get it!
Aleksander Barkov, C – FLA
Barkov has not exactly had a roaring start to his season with just four assists across six games. But he’s been shouldering over 22 and a half minutes a night including a ridiculous 3:10 per game of shorthanded time on ice. Barkov’s shot and individual scoring chance for (iSCF) rates are down, to be sure. But he actually has a higher on-ice scoring chance for rate (SCF/60) through six games than he did in 2021-22, meaning more scoring chances are being created with him on the ice despite Barkov not being the one shooting those pucks. Combine that with a comically low 5.8% on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) and you can be pretty confident that Barkov is not a guy you need to be worried about at this stage of the season.
Moritz Seider, D – DET
Seider has had a very slow start as well, notching his first point of the season on Sunday and declining in shot and individual Corsi For (iCF) production after a big 6-shot opening night game. Of most concern here is the fact that Filip Hronek has supplanted him for the past few games as the top power play quarterback, and been successful doing it. Theoretically the Red Wings’ improved forward corps should raise Seider’s profile at even strength, but it’s going to be very difficult for Seider to replicate anything close to the 21 power play points he posted last season if he can’t maintain PP1 status, and the 29 even strength points he managed are not really much to write home about. I’m not looking to acquire Seider currently unless you can buy quite low. The upside for 50+ points is still there, but the quick trigger finger to make the switch to Hronek was a bit of a wake up call in my opinion.
Zach Werenski, D – CBJ
I’ve been a huge Werenski proponent this offseason, ranking him as high as D5 in some formats. His three point start across seven games has not dissuaded me from that stance at all. Werenski’s shot and iSCF rates are actually up so far this young season, and while losing Patrik Laine for an extended period hurts, it’s not the death knell for the Columbus power play it might have been last season now that Johnny Gaudreau is in town. To top it all off, Werenski is blocking shots at a much higher rate than he ever has before. If there’s a buy-low window here on Werenski I am all about it.
Kevin Fiala, RW – LAK
Fiala has had an up and down season so far, garnering all five of his points in two games and going pointless in the other five. He only has one game above two shots and only five iSCF in his last four games. It’s certainly fair to question how well Fiala is integrating into his new surroundings, but if you drafted Fiala you had to at least consider the possibility that his start in Los Angeles might not be all roses from puck drop. I’m going to need to see something like seven straight games of Fiala being unable to generate chances and offense before I’m panicking. I don’t think there’s a buy low spot here on Fiala given the five points, but maybe you can throw some feelers out if you have the gumption to go acquire him.
Calen Addison, D – MIN
We covered Addison on the Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Podcast yesterday, but essentially it boils down to this: as long as Addison is on the top power play he’s going to be fantasy relevant. He may be inconsistent in stretches since he’s not much of a peripheral contributor, but there is real 25-power play point potential in Minnesota and Addison has the prospect profile that suggests he can make the best of a situation like this. On top of that you have the contingent upside that Addison could impress so much he becomes a 20+ minute per night defender for the Wild and that deployment would balloon his ceiling to true league-winner potential. To me, the equation with Addison is simple: as long as he’s PP1, he’s on your roster.
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 and join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.