Fantasy Hockey

Impact of Fantasy Hockey on Changes to NHL Coaches


Nothing rivals a little hope to help fuel otherwise frustrated and disheartened sports fans and fantasy managers. Even a glow, during the darkest times, will keep us invested and engaged. This week, two struggling NHL organizations gave fans a burst of hope by replacing their respective head coaches (plus an assistant and general manager), making it clear that this season is not necessarily a loss before Christmas. . A necessary demonstration of optimism and solidarity – we will no longer accept this losing stupidity! – that should keep even the most wary of fans engaged for a little while yet.

Unfortunately, Mike Yeo’s Flyers team looks too much like the underperforming version of Alain Vigneault. Especially in Yeo’s second round behind the bench as the best boss. Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Devils – a team that strive to always secure their own W’s – gave no indication that Philly is about to immediately change things. They seemed bewildered and disconnected in all three areas. Each of the 25 shots fired at New Jersey goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood seemed manageable (and was, in fact, stopped). If the Philadelphia skaters feel motivated by the recent personnel changes – assistant Michel Therrien has also been let go – they hide it well.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time for vested fantasy managers to cut ties with their Flyers assets altogether. Give it a minute. Yeo will fiddle, fiddle and fiddle with some more, with his lines until a combination hits (or his interim leadership might be even more short-term than expected). A little patience, if possible, could provide a decent payoff in the realm of fantasy. On paper, this team is better than what we’ve seen in action.

Travis Konecny ​​and Sean Couturier both go through historically terrible seasons. Sporting an average shooting percentage of 13.8 since his second campaign, Konecny ​​(24) is currently riding at an unusual 7.3% rate. With an average of 0.91 points / game since 2017, Couturier (29) has five goals and seven assists in 24 games (only 7.1% shots). Under Yeo, or whoever else, these two are meant to turn the tide and might be worth targeting for the proverbial pennies on the fantasy trade dollar.

Kevin Hayes, another notable Philadelphia skater, has been held off the ice for all but six games due to injury. Seemingly healthy again, Hayes is skating, for now, on a potentially dynamic line with Cam Atkinson and Scott Laughton, and the side power play. One of the best players in the league, the 29-year-old center often serves as a scoring machine when he’s in a groove. Aligned in just 9.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Hayes should be tapped, without delay, when he warms up. When, no if, because history tells us it inevitably will.

Forward Morgan Frost is another intriguing character to keep in mind as Yeo and the Flyers (try) to figure him out. Called up from the AHL earlier, the 22-year-old remains in the NHL roster even with Hayes and Derick Brassard back in action. If he continues to stick with the big club, Frost could serve as an under-the-radar gem in the deeper fantasy leagues. He had 15 points in 16 games for the Phantoms before joining the Flyers – most recently skating a line with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.

As for between the Flyers’ pipes, Carter Hart deserves a few more games before he cuts the whimsical cord. Before losing six games in a row, the 23-year-old was 5-3-2 with an SV% of .935 and GAA of 2.19. Since then, the Flyers have allowed 35.9 shots / game – the third-most in the league behind Montreal and Arizona – while scoring just 1.80 goals / game (the second-worst in the NHL). If the club does manage to right the ship, Carter – who is doing quite well to better than good – will benefit greatly. As are his fantastic managers. It’s also worth noting that the smoother, sweeter Philly’s schedule is coming right away. After Friday’s game in Vegas, the Flyers face the Coyotes, Devils, Canadiens and Senators once again. Three out of four wins – well within reach – could help dispel the clouds of misery for Carter and everyone ahead. We’re talking about a nine-day period. Well worth the minimum wait.

Across the country, the Canucks are doing much better with their first pair of games under new coach Bruce Boudreau. As discussed in detail by my colleague Sean Allen, this particular change behind the bench bodes well for improved results for some disappointing artists to date – led by Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson – and is already paying dividends. Vancouver probably isn’t a playoff team yet, but with improved individual performances they should be on the rise. Reward Canucks fans (to some extent) and patient fancy managers.


In other fantasy related news:

Dallas Stars: The Stars have too many goalies. A fairly fine problem from an organizational point of view, especially compared to having too little of it, but still one that requires action. Once Ben Bishop is ready to go, which looks like …ish, Anton Khudobin appears at the door via trade. Rumors of interest in the veteran goalie’s services as a back-up to the league suggest a deal may be forging soon. Khudobin, who didn’t have a great time in Dallas this fall, should get a fresh start elsewhere. Her situation is worth keeping in mind, if only as a potentially valuable Daily Fantasy asset on occasion.

With Khudobin gone, and we’re not there yet, the fold would get stuck in Dallas. Either the Stars ride with a healthy Bishop, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger, or send Oettinger – who has been superb for the Stars – to the minors. Even with the team playing well, there are too many variables involved for my fancy taste. Oettinger is only athletic if he plays in the NHL. Bishop hasn’t appeared in a competitive game since the summer of 2020. Holtby, the safest fantasy bet of the lot, still can’t count on the majority of starts. If your goalie is stuck in the mud, then of course give Holtby – or even Bishop – a whirlwind in the draft leagues. Both are widely available in the ESPN.com game. Otherwise, wait for the situation in case one keeper is constantly rising above the others.

Boston Bruins: Having his interest in a trade heavily advertised and knowing that the Bruins are keen on playing ball, Jake DeBrusk will likely play for another NHL team in the not-so-distant future. As ESPN’s Emily Kaplan pointed out, as long as her pending arbitration eligibility isn’t too big a hurdle, DeBrusk could end up with one of the many clubs involved, including St. Louis, Calgary and New York. Stumbling recently, the only 25-year-old scored 27 goals in 68 games just three seasons ago. Just because the marriage to the Bruins is broken doesn’t mean DeBrusk can’t forge another healthy and productive relationship elsewhere. A top-six role could see the 14th overall draft pick (2015) quickly revert to form relevant to fantasy. It is currently massively available in the ESPN.com game.

Montreal Canadiens: Goalkeeper Carey Price appears to be making progress on his return trip to Montreal. The star goalie was spotted skating with goalie gear for the first time on Wednesday. However, according to the Canadiens website, coach Dominique Ducharme is warning that Price is still not expected to play in an NHL game until the end of December, at the earliest.

“He was skating without equipment and now he is skating with equipment,” said Ducharme. “The next step will probably be a little more movement in the crease, and after that, shots. But you won’t see Carey until Christmas in games. That doesn’t change.”

Still, the timeline gives struggling Canadiens fans a silver lining, if only to boost morale (on his own, current No.1 Jake Allen hasn’t been the problem this season). Found in less than 45% of ESPN.com’s fantastic leagues, Price could be worth a stockpile, if there is a turnaround early in the year in Montreal. Like the Flyers, the Habs are better than what they have shown us so far. No matter how the timeline unfolds, having one of the game’s best back in action, whenever he feels right and ready, will be a great endpoint.