Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Is Sandin’s production with the Capitals here to stay? 

We’ve officially reached the point of the fantasy hockey calendar when one bad goalie start can derail everything you’ve worked for.  

When it gets to fantasy playoff time, I always feel like it’s less important which goalies you have on your roster, compared to what goalies are playing the best or who has the best matchup. Case in point, Andrei Vasilevskiy giving up 11 goals over a two-game stretch last week. That run could easily cost you a playoff matchup.  

Now, I’m not saying to go out and drop someone as good as Vasilevskiy, but don’t feel compelled to always play your best goalie in a do-or-die situation if you don’t think they, or their team, are playing well, or if they have a bad matchup. Over a long season, you are going to see great results from someone such as Vasilevskiy, but over a very small sample size they may not always be the best option.  

Stay flexible and be diligent on the waiver wire to seek out critical streaming options. It could make all the difference in bringing you a championship.  

Time for your questions: 

If you don’t have faceoffs as a category, I’d probably part with Thomas Novak. Even though the Nashville Predators have a pretty good playoff schedule, I don’t think Novak will be as productive as the other two without his faceoffs counting for you. Viktor Arvidsson’s shot volume and the fact that Anthony Beauvillier has been very productive playing with Elias Pettersson in Vancouver should be more beneficial to you.  

Mike, Domi or McCann ROS? 

I think I’d trust Jared McCann a bit more. He’s been a steady goal scorer this season and is solid for shots on goal. I’m worried Max Domi will struggle with consistency in Dallas on the third line, as the Stars typically get most of their offence from the top group. Domi is probably a bit more versatile in a multi-cat league, but I don’t think his offence will hold up compared to McCann’s.  

I’m not sure I’d hold onto both of them, but I’d try to hold on to J.T. Compher if you can. It doesn’t sound like Gabriel Landeskog will be back anytime soon, so that should mean Compher’s spot in the top six and on the first power play are safe for a while. Plus, we all know how good Colorado’s fantasy playoff schedule is. Compher would certainly be good to have around.  

Post-trade deadline, how would you rank these D, keeper league points only? Carlson, Burns, Barrie, Hronek 

Because of injuries, I’d rank them this way for the remainder of the season: Brent Burns, John Carlson, Tyson Barrie and Filip Hronek. Carlson started skating this week, so he might be back soon. Hronek, meanwhile, is still sidelined, so I’ve ranked him lower and Barrie’s value has really dropped since leaving the Edmonton Oilers.  

As much upside as Nino Niedereitter has, I’ll say Ivan Barbashev. He looks really good on Jack Eichel’s line, and Eichel is playing really well again. Also, since the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t make any other big adds at the deadline, there isn’t really anyone to challenge Barbashev’s spot on the top line. Barbashev gives you great hit production as well if you’re in a multi-cat league, so that gives him a slight edge over Niederreiter.  

Drop Chabot for Bouchard? 

I’d rather have Evan Bouchard. Thomas Chabot is a great player, but for fantasy he’s just OK. He doesn’t really provide elite production in any one category, while Bouchard is now quarterbacking the league’s best power play. Bouchard still might run hot and cold, but if he produces the odd multi-point game like he did the other night for the Oilers, he’ll be a game changer down the stretch.  

You could consider that if there are better options available, given the ice time and usage Nik Ehlers is getting lately with the Jets. That said, Ehlers received a boost in minutes the other night and has been moved back up the lineup, so I’d probably give him a few more games to see if this trend continues. Generally, though, as we get into the fantasy playoffs, you shouldn’t have as much loyalty to players. When you’re in win-now mode, sometimes a less-talented player with a better schedule is the way to go.  

It’s a tough call. Even though Pyotr Kochetkov has already posted a shutout, I wouldn’t make the move until we know the extent of Antti Raanta’s injury, as Semyon Varlamov could be a more valuable option in the fantasy playoffs. One thing to keep in mind with Kochetkov this time around is that Frederik Andersen is still healthy, so I’d imagine Andersen will continue to get the bulk of the starts. The Carolina Hurricanes also don’t give up a lot of shots, so the margin for error is small for Kochetkov to get a quality start, which is something he ran into a bit of trouble with during his last callup. For now, I’d say keep Varlamov, but if Andersen also goes down, then try to grab Kochetkov.  

Is Bouchard worth holding onto? I grabbed him in case his points blew up but other then that 3-assist game he’s gotten nothing, he’s likely not gonna play and i need to either drop him or Beauvillier once Evander Kane is back from IR 

As mentioned earlier, Bouchard will probably be a bit streaky. He’s probably worth holding onto though because he’s on the highest-scoring team in the NHL and the league’s best power play. Even if he gives you one big game a week, that could be enough to swing a matchup or flip an important category.  

I’d take my chances with Beauvillier at this point. The Philadelphia Flyers are trending in the wrong direction and Kevin Hayes hasn’t produced much over the past 10 games, while Beauvillier has been clicking fairly well in Vancouver. He’s the better bet.  

Any college prospects that might jump into the NHL when their season ends that could make an impact? 

I may have answered this in a previous mailbag, but I think Matthew Knies of the Toronto Maple Leafs is one to watch. The Leafs appeared to leave just enough cap space to sign him to an entry-level deal and they probably want to get a look at him to see if he can offer them any offensive upside in the playoffs. Whether he hits the ice in time to help out during the fantasy hockey season remains to be seen.  

As long as John Carlson is sidelined, I think Rasmus Sandin is a solid option for points and hits. The issue is, as mentioned earlier, Carlson is back on the ice and could be returning at some point for the Capitals. When that happens, Sandin could get pushed back down the lineup and onto the second power-play unit. If that’s the case, his value will drop quite a bit.  

Until then, though, Sandin is really taking advantage of a big opportunity and getting a ton of ice time. He played over 25 minutes against the Los Angeles Kings earlier this week. Sandin’s issue was never his skillset with Toronto, it was more that he was stuck behind Morgan Rielly for power-play time. Now that he’s been given a chance to show what he can do offensively, he’s proving that he can pile up the points. Capitalize on his current production while you can.  

Trying to choose between Barbashev and Lehkonen for some depth. Who do you suggest? 

I talked a lot about the value of Barbashev earlier, but I’d probably take Arturri Lehkonen in this case. Colorado’s fantasy playoff schedule is very good and Lehkonen is sitting on the top line of a high-powered offence. His ceiling is much higher than Barbashev’s.

Without knowing who’s on your waiver wire, I’d suggest Semyon Varlamov to replace Jordan Binnington. The New York Islanders have a back-to-back in the first two playoff weeks with a couple of friendly matchups, so Varlamov should get at least two starts. That, combined with Andrei Vasilevskiy’s busy schedule, should be able to carry you through. Or, you can just use Binnington’s spot for streaming to stay flexible and pick up a goalie or two throughout the week if a really good matchup presents itself.  

Points-only keeper. Keep two between Schmaltz, Landeskog, P. Kane and R. Thomas 

Out of this group, I’m keeping Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz for the rest of the season. There’s still some uncertainty around when Landeskog will return for the Avs, which is why I didn’t choose him. Kane should eventually be very productive in that loaded New York Rangers top six and Schmaltz has been one of the hottest players in hockey over the past month, as his line with Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton has really been clicking.  

It’s probably Mikael Backlund or Brayden Schenn for me. He’s been quiet lately, but Backlund has been really strong overall in 2023. I’d place less value on Schenn in this instance because your league doesn’t have hits. If you’re just relying on Schenn for point production, I don’t think it’s as crucial that you keep him. They both have pretty comparable playoff schedules, so go with your gut between these two.  

Is Mercer worth picking up with Timo in town? I’m in a cats league and thinking I either drop Backlund or Husso (4th goalie) for Mercer. 

I’d drop Ville Husso in this case because I never like to carry more than three goalies. You’ll end up probably having empty skater spots while having to bench a starting goalie. Freeing up that spot for someone such as Dawson Mercer is a better idea. Mercer has 19 points in his past 11 games and the addition of Timo Meier will only make the New Jersey Devils offence more potent.  

Vince Dunn didn’t miss any time, but Sandin would be good to try to squeeze onto your roster while Carlson is sidelined. As long as Sandin is quarterbacking the No. 1 power-play unit for the Washington Capitals, he should help you out.  

Demko/Markstrom/Grubauer/Korpisalo ROS. Cgy has desirable playoff sched weeks 23-25 but just can’t trust Marky. 

I agree, I wouldn’t trust Jacob Markstrom or the Flames at this point either. Too much inconsistency there. Joonas Korpisalo is probably the guy I’d go with here. He might not play as much as some of the others, but the Los Angeles Kings are a good team and you should be able to use him for one decent matchup per week. If your other goalies are solid and you don’t need a lot of starts, Korpisalo could be a good quality-over-quantity candidate.  

If you’re not in a roster crunch, I’d just say keep Mathew Barzal to see if he returns to the Islanders in time to help your season. If you’re tight for space and need the IR spot, you might have no choice but to move on. It’s tough to keep players at this point in the season that you aren’t even sure will be back for the fantasy playoffs if it’s hurting your roster flexibility.  

Even with Taylor Hall out, Tyler Bertuzzi is only getting third-line minutes playing with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic, so I’m not sure how prosperous he’ll be from a points perspective with the Boston Bruins. I think Bertuzzi’s real value will come in the Stanley Cup playoffs and not the fantasy playoffs, unfortunately.  

With the season winding down, is there any player or team you’re keeping in mind for next season? Maybe a sneaky pickup or someone to avoid? 

Owen Tippett has really caught my eye. Coach John Tortorella seems to love him and he’s playing massive minutes for the Philadelphia Flyers. He averaged almost 25 minutes a night in the three games before Thursday and is great for volume categories, recording nine shots in a single game earlier this week. He could be good to have around for the remainder of the season and a possible breakout candidate for next season.  

If your playoffs don’t start for a couple of weeks and you can’t really move up in the standings, I’d probably keep Hronek. Sandin could be a good pickup, but Carlson could be back by the time your playoffs start and his value might drop. Hronek figures to end up playing with Quinn Hughes on the Canucks and he could be quite useful for a playoff run.  

This one is close, but I think I’d drop Jeff Petry. His ice time is great and Petry is good for shots and hits, but I don’t see him having as many big games points wise as Bouchard. I think Dmitry Orlov can supplement the shots and hits you might lose from Petry, and Bouchard should be able to provide offence and power-play production.  


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