With only three games on the slate today, I am going to take a look at some of the plays that will give you some salary relief as opposed to writing up the higher-salaried players. I like doing this on small slates because it is easy to pick all superstars, but that doesn’t help you much when you try to fill out your roster with players whose salary is $5k or lower. I will go position by position while listing the top plays of the day at FanDuel. Let’s start off the New Year on the right foot and get down to the business.
Frederick Andersen – Toronto Maple Leafs - $9,100 – Although Andersen has a higher salary it is probably worth paying up for him on a three-game slate. He sees a lot of shots on a nightly basis while having a decent chance to win every time out. He has chalked up at least 32 fantasy points in four of his last five games, including a 50.4 effort on December 22nd as he shut out the Colorado Avalanche while making 38 saves. That’s my point here, as Detroit should be able to generate some shots on goal but has been having their troubles trying to put the puck past opposing goaltenders.
Top Goaltending Option: Braden Holtby - Washington Capitals - $9,400
Antione Vermette – Anahein Ducks - $4,500 – Vermette may have hit the jackpot here, as the Ducks have changed up their lines, and he now finds himself centering Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry. This is an attempt to generate more offense, as the Ducks have only lit the lamp eight times over the last four games. It just so happens that Vermette has had a hand in half of those goals while registering only 12 points in his previous 32 games. Call it what you want, but anytime you get to skate with guys like Rakell and Perry, it’s almost a no-brainer to take him on a three-game slate.
Top Center Options: Auston Mattews –Toronto Maple Leafs - $7,300, Nicklas Backstrom – Washington Capitals - $6,600
Anthony Mantha – Detroit Red Wings - $4,500 – The Red Wings have finally found some offense over the last five games, as their 16 goals have enabled them to come away with three wins. Mantha skates on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar, which also doubles as the team’s top power play unit that has scored just two goals in the last 13 games. That statistic isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but what he has done is collect three goals and three assists in the last five games. With his lowest fantasy score being 14.4, it is almost impossible not to roster him here on such a small slate.
Mark Stone – Ottawa Senators - $6,300 – Although FanDuel has Stone listed on the team’s third line, he’s really on the first line with Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard. One could argue that the top line could be Kyle Turris, Ryan Dzingel and Bobby Ryan, as Turris does get some time on the top power play unit. Stone is second on the team in scoring, as he has registered 10 of his 25 points with the man advantage. Washington is a tough team at home and has been giving up some goals of late. I am not saying that Ottawa will win the game, but they should score a few goals with Stone being able to find the score sheet tonight.
Top Winger Options: Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals - $8,800, Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers - $7,100
Ivan Provorov – Philadelphia Flyers - $4,500 – Provorov has slowly but surely started to progress to the speed of the NHL. The 19-year-old from Russia could actually be playing in the World Juniors tournament going on in Canada but has remained with the Flyers. If you were thinking of rostering Shayne Gostisbehere, I’d take a look at Provorov, as they almost have the same exact statistics except for the fact that Gostisbehere has outshot the youngster by a tally of 81-55. Provorov does get some shots to the net, as well as block some shots, so maybe taking him for some salary relief isn’t a bad idea.
Jake Gardiner – Toronto Maple Leafs -$4,800 – Gardiner quarterbacks the Maple Leafs’ top power play unit that has scored eight goals over the last 10 games, so it’s no surprise that Gardiner’s production has increased by 50 percent over that time frame. Through the first 25 games he was able to manage just four goals and five assists but has caught fire over the last 10 games by lighting the lamp twice and assisting on seven other goals. This game could be the highest scoring of the day, with Toronto coming out on top and Gardiner being in the middle of the scoring.
That will wrap it up for another Sunday of NHL analysis. Check back next week as we do it all over again but in the meantime, follow me on Twitter @elctrceye, good luck in your games tonight, and have a Happy New Year.