Yahoo decided to make hits a default category in fantasy leagues for the 2018-19 campaign, replacing penalty minutes, so naturally that shifts what players you go after for grit. So far Jordan Staal has been the cream of the crop with 19 hits in four games. While he’s not expected to come close to finishing the season as the hits leader, the Yahoo change is certainly to his benefit as he’s always been more of a hits player while simultaneously keeping his PIM to a minimum. The shift also makes Matt Martin a far better asset. While Martin was already a great source of penalty minutes, he is particularly dominate when it comes to hits. From 2013-14 onward, three of the four best seasons in terms of hits belong to Martin. He didn’t have much of a role with Toronto in 2017-18, but now that he’s back with the Islanders, he should play more consistently. So far he has 12 hits in three games. Rookie Max Comtois also has 12 hits in three games. On top of that, he’s recorded two goals and an assist, making him an interesting gamble right now. William Carrier has 18 hits in three contests. He only appeared in 37 games last season, but still managed to record 113 hits.
Alexander Edler has taken a significant lead in blocks early on with 16 in three games. He ended up third in blocks last season with 203 despite being limited to 70 contests. Unfortunately, missing a noteworthy chunk of the season is par for the course for Edler. Josh Morrissey sits in second place with 13 blocks in two games. He finished 2017-18 with 168 blocks in 81 contests. Neither of them has done much in terms of hits, but Jake Muzzin excels in both categories. He has 10 hits and nine blocks in three games. In 2017-18, Muzzin finished with 170 hits and 123 blocks in 74 games. Calvin de Haan also contributes in both categories with seven hits and nine blocks so far. He only played in 33 games last season, but finished with 45 hits and 65 blocks.
As mentioned above, Staal is the current hits leader, but he also tops the NHL in terms of faceoffs won with 57. His winning percentage is 59.4%, which is up from his 2017-18 finish of 56.6%. Ryan O'Reilly has stood out thus far in terms of success rate as he’s claimed 33-of-45 draws (73.3%) in two games. He had a 60% success rate last season. Auston Matthews has an incredible 7 goals and 10 points in his first four games, but he’s also excelled on the draw. He’s won 38-of-69 faceoffs (55.1%), which is up from 54.5% as a sophomore in 2017-18. Jonathan Toews has won 45-of-83 draws (61.6%) so far. He’s one of the safest bets in terms of faceoffs with his career success rate of 57%.