Head-to-head leagues boast their own unique appeal: one goal, one strike, one single digit average can be enough to make it to success in that particular field, and in some cases a weekly win. Without weighted points or formulas in play, the gaming category giants can truly serve as fantasy royalty. From that perspective, here’s a look at those who shine in one aspect of the fantasy game while mostly maintaining a fairly strong presence elsewhere. Since I am including categories from the standard Sportzshala H2H game and others, managers in the Roto and points leagues should also find the following application.
All three players scored 40 goals or more during the dark years of 2016-17. Only four in the previous season, then eight in the 2017/18 season. It’s no wonder we all struggled to get Alex Ovechkin on our fantasy teams back then.
Fortunately, today’s NHL boasts much louder fireworks. Not only have 17 different skaters scored 40 goals or more in 2021/22, but a total of 51 have reached the 30 mark. So, even if you can’t get your hands on Auston Matthews with his 60-goal potential (or Leon Dreisaitl in second place), there are plenty of other prolific producers to help add to your roster.
Some of my lesser-known favorites include Philip Forsberg, Tage Thompson, Josh Norris and Troy Terry. Goals scored are a great category to target in fantasy, as one puck in the net often ticks off many other checkboxes. Oh, and don’t sleep on Ovechkin again this fall, or move forward. Not until he either leaves the league or catches up with Wayne Gretzky in career totals. Until then, a Capitals sharpshooter could make 50 or so a year.
See also: Jason Robertson, F, Dallas Stars; Gabriel Landeskog, F, Colorado Avalanche
I hear that guy Jonathan Huberdeau deserves a bit of extra attention in this department, recently hitting 85 and all. Seriously, the former Panther/new-Flame is climbing up the fantasy rankings in leagues that reward assistants equally with goals, no matter who he competes against. The same goes for Kirill Kaprizov of Minnesota, Artemy Panarin of New York and Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner. Aside from that fantastic cream, don’t sleep on Robert Thomas, who put out 0.8 assists per game in his fourth season in St. Louis. Watch as the Blues, 20th overall pick (2017), make their next big leap, reaching the scoring line for the second time alongside wingers Vladimir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich. Veteran Jakub Voracek deserves his due in deeper leagues that value this scoring category. Especially if the 33-year-old stays in the top scoring position in the Blue Jackets’ revamped six. Voracek won’t score often himself, but he could flirt with 60 assists again, evenly and on the power play.
On the blue line, eight defensemen broke the 50 assist mark in 2021/20, including Quinn Hughes and Chris Letang.
See also: Mats Zuccarello, F, Minnesota Wild; Nazem Kadri, F, Calgary Flames; Rasmus Andersson, defenseman, Calgary Flames
Points in the majority
There are no surprises here; those who tend to score in equal strength links are also more likely to contribute with an additional skater. While Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Drysaitle, along with Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov, remain the best in the power game business, J.T. Miller, Victor Hedman and Huberdeau otherwise lead a rich class of regulars.
If you look for minor deviations, Vancouver defenseman Hughes and Carolina player Teuvo Teravainen score almost as often with an advantage than without it.
Looking ahead, Ottawa’s new top team looks like it’s been greatly improved with the addition of Claude Giroud and Alex DeBrinkat. Which is promising for everyone involved, including underrated forward Josh Norris.
See also: Chris Kreider, defenseman, New York Rangers William Nylander, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lack of points
If you’re torn between picking Micah Zibanejad and another skater, all other things being equal, pick a Rangers forward in fantasy leagues where shorthanded goals are rewarded. In the entire NHL, Zibanejad has been the most consistent penalty shooter in the past three years.
See also: Connor Brown, F, Washington Capitals
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Aside from the forwards you pick up first anyway—Matthews, McDavid, Nathan McKinnon—there are quite a few next-level producers who hit the net more often than others. David Pastrnak has averaged 4.07 shots per game over his last two seasons with the Bruins. San Jose’s Timo Meier is solidifying his fantasy by finishing third overall in total shots (326) in the 2021-22 season. Senses captain Brady Tkachuk and Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers also lead the category.
On the blue line, Zach Werensky is an underrated gem who contributes to several fantasy veins. And watch out for when a healed Max Pacioretti is ready to join his new team in Carolina after returning from a torn Achilles tendon. January? Once he’s ready for action, you can rely on this skilled shooter to fire an astonishing number of shots in the game and at the end.
See also: Patrice Bergeron, F, Boston Bruins; Darnell Nurse, D, Edmonton Oilers; Dougie Hamilton, defenseman, New Jersey Devils
Defenseman Brayden McNabb of the Golden Knights makes up for other minor fantasy-related flaws by dazzling in this defensive department. A league-leading 179 blocks last season plus 154 hits and 18 points in 69 games add up to a fantastic 2.0 points per competition. Not too bad for a skater who has competed in less than half of Sportzshala.com’s fantasy leagues.
Other shot blockers include Chicago’s Calvin de Haan, Connor Murphy and Jake McCabe (out until late November). As for those who do it well, New York’s Jacob Truba, Vegas veteran Alex Pietrangelo and the Red Wings’ Moritz Seider lead a group of defensemen who routinely block shots as well as tick off the scoreboard.
See also: Ivan Provorov, quarterback, Philadelphia Flyers; Mackenzie Vigar, defenseman, Calgary Flames; Noah Dobson, D., New York Islanders
To win, they need to play. More often yes than no. Avoid tandem teams, no matter how strong they are, it is vital to collect as many Ws as possible. Then the team itself should be good. As well as in the playoffs is good. This excludes another group of otherwise good fantasy netizens.
Your team of usual suspects remains, led by Andrey Vasilevsky, Juse Saros, Jacob Markstrom, Igor Shesterkin and Frederik Andersen. You can’t go wrong lassoing any of these top-notch fantasy nets, both inside and outside the win circle. I’m especially interested to see what Andersen can achieve in the second run with Carolina if he can stay healthy. The former Leaf/Duck averaged 0.69 wins per start in 2021/22, which is pretty astounding. That figure is 41 wins in just 60 games, which I would happily take in any year.
See also: Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins; Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars; Jack Campbell, Edmonton Oilers
Again, you’re targeting quality players who work far more often than not, for respective teams who don’t turn down too many dangerous shots and scoring opportunities. These are your best bets in the blank sheet department.
Last season, Calgary opener Jacob Markstrom outmaneuvered everyone else with nine shutouts, followed by Ilya Sorokin with seven. I love seeing Markstrom approach that milestone once again with the Flames, who, though changed, can be just as strong on defense as they were last season. While the loss of Eric Goodbranson hurts some, the addition of Florida’s Mackenzie Vigar certainly doesn’t hurt. Not to take anything away from the Flames starting goaltender himself.
See also: Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers.
Members of the best tandem teams are more effective in this category. For example, an amazing performance by Jeremy Swainman could help create a solid enough SV% to win the week even if Linus Ullmark starts other Bruins games. Vice versa. In this case, quality is absolutely more important than quantity. Qualified goalkeepers who play for teams who have to shoot more often than others – we all know who they are – can also make a significant contribution to this category.
Jets backup Eric Comrie, now of the Sabres, hit .920% SV in 19 games for the Winnipeg club, which has eighth-highest shots in the league. After picking the best players in the game – Shesterkin, Saros, Markstrom, Sorokin, etc. – keep these less popular part-time players in mind as streaming options in leagues with more flexible lineups.
See also: Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings
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Goals against average
While the best members of the tandem team and a handful of top-level backups are also welcome to contribute to this goaltending spirit, the quality of the collective defense up front matters much more. We’re back to good goaltenders on good teams here – the fewer goals conceded, the better, whether it’s 17 shots or 47. When healthy, No. 2 Hurricanes Antti Raant works as a superb streaming plug-in, as does Tampa’s understudy. Brian Elliott. .
Both members of the aforementioned Boston tandem are once again attractive in terms of goals to assets. Of the league’s fantasy elite, Markstrom, Andersen and Shesterkin finished the 2021–22 season with a GAA of 2.22 or below.
Average time on ice
Need many minutes on the ice? Look no further than Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot, who has led the league with a 26:09 average since the start of the 2019-20 season. Now that the Senators have gained a bit more firepower, Chabot will likely see a performance boost this season as well. Defender Zach Werensky represents another asset to consider, with added fantasy potential, along with…