Fantasy Hockey category help: Nick Bjugstad among players on rise

Nick Bjugstad’s fantasy value continues to rise. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

By Janet Eagleson, RotoWire Senior Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports

I’m not going to belabor anything this week. Not even the stunning stupidity in Edmonton. No Cup for you, Peter Chiarelli.

Your track record sucks.

There’s almost no path forward for the cap crisis in Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic have massive deals. Neither one was smart or even necessary, at least at the moment they were inked. The strategy was all off.

No rebound is imminent.

Ditto a lot of fantasy owners. Many of us are too far behind to win. But as I say each year, there’s still plenty of time to change the finish.

Get aggressive. Don’t give up. Make the leaders work for their win. Play desperate. It’ll make them desperate, too.

And there’s plenty of fun in watching that.

Now let’s look at who is catching my eye (category by category).

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Nick Bjugstad, RW/C, Florida (31 percent Yahoo! owned) – Bjugstad’s value just continues to rise. Not only is he putting up points – he’s riding a five-game, eight-point streak that includes four goals – but also he’s hammering shots like a mad man. Bjugstad has 19 shots in those five games and 36 in his last nine. He’s in the league’s top-60 shot takers, so the barrage will continue. Bjugstad might move the needle just enough to steal a point for you. And the goals and assists won’t hurt, either.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, Ottawa (4 percent) – Pageau is living the dream. He moved up the lineup when Derick Brassard left town and was immediately reunited with Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan. Zing. That trio was particularly sharp in last year’s playoffs and the chemistry is already back. Stone has been white hot and even Ryan is picking things up. And like Bjugstad (above), Pageau is abusing frozen vulcanized rubber. He fired 22 shots in five games between Nov. 2 and 9, and found twine three times. I’m eyeing him exclusively for his SOG; the goals are a sweet bonus.


Austin Watson, RW/LW/C, Nashville (5 percent) – Watson’s overall numbers truly are forgettable – 11 goals and three assists in 65 games just don’t draw positive attention. But four goals in the last seven games sure do. Sure it’s a short-term burst, but goals aren’t easy to get. Check him out if you’re desperate.


Ben Chiarot, D, Winnipeg (2 percent) – Chiarot is playing the best hockey of his life right now. He is playing steady, reliable hockey with bite, and he’s chipping in offense, too. Chiarot’s five-game point streak (one goal, four assists) is the longest of his career and he’s a solid plus-8 in his last seven games. He might find himself back on the bench when all the Jets’ men get healthy. But right now, Chiarot is worth a short-term play if you need assists.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW/C, Columbus (23 percent) – This big boy is an overlooked member of this year’s strong rookie class. He shouldn’t be. Dubois had a three-game, six-point streak snapped Friday night, but that doesn’t diminish his value. He’s centering Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson, and could be poised for a strong push over the last 14 games.

Mike Reilly, D, Montreal (1 percent) – Reilly hit the jackpot when he became a Hab. He went from part-time player, part-time press box inhabitant to first-pairing duty. Boom! Reilly’s average ice time jumped over nine minutes with the move to Montreal and he has delivered four assists in his last four games. His plus-minus may eventually suck, but Reilly is mobile and has top-four offensive ability. Snap him up.


Micheal Haley, LW/C, Florida (2 percent) – Haley is a pugilist who has managed to find other ways to add value on the ice. But for fantasy, I want him purely for his old skills, not his new ones. Haley’s 20 PIM in his last five games can be game changer in that category.

Antoine Roussel, LW, Dallas (5 percent) – Roussel’s offense has dropped this season, but his PIM count is actually on the rise. He’s managed 21 PIM in his last four games and at his current pace, he could give you as many as 40 more by season’s end. What would that do for your rank in that category?

Goalie goodness

Philipp Grubauer, G, Washington (19 percent) – This one is simple. Talent plus struggling starter in Braden Holtby equals more time in the net on a pretty good team. He’s getting snapped up and fast. Just saying.

David Rittich, G, Calgary (11 percent) –
Rittich has looked like a star this week. He has put up back-to-back wins over the Sabres and Sens, and had a shutout on the go for more than 50 minutes Friday night. Yah, yah – I hear you. Sabres and Sens. But two games and two goals allowed – that’s still great regardless of the opposition. Mike Smith is back on the ice, but there’s still no timetable for his return. So, Rittich is the man in Calgary until then. I added him for the next week.

Back to the Oilers.

The Peter Chiarelli era has been far more bad than good. So much so that the window for a Cup may already be closed. Seriously – who does Connor McDavid have to complement his game?

MVP candidate Taylor Hall is gone; so is Jordan Eberle. Adam Larsson and Ryan Strome replaced them. Draisaitl is way overpaid, especially coming off an entry-level deal. Milan Lucic’s deal hangs on the team like an anchor. And Jesse Puljujarvi is looking like a massive overdraft at number four.

Oh yeah – let’s not forget that often overlooked deal for Griffin Reinhart, who may never make it. What did the Isles get? A draft pick that netted them none other than Mathew Barzal.


Sure, Chiarelli drafted McDavid, but how could he have possibly screwed that up?

Edmonton is no longer in my “which young team would you take?” discussion. Toronto. Winnipeg. And even Colorado. I’d take them all before I’d take Edmondon.

I said I wasn’t going to belabor anything this week. I couldn’t stop myself. The Oil should be desperate. Desperate to sever ties with their GM. And desperate to pivot their team to a new place.

We’ll see.