The NHL is set to an enjoy a quiet first week back after the All-Star break, with just under half the league on bye. The light schedule means you’re going to want to add as many games to your lineup as possible before things pick back up on the weekend. I’ve gone over my favourite streaming options for the week below. Good luck!
Ilya Kovalchuk (38% owned)
Kovalchuk’s stock is certainly on the rise, but he’s still available in 62% of Yahoo! leagues. The aging superstar has done nothing but impress in his short time with the Canadiens. Since signing with the team on January 3rd, Kovalchuk has racked up four goals and four assists across eight games. Perhaps the most surprising and encouraging development thus far has been the usage. Kovalchuk’s arrival coincided with an injury to Brendan Gallagher, freeing up a spot on the Habs’ top-line. It’s led to Kovalchuk averaging over 19 minutes a game with Montreal, as he’s seen substantial ice-time on the power-play as well as at 5v5. Kovalchuk is a must-own this week with Montreal set to play four times, and his dual-wing eligibility gives him potential long-term value in Yahoo! standard leagues.
Anthony Cirelli (23% owned)
One of the hottest players in the NHL heading into the All-Star break, Cirelli will look to keep things rolling Monday night in Dallas. The 22-year-old has emerged as Tampa Bay’s clear-cut second-line centre this season, freeing up Steven Stamkos to play on the wing. Cirelli’s registered an impressive 12 goals and 21 assists so far this season, including six points in his last three games. The coaching staff’s trust in Cirelli is seemingly at an all-time high, with Cirelli seeing over 20 minutes of ice-time in three of the last four games. That kind of usage bodes well for his short-term production, putting him on the streaming radar this week. Tampa Bay draws an excellent schedule this week, playing four times against the likes of Dallas, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose.
Mikael Granlund (21% owned)
There haven’t been a lot of players that have disappointed fantasy owners more than Mikael Granlund so far this season. A lot of people had Granlund pegged as a sleeper heading into the season, expecting him to return to his 65-point form in his first full season with the Predators. Instead, it’s been the exact opposite for the 27-year-old, as his production’s come to a screeching halt during what should be the prime of his career. He’s picked up just eight goals and eight assists across 41 games this season. What little patience fantasy owners had for Granlund is seemingly gone, as he’s currently available in 79% of leagues.
The underlying numbers and long-term production are far from encouraging, but Granlund is still worth stashing on your roster this week. For one, Granlund’s usage remains high, both at 5v5 and on the power-play, despite his inability to produce. His ATOI on the year sits at 16:57, and he’s played more than 17 minutes in four of his last five games. And it’s not just the quantity of ice-time that Granlund is seeing, it’s the quality. Granlund is currently skating on a line with Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg. The trio are by far the Predators’ most productive line at even strength. They’re averaging 35 scoring and 16 high danger chances per 60 at 5v5. That puck dominance should result in some hard production for Granlund as Nashville prepares to play four games this week.
Jake Virtanen (11% owned)
Now, Vancouver head coach Travis Green mixes his lines more than anyone, but as it stands, Virtanen looks like a great pickup this week. The 23-year-old has been waiting for the chance to prove he’s worthy of top-six minutes. Green seems to have finally taken notice, and he’s rewarded Virtanen with a spot on the right wing of Elias Pettersson and @J.T. Miller. Considering his limited ice-time, Virtanen’s shot volume suggests there’s a lot of upside here. He’s managed to rack up 100 shots in 49 games this season despite playing less than 13 minutes a night.
There really isn’t a better spot for a right-winger to end up in Vancouver’s lineup, and Virtanen is taking full advantage of the opportunity. In 62 minutes of 5v5 time, Virtanen, Pettersson, and Miller are averaging a robust 40 scoring and 15 high-danger chances per 60. Virtanen is already reaping the benefits, picking up a goal and two assists in his last two games. You’ll need to keep an eye on Vancouver’s ever-changing lineup, but Virtanen is worth rostering so long as he’s skating with Pettersson.