One of the best ways to get ahead in your fantasy hockey league is streaming players from the free agent pool. In most leagues, you can get a lot more production out of streaming your final roster spot as opposed to dedicating a full-time position to a 50-point player that you might start once a week. Streaming is the idea of keeping a revolving door for a roster spot, constantly adding and dropping players to get as many games as possible out of your team in a given week.
When it comes to streaming, it’s important to consider the rules and settings of your league. Every fantasy league is different, but most leagues will limit the number of acquisitions you can make in a week. If you’re streaming in a league with weekly caps on roster moves, it’s important to maximize the potential output of every transaction. To do that, you need to keep a close eye on the weekly NHL schedule to identify the league’s busier and quieter nights. One of the best ways to do that is to use our scheduling tool here. Here’s a quick breakdown of the NHL schedule over the first half-week of the season.
Wednesday, October 2 – 4 games
Thursday, October 3 – 8 games
Friday, October 4 – 5 games
Saturday, October 5 – 13 games
Sunday, October 6 – 3 games
Chances are, you’re already going to have a full lineup on Thursday and Saturday, so picking up players that play on those nights won’t do you any good. It’s clear we should be targeting teams that play on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. No team plays on all three of those nights, but a handful play on two out of the three. They include:
San Jose Sharks (3 games): Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
Toronto Maple Leafs (3 games): Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
Vegas Golden Knights (2 games): Wednesday, Friday
Washington Capitals (3 games): Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
Winnipeg Jets (3 games): Thursday, Friday, Sunday
New York Islanders (2 games): Friday, Sunday
Now that we’ve identified the teams that are worth targeting, we can start to look at the best available streaming options. For the sake of this post, we’ll only be looking at players that are available in at least 60% of Yahoo! leagues.
Jordan Eberle (RW) – 34% owned
The streaming value a player offers is almost solely based on their short-term opportunity and role on their respective team. With that in mind, there might not be a better player to target in the first half-week of the season than Eberle. Eberle is expected to the open the 2019-20 season on the Islanders’ top line alongside Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee. Barzal and Eberle averaged over 33 scoring chances per 60 together at 5v5 last season but suffered through a 6.83 on-ice SH%. Eberle will see plenty of opportunities to help pad your fantasy team’s week 1 totals. You can slot him into your lineup on Friday and Sunday against two mediocre defensive teams in the Capitals and Jets.
Reilly Smith (RW) – 34% owned
Smith will skate in his familiar spot next to William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault on the top line for the Golden Knights season opener on Wednesday. Smith’s usage could take a hit once Alex Tuch returns from injury, but for now, you can expect his ATOI to be right around the 18:16 he averaged last season. Smith should see his fair share of scoring chances at 5v5 as well as on the man advantage, giving him terrific short-term value.
Paul Stastny (C) – 33% owned
Stastny has been temporarily bumped off the second line by Cody Glass, but he is expected to be on the team’s first power-play unit on Wednesday. He could easily pick up a power-play point or two this week on the first unit with Glass, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and Shea Theodore. His upside takes a hit on the third line, but he might be the best source of power-play production you can find in your free agent pool.
Kasperi Kapanen (RW) – 29% owned
With Zach Hyman (knee) expected out until at least November, Kapanen gets a major boost in fantasy value as he lines up on the left wing of John Tavares and Mitch Marner. Kapanen doesn’t see a lot of time on the power-play, but he couldn’t ask for better linemates. He’s worth streaming this week and could be worth holding onto so long as Hyman is sidelined.
Brock Nelson (C,LW) – 16% owned
Nelson should continue to see sky-high usage this season as the team’s No.2 centre. He played just under 18 minutes a game last season, recording 25 goals and 28 assists. He’s set to centre the Isles’ second line for the season opener on Wednesday, alongside Michael Dal Colle and Josh Bailey. He’s not the sexiest option on the wire, but he’ll be heavily featured in all situations, which is enough to make him a viable streaming target this week.
Jakub Vrana (LW) – 15% owned, and Richard Panik (LW,RW) – 7% owned
Rounding out this list of streaming targets are a pair of Capital wingers. Vrana will have more opportunity to produce at 5v5 as he’s set to lineup next to Lars Eller and @T.J. Oshie on line two. Vrana registered 24 goals and 23 assists in a similar role last season. Panik’s 5v5 production will be limited on the third line, but he is expected to fill in for the suspended Evgeny Kuznetsov on the Capitals’ top power-play unit. Vrana is the safer bet, but a spot on Washington’s dynamic first unit leaves Panik with plenty of upside.