If a forward is on the ice for a lot of goals, but not a part of the scoring play, he's being left out. Usually, forwards aren't left out of too many scoring plays, and if they are, we can expect some kind of correction.
For example, the 30 forwards who were on the ice for the most goals last season earned a point for an average of 68 percent of the goals for which they were on the ice. In other words, a good target is for a forward to get a point for two out of every three goals for which he is on the ice.
If a forward is trending toward getting points on below 50 percent of the goals he was on the ice for, we can anticipate a correction in one of two ways: More points or fewer goals while that player is on the ice. As fantasy managers, we are hoping for the former.
Let's a take a run through the league leaders so far among the forwards for "times left out," which is team goals they were on the ice for minus points.
With a left-out total of 15 points, Kreider paces the NHL in a tie with Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Killorn. Since both Lightning players from the first power-play unit have such a big difference by virtue of the sheer number of points scored by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, we'll focus on Kreider. The Rangers winger has played the majority of his minutes with Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad, both of whom have nearly doubled his point total. Kreider does a lot of work for puck control and likely has a correction coming his way for the number of periphery points he should be collecting, on and off the power play, with his linemates.
Viktor Arvidsson, RW/LW, Nashville Predators: 14 times left out (on the ice for 26 goals, only has 12 points);
Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville Predators: 13 times left out (on the ice for 24 goals, only has 11 points)
With both players being left out of so many scoring plays, one has to wonder who is getting the points for the Preds? The answer is, quite simply, Filip Forsberg, who has 19 points and has been on the ice for 24 goals. With Arvidsson and Johansen only earning points on 46 percent of the scoring plays during which they are on the ice, both players are due for an uptick in point production.
There is no doubt Stepan has taken on a leadership role as the primary center for the young Coyotes, but he just hasn't had much luck in earning points. While he's been on the ice for a respectable 22 goals, he's only had a point on 41 percent of them. That leaves room for some expected improvement, but Stepan will need to earn his way back to a line with Clayton Keller before that is liable to happen.
Though he was playing down on the fourth line before an injury to Auston Matthews last week, Bozak has celebrated a lot more goals on the ice with his teammates than would be suggested at a glance. On the ice for nine power-play goals and 21 total goals, Bozak has only picked up points on 43 percent of the plays. If he can retain a role better than the fourth line once Matthews is back in the lineup, there is still hope for some fringe value here going forward (probably only during weeks when the Leafs play four times).
The points by association have been slow to come to Iafallo, who has been playing a huge role on the Kings' top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. The rookie's ice time has been there all along, but his points have not been keeping pace. Newcomer Jussi Jokinen is a threat here. Jokinen usurped Iafallo's power-play role in his debut Thursday and could be in line for a climb in the depth chart if he can show more consistency than veteran Michael Cammalleri did.
Fantasy Forecaster: Nov. 20-26
It's a busy and condensed NHL schedule on tap. Despite the entire league taking a day off on Thanksgiving, 13 teams play a four-game week over the other six days. This is accomplished thanks in large part to 24 sets of back-to-back games during the week, in addition to every team except the St. Louis Blues being in action on Wednesday. With so many busy teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers are the only teams that play just twice next week.
Note: For those new to the forecaster chart, here are some explanations: "O" (offense) and "D" (defense) matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The "Ratings" column lists the cumulative rating from 1-10 of that week's offensive ("O") and defensive ("D") matchups.
In the notes -- team, goalie and player -- below, the focus every week will be mainly on players who are available for potential use. Rostering below 50 percent of ESPN leagues is a good generalized cutoff, and I'll try to include players below 10 percent whenever possible to cater to deeper formats.
With 19 points in 19 games, Anthony Mantha is still on the waiver wire in a quarter of ESPN leagues. Playing with Gustav Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg of late, Mantha stacked on 25 penalty minutes on Wednesday, upping his overall Player Rater value into the the top 10 among skaters. With Dylan Larkin, Mantha represents the future of the Red Wings and will continue to receive all the ice time he can handle. The Red Wings play only three games next week, but the Forecaster loves how hot their offense is coming into the week. If Mantha is long since spoken for in your league, consider Andreas Athanasiou, who is available in just shy of 90 percent of ESPN leagues and is also coming off a three-point night on Wednesday.
Four evenly spread out games with days off in between make for a busy, but balanced schedule for the Predators. Arvidsson has seven points in his past six games and is still available in about 20 percent of ESPN leagues. Going deeper, Craig Smith just fell into a much better situation this season. Not only did he get an upgrade at center on the second line following the acquisition of Kyle Turris, but the long-term injury to Scott Hartnell will give Smith first dibs on the net presence for the top power-play unit. Smith is available in more than 97 percent of ESPN leagues.
Great news, Kyle Connor fans! Mathieu Perreault's return from the injured reserve took a little too long, and Connor did more than just keep his seat warm. Instead of returning to the top-line role that he vacated when he was hurt on on Oct. 14, Perreault returned to a third-line role on Thursday, forced down the depth chart due to Connor's performance. It's not Connor's eight points in 14 games that jump off the page, but rather the scoring done by Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler with Connor at their side. Scheifele and Wheeler have combined for 36 points in 13 games since Perreault was hurt. The Jets are on the road for four games next week, but that shouldn't slow down this top line.
Elliott is coming on strong since the start of November, leading all starters in goals-against average (1.40) and save percentage (.954) for the month so far. He has not been rewarded in the wins column, which is perhaps what is suppressing his presence on fantasy rosters. Get on board with this streaky netminder while the getting is good. He may only get two of the three starts next week, but based on November's numbers, they should be fantasy-friendly results.
Honorable mentions: Charlie Lindgren finally showed some vulnerability on Thursday, with the Coyotes burning him for five goals. He's still in the mix for fantasy starts with Carey Price not practicing yet, but be warned that the Dallas Stars and Predators might do some corrective work to Lindgren's ratios. Antti Niemi should really be a non-factor here and is going to back up Lindgren until Price or Al Montoya return to health. ... The Panthers only play twice next week, and the opponents are a bit daunting (Leafs and Blackhawks), but Roberto Luongo has found his form since coming back from the injured reserve. After flopping in his first game back, Luongo has reeled off four consecutive starts with a save percentage of at least .930, winning three of those contests.
With 17 points in 17 games, Rantanen is having a terrific start to his sophomore campaign and deserves to be a part of a lot more rosters in ESPN leagues at this point. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog are proving to be exceptional complimentary linemates for Rantanen, with MacKinnon on a particular tear of late (15 points in seven games). The Avs only have three games next week, but matchup bodes well for all three of them on the Forecaster.
The smallest tweak has made for markedly improved results for the Hurricanes' top line. Five games ago, the club moved Elias Lindholm off the top unit and promoted Teuvo Teravainen. Since then, Staal, Teravainen and Sebastian Aho have combined for 22 points in those five games. They combined for 21 points in the 12 games prior.
Honorable mentions: Cammalleri made his Edmonton Oilers debut on a line with Ryan Strome and Jesse Puljujarvi/Iiro Pakarinen on Thursday. He doesn't have much hope for moving up beyond that at even strength, but keep an eye on the power play, where Cammalleri was on the second unit for his first game as an Oiler. ... Bobby Ryan is back in action for the Ottawa Senators and returned to a line with Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene on Thursday.