Coaches can say all they want about players impressing them, but the buck stops with how much ice time is being doled out.
To try and pinpoint some players that have impressed their coaches early on, we are looking at a snapshot of average ice time from Oct. 22, when most teams had played three to five games, and comparing to now, when most teams have played eight to 11 games.
From there, we can check out some of the players that have had the biggest leap in average ice time and see who coaches truly have been impressed with.
Dysin Mayo, D, Arizona Coyotes: Disclaimer: Mayo only played one game prior to Oct. 22, and averaged just 15 minutes in his debut. But since then he has settled in as Jakob Chychrun's defensive partner and is putting up counting stats worthy of a fantasy role. He has just the one point, but his seven shots, 15 blocked shots and six hits work out to 2.2 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in five contests.
Evgeny Svechnikov, W, Winnipeg Jets: In his first three games with his new club (after several injury-hampered seasons as a Red Wings prospect), Svechnikov was averaging just 8:40 of ice time. But missed time by Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler forced the Jets to find new line combinations and Andrei's brother has settled into a good one. He's now averaging more than 12:21 thanks to a scoring-line role with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor that has stayed together even with Scheifele and Wheeler back in the fold.
Troy Terry, W, Anaheim Ducks: Terry has improved his average ice time by almost three minutes since Oct. 22 thanks to a hot stick. He's scored in every game since the second one of the season and is averaging 2.5 FPPG. A strong connection with Ryan Getzlaf is paying dividends for both the veteran and the 24-year-old Terry. Of Terry's 128 minutes of total ice time at five-on-five, he's played 117 of them with Getzlaf on the ice. Thanks in part to injuries and struggles by the assumed leaders of the Ducks offense this season (Trevor Zegras, Rickard Rakell, Max Comtois), the Terry-Getzlaf duo has ascended to the top of the depth chart.
Bowen Byram, D, Colorado Avalanche: Lost in the narrative due to last season's breakout by Cale Makar was the fact that the Avalanche actually had two blue-chip defensive prospects. Byram is now reminding everyone that Makar doesn't have a monopoly on this team's offense from the blue line. His ice time has edged up from 18:15 per game on Oct. 22 to 20:55 now. He leads the team in defensive scoring and is averaging 2.1 FPPG -- better than Makar's 1.8. And this is despite the fact that he's been getting secondary chances on the power play. An injury to Makar this week showcased what Byram can do, as he posted two goals and a helper with Makar on the sidelines on Wednesday.
Anthony Duclair, W, Florida Panthers: Not a member of the Panthers top six for the first couple games of the season, Duclair averaged just 11 minutes of ice time in his first four games. Now his average is 13:37 as he has caught on as a consistent winger for Aleksander Barkov. Six goals has helped drive his value up in that time, as Duclair is averaging 1.9 FPPG. But his fantasy points per 60 minutes is astounding at 8.47, which matches such fantasy stalwarts as Steven Stamkos and Nathan MacKinnon.
Evan Bouchard, D, Edmonton Oilers: A developing asset for the Oilers, Bouchard has pushed his responsibility up with balanced play. His 18 blocked shots and 22 shots on goal have helped him maintain 2.1 FPPG, which is just a hair behind Darnell Nurse but actually makes him the second-best Oilers defenseman over Tyson Barrie. His minutes have gone from 19:15 on Oct. 22 to 21:39 now.
Fantasy Forecaster: Nov. 8 to Nov. 14
Make sure you check your roster's schedule this week, as it's a feast or famine affair. Thirteen teams play a hefty four-game week, but five teams play only twice and the New York Islanders have one contest.
The forecaster chart also finally has a full plate of statistics to generate the ratings for the week. Now that three weeks have passed since the beginning of the season, the calculations are no longer being supplemented by data from last season. So what you see is now based purely off this campaign's output.
Florida Panthers: With details sketchy about why Sergei Bobrovsky left Thursday's game, you'll want to have Spencer Knight at the ready for next week's four-game schedule. The same is true of Sam Reinhart, who has stepped into Sam Bennett's role on Jonathan Huberdeau's line. Make sure to check on the latest injury news Monday before locking them both in. Anton Lundell is another option, regardless of any injury news. He just came back from one on Thursday and, despite not getting on the scoresheet, is still averaging 2.1 FPPG this season through six contests.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins got their power play going just in time for a four-game week that features Ottawa, New Jersey and Montreal among their opponents. Aside from a big week by the usual suspects here, you could consider starting Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith from the second line. And Linus Ullmark is still the play in net, despite Jeremy Swayman's strong showing against the Red Wings on Thursday.
Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens four-game week includes some contests against some of the club's struggling on the penalty kill so far. The Bruins (19th), Red Wings (27th) and Kings (30th) are near the bottom of the pack in preventing power-play goals. That is interesting because the Habs have available fantasy assets from their top unit. Mike Hoffman is locked in as the fourth forward for the group and remains available in one-third of ESPN leagues. And Chris Wideman should be available in almost every league. I won't advocate for him beyond this week, but Wideman has been picking up more and more of the Canadiens power-play work over the past three games, pushing aside the struggling Petry. With two points and nothing to show on special teams through 12 games, Petry shouldn't be in lineups at the moment. But Wideman is an option for this promising schedule.
Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens: Available in more than half of ESPN leagues, of course you take a chance on Price. With news he is expected back with the club "soon" and with Jake Allen not stepping up in his absence, Price is worth a shot. This is especially true if goaltending has been a problem for your fantasy team so far. Stash Price and see what happens. Whether we get the 2020-21 regular season version of Price or the playoffs version will dictate what you do from there, but it's better to have him on the bench at the ready to find out.
Eeli Tolvanen, W, Nashville Predators: With news that Filip Forsberg is week-to-week with an injury, the Preds will have to rely on Tolvanen more than they have this season. He was their best fantasy forward not named Forsberg last year, but has been downplayed this season partly thanks to a resurgence of Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. But with Forsberg on the mend, Tolvanen has a chance to find his groove.
Ty Smith, D, New Jersey Devils: With Dougie Hamilton listed as day-to-day, Smith is next in line for power-play duties. If we get word Hamilton might miss next week, it's a four-game schedule for Smith to take advantage of.
Barclay Goodrow, W, New York Rangers: Goodrow kept a first-line role over Alexis Lafreniere in a recent shakeup for the Rangers. Playing with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider is a good way to get some extra points. Goodrow generates a decent baseline from hits, so there is potential that the prominent role can keep him fantasy relevant for as long as he maintains it.
Dynasty and keeper leagues are the only place you should be grabbing Jack Eichel. We can revisit this as April approaches, but initial estimates (which are definitely estimates, since it's a new surgery for the NHL) have him recovering for five months. In fact, I would add a note to your calendar for March 1 to consider whether Eichel has any merit for fantasy teams for the stretch run of the season.
We looked at ice time improvements to start this article, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see Alex Barre-Boulet among them if we do this again in a month. Since the prodigal winger returned to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Barre-Boulet has found himself thrust into a scoring-line role following the injury to Nikita Kucherov. The results are subtle so far, but he has three points in five games since returning to the club.
The Leafs offense has started clicking. Not with the lines we expected, but that's OK. Alexander Kerfoot is the available fantasy option on a line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner, while Michael Bunting is the option on a line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander.