Could some of the early season fantasy misfortune be attributed to players gripping their sticks a little too tightly? Of course, it's difficult to calculate something intangible like that -- but we can try.
In addition to shots on goal, the NHL also keeps track of missed shots. Every time a player tries to score, but the puck goes wide, high or hits the post/crossbar, it's logged by the league. A missed shot is one of the best representations of missed opportunity for fantasy points, as not only is it 0.1 points lost for a shot on goal, but each shot also has the potential to turn into a two-point goal.
The argument being made here for the players below is that they are missing an unusually large number of their shots. We can't be sure all of them will start hitting the net more going forward, but, based on their history, we can say that there is room for improvement with their accuracy.
Artemi Panarin, W, New York Rangers: Panarin has just as many missed shots as shots this season, with 21 apiece. During the past three seasons, he has averaged 1.12 missed shots per game, but this season has posted 1.62. His 1.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG) represent a pretty nasty drop from the 2.4 FPPG he posted last season. A few more shots hitting the mark could quickly bring Panarin back to life.
Jakob Chychrun, D, Arizona Coyotes: I was actually very pleased to see how much Chychrun is missing the mark this season. He has one of my favorite stats profiles for fantasy with the way he emerged last season and this year has been an atrocious start. So to see Chychrun as the far and away leader in the NHL for missed shots is at least encouraging from the perspective for possible improvement. Only Dougie Hamilton has put the puck toward the net (missed shots and shots per 60 minutes) more than Chychrun among defensemen so far this season. But Chychrun is accumulating 2.31 missed shots per game. During the previous three seasons, he averaged 1.26 missed shots per game. I still think he can turn this season around.
Viktor Arvidsson, W, Los Angeles Kings: Playing with Anze Kopitar is going to pay better dividends than what we've seen from Arvidsson so far. After Timo Meier and David Pastrnak, Arvidsson is third in the NHL for total shot attempts (missed shots plus shots) per 60 minutes. He's missing more shots than he used to, but he's also unleashing way more attempts in this new role at the top of the Kings depth chart. He's averaging four shots on goal per game, compared to 2.89 during the previous three seasons, while also averaging 2.13 missed shots per game this season, compared to 1.27 the previous three seasons. Arvidsson is in COVID protocol now, but should be back soon.
Oliver Wahlstrom, W, New York Islanders: Can we please, please, please get Wahlstrom more ice time? Watch out if he ever starts getting serious minutes. He's fifth in the league in total shot attempts per 60 minutes and is a top-50 skater in fantasy points per 60 minutes, but is still only playing 13:14 per game. For now, the Isles still use him on the third line and secondary power play.
Nikolaj Ehlers, W, Winnipeg Jets: We got to see the Jets tighten up their offense to two lines on Thursday, possibly the first time they've done that this season with all the key fantasy cogs dressed. Ehlers finished out the game on a line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler; he's spent the vast majority of this season with Paul Stastny and Andrew Copp. Could this new trio help him break out of a funk? Ehlers is still throwing a lot of pucks toward the net, sitting eighth in the league in total shot attempts per 60 minutes, but he's missing a lot more, too. He has 1.85 missed shots per game this season, compared to 0.86 in the previous three seasons.
Johnny Gaudreau, W, Calgary Flames: More of Gaudreau's shots are missing the mark this season. He's missing 1.54 shots per game, compared to 0.96 in the previous three seasons. While his accurate shots on goal remain steady (2.85 per game this season, compared to 2.72 in the previous three). Interestingly, his 1.8 fantasy points per game are actually better than what he posted last year, but there is potential for even more now that the Flames have locked him in on the top line with Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm.
Fantasy Forecaster: Nov. 15 to Nov. 21
Much like last week, a larger sample of teams (nine) are playing four times, minimizing the impact you might see from stacking your roster's schedule. Still, there are some places to attack on the forecaster chart, including the Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche are all limited to two games each.
Detroit Red Wings: Let's officially dub this "Try a Red Wing Week". A four-game week for the Wings is capped by a visit to the desert to feast on the Coyotes. Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin are rostered in 70 percent or more of leagues and, naturally, lead the way with 2.7 and 2.0 fantasy points per game, respectively. But currently all averaging 1.9 FPPG and available in 37 percent or more of leagues are: Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek. Pick one of them up, depending on your needs. Try them on your roster for this four-game week and you might just find you like what you get and decide to keep them around longer.
Columbus Blue Jackets: No Patrik Laine for a while and Max Domi is questionable for the week. So we should get to see some creativity from coach Brad Larsen for the depth chart. Yegor Chinakhov was boosted to a line with fellow rookie Cole Sillinger and veteran Jakub Voracek for the team's last contest on Saturday, and they combined for two goals with Chinakhov assisting on both. The Blue Jackets get the Arizona boost for a three-game week and we should get another look at their Laine-less line combos on Friday and Saturday.
Chicago Blackhawks: Kirby Dach was a preseason favorite for fantasy, projected to grow into his offense on a line with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. But he was given little of that opportunity as the Blackhawks stumbled out of the gate. The trio only has 46 minutes together at five-on-five this season, and the majority of that has come in the past two games since Derek King took over as interim coach. Dach played 19:12 and 25:46 in those two contests. This is perhaps the reset on his season we needed. The Hawks get the Kraken, Oilers and Canucks this week.
J.T. Compher, C, Colorado Avalanche: If you hadn't already been enticed by Compher's role as the fourth forward on the Avalanche power play, now is the time to jump on board. Nathan MacKinnon is down for a couple of week and Compher has been elevated to his role on the top line with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Now isn't the best week to get a boost from him, as the Avs only play twice, but now is the best time to get him before more fantasy managers notice his 2.4 FPPG.
Ryan Ellis, D, Philadelphia Flyers: Ellis is nearing a return to the blue line for the Flyers. Despite the fact that Keith Yandle monopolizes the power play and Ivan Provorov is always sucking up offensive air on the blue line, Ellis finds a way to generate points. He did it on a stacked Nashville Predators defensive group and he's done it in his three games with the Flyers before getting hurt (2.7 FPPG).
Frederick Gaudreau, C, Minnesota Wild: The fantasy points aren't overflowing yet, but have your trigger finger ready for when the Wild's top line gets hot. Gaudreau has settled into the pivot role for Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov. Joel Eriksson Ek has been spread down the offense to bolster another line, and Gaudreau is the beneficiary. A hot streak from Kaprizov would surely rub off on Gaudreau.