Fantasy hockey: Which linemates to stack for maximum points

If you have Jack Hughes (L) on your team, here are the reasons you should also have his linemate Dawson Mercer (R). Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire

Regardless of team sport, the key to success, fantasy and otherwise, is the combination of skill/talent and opportunity. Which is why an NHL player's lineup spot is so hugely important, in addition to how well he performs as an individual. In that view, here's a roundup of 10 blossoming fantasy favorites -- some future stars, others less young and/or stellar -- who are bound to contribute more to your squad because of the company they're keeping. Every one of them is more available than not in ESPN.com leagues, and tagged with a proposed forward stack to suit your fantasy fancy, DFS or otherwise.

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Mason McTavish, C, Anaheim Ducks (Rostered in 17.0% of ESPN.com leagues): This kid is going to be a star, of which the Ducks seem well aware. Settled on a top scoring line and power play with Troy Terry and Ryan Strome, McTavish contributed two primary assists, including one with the extra skater, in Wednesday's 5-4 OT win against Seattle. Along with Trevor Zegras and defenseman Jamie Drysdale, McTavish forms the corps of a youth movement that will eventually carry Anaheim back into postseason competition.

Fantasy stack: Terry/McTavish

Seth Jarvis, C/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (17.5%): I suspect Seth won't be much of a fantasy secret for long. The second-year skater is sliding right out of the gates on a No. 1 line and power play with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Sweet gig. After scoring in Wednesday's opening win against the Blue Jackets, the 20-year-old, who scored 40 points in 68 games his rookie season, isn't giving coach Rod Brind'Amour any cause to fiddle yet.

Fantasy Stack: Aho/Jarvis


Seth Jarvis nets goal vs. Blue Jackets

Seth Jarvis nets goal vs. Blue Jackets

Arturi Lehkonen, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche (29.4%): There was already a lot to like about how Lehkonen looked on Colorado's top line in preseason play, and that was before the 27-year-old erupted for two goals and one assist in the club's first regulation game/win. It's worth noting that Mikko Rantanen earned primary assists on both of Lehkonen's tallies, while the two of them contributed to Valeri Nichushkin's power-play goal. So, there's your present-day stack. Are we so sure coach Jared Bednar will shuffle Lehkonen off that top unit once Gabriel Landeskog is healthy enough to return? At this stage, and yes, it's early, the me part of that we isn't certain at all.

Fantasy stack: Rantanen/Lehkonen

Dylan Holloway, C/LW/RW, Edmonton Oilers (5.8%): No, he didn't score in Edmonton's opener, but let's give the young lad a minute, shall we? Holloway impressed everyone enough in camp to merit a spot alongside center Leon Draisaitl -- the least we can do is wait out how the 14th overall draft pick (2020) manages now that it counts.

Fantasy stack: Draisaitl/Holloway

Nino Niederreiter, RW/LW, Nashville Predators (41.0%): I mean, how can you dismiss three goals in two games, regardless of where they were scored? Until the new Predator cools off, just run with it. Two contests in and that fresh forward pairing of Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen already looks dynamic. Sharing the ice with elite defenseman Roman Josi on occasion doesn't hurt either. Let's see how they all manage back here at home, beginning Thursday versus the visiting Stars. Also, keep an eye on Kiefer Sherwood (0.4%) and whether he manages to stick alongside Niederreiter and Johansen long-term. Despite the former AHL regular's goal and assist to date, I'm not yet convinced.

Fantasy stack: Johansen/Niederreiter

Dawson Mercer, C/RW, New Jersey Devils (3.8%): Whoever skates on a Devils top line with a healthy Jack Hughes is going to put up points this season. To start, that's Ondrej Palat and Dawson. While the former is largely accounted for in ESPN.com fantasy leagues, the latter is not. This season, look for the sophomore to significantly improve upon his rookie season's 42-point output. The Devils didn't draft Mercer 18th overall in 2020 to bury him in the bottom six.

Fantasy stack: Hughes/Mercer

Luke Kunin, C/LW/RW, San Jose Sharks (4.2%): The Sharks aren't going to win a ton of games this season, but they're still going to score goals. Most of them coming from three forwards: Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Right now, Kunin is skating on a No. 1 scoring line with the first two, and top power play with all three. Which is partly why, of the only three team goals scored overseas, the former Minnesota/Nashville skater was in on two of them.

Line Stack: Meier/Kunin

Denis Malgin, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (0.7%): Everyone's healthy and Malgin is still skating on Toronto's scoring line with John Tavares and William Nylander. The former Panther was one of three Maple Leafs who potted a goal in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to Montreal, assisted by -- you guessed it -- Tavares and Nylander. He was also the only Leaf to go plus-2 on the evening. Promising stuff from the 25-year-old, who hadn't scored in the NHL since 2019-20, and was hardly a slam dunk to make the roster out of camp. But we get these out-of-the-woodwork players every year. Perhaps, back from two years in Europe, Malgin is one of those who finally figures it out over here.

Fantasy stack: Tavares/Malgin


Denis Malgin scores goal for Maple Leafs

Denis Malgin scores goal for Maple Leafs

Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Vancouver Canucks (35.0%): The 26-year-old NHL "rookie" won't be rostered in less than 50% of ESPN.com leagues for long. Competing on a scoring line and top power play with Elias Pettersson, Kuzmenko scored his first NHL goal in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Edmonton. There will be many more. After eight years in the KHL -- he collected 53 points in 45 games with St. Petersburg last season -- the winger is clearly easily adjusting to play in North America.

Fantasy Stack: Pettersson/Kuzmenko

Cole Perfetti, C/RW, Winnipeg Jets (11.6%): I've been all over this kid for weeks now. He's a scoring machine and he's skating on a No. 2 line that needs to produce with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler. Pick up Perfetti before a fellow manager beats you to it.

Fantasy stack: Dubois/Perfetti

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