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Fantasy hockey rankings: How to plan for injuries and returns

Brad Marchand returned to action ahead of schedule and scored two goals right away. Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Expected missed games are a part of what goes into calculating the projections that fuel the rankings. So when a player make a mockery of the timetable for their return to action, the result is a pretty big swing in the rankings.

Brad Marchand, at this time last week, was listed to miss another 16 games, returning after the month of November was done. Late Wednesday, his timetable became "before Thanksgiving." Then, on Thursday, he laced up and scored two goals and one assist in 18 minutes of surprise action.

The Bruins gave Marchand the night off on Friday to rest him in a back-to-back set, but the Bruins don't have another one of those until Nov. 12/13.

Marchand picked up right where he left off with Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk. This trio scored 17 goals in 283 minutes together last season -- ranking ninth in goals percentage and 19th in goals per 60 minutes (minimum 250 minutes together, per MoneyPuck.com).

Taking out those expected missed games, Marchand jumps right back into the mix as a top-20 fantasy asset. If he had continued to miss time, it would have been a slow ascent back for his eventual return.

Don't forget about those longer-term injuries when it comes to building your roster, as sometimes some key assets aren't on injured reserve, but instead floating around in the free-agent pool.

You'll see Charlie McAvoy (No. 161), Jakob Chychrun (No. 194) and Anthony Duclair (No. 247) in the top 250, for example. That calculation and ranking accounts for the time they are expected to miss. Conversely, you don't see Gabriel Landeskog or Anthony Cirelli, for example, as their projected points aren't enough to overcome the number of games they are still expected to miss.


Forward notes

Elias Lindholm, C, Calgary Flames (down seven spots to No. 47): The Flames top line continues to roll with little success at five-on-five. They are barely keeping their head above water for possession (51.4% Corsi) and have yet to score at even strength. As a reminder, Lindholm with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk accounted for 72 even-strength goals last season, leading the league by a margin of 11 on second place.

Evander Kane, W, Edmonton Oilers (down nine spots to No. 72): His prospects for fantasy success are still good with Leon Draisaitl, but they aren't as good as they would be with Connor McDavid. Moving down to the second line and the second power-play unit means a drop here .

Patrick Kane, W, Chicago Blackhawks (down nine spots to No. 79): We need more from Kane to justify his draft stock. The nine points in nine games are a start, but they are empty when you see he has two goals and one helper at five-on-five. I have my fingers crossed for a reunion with Jonathan Toews on a top line sooner than later.

Cole Caufield, W, Montreal Canadiens (up 24 spots to No. 94): The Habs have 20 goals at five-on-five through nine games. Ten of those goals have come from a line that features Caufield and Nick Suzuki, so these two are driving the bus for the Canadiens scoring. That said, the team is still looking for the right linemate for the duo and have filtered through four of them with at least 10 minutes of action to date: Sean Monahan (49 minutes and four goals), Josh Anderson (32 minutes, three goals), Kirby Dach (10 minutes, two goals) and Mike Hoffman (11 minutes, one goal).

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Cole Caufield's 2nd goal gives the Canadiens the lead

Cole Caufield nets the power-play goal to give the Canadiens the lead.

Anders Lee, W, New York Islanders (up 42 spots to No. 121): The Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier line is bucking the analytics so far. With an expected goals percentage of 37% but an actual goals percentage of 67% (per NaturalStatTrick.com), the trio is playing hard minutes but coming out on top.

Sam Reinhart, W, Florida Panthers (down 49 spots to No. 131): Only Artturi Lehkonen has played more minutes at five-on-five with zero points to show for them. And Lehkonen, to his credit, has managed to be explosive enough on the power play to keep fantasy managers happy. But Reinhart has just two power-play assists to show for his season, despite playing the bulk of those five-on-five minutes with Aleksander Barkov.

Teuvo Teravainen, W, Carolina Hurricanes (down 35 spots to No. 152):

Shane Pinto, C, Ottawa Senators (up 53 spots to No. 171): After some initial hesitancy to break up the third line to replace the injured Josh Norris, the Senators appear ready to promote Pinto to the second line with Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux. Thanks in part to the chemistry on the third line with Tyler Motte and Mathieu Joseph, Pinto is averaging 2.1 fantasy points per game (FPPG) so far. This boost in the depth chart should help him push that pace.

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks (up 40 spots to No. 192): It's only nine games, but Toews goal-scoring pace is on a career-high trajectory. That is to say, when Toews said he would play a different game this season and felt he had his energy back following some down seasons (that included missing the entire 2020-21 bubble campaign), perhaps that was some solid foreshadowing by the captain. His line with the currently injured Tyler Johnson is the only one for the Blackhawks that has been close to positive possession (48.5% Corsi), and Philipp Kurashev has kept the pace since replacing Johnson.

Nicholas Paul, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (enters top 250 at No. 222): After some experimentation with the final member of the top six, the Bolts seem to have settled on Paul over Vladislav Namestnikov. That leaves Paul with an enviable role alongside Steven Stamkos, which he's used to help drive his 1.7 FPPG.

Carter Verhaeghe, W, Florida Panthers (enters top 250 at No. 242): It's only been 2.5 games since the Panthers decided to elevate Matthew Tkachuk to Aleksander Barkov's side on a near-full-time basis. The result has been five goals at five-on-five and a ridiculous 80.9% Corsi in 26 minutes together (per MoneyPuck.com). Welcome, Verhaeghe, to the whirlwind that will be playing with these two (two goals and three assists in three games).

Defense notes

Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers (up 15 spots to No. 40): Joining an elite group that includes Darnell Nurse and Jacob Trouba, among others, Provorov is stepping into the tier of defensemen who don't need the power play to achieve 2.0 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Blocking tons of shots, throwing hits and playing big minutes, while occasionally picking up some points, Provorov won't have the most points on his team's blue line with Tony DeAngelo around, but he's winning the race for fantasy points to date.

Justin Faulk, D, St. Louis Blues (up 31 spots to No. 62): In Faulk's prime as a fantasy gem with the Carolina Hurricanes, he would collect more than 200 shots on goal each season. That pace quieted to a dull roar in his time with the Blues ... until this season. Through seven games, Faulk's 25 shots on goal pace out to 293 over a full season. That might be a lot to ask, but the results are coming to date.

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Justin Faulk scores empty-netter for Blues

Justin Faulk scores goal for Blues

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Arizona Coyotes (up 18 spots to No. 89): Run away now if your league still uses plus/minus. That said, Gostisbehere is getting big minutes and the Coyotes still have a power play to operate. The result has been 3.1 FPPG.

Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights (up 17 spots to No. 115): The 2020-21 defenseman fantasy leader is rounding into form with his blocked-shot game, including blocking six or more in three of his past five games.

Erik Karlsson, D, San Jose Sharks (up 41 spots to No. 169): As expected, Karlsson leads all defensemen in scoring ... Wait, this isn't 2017? Oh, well, this is entirely unexpected then. With Brent Burns out of the picture, Karlsson is doing his best to remind us what he used to do when he had entire teams on his shoulders in the past. Through 11 games, Karlsson has six goals, 11 points and five power-play points to go with 27 shots. If he can prove this isn't temporary, it will be exciting to see him back to form.

Goaltender notes

Jack Campbell, G, Edmonton Oilers (down 18 spots to No. 97): Campbell should come around at some point, but Stuart Skinner is going to eat into his playing time in the short term. Skinner has only allowed three goals on 104 shots at five-on-five and all three of them are counted as high-danger shots (per NaturalStatTrick.com). In fact, those high-danger shots are telling; Campbell has allowed seven goals on 23 high-danger shots, while Skinner has allowed three goals on 24 shots.

Linus Ullmark, G, Boston Bruins (up 70 spots to No. 127): The Bruins are winning games in spite of Jeremy Swayman, but winning other games because of Ullmark. They both had hot and cold runs last season, but this start feels different. Still, be cautious in your approach as both goaltenders swung the pendulum their way for long stretches last year.

ESPN NHL Fantasy hockey top-250

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edm (F1)
2. Leon Draisaitl, LW, Edm (F2)
3. Auston Matthews, C, Tor (F3)
4. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Min (F4)
5. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Col (F5)
6. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G1)
7. David Pastrnak, RW, Bos (F6)
8. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (F7)
9. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (F8)
10. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G2)
11. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (F9)
12. Cale Makar, D, Col (D1)
13. Mitchell Marner, RW, Tor (F10)
14. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D2)
15. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ott (F11)
16. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Fla (F12)
17. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (D3)
18. Brad Marchand, LW, Bos (F13)
19. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (F14)
20. Jake Oettinger, G, Dal (G3)
21. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ott (F15)
22. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Wsh (F16)
23. Sidney Crosby, C, Pit (F17)
24. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G4)
25. Sebastian Aho, C, Car (F18)
26. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buf (D4)
27. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Col (F19)
28. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Car (F20)
29. Aleksander Barkov, C, Fla (F21)
30. John Carlson, D, Wsh (D5)
31. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (F22)
32. Kyle Connor, LW, Wpg (F23)
33. Jacob Markstrom, G, Cgy (G5)
34. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Wpg (G6)
35. Timo Meier, RW, SJ (F24)
36. Jake Guentzel, LW, Pit (F25)
37. Moritz Seider, D, Det (D6)
38. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Cgy (F26)
39. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D7)
40. Ivan Provorov, D, Phi (D8)
41. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Min (F27)
42. Elias Pettersson, C, Van (F28)
43. Tristan Jarry, G, Pit (G7)
44. John Tavares, C, Tor (F29)
45. J.T. Miller, C, Van (F30)
46. Patrik Laine, RW, Cls (F31)
47. Elias Lindholm, RW, Cgy (F32)
48. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, StL (F33)
49. Roope Hintz, C, Dal (F34)
50. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bos (F35)
51. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nsh (F36)
52. Darcy Kuemper, G, Wsh (G8)
53. Nick Suzuki, C, Mon (F37)
54. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D9)
55. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D10)
56. Nazem Kadri, C, Cgy (F38)
57. Jack Eichel, C, Vgk (F39)
58. Dylan Larkin, C, Det (F40)
59. Logan Thompson, G, Vgk (G9)
60. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Col (F41)
61. Drake Batherson, C, Ott (F42)
62. Justin Faulk, D, StL (D11)
63. Juuse Saros, G, Nsh (G10)
64. Darnell Nurse, D, Edm (D12)
65. William Nylander, RW, Tor (F43)
66. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Cls (F44)
67. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (F45)
68. Brent Burns, D, Car (D13)
69. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D14)
70. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (F46)
71. Mark Scheifele, C, Wpg (F47)
72. Evander Kane, LW, Edm (F48)
73. Tony DeAngelo, D, Phi (D15)
74. Jason Robertson, LW, Dal (F49)
75. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D16)
76. Troy Terry, C, Ana (F50)
77. Tage Thompson, C, Buf (F51)
78. Rasmus Andersson, D, Cgy (D17)
79. Patrick Kane, RW, Chi (F52)
80. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vgk (D18)
81. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pit (F53)
82. Travis Konecny, RW, Phi (F54)
83. Vincent Trocheck, C, NYR (F55)
84. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, StL (F56)
85. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Cgy (F57)
86. Kris Letang, D, Pit (D19)
87. Alex Tuch, RW, Buf (F58)
88. Frederik Andersen, G, Car (G11)
89. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Ari (D20)
90. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (F59)
91. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (F60)
92. Zach Werenski, D, Cls (D21)
93. Kevin Fiala, C, LA (F61)
94. Cole Caufield, RW, Mon (F62)
95. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Col (F63)
96. Mason Marchment, LW, Dal (F64)
97. Jack Campbell, G, Edm (G12)
98. Brayden Schenn, C, StL (F65)
99. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Wpg (F66)
100. Jesper Bratt, RW, NJ (F67)
101. Matt Boldy, LW, Min (F68)
102. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Vgk (F69)
103. Joe Pavelski, RW, Dal (F70)
104. Jordan Binnington, G, StL (G13)
105. Robert Thomas, C, StL (F71)
106. Bo Horvat, C, Van (F72)
107. Josh Morrissey, D, Wpg (D22)
108. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (F73)
109. Mark Stone, RW, Vgk (F74)
110. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Wpg (F75)
111. Morgan Rielly, D, Tor (D23)
112. Seth Jones, D, Chi (D24)
113. Carter Hart, G, Phi (G14)
114. Boone Jenner, C, Cls (F76)
115. Alec Martinez, D, Vgk (D25)
116. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edm (F77)
117. Tim Stutzle, LW, Ott (F78)
118. Devon Toews, D, Col (D26)
119. Trevor Zegras, C, Ana (F79)
120. Thomas Chabot, D, Ott (D27)
121. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (F80)
122. Logan Couture, C, SJ (F81)
123. Matty Beniers, C, Sea (F82)
124. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Fla (G15)
125. Bryan Rust, RW, Pit (F83)
126. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (D28)
127. Linus Ullmark, G, Bos (G16)
128. Tyler Seguin, C, Dal (F84)
129. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Col (G17)
130. Martin Necas, C, Car (F85)
131. Sam Reinhart, RW, Fla (F86)
132. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D29)
133. Matt Duchene, C, Nsh (F87)
134. Rickard Rakell, C, Pit (F88)
135. Ville Husso, G, Det (G18)
136. Jared Spurgeon, D, Min (D30)
137. Zach Hyman, LW, Edm (F89)
138. David Krejci, C, Bos (F90)
139. Michael Bunting, LW, Tor (F91)
140. David Perron, RW, Det (F92)
141. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (F93)
142. Jordan Kyrou, C, StL (F94)
143. Mikael Granlund, LW, Nsh (F95)
144. Aaron Ekblad, D, Fla (D31)
145. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (F96)
146. Brayden Point, C, TB (F97)
147. Jeff Petry, D, Pit (D32)
148. Quinn Hughes, D, Van (D33)
149. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Cgy (D34)
150. Ilya Samsonov, G, Tor (G19)
151. Shea Theodore, D, Vgk (D35)
152. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Car (F98)
153. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dal (D36)
154. Blake Wheeler, RW, Wpg (F99)
155. Calen Addison, D, Min (D37)
156. David Savard, D, Mon (D38)
157. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Min (F100)
158. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Wsh (F101)
159. Brandon Montour, D, Fla (D39)
160. John Klingberg, D, Ana (D40)
161. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bos (D41)
162. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D42)
163. Taylor Hall, LW, Bos (F102)
164. Claude Giroux, LW, Ott (F103)
165. Thatcher Demko, G, Van (G20)
166. Kevin Hayes, C, Phi (F104)
167. Victor Olofsson, RW, Buf (F105)
168. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bos (F106)
169. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D43)
170. Anton Forsberg, G, Ott (G21)
171. Shane Pinto, C, Ott (F107)
172. Phillip Danault, C, LA (F108)
173. Adam Larsson, D, Sea (D44)
174. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (F109)
175. Neal Pionk, D, Wpg (D45)
176. Brock Boeser, RW, Van (F110)
177. Ryan O'Reilly, C, StL (F111)
178. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Sea (F112)
179. Nino Niederreiter, RW, Nsh (F113)
180. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Cgy (F114)
181. Lucas Raymond, LW, Det (F115)
182. Colton Parayko, D, StL (D46)
183. Anton Lundell, C, Fla (F116)
184. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sea (F117)
185. Jeff Skinner, LW, Buf (F118)
186. Brayden McNabb, D, Vgk (D47)
187. Chandler Stephenson, C, Vgk (F119)
188. Evan Bouchard, D, Edm (D48)
189. Dominik Kubalik, LW, Det (F120)
190. Jaden Schwartz, LW, Sea (F121)
191. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, Det (F122)
192. Jonathan Toews, C, Chi (F123)
193. Seth Jarvis, C, Car (F124)
194. Jakob Chychrun, D, Ari (D49)
195. Eric Comrie, G, Buf (G22)
196. Matt Roy, D, LA (D50)
197. Hampus Lindholm, D, Bos (D51)
198. Ryan Hartman, RW, Min (F125)
199. Kaapo Kakko, RW, NYR (F126)
200. Bowen Byram, D, Col (D52)
201. Matt Grzelcyk, D, Bos (D53)
202. Tyler Johnson, C, Chi (F127)
203. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Min (G23)
204. Connor Murphy, D, Chi (D54)
205. Torey Krug, D, StL (D55)
206. Jason Zucker, LW, Pit (F128)
207. Sam Bennett, LW, Fla (F129)
208. Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Van (F130)
209. Jaccob Slavin, D, Car (D56)
210. Jared McCann, LW, Sea (F131)
211. Clayton Keller, C, Ari (F132)
212. Casey Mittelstadt, C, Buf (F133)
213. Tyler Motte, C, Ott (F134)
214. Luke Kunin, C, SJ (F135)
215. Marcus Foligno, LW, Min (F136)
216. Radko Gudas, D, Fla (D57)
217. Michael Rasmussen, C, Det (F137)
218. Joel Farabee, LW, Phi (F138)
219. Dmitry Orlov, D, Wsh (D58)
220. T.J. Oshie, RW, Wsh (F139)
221. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D59)
222. Nicholas Paul, C, TB (F140)
223. Mackenzie Blackwood, G, NJ (G24)
224. Nick Ritchie, LW, Ari (F141)
225. Tyson Barrie, D, Edm (D60)
226. Brandon Tanev, LW, Sea (F142)
227. Gustav Forsling, D, Fla (D61)
228. William Karlsson, C, Vgk (F143)
229. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, NYI (F144)
230. Jake McCabe, D, Chi (D62)
231. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Car (F145)
232. Reilly Smith, RW, Vgk (F146)
233. Phil Kessel, RW, Vgk (F147)
234. Matt Dumba, D, Min (D63)
235. Brandon Hagel, LW, TB (F148)
236. Ilya Mikheyev, RW, Van (F149)
237. Ryan McDonagh, D, Nsh (D64)
238. Taylor Raddysh, RW, Chi (0)
239. Dawson Mercer, C, NJ (F150)
240. Tanner Jeannot, LW, Nsh (F151)
241. Frank Vatrano, LW, Ana (F152)
242. Carter Verhaeghe, C, Fla (F153)
243. Conor Sheary, LW, Wsh (F154)
244. Max Domi, C, Chi (F155)
245. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (D65)
246. Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Nsh (F156)
247. Anthony Duclair, LW, Fla (F157)
248. Josh Brown, D, Ari (D66)
249. Alex Iafallo, LW, LA (F158)
250. Justin Holl, D, Tor (D67)

Just missed

Dropped out