Fantasy hockey rankings: How to replace Werenski's, Kane's scoring

Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets will miss the remainder of the season. Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

It's always a sinking feeling when going through the rankings and dropping someone out that was within the top 100 the week prior. Season-ending or season-ending-adjacent injuries are about the only excuse for such radical movement, so it's never a joyous process. Even if the player in question wasn't on any of your fantasy teams, top-100 talent in the NHL lifts all boats by making the game more exciting.

Two such players plummeted out of the rankings this week: Zach Werenski's season-ending shoulder injury means we won't see the Columbus Blue Jackets top defenseman again until the fall of 2023 and, while the thought is that we will get Evander Kane back later this season, it's a long road to recovery for the top-six winger on the Edmonton Oilers and the initial timetable has him missing the next 50 or so games.

But the ebb and flow of injuries also creates opportunities we must heed. So take a moment to mourn for the fantasy season that could have been for Werenski and Kane, but then it's time to start looking for replacements.

Where to replace Werenski?

The Blue Jackets actually have a wealth of young and younger blue line prospects that came to the NHL on the backs of their offensive prowess. On the older-but-hardly-a-veteran end of the spectrum we have Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist, while on the younger end we have David Jiricek (also Denton Mateychuk, but he was sent back to the OHL for the season).

Bean was a 2016 first-rounder by the Hurricanes and boasts 92 points in 129 career AHL games since he turned pro in 2018-19. He also came into this season with more than 100 games of NHL experience.

Boqvist is two years younger at 22 years old and was a top-10 pick by the Blackhawks in 2018. He came to North America from Sweden the next season and put up silly numbers in the OHL before going pro one season later in 2019-20. He spent parts of two seasons getting third-pairing minutes with the Hawks before he signed with Columbus. To their credit, the Jackets played him as the second-unit power-play quarterback for much of last season, but that was a a weak unit. In 100 minutes of PP ice time, Boqvist picked up six points. Boqvist broke his foot in the fourth game of this season and isn't expected back until December.

Jiricek was the sixth-overall pick by the Blue Jackets this past draft and earned himself a spot in the AHL as the top defensive call-up for this season. He has five points in six AHL games and zero points in two NHL games. He is a future top-pair defender but is still just 18 years old until later this month.

As you can glean from all of this: The Blue Jackets have no shortage of potential replacements for Werenski when it comes to the power-play side of things. It's a little trickier when it comes to eating the five-on-five minutes. Bean and Boqvist might be more prepared for the breakthrough on the power play, but it's actually Jiricek who arguably has the best all-around game -- he just might not be ready to showcase it at an NHL level.

Since Bean is the only healthy one on the NHL roster, he's the best short-term add -- but the secret is already out after he posted two assists in the first Jackets game post-Werenski injury. That said, especially in deeper or keeper leagues, now might be the time to stash Jiricek on rosters if you can make some space. And, of course, when Boqvist returns in December we'll need to watch his usage, especially if no one else steps up in the meantime.

What can we do about Kane?

The Oilers have much fewer places to turn to replace Kane's contributions to the scoring lines. Really, this injury quite simply turns the Oilers back into the 2021-22 Oilers prior to Jan. 29 -- when Kane made his late-season debut with the club. That means we have plenty of examples of how this club looks without him. And they were ... fine? OK? We certainly saw neither Kailer Yamamoto nor Jesse Puljujarvi shine with the opportunity for four months last season, so there's little reason to think they will with four more months of no Kane this season.

Warren Foegele was the next forward up last season for top-six duty, and that looked to still be the case on Saturday when he stepped into a scoring-line spot for the injured Yamamoto. But the Oilers also have Dylan Holloway as a new option this season. If the team hits an offensive slump at any point, Holloway could get top-six opportunities.

Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, Foegele, Holloway ... Really, the actual answer to the question of how the Oilers will replace Kane's value on the scoring lines is that they probably won't; at least not in a way that translates to fantasy the same way.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is for Zach Hyman. No longer will he be jostling with Kane to be the fourth forward on the power-play unit with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Forward notes

Jason Robertson, W, Dallas Stars (up 20 spots to No. 43): After finishing as the line with the third-most five-on-five goals last season, Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski are well out in front in the category this season with 16. The next closest trio is the Vegas Golden Knights top line with 11 goals.

William Nylander, W, Toronto Maple Leafs (up four spots to No. 71): Looking to spark Auston Matthews, Nylander has been moved to the top line in place of Mitch Marner in recent games.

Bo Horvat, C, Vancouver Canucks (up 17 spots to No. 77): On pace for 287 shots on goal, Horvat's previous career high is 227. His shooting percentage is 23.3 percent, whereas his career mark is 13.6 percent. His 13 goals are obviously out of character, but not by a measure that makes it impossible to sustain a new high.

Anders Lee, W, New York Islanders (up 13 spots to No. 90): Lee, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier are tied for fourth in the NHL with nine five-on-five goals this season.

Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lightning (up 22 spots to No. 113): Tied with the Islanders top line with nine five-on-five goals is Point, Nikita Kucherov and Brandon Hagel. It's been so long since Kucherov had a healthy regular season, it's tough to remember that a point-per-game pace is what to expect from Point when he's with Kucherov.

Claude Giroux, C/W, Ottawa Senators (up 31 spots to No. 121): Getting a run on the top line with Tim Stutzle and Brady Tkachuk, Giroux is showing much better in this new spot. In five games since the move to the top line, Giroux has four goals and four assists.

Tyler Bertuzzi, W, Detroit Red Wings (up 34 spots to No. 143): Expected back as early as Tuesday, Bertuzzi will draw back into top power-play time for the Red Wings.

Jason Zucker, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (up 21 spots to No. 182): After hitting the doldrums during a losing streak, the Penguins second line is back on track. Among lines with at least 70 minutes together, Zucker, Evgeni Malkin and Rickard Rakell are fourth in goals per 60 minutes.

Defense notes

Mikhail Sergachev, D, Tampa Bay Lightning (up 10 spots to No. 51): Already doing fantastic at five-on-five (on ice for 11 goals with defense partner Nick Perbix), Sergachev is also getting some run in place of Victor Hedman on the top power-play unit.

Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins (up nine spots to No. 87): McAvoy doesn't rank in higher because the Bruins seem content with a five-forward power-play unit for the time being. It probably won't be a long-term depth chart move, but it might be a little until McAvoy gets his PP groove going.

Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings (down 34 spots to No. 179): Doughty doesn't earn his stripes through periphery stats, so if he's not scoring at a point-per-game clip, his fantasy value is muted. His fantasy points from just blocked shots, hits and shots (BSHS) is only 2.07 fantasy points per 60 minutes, which ranks about 500th in the NHL right now.

Jake McCabe, D, Chicago Blackhawks (up 15 spots to No. 198): Speaking of fantasy points from just blocked shots, hits and shots, among players with at least 200 minutes of ice time this season McCabe ranks second to Alec Martinez in fantasy points per 60 minutes from BSHS. So despite only having four points, McCabe is posting 2.3 fantasy points per game.

Timothy Liljegren, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (enters top 250 at No. 234): The injury that held T.J. Brodie out of the lineup on Saturday had a cascade effect on the defensive pairs that split up Liljegren and Morgan Rielly. However, prior to that game, Liljegren and Rielly played four games together as the top pair and were on the ice for three five-on-five goals and only one against.

Goaltender notes

Logan Thompson, G, Vegas Golden Knights (up 12 spots to No. 40): As the Golden Knights solid defense continues, we can looked to blocked shots for part of the equation. Thompson leads all NHL goaltenders with 24.74 percent of shot attempts blocked by his teammates (per MoneyPuck.com), with Adin Hill ranked second in the NHL with 24.49 percent.

Linus Ullmark, G, Boston Bruins (up 44 spots to No. 60): Getting separation on Jeremy Swayman was the most important factor to drive Ullmark into the elite tiers. That is happening in spades. Boosted by an injury to Swayman, Ullmark was already earning the separation: Goals saved above expected -- Ullmark 7.0, Swayman -0.8; save percentage on unblocked shots -- Ullmark .965, Swayman .934; wins above replacement -- Ullmark 1.17, Swayman -0.13 (all per MoneyPuck.com).

Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Florida Panthers (down nine spots to No. 147): Another similar situation in Florida, but the separation is coming from the challenger: Goals saved above expected -- Spencer Knight 2.7, Bobrovsky -0.3; save percentage on shots on goal -- Knight .922, Bobrovsky .897; wins above replacement -- Knight 0.45, Bobrovsky -0.05 (all per MoneyPuck.com).

ESPN fantasy NHL top-250 rankings

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edm (F1)
2. Leon Draisaitl, LW, Edm (F2)
3. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Col (F3)
4. Auston Matthews, C, Tor (F4)
5. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Min (F5)
6. David Pastrnak, RW, Bos (F6)
7. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (F7)
8. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G1)
9. Cale Makar, D, Col (D1)
10. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (F8)
11. Brad Marchand, LW, Bos (F9)
12. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (F10)
13. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G2)
14. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ott (F11)
15. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Col (F12)
16. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buf (D2)
17. Jake Oettinger, G, Dal (G3)
18. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Fla (F13)
19. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Wpg (G4)
20. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D3)
21. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G5)
22. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Car (F14)
23. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (D4)
24. Mitchell Marner, RW, Tor (F15)
25. Sebastian Aho, C, Car (F16)
26. John Carlson, D, Wsh (D5)
27. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Wsh (F17)
28. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ott (F18)
29. Elias Pettersson, C, Van (F19)
30. Timo Meier, RW, SJ (F20)
31. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (F21)
32. Ivan Provorov, D, Phi (D6)
33. Sidney Crosby, C, Pit (F22)
34. Aleksander Barkov, C, Fla (F23)
35. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D7)
36. Nick Suzuki, C, Mon (F24)
37. Jacob Markstrom, G, Cgy (G6)
38. Roope Hintz, C, Dal (F25)
39. Jake Guentzel, LW, Pit (F26)
40. Logan Thompson, G, Vgk (G7)
41. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (F27)
42. Kyle Connor, LW, Wpg (F28)
43. Jason Robertson, LW, Dal (F29)
44. J.T. Miller, C, Van (F30)
45. John Tavares, C, Tor (F31)
46. Jack Eichel, C, Vgk (F32)
47. Carter Hart, G, Phi (G8)
48. Dylan Larkin, C, Det (F33)
49. Moritz Seider, D, Det (D8)
50. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Cgy (F34)
51. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D9)
52. Nazem Kadri, C, Cgy (F35)
53. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bos (F36)
54. Justin Faulk, D, StL (D10)
55. Elias Lindholm, RW, Cgy (F37)
56. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D11)
57. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Min (F38)
58. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nsh (F39)
59. Patrik Laine, RW, Cls (F40)
60. Linus Ullmark, G, Bos (G9)
61. Tristan Jarry, G, Pit (G10)
62. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Col (F41)
63. Juuse Saros, G, Nsh (G11)
64. Tage Thompson, C, Buf (F42)
65. Troy Terry, C, Ana (F43)
66. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vgk (D12)
67. Darcy Kuemper, G, Wsh (G12)
68. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D13)
69. Travis Konecny, RW, Phi (F44)
70. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, StL (F45)
71. William Nylander, RW, Tor (F46)
72. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Cls (F47)
73. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (F48)
74. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D14)
75. Darnell Nurse, D, Edm (D15)
76. Tony DeAngelo, D, Phi (D16)
77. Bo Horvat, C, Van (F49)
78. Jesper Bratt, RW, NJ (F50)
79. Drake Batherson, C, Ott (F51)
80. Aaron Ekblad, D, Fla (D17)
81. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (F52)
82. Mark Scheifele, C, Wpg (F53)
83. Seth Jones, D, Chi (D18)
84. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D19)
85. Cole Caufield, RW, Mon (F54)
86. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Ari (D20)
87. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bos (D21)
88. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (F55)
89. Joe Pavelski, RW, Dal (F56)
90. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (F57)
91. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pit (F58)
92. Patrick Kane, RW, Chi (F59)
93. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Wpg (F60)
94. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Col (G13)
95. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (F61)
96. Martin Necas, C, Car (F62)
97. Brent Burns, D, Car (D22)
98. Vincent Trocheck, C, NYR (F63)
99. Rasmus Andersson, D, Cgy (D23)
100. Kris Letang, D, Pit (D24)
101. Matt Boldy, LW, Min (F64)
102. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Wpg (F65)
103. Frederik Andersen, G, Car (G14)
104. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dal (D25)
105. Josh Morrissey, D, Wpg (D26)
106. Alec Martinez, D, Vgk (D27)
107. Devon Toews, D, Col (D28)
108. Zach Hyman, LW, Edm (F66)
109. Alex Tuch, RW, Buf (F67)
110. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edm (F68)
111. Quinn Hughes, D, Van (D29)
112. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (F69)
113. Brayden Point, C, TB (F70)
114. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, StL (F71)
115. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Col (F72)
116. Kevin Fiala, C, LA (F73)
117. Ville Husso, G, Det (G15)
118. Tim Stutzle, LW, Ott (F74)
119. Mark Stone, RW, Vgk (F75)
120. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Cgy (F76)
121. Claude Giroux, LW, Ott (F77)
122. Robert Thomas, C, StL (F78)
123. Mason Marchment, LW, Dal (F79)
124. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (F80)
125. Trevor Zegras, C, Ana (F81)
126. Bryan Rust, RW, Pit (F82)
127. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (F83)
128. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bos (F84)
129. Carter Verhaeghe, C, Fla (F85)
130. Brayden Schenn, C, StL (F86)
131. Boone Jenner, C, Cls (F87)
132. Sam Reinhart, RW, Fla (F88)
133. Thomas Chabot, D, Ott (D30)
134. Morgan Rielly, D, Tor (D31)
135. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (D32)
136. Logan Couture, C, SJ (F89)
137. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Vgk (F90)
138. Matty Beniers, C, Sea (F91)
139. Jared Spurgeon, D, Min (D33)
140. David Krejci, C, Bos (F92)
141. Jack Campbell, G, Edm (G16)
142. Rickard Rakell, C, Pit (F93)
143. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, Det (F94)
144. David Perron, RW, Det (F95)
145. David Savard, D, Mon (D34)
146. Dominik Kubalik, LW, Det (F96)
147. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Fla (G17)
148. Cam Talbot, G, Ott (G18)
149. Jeff Petry, D, Pit (D35)
150. Kevin Hayes, C, Phi (F97)
151. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Min (F98)
152. Mikael Granlund, LW, Nsh (F99)
153. Jordan Binnington, G, StL (G19)
154. Jordan Kyrou, C, StL (F100)
155. Michael Bunting, LW, Tor (F101)
156. Shea Theodore, D, Vgk (D36)
157. Matt Duchene, C, Nsh (F102)
158. Brandon Montour, D, Fla (D37)
159. Neal Pionk, D, Wpg (D38)
160. Chandler Stephenson, C, Vgk (F103)
161. Victor Olofsson, RW, Buf (F104)
162. Jakob Chychrun, D, Ari (D39)
163. Thatcher Demko, G, Van (G20)
164. Tyler Seguin, C, Dal (F105)
165. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Cgy (D40)
166. Shane Pinto, C, Ott (F106)
167. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (F107)
168. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Wsh (F108)
169. Brayden McNabb, D, Vgk (D41)
170. Ilya Samsonov, G, Tor (G21)
171. Blake Wheeler, RW, Wpg (F109)
172. Phillip Danault, C, LA (F110)
173. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D42)
174. Clayton Keller, C, Ari (F111)
175. Taylor Hall, LW, Bos (F112)
176. Adam Larsson, D, Sea (D43)
177. Jonathan Toews, C, Chi (F113)
178. Hampus Lindholm, D, Bos (D44)
179. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D45)
180. Reilly Smith, RW, Vgk (F114)
181. Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Van (F115)
182. Jason Zucker, LW, Pit (F116)
183. Tyler Johnson, C, Chi (F117)
184. Brock Boeser, RW, Van (F118)
185. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Car (F119)
186. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sea (F120)
187. Calen Addison, D, Min (D46)
188. Jaden Schwartz, LW, Sea (F121)
189. Anthony Duclair, LW, Fla (F122)
190. Connor Murphy, D, Chi (D47)
191. Matt Roy, D, LA (D48)
192. Nino Niederreiter, RW, Nsh (F123)
193. Nicholas Paul, C, TB (F124)
194. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Min (G22)
195. Nick Ritchie, LW, Ari (F125)
196. Anton Lundell, C, Fla (F126)
197. Jeff Skinner, LW, Buf (F127)
198. Jake McCabe, D, Chi (D49)
199. Anton Forsberg, G, Ott (G23)
200. Lucas Raymond, LW, Det (F128)
201. Ryan O'Reilly, C, StL (F129)
202. Josh Brown, D, Ari (D50)
203. Jared McCann, LW, Sea (F130)
204. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D51)
205. Vitek Vanecek, G, NJ (G24)
206. Torey Krug, D, StL (D52)
207. Brandon Hagel, LW, TB (F131)
208. Michael Rasmussen, C, Det (F132)
209. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Cgy (F133)
210. Alex Iafallo, LW, LA (F134)
211. Radko Gudas, D, Fla (D53)
212. John Klingberg, D, Ana (D54)
213. Bowen Byram, D, Col (D55)
214. William Karlsson, C, Vgk (F135)
215. Jamie Benn, LW, Dal (F136)
216. Brandon Tanev, LW, Sea (F137)
217. Spencer Knight, G, Fla (G25)
218. Tyler Motte, C, Ott (F138)
219. Ryan McDonagh, D, Nsh (D56)
220. Sam Bennett, LW, Fla (F139)
221. Jason Dickinson, C, Van (F140)
222. Adin Hill, G, Vgk (G26)
223. Olli Maatta, D, Det (D57)
224. Caleb Jones, D, Chi (D58)
225. Eric Comrie, G, Buf (G27)
226. Owen Tippett, RW, Phi (F141)
227. Martin Jones, G, Sea (G28)
228. Dmitry Kulikov, D, Ana (D59)
229. T.J. Oshie, RW, Wsh (F142)
230. Frank Vatrano, LW, Ana (F143)
231. Jake Bean, D, Cls (D60)
232. Scott Mayfield, D, NYI (D61)
233. Kirby Dach, C, Mon (F144)
234. Timothy Liljegren, D, Tor (D62)
235. Marcus Pettersson, D, Pit (D63)
236. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Col (F145)
237. Jamie Oleksiak, D, Sea (D64)
238. Tyson Barrie, D, Edm (D65)
239. Adam Lowry, C, Wpg (F146)
240. Conor Sheary, LW, Wsh (F147)
241. Connor Clifton, D, Bos (D66)
242. Jake Muzzin, D, Tor (D67)
243. Oskar Sundqvist, C, Det (F148)
244. Lawson Crouse, LW, Ari (F149)
245. Luke Schenn, D, Van (D68)
246. Jarred Tinordi, D, NYR (D69)
247. Noah Hanifin, D, Cgy (D70)
248. Andrew Peeke, D, Cls (D71)
249. Nick Jensen, D, Wsh (D72)
250. Gustav Forsling, D, Fla (D73)

Just missed

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