Let the Rick Tocchet era in Vancouver begin. After one of the most bizarre transitions in modern NHL history, the former Arizona/Tampa Bay bench boss takes over for Bruce Boudreau as the 21st head coach of the Canucks. About 48 hours and one full practice into the new gig, Tocchet is already offering some hints as to what we might expect from his fresh approach. Including some clues that should intrigue fantasy managers in particular.
Judging from Monday's skate -- comprising a hefty number of assistant and consulting coaches -- Tocchet appears prone to run with perceived strong forward C/RW pairings through the club's top three lines: Bo Horvat centering Brock Boeser; J.T. Miller shifted to the middle alongside Conor Garland; and Elias Pettersson linked with Andrei Kuzmenko. From a fantasy view, we're more intrigued with the characters designated at left wing on each respective line, particularly Jack Studnicka, who is apparently falling in alongside Horvat and Boeser. Once a top prospect with the Bruins, who had little issue putting up points in Providence, Studnicka still has the potential to blossom if offered the right opportunity. Keep a view of how the 23-year-old manages in filling such a prominent position -- for however long -- under Vancouver's new coach.
Beyond the team's super-sleepers, Boeser is another one to watch as the Canucks enter this new chapter. Available in half of ESPN.com leagues, he's already showing hints of greater productive upside, here and there. Let's see how this turning of the page affects the former proficient goal scorer, beginning with Tuesday's friendly tilt against the visiting Blackhawks. If nothing else, there's also a healthy chance Boeser is traded into a scoring role with a contender in the next handful of weeks.
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Favorable scoring matchups
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After a brief mid-January lull, the Sabres are scoring - and winning - again. Only the mighty Bruins have more goals to date, through the same number of games. Blues' No. 1 Jordan Binnington was altogether lousy in his last outing against the visiting Blackhawks, allowing four goals on seven shots through 24 minutes. The scene in St. Louis is set for a rather productive evening from Buffalo's most dynamic, including (right now) Victor Olofsson. Somewhat quietly, the 27-year-old forward has collected seven goals in his most recent seven games.
Midtier fantasy forwards
Andrei Kuzmenko, Vancouver Canucks (59.6%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Adam Henrique, Anaheim Ducks (Rostered in 9.6% of ESPN.com leagues): Competing on a scoring line with Mason McTavish and Troy Terry, Henrique has four goals and three assists during his current five-game point streak. Earning another expected 19 minutes of ice-time (or so) at even-strength and on the power play, he's fully capable of scoring in Arizona.
Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres (15.7%)
Midtier fantasy defensemen
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins (4.3%): The top-pair defender is on a mini-tear with two goals and five assists in seven contests. Toss in a few blocked shots, and Grzelcyk is earning his managers 2.1 fantasy points/contest in ESPN.com standard competition. If hits carry heavy weight in your particular league, Derek Forbort is another strong, under-radar option on Boston's blue line.
Jake Walman, Detroit Red Wings (4.0%)
Jake McCabe, Chicago Blackhawks (19.3%)
Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings (68.8%): Detroit's No. 1 is coming off two solid starts, including a 33-save, 3-2 win over Vegas. As far as scoring goals are concerned, the opposing Sharks rank in the league's bottom-third. A little offensive support from his teammates out front will go a long way in helping secure Husso a victory over San Jose at home.