Fantasy hockey preview: Frozen Frenzy, starting goalies, more

The top goals from the NHL's best (1:14)

Take a look at some of the best goals from five of the best players in the NHL, including Connor McDavid and Cale Makar. (1:14)

What a treat it will be on Tuesday with NHL Frozen Frenzy!

It is theoretically possible to watch at least a few minutes of all 32 teams in action. With 16 games featuring staggered start times from 6 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET, you can tune in on ESPN and NHL Power Play on ESPN+ to catch a taste of every team. I know as a fantasy fan first and a sports fan second when it comes to football, the NFL's Red Zone coverage on Sunday was my jam. ESPN will be running what is essentially the hockey equivalent, Frozen Frenzy hosted by John Buccigross on ESPN2 at 8 p.m., and I can't wait to check it out.

The schedulers picked a good one to kick off the action, with the Toronto Maple Leafs ranked 30th in fantasy points against per game (FPAPG) and the Washington Capitals ranked 27th. Having all 32 NHL teams in action does limit the lineup decisions you have to make for fantasy.

Still, you can make some matchup-based decisions, especially with goaltenders as you may have to leave a starter on the bench.

A couple of quick suggestions from that perspective:

  • Not that Philipp Grubauer is in your good graces and not that you are free-agent spelunking for Joey Daccord on a day with every team in action, but let it be known that opposing goaltenders have averaged -3.10 fantasy points per game (FPPG) against the Detroit Red Wings.

  • Next worst after that mark by the Red Wings are opposing goaltenders of the Vegas Golden Knights, who have averaged -1.53 FPPG.

  • Carter Hart has shown some early promise (as he likes to do before collapsing in upon himself like a black hole each season), but this is a risky venture for a start.

  • Joseph Woll is the confirmed starter already for the Leafs and the Capitals have allowed the most FPPG to opposing goaltenders this season at 6.20. If you are feeling cheeky, this is a bold start considering you'd almost certainly have to bench someone you drafted.

  • This might also be a spot to get on the Elvis Merzlikins bandwagon -- even though it might just be me and you on it. The Anaheim Ducks rank fifth in allowing the most FPPG to opposing goaltenders.

Bookending the frenzy on Tuesday will be one game on Monday featuring the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres and one game on Wednesday featuring the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils.

Resources: Goalie depth chart | Daily lines | Projections | Play for free | Player rater | Most added/dropped | Mock draft lobby | How to watch on ESPN+

Stock Up

Jordan Binnington, G, St. Louis Blues: What a start by the Blues goaltender who was largely set aside for fantasy coming into this season. It wasn't without good reason, either, as Binnington's fantasy points per 60 (FPP60) stretching back to the start of the 2021-22 season sits at an irrelevant 1.44. But this is a fresh start for the softly rebooted Blues, who, as you may recall, were sellers at last year's deadline. Posting up 19.8 fantasy points across three starts against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Seattle Kraken and Dallas Stars is no joke, so Binnington is a worthy pickup already to see what happens. He's still available in 46% of ESPN leagues.

Sean Durzi, D, Arizona Coyotes: He's among the defenders tied for ninth in shots on goal by the position. That should be bolstered on Tuesday when he plays the Kings, who give up a league-worst 11.56 FPPG to opposing blue lines.

Pavel Mintyukov, D, Anaheim Ducks: Jamie Drysdale missing a couple games has allowed Mintyukov to state a case as the Ducks power-play quarterback this season. Prior to Drysdale sitting out, Mintyukov has trading point time with Drysdale and Cam Fowler, but he emerged the past few games as the go-to defender on the advantage. Now with Leo Carlsson also in tow, the Ducks have a pretty powerful first unit to trot out as well.

Matthew Poitras, C, Boston Bruins: A pair of third-period goals on Sunday evening has strengthened this rookie's case to stick around as the Bruins eventual No. 2 center. The depth chart was stacked top heavy for this game, with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak playing on a line together with Pavel Zacha, but all three of them won't always be together. Poitras netted his goals with Jake DeBrusk and Morgan Geekie as his linemates. If he can earn some consistent access to, say, Marchand and DeBrusk, there could be some fantasy noise here later this season.

Ilya Mikheyev, W, Vancouver Canucks: There's a good reason the Canucks kept Mikheyev's spot on the top line ready for him. When Mikheyev was with Elias Pettersson and Andre Kuzmenko last season they posted 5.17 goals per 60 minutes at even strength -- a rate that ranked 11th among all lines with at least 100 minutes together (per MoneyPuck.com). Mikheyev returned to that spot Saturday for the first time since knee surgery last January and potted an assist.

Wyatt Johnston, C, Dallas Stars: Third line? Pfft. The Johnston-Jamie Benn-Evgenii Dadonov trio looks like the Stars second line -- and don't let the depth chart tell you otherwise. Johnston is poised for a breakout if he keeps up anything close to the pace that has earned him a goal and three helpers through four games.

Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights: He's only played two games so far this season, but watch out when Martinez is getting points. His usual blocked shots are there and he's picked up two points already. It's Martinez's counting-stat base with some scoring sprinkled in that fueled him to the top of the fantasy ranks in 2020-21.

Corey Perry, W, Chicago Blackhawks: You probably need to be in a pretty deep league to take notice, but Perry is taking advantage of every minute the Hawks are giving him. Those minutes include recent looks on the top power-play unit with Connor Bedard.

Tomas Tatar, W, Colorado Avalanche: The ebbs and flows of the Avs depth chart continue, with Tatar currently riding the wave. He's been the most frequent linemate when the Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen combo is on the ice at even strength during the past two games. Will it continue? Ask Jonathan Drouin. But is it a big deal if it does continue? Absolutely.

Alex Barre-Boulet, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: They lost the game, but not by much, so perhaps the line combinations the Lightning used on Saturday will stick around. If that's the case, keep an eye on Barre-Boulet, who found himself with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point for the evening.

Stock Down

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders: The assumption was that, when you can put Dmitry Orlov in your third pairing on the blue line, you are going to have some high-quality defense. The Canes clearly need some time to get on the same page though, as they've been uncharacteristically porous early this season, allowing a league-high 30 goals against. In rate-stat form, that's 5.00 goals against per game and the Winnipeg Jets are second-worst at 4.20. Frederik Andersen, even while winning two of his three appearances, only has 0.6 fantasy points, while Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov have combined for -15.6. Kochetkov was sent back to the AHL on Sunday, which likely signals Andersen is good to go again. Tuesday's matchup with the Lightning is threatening, but note that the Bolts have allowed 2.07 FPPG to opposing goaltenders this season, which is middle of the pack (19th).

Nazem Kadri, C, Calgary Flames: I'm singling out Kadri, but the Flames have been hot and cold as a unit. That said, Kadri hasn't been a fantasy contributor for some time. In his past 50 games, dating back to the start of 2023, Kadri only has 28 points and 1.38 FPPG. This team needs to find some lines that they think will work and let them build some chemistry.

Generic Edmonton Oilers wingers: Connor McDavid is going to miss a week or two of action, which brings down most of the Oilers forward group when it comes to fantasy. Leon Draisaitl can only do so much. Hang tight for what the line deployment will be, as there is some short-term opportunity for someone to play with Draisaitl, as the OIlers had been rolling a McDavid-Draisaitl-Zach Hyman top line of late.