If your fantasy hockey team needs a jolt of energy here in Week 5 of the season, maybe lightning in a bottle should not be your target.
In a sense, I mean that maybe the roster piece you needed all along doesn't quite have the hype or excitement as some other pieces do. But this asset has been patiently waiting for you to notice it on the free-agent pile. The asset knows it can help your team, if you would just give it a chance.
Let's look for some consistency that might be available right this moment in your league.
The following players are sorted by the percentage of their games played in which they have earned at least 1.7 fantasy points. We will call that "relevant" for fantasy hockey. We are only looking at skaters, not goaltenders.
The 1.7 mark is a pretty good ballpark. This season, 2,757 individual box scores by skaters across 228 games have resulted in at least 1.7 fantasy points. That's about 12 per game. With 36 skaters per game on each side, that's precisely one-third of the skaters making the cut (33.3%).
Since there are 576 active roster spots (18 skaters on 32 teams) in the NHL and your mid-sized fantasy league has 180 active skaters (15 roster spots for 12 teams), that's also about one-third (31.3%).
So the 1.7 fantasy points is a good target to qualify as useful.
Listed here are players available in at least 40% of ESPN leagues. Once again, we are sorting by highest percentage of games that qualify as relevant (1.7 fantasy points).
These are the players that, while they may not light your league on fire, they will actively help your squad.
Artem Zub, D, Ottawa Senators (93.71% available, 5 out of 6 games played relevant, 2.53 FPPG): Injured for a stretch, Zub has been back in action blocking shots and throwing hits as Jake Sanderson's defense partner for the past two games. He picked up right where he left off, earning those counting stats for fantasy. Six games split by an injury is a small sample, no doubt, but the fact that he's only had one game without positive fantasy results is significant.
Kaiden Guhle, D, Montreal Canadiens (73.28% available, 9 out of 11 games played relevant, 2.54 FPPG): Being overlooked on the Habs blue line by the fantasy world is admittedly fair, as we only hoped Mike Matheson could help us this season out of a low-key group for the Habs. But Matheson is excelling and there has been room for Guhle to also emerge. It likely helps that an injured David Savard has freed up some additional responsibility, but Guhle has shown a knack for points and has parlayed the extra skating room into an average better than 20 minutes a game in his past eight.
Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights (58.9% available, 8 out of 10 games played relevant, 2.76 FPPG): In Martinez we trust. If he's healthy, you know Martinez is going to soak up enough blocked shots to be relevant through that statistic alone. The fact that he can also pick up some points now and again takes him from mildly interesting to a must-add across fantasy rosters. Just be wary of the toll blocking so many shots can take.
Connor Zary, C, Calgary Flames (98.23% available, 4 out of 5 games played relevant, 1.76 FPPG): Zary has done a fine job of using the disarray among the Flames' top six to insert himself into a scoring-line role since he was called up to start the month of November. With four of his five games crossing the fantasy-relevant threshold, Zary might be here to stay -- at least for the medium-term while other Flames struggle to find the back of the net. He's even getting some minutes on the top power-play unit.
Mario Ferraro, D, San Jose Sharks (89.49% available, 11 out of 15 games played relevant, 1.97 FPPG): Like most Sharks, Ferraro should cause you to run the other way if your league uses plus/minus, but in standard points leagues there is nothing wrong with this stat profile. Ferraro blocks a ton, hits a bit and even gets extra shots on goal by virtue of being on the ice for what feels like most of the game. If the Minnesota Wild are correct about Calen Addison's defensive liabilities, Ferraro could be in for even more counting stats with Addison as his new defense partner. But remember, the Antarctic wind chill plus/minus isn't worth it if it counts in your fantasy league.
Connor Murphy, D, Chicago Blackhawks (96.59% available, 9 out of 13 games played relevant, 1.75 FPPG): Honestly, Murphy is the reason I like to come back to this kind of exercise. He gets almost no points and his shots are more likely dump attempts that missed the corner, but he collects enough fantasy points to benefit most rosters through his hits and blocked shots alone. He's exactly the type of player that you can use in leagues that allow some level of streaming: Hawks playing on a slow night? Add Murphy for the evening and drop him the next day.
Jonas Brodin, D, Minnesota Wild (82.68% available, 10 out of 15 games played relevant, 1.97 FPPG): Minutes don't count in standard points leagues, but get enough of them and the stats will come. Brodin ranks 21st in the league for even-strength time on ice this season and he's turned those minutes into relevant fantasy points in two-thirds of his games played. The return of Jared Spurgeon shouldn't change the dynamic too much on the blue line, as Brodin and Brock Faber settle in together as the Wild's shutdown pair.
Jaden Schwartz, C, Seattle Kraken (40.78% available, 10 out of 16 games played relevant, 2.27 FPPG): As we get further down this list, the percentage of games that are fantasy relevant is dropping, but the value doesn't tank in a tandem slope. That's because skaters like Schwartz may have six games in which he's failed to make the fantasy grade, but the 10 in which he did are often higher than 1.7 fantasy points. When the basis of a skaters fantasy scoring is steeped in points, as opposed to blocks and hits, the final result tends to exceed the threshold by a fair margin. Schwartz topped 2.0 fantasy points in nine of his games and topped 3.0 fantasy points in five of them.
Joel Farabee, W, Philadelphia Flyers (91.54% available, 9 out of 15 games played relevant, 1.76 FPPG), Travis Sanheim, D, Philadelphia Flyers (39.32% available, 9 out of 15 games played relevant, 2.25 FPPG): You might say to yourself: "Well, clearly this is a Flyers team thing in which they were both relevant in nine out of 15 games that the Flyers played well." You'd be partially correct. Sanheim's and Farabee's relevant games cross over six times, but each has three games in which they were fantasy relevant when the other was not. Both have been doing enough to warrant a spot on rosters, with Sanheim's contributions getting recognized somewhat (the window on acquiring him as a free agent is quickly closing).
Here's a few others you can consider that are available in at least 40% of ESPN leagues and have at least 50% of their games with 1.7 fantasy points or better.
Dante Fabbro, D, Nashville Predators (99.33% available, 7 out of 13 games played relevant, 1.76 FPPG)
Cam Atkinson, W, Philadelphia Flyers (67.81% available, 8 out of 15 games played relevant, 2.03 FPPG)
Pavel Mintyukov, D, Anaheim Ducks (68.63% available, 7 out of 14 games played relevant, 1.84 FPPG)
Trevor Moore, W, Los Angeles Kings (66.2% available, 7 out of 14 games played relevant, 1.89 FPPG)
Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks (43.19% available, 7 out of 14 games played relevant, 1.94 FPPG)
Radko Gudas, D, Anaheim Ducks (62.46% available, 7 out of 14 games played relevant, 1.95 FPPG)
Matt Roy, D, Los Angeles Kings (49.01% available, 7 out of 14 games played relevant, 1.97 FPPG)
Leo Carlsson, C, Anaheim Ducks (83.13% available, 5 out of 10 games played relevant, 2.03 FPPG)
Taylor Hall, L, Chicago Blackhawks (77.33% available, 4 out of 8 games played relevant, 1.24 FPPG)