If you are one of the dedicated NHL fans who are all in on fantasy hockey, you know the importance of keeping a fluid roster. If you are a fantasy hockey newbie, it’s critical to realize that besides your superstars you should be moving players in and out of your lineup on a regular basis. Like NHL teams, players get hot and go through dry spells so it’s important to make sure to stay current with who’s hot and who’s not. Here’s a quick look at some of the hot pickups as the season’s first month comes to a close (all players listed are available in at least 50% of ESPN Fantasy Hockey leagues)
Ray Emery-Philadelphia Flyers: Emery has won four of his five starts for the Flyers in the early going this season, and he’s clearly seized the starting job from Steve Mason. Mason may eventually reclaim part of the timeshare, but look for Emery to keep getting starts as long as he stays hot. He hasn’t had a shutout yet this year, but he has picked up three straight impressive wins over the Penguins, Red Wings, and Kings coming into Thursday’s game in Tampa. If you need a replacement netminder, Emery is the hottest pickup between the pipes at this point in the season.
Niklas Svedberg-Boston Bruins: Since starting goaltenders are hard to find, our other two pickups are backups who have excelled and are earning a larger part of the timeshare while showing they can produce when given the chance. Svedburg has only won one of his three starts this season for Boston, but it was an impressive shutout in Buffalo about two weeks ago. He’ll continue to serve as Tuukka Rask’s backup and can be used in daily leagues or as an emergency starter whenever he gets the nod.
Chad Johnson-New York Islanders: The Bruins former backup goalie, Chad Johnson has also shown some potential in his starts for the quick-starting Islanders winning all three of his starts. He did allow five goals against Dallas last week, though, so Jaroslav Halak is still the clear starter for New York. Just keep an eye on Johnson, and he can be useful when he starts if you need him in daily leagues.
Dennis Seidenberg-Boston Bruins: With the injury to Zdeno Chara, Seidenberg should get plenty of playing time beside Dougie Hamilton in the top defensive pairing for Boston. Seidenberg isn’t a huge offensive threat, but he’s playing heavy minutes, does pick up some shots, and will be more and more involved as he continus to rebound from knee surgery last January.
Kris Russell-Calgary Flames: Russell has been the hot name on the waiver wire in the early going this season and it’s easy to see why. In his last seven games, he has handed out six assists while playing at least 19:58 in every contest over that timespan. He has an impressive +/- as well and makes a nice addition due to his heavy minutes and offensive involvement.
Marco Scandella-Minnesota Wild: Scandella is coming off his game-winner against the Bruins on Tuesday which was his second goal in three games. In his last three, he has an impressive four points and has put up solid +/- numbers all season.
Jake Muzzin-Los Anglees Kings: After missing the first couple weeks of the season, Muzzin has played over 20 minutes in each of the Kings last three games. Muzzin is getting more time than some owners realize on the power play and should get his point production going in the coming weeks.
Alexei Emelin-Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens have been relying heavily on Emelin when he’s been healthy, and he continues to play along P.K. Subban as the top defensive pairing for Montreal. He’s played more than 21 minutes in each of his last six games while picking up three assists. His +/- numbers haven’t been great, but he’s playing lots of minutes for a good team which is always a good thing to grab in your defensemen.
Antoine Vermette-Arizona Coyotes: Vermette is well on his way to another solid season playing as the center on Arizona’s top line. He has handed out four assists and scored a goal in his last seven games and should continue to produce despite not taking a ton of shots on goal.
Devante Smith-Pelly-Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks young winger was dropped from the top line to the second line with the return of Dany Heatley but he should continue to produce at a solid enough level to make a nice addition. He scored the game-winning goal on a short-handed chance on Tuesday against the Blackhawks and has two goals in his last three games. He isn’t playing a ton of time, but he has the speed and dynamic ability to make his own chances and finish them off when he gets them.
Chris Higgins-Vancouver Canucks: Another winger worth taking a look at, Higgins has settled in nicely on the Canucks second line and has handed out four assists in his last four games as well as scoring a goal last week against the Blues. He’s picked up his point production after a slow start tot he season.
Nikita Kucherov-Tampa Bay Lightning: Kucherov is red hot right now, but his long-term upside is lower than the three options listed above him here. He’s playing extremely well right now, though, so as a short-term pickup he has some nice potential. He’s coming off his first career hat trick on Tuesday and has four goals and three assists in his last three games despite not playing more than 17 minutes in any of those contests. The 21-year old Russian has tons of upside, but he probably will cool off in the coming weeks making him best used as a streaming short-term addition.
Joel Ward-Washington Capitals: Ward has become a bit of a power play specialist and has notched six points (four goals) in his first nine games this season. Ward has shown that he can give you production during runs of the season, and he looks like he’s on one now which means he’s worth a look as a short-term add.
Carl Soderberg-Boston Bruins: If you’re looking for a more long-term solution who may not be quite as hot as the pickups above but offers more stability, the Bruins Carl Soderberg is available in two-thirds of ESPN leagues. He’s put up seven points in his first 11 games and has three goals in his last six games. He gets consistent time on the ice averaging over 16 minutes a game and will continue to get extended run on a solid line with Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson.