Jason Zucker, LW/RW, MIN (50 percent owned; 3 games this week): Playing on the top line with Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal, Zucker is tied with Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most points League-wide over the past week (seven in four games). He has four points at even strength, one on the power play, and two shorthanded points in the span, and is closing in on point-per-game territory with 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 16 games and nearly three shots on goal per game (46). He’s not on the first power-play unit in Minnesota but should remain relevant even when the Wild get fully healthy.
Nico Hischier, C, NJD (38 percent owned; 2 games this week): Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, has quietly been productive in a top-line role alongside Taylor Hall. With right wing Kyle Palmieri (RW, 60 percent owned) returning from injury to re-join that line this past week, Hischier has benefited by scoring four points (one goal, three assists) with two PPP and two SOG over his past two games. As we approach the NHL’s one-quarter mark, the Devils are tied for fifth in goals per game (3.47) and leading the Metropolitan Division with 24 points.
Alexander Kerfoot, C/RW, COL (15 percent owned; 3 games this week): He’s filled in nicely as the Colorado Avalanche’s second-line center after the Matt Duchene trade. Playing alongside Sven Andrighetto and Nail Yakupov at even strength and on the first power-play unit with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie, Kerfoot is quietly tied for fifth among rookies with 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 16 games. He has three straight multipoint games and power-play points in four of his past six games.
Kyle Connor, LW, WPG (8 percent owned; 3 games this week): Another rookie playing a prime role at even strength and on the power play, Connor has become a mainstay on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler and first power-play unit with Scheifele, Wheeler, Patrik Laine and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. He scored a goal on four SOG against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, giving him eight points (four goals, four assists) and 20 shots on goal in 11 games this season. Once the power-play points start coming, Connor could emerge as a must-own player in all formats.
Alex DeBrincat, RW, CHI (9 percent owned; 2 games this week): The Chicago Blackhawks’ even-strength and power-play combinations have been all over the place lately, but DeBrincat is sticking at the NHL level and has been their most-productive player over their past seven games (seven points). He’s only averaging 13:48 per game in the span, but he could eventually latch on with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews in the near future based on his recent performance.
Tomas Hertl, C/LW, SJS (21 percent owned; 2 games this week): The San Jose Sharks’ top line featured Logan Couture (instead of Joe Thornton) with Joe Pavelski and Hertl in their 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, and Hertl had one assist and three shots on goal in the expanded role. He now has points in two straight games totaling four points (one goal, three assists) and a plus-4. He has yet to seize a first power-play role with the Sharks’ top skaters, but he’s third among Sharks forwards in ice time per game (17:45) this season and seeing 2:46 per game on the second power-play unit. The Sharks are tied for the second-fewest games played (16) so far, so adding Hertl provides high upside and games in hand the rest of the way.
Craig Smith, RW, NSH (14 percent owned; 3 games this week): Center Kyle Turris was productive in his Nashville Predators debut centering a line with Kevin Fiala and Smith. Turris and Smith were also together on Nashville’s second power-play unit, and Smith finished with two points (one PPP), including his fourth goal in his past seven games, and four SOG against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Smith averages 2.5 SOG per game in his NHL career and has exceeded 200 SOG twice in his NHL career. An upgrade at center could help him return to fantasy relevance.
Low-ownership forwards in prominent roles: Micheal Ferland, LW/RW, CGY (7 percent owned; 3 games this week), Derek Grant, C/LW, ANA (Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry), Gemel Smith, C/LW, DAL (Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov), Chandler Stephenson, C, WSH (1 percent owned; 3 games this week; with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie)
WORTH NOTING: Justin Williams, RW, CAR (19 percent owned; 4 games this week): Year after year, Williams is among the top 150 overall fantasy assets. This season has been no different, even after a downgrade in linemates compared to his past two seasons with the Washington Capitals. He’s currently 119th in Yahoo based on standard category performance, and has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his past seven games with at least one point in six of the games.
Hampus Lindholm, ANA (26 percent owned; 2 games this week): After a late start to the season because of a shoulder injury, Lindholm is playing on the Anaheim Ducks’ first power-play unit with Rakell, Perry, Jakob Silfverberg and fellow defenseman Sami Vatanen. He’s averaging 23:45 per game with five points (three goals, two assists), a plus-3, three PPP and 19 SOG in 10 games this season. With the defenseman waiver wire so thin in standard leagues, Lindholm is likely the best option out there.
Other options: Jan Rutta, CHI (14 percent owned; 2 games this week); Esa Lindell, DAL (11 percent owned; 4 games this week)
Charlie Lindgren, MTL (38 percent owned; 3 games this week): With Carey Price (lower body) still not practicing in full, Lindgren has emerged as a fantasy asset for the time being. The 23-year-old has won three of his first four games with a .964 save percentage and one shutout. Considering the Montreal Canadiens still have three games remaining in their six-game homestand (games this week against Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs), Lindgren is a prime streaming option and making a strong case to be Price’s backup once he returns.
Streaming option: Kari Lehtonen, DAL (6 percent owned; 4 games this week)