The fourth fantasy hockey week is nearing its end. Now is the time when the truly good teams start to separate from the pack, and likewise for the truly bad teams. Fear not, for whatever position your team may be in, there is still plenty of time to bolster your roster.
This week, we’ll focus on three players that you may want to keep an eye on as buy-low candidates. It’s early, of course, but now is the time to make plays for middle-six forwards that haven’t started out as hot as those who drafted them were hoping for, and aren’t players that anyone is so tied to they wouldn’t t entertain dealing them away.
This obviously means that players like Auston Matthews, Kyle Connor, or Chris Kreider will show up on this list. Instead, we identify three middle-sixers who have had rougher starts than they probably deserve, and should see their luck turn around in the coming weeks.
Sam Bennett – C – Florida Panthers
Sam Bennett lost his elite playmaking winger in Jonathan Huberdeau this offseason, but is still a very effective middle-six NHLer. Currently centering Florida’s second line alongside Sam Reinhart and Rudolfs Balcers, Bennett doesn’t have poor linemates by any means, but they’re not Huberdeau.
It’s taken a little while for that entire line to get going, but it’s not for a lack of trying. Bennett has just one goal on the year, but is among the league leaders in shots and chances this season. He has 39 shots (29th most in the NHL), 4.86 individual expected goals (26th most in the NHL), 84 shot attempts (26th most in the NHL), 47 scoring chances (19th most in the NHL), and 21 high-danger chances (21st most in the NHL).
His chances will start to go in and Bennett owners will be happy they have the stat stuffer on their team.
Oliver Bjorkstrand – RW – Seattle Kraken
Moving from Columbus to Seattle might have seemed like a lateral move this offseason, but Oliver Bjorkstrand’s new team is off to a much better start than his old one. He’s likely adjusting to a new team in a new city with a new coach running a new system and skating with new linemates, but Bjorkstrand is an extremely talented player and will start to jive with the Kraken at some point.
He’s getting a ton of chances just like Bennett, and it’s only a matter of time before things start to click. Also with just one goal this season, Bjorkstrand has 45 shots (14th most in the NHL), 4.26 individual expected goals (47th most in the NHL), 73 shot attempts (19th most in the NHL), and 37 scoring chances (52nd most in the NHL).
He’s lining up on the Kraken’s top line with Andre Burakovsky and Alexander Wennberg, and playing the point on the first power play unit. It’ll come.
Joel Eriksson Ek – C – Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild had a rocky start to the year but have turned things around lately. They’re back to .500 and are looking much stronger, which means their core players should start to improve as well. Joel Eriksson Ek isn’t known to be an offensive dynamo, but he’s having an unlucky start to the year and should see some more bounces go his way as the season progresses.
With four goals on the year so far, he’s not getting rewarded at a pace consistent with his effort. Eriksson Ek has 39 shots (32nd most in the NHL), 6.04 individual expected goals (9th most in the NHL), 56 shot attempts (19th most in the NHL), and 21 high danger chances (fifth most in the NHL).
Playing alongside Matthew Boldy at 5v5 and centering the Wild’s top power play unit, Eriksson Ek is a player to invest in this season.