I've given a lot of focus early in the season on the hidden gems of fantasy hockey. A lot of these players have been short-term streamers or breakout options, but not guys that would have made many preseason lists as players to watch closely.
It's time to mix things up. There's a lot of good players in this league, and it's only fair to highlight those who may have slipped on draft day or underwhelmed early in the season. There's some players that -- rightfully or otherwise -- may have been dropped in some shallow formats. If you play in these types of pools, pay attention, and then go double-check the waiver wire to see if you can add them for free. Opportunities like this don't come around all the time, but a good manager is ready for them when they do. To keep these recommendations at least somewhat useful, many of these players will be in the range of 40-70 percent rostered in Yahoo.
At the top of the list is the guy who finally hatched the goose egg in his goal column, Mathew Barzal. Almost a quarter of the way into the campaign, the 25-year-old center appeared to be going for whatever the opposite of the Cy Young is. He took out his frustrations on the Stars' Jake Oettinger, scoring twice Saturday. Putting the 18-game goal drought behind him had to feel good, but that stat overshadowed the fact he's been a point-per-game player so far thanks to his playmaking. He's at 21 points in 19 contests, along with 50 shots on net. He's getting it done on the power play, and Barzal's shown this kind of potential as a rookie. He's free from the defensive vice-grip of Barry Trotz, and he's flourishing, but he's only rostered in 64 percent of leagues.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Blues' Jordan Kyrou has been far from a model of consistency. If you dropped him after he scored three goals in the first nine games, I can't blame you. It's never too late to say sorry -- unless someone else has scooped him up this week following his two-goal, five-assist run over the last four games. Vladimir Tarasenko sat out with an illness Saturday, and Kyrou thrived in his spot alongside Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich. The Blues look like a roller coaster this year, but if Kyrou sticks in that spot, he's got a good chance of being a big scorer again. Slow starts happen; don't punish guys for letting you down early by ignoring them when they turn it around.
If you're waiting for Moritz Seider to pick up the pace, you'll probably be happy with the last week. If you need to cover for his lack of point production, Filip Hronek has kept things rolling into November. He has four goals and four helpers over his last seven contests. This isn't necessarily an "either-or" situation -- it's not unheard of for two defensemen on the same team to put up fantasy-worthy production. Hronek's tracking for a career year with 14 points through 18 contests, and he chips in enough away from the puck to supplement your roster.
Go get yourself some Logan Couture -- he's out there in 68 percent of leagues. It's not like he's an unknown. At 32 years old, he's a perfectly fine second-line center with 60-point potential even on a bad team. He's making the most of his time right now, racking up five goals and two assists in the last six games. The Sharks' lack of forward depth, especially at center, means Couture is basically guaranteed a top-six role all year. He'll hurt your plus-minus, but he's good everywhere else.
Keeping it on the left coast, Phillip Danault is once again quietly an effective center. He's been a bit more than quiet lately with three multi-point efforts in his last six games. The 29-year-old is a pass-first center with strong two-way play. If you're counting faceoffs, there's few better than Danault there -- he has won 52.5 percent of his draws (177 of 337). Fantasy hockey runs deep down the middle, but don't let the non-superstars fall by the wayside. On performance lately, the Kings' second line looks like the best one on a surprising team.
I was a little skeptical about Noah Hanifin on draft day. He's long been regarded as a better defender than a point-producer, so his 48-point breakout from last year on an overachieving Flames team put up a lot of red flags for regression. He proved all of those right in the first month of the season, but he's back on track now with a goal and five assists in his last eight games. Rasmus Andersson isn't giving up the top power-play job, but Hanifin's on the second unit, which stabilizes his scoring floor. He'll chip in blocks and shots aplenty as well.
Another Flame that's making some noise out of nowhere is Adam Ruzicka. This guy went from press box to top line when Jonathan Huberdeau missed time with a foot injury, and Ruzicka's stayed there even when his much more notable teammate returned. Ruzicka has eight points in his last six games, all of which have seen him on the top line at even strength. The big-bodied 23-year-old came up as a center, but the Flames are deep there, so he's getting a look at left wing alongside Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli. Head coach Darryl Sutter has been looking for a trio to click in an uneven start to the year, and it looks like he's found one for now. Ruzicka's probably a short-term add -- one bad game for the player or the team could get him shuffled back into the bottom six or out of the lineup altogether, but enjoy the ride for now.
There's been a lot of talk about rookie Jake Sanderson being ready to step up on the Senators' blue line. I'm ready to believe it -- he's got nine assists in 17 games this year, and he's picked up a plus-5 rating for a team that's had some bad luck. With Thomas Chabot (concussion) out, he's getting a look on the top pairing, and Sanderson should be a top-four defenseman the rest of the way. He's 20 years old, so you're not going to be prying him out of your fellow dynasty managers' hands, but he's there for the taking in redraft formats.
Last week, I severely underestimated how much playing time Pyotr Kochetkov would get for the Hurricanes with Frederik Andersen (undisclosed) out. Through three starts, Kochetkov has allowed four goals on 70 shots. He's gone 2-0-1, and most importantly, he's in a 50-50 timeshare with Antti Raanta. This is probably best for both of them -- the injury-prone Raanta won't get overworked, and Kochetkov won't be sitting around as a little-used backup. Kochetkov looks like the better of the two so far, though it's tough to judge Raanta's recent performance against the Avalanche twice and Panthers once, as he should fare better when the matchups become more favorable. Both are solid plays thanks to a steady team situation, but I'd be leaning toward Kochetkov for now.
To round it out this week, give Semyon Varlamov another look in deep formats. He won't play a ton with Ilya Sorokin establishing himself as a Vezina frontrunner, but Varlamov tends to give you steady numbers in his one game a week. Sorokin has yet to start three games in a row this year -- it's the modern workload balance for goaltending that has taken hold in most NHL creases. The Islanders' defense is still sound, making Varlamov a solid choice with a .914 save percentage and a 4-3-0 record despite his 2.97 GAA through seven starts overall.
The takeaway this week is that as much fun as it is to go searching for gold, sometimes the player your roster needs isn't buried on the depth chart. In standard and shallow formats, there are plenty of quality forwards you can rotate in and out, depending on how active you want to be with transactions. Don't think that you have to reach for the next big thing. Add the best player possible, drop the ones that are slumping too much and keep yourself competitive. Anyone who's scoring can help you win, and I wish you the best of luck for the week ahead.