With five weeks down, hockey is nearing the quarter-pole this season. We have our first COVID outbreak this week, with the Ottawa Senators postponing their next 3 games against the Devils, Predators, and Rangers. Make sure you adjust your lineup accordingly to make sure to utilize as many starts as you can in daily start leagues. Here are some players that can fill the gaps, both as streaming targets, or long-term rebound players.
Matt Grzelcyk (D-BOS) - 22% Owned
It's not too often you'll see a recommendation to scoop up a defenseman that has two points on the season, but here's why Grzelcyk deserves a look: First, Grzelcyk has upped his shots per game total from last year when he scored at a 44 point pace in a shortened season. Secondly, although he's been relegated two the second PP unit with Charlie McAvoy taking the reigns on the first unit, he's still averaging almost 1:30 per night. The kicker is that Boston has been unable to score on the man advantage while he's on the ice, a pace that's not sustainable. His shooting percentage is at zero percent, despite having 15 scoring chances at even strength - a total that tops his entire season last year. Grzelcyk has been stymied by bad luck this year, and that's a trend we expect to be broken, especially with Taylor Hall now on the second PP unit. Grzelcyk chips in with peripheral stats, averaging 1.5 blocks per game as well, so he's a guy that can help down the stretch, especially when he heats up.
Nils Hoglander (W-VAN) - 14% Owned
Hoglander is building nicely on his rookie season, and has 9 point in 16 games so far, with 5 coming in his last 3 games. Though he's still only averaging about 15 minutes of ice time per game, Hoglander has been skating with Tanner Pearson and Bo Horvat at even strength and seeing time on Vancouver's second PP unit. Hoglander has excellent with respect to Corsi metrics this year, and his lines have driven the pace of play in the opponents zone consistently, though it has yet to show up on the stat sheet in the way of points. We expect the young winger to continue to improve over the course of the season, and it won't be long before he's getting more consistent time on the man advantage. Hoglander is one to grab now, and reap the rewards down the road, especially in points leagues.
Dominik Kubalik (W-CHI) - 55% Owned
Dominik Kubalik is mired in one of the longest goalless stretches of his career, as he hasn't had a goal in the last 9 games. There is reason for optimism for the 26 year old winger though. There's a chance that his +/- really finishes as low as his pace indicates, the team has struggled mightily in net so far this year, and has an .890 SV% while he's on the ice. Despite his poor numbers on the stat sheet during his recent stretch, the opportunity is still there as he continues to skate more than 16 minutes per night, and is involved on the PP, even seeing PP1 usage. It's unlikely that Kubalik maintains what would be a career low 8% shooting percentage as well, with a career mark at 14%. Kubalik is a nice rebound candidate, and he could easily score 25 goals over the course of his remaining schedule.
Dawson Mercer (C-NJD) - 13% Owned
The 18th overall pick in the 2020 draft continues to impress early this season with the Devils, with 11 points in 14 games, and 6 points in his last 4. What's even more impressive is that he has done most of his damage at even strength, and that's despite still seeing more than two minutes per night with the man-advantage. Mercer has quickly found chemistry with Jesper Bratt and Andreas Johnsson, and their line has been rolling red-hot over the last 6 games. If the New Jersey powerplay can get rolling, Mercer should be in line for 50-60 points this season, which would make for an excellent debut. Mercer has also chipped in intermittently with peripheral stats, at half a block and half a hit per game as well.
Scott Perunovich (D-STL) - 4% Owned
The 2020 Hobey Baker winner with the University of Minnesota-Duluth makes his debut tonight for the St. Louis Blues. He has been outstanding this season in the AHL with 8 goals and 12 assists in 12 games so far. Though he'll probably be eased in, as the Blues have a strong top 4 anyway, Perunovich will undoubtedly see PP time from the get go. Perunovich likely would have made the Blues out of camp, but cap issues required to the Blues to send him down to the AHL initially, and the young defenseman also missed all of 2020-21 with a shoulder injury. Still, Perunovich looks better than ever, and it's not often you can grab a potential stud PP defenseman off the waiver wire.