Special to Yahoo Sports
Ottawa took the early lead in the race for the worst NHL team this season. Detroit briefly held the title but messed it up by winning a couple of games and generally looking competitive. If you've been following the league lately, you probably noticed Buffalo has been taken low to a whole new level with two Ws in its last 15 games.
The injuries! The drama! The fact Jack Eichel is still there!
Don't want to end up like the Sabres? Make sure to check the latest player news on RotoWire and our related hockey content to set your lineups and manage your rosters.
If only one of these recommendations helps you, then … well, maybe I should probably make better recommendations. No protocol-related delays to mention, though that could change by the time you read this.
Yahoo! Rostered rates/stats as of March 11
Brandon Tanev, PIT (38 percent rostered)
Some players are fantasy specialists, in that they mainly contribute in one area. For Tanev, we're talking about hits — like more than four per game this season. But, of course, he wouldn't have ended up on a good chunk of teams if that's all he did. Tanev might be a middle-six forward with grit, but he's recently displayed decent touch with four assists in the last three games. That type of output probably can't be maintained on a lower line, but he's a must-add if you're looking to catch up in the physical categories.
Joel Eriksson Ek, MIN (27 percent)
Eriksson Ek became a hot commodity after producing nine points in the opening 10 games. He's been less impressive since with five goals and an assist in the last 14 but recorded two tallies Wednesday to boost his cause. Eriksson Ek logs significant minutes and remains a solid multi-category addition as he fires enough pucks on net, adds some hits, and wins plenty of faceoffs.
Scott Laughton, PHI (15 percent)
For someone who peaked at 32 points in 2018-19, Laughton's 14 in 20 appearances seem to scream for a sharp downturn. But let's not forget the 27 he achieved last year came in only 49 outings, or the fact he's a 2012 first-round pick. Laughton notched his first hat trick in early February before missing a couple games, only to return with five points, 15 shots, and 35 hits in the most recent seven. The lack of PP time is counteracted with the reward of a regular place beside two skilled forwards in Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, MON (8 percent)
Injuries wreaked havoc with Kotkaniemi during his sophomore season after a superb rookie effort. The Finn was quick to adjust to North American hockey and has continued to progress with added responsibilities. Kotkaniemi is riding a three-match point run — four total — and has already clicked with new linemate Brendan Gallagher. He's also displaying tremendous fantasy growth by already reaching four PPPs, only one behind his career-high.
Anthony Beauvillier, NYI (5 percent)
Beauvillier broke into the NHL as a 19-year-old and has compiled a decent career. A lower-body issue kept him out three weeks, but he eventually got back into the scoring swing with two goals, three assists, and 30 shots in 10 games. And since Noah Dobson's power-play production tailed off, Beauvillier reclaimed a place on the Isles' top unit but hasn't converted yet.
Filip Zadina, DET (3 percent)
High expectations were immediately placed on Zadina after being drafted sixth overall in 2018, which may have hurt him initially. But with the Red Wings using a mainly unproven lineup, there's less pressure to perform. Zadina suffered a dip in form in mid-February but rebounded with five points, including three PPPs, and 18 shots in six outings. There are better wingers out there, though none with this much upside at 97 percent availability.
Jason Robertson, DAL (3 percent)
Following a successful AHL stint, Robertson has quickly climbed to a prime position on the Stars' front line. It all started with a couple zeros and an extended taxi squad stay but has since turned into a massive haul of 13 points in as many appearances, highlighted by a four-assist effort Tuesday. It's baffling to see Robertson at three percent rostered. That number will only skyrocket, so grab him now before others read this column.
Dillon Dube, CGY (2 percent)
Speaking of kids and outstanding performances, Dube just notched his debut hat trick last Thursday against Ottawa. That vaulted the 2018 WJC gold medallist to a line with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk on Sunday, where the trio combined for four points. Dube is still relatively early in his NHL development, but he's projected for more positive results if he can stay in the top-six.
Kevin Shattenkirk, ANH (23 percent)
Cam Fowler was discussed two weeks ago and has since prolonged his upward trend. Meanwhile, Shattenkirk has gotten himself back on track with two goals, three assists, eight shots, and six blocks in the last three games. Even though a bunch of recent results weren't in their favor, the Ducks have been able to offensively compete with any opponent. That bodes well for an attack-minded blueliner like Shattenkirk, who QBs Anaheim's first PP and skates 22 minutes a night.
Jared Spurgeon, MIN (17 percent)
After four consecutive years of hitting at least 32 points, Spurgeon has fallen behind pace with only four assists through 23 games. It's no surprise the 31-year-old's totals have fallen with the Wild struggling on the man-advantage, but at least they're showing signs of breaking out of their 6-for-76 slump. Spurgeon's responsibilities remain significant and he's managed 45 shots without a goal, so statistical correction should be forthcoming.
Esa Lindell, DAL (13 percent)
One would never compare Lindell to Spurgeon when it comes to attacking numbers, yet the former has also found it hard to find the scoresheet this season. Five points from 21 are well behind the 23 in 69 last season, but he's been more active with almost two shots per outing. A secondary special-teams spot has similarly left Lindell with no PPPs, though the goal and two assists in the last four could be a positive sign.
T.J. Brodie, TOR (10 percent)
Considering the Leafs are one of the league's most dangerous offenses, there's not much scoring from their D other than Morgan Rielly and his 20 points. Jake Muzzin ranks next with 13, but he's 71 percent covered in Yahoo and therefore can't be recommended here. For 61 percent less, you can grab Brodie and his nine assists, including two more PPAs than Muzzin. This comes along with his even-strength pairing with Rielly, an almost 22-minute average, and 43 blocks.
Antti Raanta, ARI (22 percent)
After suffering a lower-body injury, Darcy Kuemper is slated to miss a couple of weeks — or possibly more. Raanta would be the logical replacement based on experience, though he hasn't performed particularly well overall this season. Adin Hill (1 percent in Yahoo) previously proved to be a solid fill-in when required, but his big-league resume consists of 22 games. If nothing else, Raanta at least helped his cause by stopping 44 of 46 shots against the Avs on Wednesday.
Alex Nedeljkovic, CAR (19 percent)
It seems Nedeljkovic has been dubbed the Canes' "goalie of the future" for a REALLY LONG time. The 25-year-old was drafted in 2014 but only appeared in six NHL games heading into this season. Since Petr Mrazek went down in late January, Nedeljkovic has taken advantage of the opening with a 2.21 GAA and .926 save percentage through eight matchups. Mrazek is reported to be returning soon and James Reimer (2.83/.903) hasn't done anything to relinquish the lead role, but Nedeljkovic should still be able to squeeze out a few more decent performances.
Players to consider from past columns: Adrian Kempe, Jordan Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Trevor Zegras, Vincent Trocheck, Pavel Zacha, Dustin Brown, Drake Batherson, William Karlsson, Eeli Tolvanen, Jordan Kyrou, Martin Necas, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kevin Labanc, Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Tuch, Paul Stastny, Alex Iafallo, Alex Killorn, Kasperi Kapanen, Tim Stutzle, Chandler Stephenson, Matt Dumba, Mattias Ekholm, Josh Morrissey, Adam Boqvist, Devon Toews, Nick Leddy, Cam Fowler, Jake Bean, Thatcher Demko, Kevin Lankinen, Chris Driedger, Mike Smith, Matt Murray, Kaapo Kahkonen