By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Another week of fantasy hockey and some food for thought …
That's Ilya Samsonov's save percentage since November as he begins his ascent to the No. 1 job in Washington, going 11-1-1 during that span. This isn't entirely a shocking development; the only surprise is that Samsonov's managed to trump Braden Holtby so quickly. After Nicklas Backstrom's $46 million contract, it seems unlikely Holtby will return. Plenty of other teams will be lining up for him in summer, and if that's the case, why shouldn't the Caps just roll with their goalie of the future?
At worst, the Caps will operate a timeshare in net, but as it stands, Samsonov's taken over the starting job and remains rostered in just 56 percent of Yahoo leagues. Alexandar Georgiev (23 percent rostered) is also fighting his way into the starting job for the Rangers, and as long as Tuukka Rask is hurt, Jaroslav Halak (61 percent) is also worth picking up as the Bruins' starter if available.
That's the CF% for the line of Paul Stastny between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone at 5-on-5 in January, according to Natural Stat Trick, compared to 59.43 CF% from October to December. This makes Gerard Gallant's firing all the more bewildering and Peter DeBoer's job that much easier as he steps into a period where the Vegas offense continues to generate chances at a pretty high clip without William Karlsson. Chandler Stephenson, who usually centers this line when Karlsson is in the lineup, has a slightly higher CF% (68.75) than Stastny when he plays with Pacioretty and Stone, but generates far fewer xGF than Stastny (1.62 vs. 4.33).
Anyway, that was all a roundabout way of saying that Stastny — rostered in just 20% of Yahoo leagues — is worth adding again as the Knights' veteran line continues to dominate its opponents while Karlsson nurses a week-to-week injury.
That's how many points Jonathan Toews has scored since December, good for third in the league. After scoring just two points in 11 games in October, Captain Serious' demise was clearly overblown, and with the Blackhawks no longer attracting attention like they once did, Toews' return to form has really flown under the radar. Toews and regular linemate Dominik Kubalik have now scored 16 goals and 28 points in January, outpacing even Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Most encouraging, Toews' scoring has mostly occurred during even-strength situations, though it's worth pointing out that his On-Ice S%+Sv% (i.e., PDO) has jumped to 102.8, indicating that both him and Kubalik (103.1) have gotten lucky.
All luck aside, Toews deserves to be looked at once again and remains unrostered in about a third of Yahoo leagues.
That's the combined number of points the Blue Jackets lead in the standings against the Panthers (+1), Rangers (+8) and Predators (+7) after Saturday's games. The big reason Columbus is succeeding is because Elvis Merzlikins has been utterly unbeatable, posting a .934 Sv% since November and winning eight games despite getting really lame goal support with the Jackets averaging just 2.73 goals per game — 23rd in the league. With another 5-0 beatdown against the Devils on Saturday, the Blue Jackets are now in the first wild-card spot, and a cream-puff schedule is coming up with the Rangers on Sunday night and then the Sabres and Habs immediately following the All-Star break.
Merzlikins is absolutely worth picking up, and while you're at it, you might as well keep an eye on rookie backup Matiss Kivlenieks, and, no, we didn't just re-arrange the letters — he is an actual goalie.
That's how many points Anthony Cirelli has scored in his last three games entering the All-Star break. That includes a two-assist effort against the Kings and his first career hat trick against the Jets. The relentless two-way forward has climbed from the fourth line to the second and now centers two underrated wingers in Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. His reputation as a dependable clutch player dates to major junior with the Oshawa Generals and Erie Otters, and he's finally coming into his own in the show.
Cirelli has scored 27 points in 36 games since November and is rostered in just 17% of Yahoo leagues entering Saturday. He's worth having with a soft schedule — Kings, Ducks, Sharks — coming up.
That's how many Canucks have double-digit point totals in January entering Sunday's games, more than any team. The addition of J.T. Miller has really balanced out the team's attack, but the real star this month has been Bo Horvat, who leads the team with 12 points and also dragged Tanner Pearson up to 10 points, nine of which have come at even strength. Pearson has been a fixture on Horvat's wing for most of the season, and since November has scored at a 70-point pace with 32 points in 37 games, second only to superstar Elias Pettersson, yet he's rostered in less than 40% of Yahoo leagues.
As long as Horvat is playing well, Pearson is worth rostering as the primary trigger man on a strong two-way line with the now surprisingly effective Loui Eriksson.
That's Rasmus Ristolainen's PP TOI/GP in January, an increase of nearly a full minute from his average in the previous three months. The injury to Victor Olofsson has forced Ralph Krueger to mix things up, and one of those has been using Ristolainen much more prominently on the power play — in front of the net. The results have been very good so far with the Sabres converting 6-of-21 power plays, good enough for eighth in the league in January. This is not the first time a team has experimented with putting its biggest player — forward or defenseman — in front of the net. The Bruins did this somewhat effectively for a while with Zdeno Chara, but later they decided he was more effective on the point forcing penalty killers to respect his clap bomb.
Ristolainen's 6-foot-4 frame makes him an ideal screen, and he has good enough hands to score dirty goals, but don't expect him to stay there long-term because the personnel surely will change with a healthy lineup. However, with a four-game point streak, he's worth picking up in the short-term. Ristolainen is still available in roughly 20% of Yahoo leagues.