Fantasy Hockey Noteworthy Numbers: Nick Suzuki has become a must-have

By Jason Chen, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Another week of fantasy hockey and some food for thought …

18:03

That's Nick Suzuki's TOI per game since Jesperi Kotkaniemi was assigned to the AHL, including a team-leading 2:53 on the power play. It's too early to call Kotkaniemi a bust, but the Habs are basically admitting that they rushed the scrawny teen into the NHL and that Suzuki has already leapfrogged him on the depth chart. Giving so much quality playing time to Suzuki is a testament to their coach's trust in him, but also the lack of quality depth at center. Regardless, Suzuki is playing on a line with a Hall of Fame-caliber finisher in Ilya Kovalchuk, who has been nothing short of terrific with the Habs, and Joel Armia, an underrated finisher who was once a heralded goal scorer in the Finnish league.

Final Advice

Suzuki is rostered in just 12 percent of Yahoo leagues, and with his upside and opportunity, he is a must-have. As the Habs — presumably — deal more of their veterans at the deadline, look for the coaches to perhaps give Suzuki even more playing time.

Nick Suzuki is making the most of his increased opportunity. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images)

17:47

That's Barclay Goodrow's TOI per game since Jan. 1, a three-and-half minute increase from his October average of 14:16. He played 19:40 in the Sharks' first game since Tomas Hertl's injury and has become the de facto top center with Evander Kane and Timo Meier on his wings. With the only other options being a very old Joe Thornton, part-time winger Melker Karlsson and rookie Joel Kellman, Goodrow is a beneficiary of circumstance. How that will turn out remains to be seen — after all, the Sharks were shut out 3-0 by Tampa Bay on Saturday night, Brent Burns is playing hurt and Erik Karlsson is no longer the shift-to-shift impact player. However, as bad as the Sharks' offense may be, they face the Oilers, Flames and Panthers next, so it's unlikely they'll be shut out — goals will just be harder to come by.

Final Advice

He's probably not going to take advantage of it (26 career goals in 259 career games), but it's the opportunity that counts, so Goodrow's position is enviable. He is rostered in roughly 10% of Yahoo leagues despite offering strong peripheral stats (hits, blocked shots, penalty minutes) and triple-position eligibility.

7

That's the number of goals Mark Borowiecki has scored this season, which is nearly half of his career total of 15. At this current rate of improvement, in two seasons he'll be scoring 30 goals a season, and at which point Eugene Melnyk will dump him in an unceremonious fashion for being too good at hockey. Borocop had some value in leagues that count hits (12.28 Hits/60, 2nd among defensemen w/ min. 30 GP) and blocked shots (7.43 Bks/60, 2nd), but his recent scoring streak has added a lot of value. Obviously, his ultra-high shooting percentage of 11.5% won't last, but his next few games offer plenty of opportunities, as he won’t have to face a top-10 defense by GA/GP until Feb. 24 when they play Columbus.

Final Advice

Borowiecki is rostered in 40% of Yahoo leagues and provides a lot of good peripherals even when the pucks don't bounce his way, but hockey has a weird, weird way of rewarding those who aren't afraid of putting themselves in front of 100-mph slap shots and beating up bike thieves.

5

That's the length of Zach Sanford's recent scoring streak after assisting on goals in back-to-back games. The 6-foot-4 winger brings an element of size and physicality to the top line of Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron, and his ability to drive the net has yielded excellent results. A balanced Blues offense is a reason why they've still been able to score goals (12th in GF/GP) without Vladimir Tarasenko, and Sanford's made the most of his opportunities since Sammy Blais' injury. It's been a bit of a long road for him due to various minor league stints and injuries, but there's a reason the Capitals traded three picks to pick him in the second round before giving up on him, and seven of his 18 points on the season have come in the last two weeks.

Final Advice

He's barely rostered in Yahoo leagues but is particularly useful in leagues that also count hits. The trio has a 55.1 CF%, according to Natural Stat Trick, meaning the analytics match the eye tests.

4

That's the length of Oliver Bjorkstrand's goal streak, dating to Dec. 21 before he suffered an injury. With a goal Saturday against Buffalo, Bjorkstrand now has seven goals during that span, providing a hapless Blue Jackets offense with some much-needed help. Cam Atkinson was held without a point for the third consecutive game with Bjorkstrand getting top minutes, skating more than 20 for the second straight game.

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Final Advice:

John Tortorella rides his big horses pretty hard, so as long as Bjorkstrand shoots a lot and scores every now and then, he'll get the lion's share of the minutes. He's rostered on just about a third of Yahoo leagues and certainly worth picking up. The Blue Jackets face Montreal, Florida, and Detroit next, which gives Bjorkstrand some good opportunities to extend his goal streak.

1

That's the number of probable starts Columbus backup Matiss Kivlenieks will get before he's sent back to the AHL. Joonas Korpisalo is back at practice and not far away from game action, and he's traveling with the team on their two-game road trip. Given how Columbus' goaltending has been holding up, there's no need to rush Korpisalo, and if he's sidelined for another week that may give Kivlenieks a chance to start on Feb. 7 against Detroit, the first game of a back-to-back. That's a really good matchup for Kivelenieks, who has been outstanding during his callup and allowed just two goals in an overtime loss against Buffalo on Saturday.

Final Advice

The load management era is also upon the NHL, and with more and more teams becoming comfortable with a tandem, it has made backups and third-string goalies more valuable than ever. If your league's goaltending stats are tight, squeezing an extra start against a bad team is a worthwhile move.

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