By Corey Abbott, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
With the first month of the season completed, fantasy managers have a little more information to work with to make roster improvements. Arguments can certainly be made for remaining patient with struggling star players, but potential upgrades are always out there and deserve to be explored.
It has also reached a point in the season where trends begin to crystallize and players start to take advantage of increased responsibilities. It is worth targeting performers like that to provide a much-needed shakeup to your lineup, especially if the boost they provide isn't just a short-term improvement.
Mason McTavish, C/LW, Ducks (53% rostered)
McTavish was one of the few bright spots during a dreadful season for Anaheim in 2022-23. He produced 17 goals and 43 points in 80 games during his rookie campaign. The Ducks have been much better out of the gate in 2023-24 thanks in large part to the excellent play of the team's second line, which features McTavish, Frank Vatrano (76% rostered) and Ryan Strome (34% rostered).
McTavish has been held off the scoresheet just two times through nine games, compiling five goals and six assists during that span. He's currently riding a five-game point streak (four goals, four assists), which includes two game-winners during a perfect 4-0-0 road trip through Columbus, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. McTavish has been a contributor in all situations so far, picking up two power-play helpers and one shorthanded goal. He also has five blocked shots, four hits and 25 shots on goal to supplement his fantasy value further.
Jakob Chychrun, D, Senators (89% rostered)
Chychrun has enjoyed a productive start to the 2023-24 campaign, earning four goals and eight points over eight contests. He has also racked up 21 shots on net and 18 blocked shots so far. Chychrun has supplied two goals and two assists during a four-game point spree.
The 25-year-old blueliner has averaged 22:47 of ice time, which could be on the rise with key defender Thomas Chabot (hand) facing an extended absence from the lineup. Chabot suffered a fractured hand on Oct. 26 that will sideline him for four-to-six weeks. He has taken a backseat to Jake Sanderson in power-play minutes, but they both have three power-play points. Chychrun's multi-category presence makes him worth pursuing.
William Karlsson, C, Golden Knights (44% rostered)
Karlsson has been held off the scoresheet on only two occasions through 10 games this season. He has piled up three goals and six helpers over a seven-game point streak. Karlsson has two power-play points (one goal, one assist) and 13 shots on target during that stretch.
Karlsson's torrid point-per-game pace is unlikely to last for the entirety of the season, but he could still finish within the 60-70-point range. His excellent start is reminiscent of his first campaign with Vegas back in 2017-18 when he amassed 43 goals and 78 points in 82 contests.
Ryan Hartman, C/RW, Wild (57% rostered)
Hartman has six goals and nine points in nine games this season. He's been held off the scoresheet once in his past five outings after getting off to a lackluster start. Hartman scored a hat trick and registered five points in a 7-4 win over Edmonton on Oct. 24.
Hartman's 24.0 shooting percentage is a bit of a red flag, but his multi-category upside is hard to ignore. In addition to the points, he has 25 shots on net, seven blocked shots and seven hits. Hartman is showing signs of returning to the form he displayed in 2021-22 when he amassed 34 goals, 65 points and 239 shots on net over 82 appearances.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Flames (65% rostered)
Huberdeau was a popular bounce-back candidate entering the season, but his scoring struggles from 2022-23 have followed him into 2023-24. He has notched two goals, five points and only 15 shots on net through nine games. Huberdeau also has a dreadful minus-10 rating. He ended a four-game pointless skid with an assist in a 5-2 loss to Edmonton at the Heritage Classic on Oct. 29.
Huberdeau was a major disappointment in his first season with the Flames, producing 15 goals, 55 points and 126 shots on target in 79 contests. He's currently operating well below that pace this year. Huberdeau probably won't finish with under 50 points, but the time to cut bait may be nearing. Even though his fantasy value in a trade likely isn't high right now, Huberdeau may still be an attractive target based on name and potential.
Travis Sanheim, D, Flyers (55% rostered)
Sanheim has enjoyed a strong start to the season with one goal, seven assists, 22 shots on net, 14 blocked shots and eight hits in nine contests. He was held off the scoresheet one time over his first seven outings.
Sanheim has begun to cool off a bit, going without a point in his past two games. He has also topped 30 points in only two of his previous six seasons. The 27-year-old blueliner has proven to be capable of topping 100 shots on target and 100 blocks, but his past offensive inconsistency makes his strong start hard to trust. You'll probably be better served dealing him for an upgrade while his fantasy value is still high.
Dylan Strome, C, Capitals (32% rostered)
Strome has been a popular waiver-wire addition after he lit the lamp six times in his past five contests. He has two power-play tallies during that span. Strome's hot play and his spot in the lineup alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson makes him worthy of a flier, but his long-term outlook isn't as rosy.
Strome has been clicking with a 46.2 shooting percentage during his goal-scoring upswing, His overall shooting percentage of 35.3 is more than double his career average of 14.9. He also ranks fifth in goals above expected and fifth overall in goals above shooting talent, according to Money Puck. Strome may end up back on waivers in several leagues once he cools down, but fantasy managers may be able to get something in return for him while he's firing on all cylinders.
Bowen Byram, D, Avalanche (37% rostered)
Byram had some under-the-radar upside going into the season after flashing some multi-category potential in the past. Unfortunately, injuries have been an issue for him, and now he's a bit banged up again. His current injury has not been revealed, but his concussion problems will always be a concern.
From a fantasy perspective, the offensive production hasn't been there. He has one goal and one assist through eight games this year. Fortunately, Byram's 11 shots on goal, 13 blocked shots and 13 hits could still hold some value in a trade. There are probably better options on waivers, so you could address a different need in a deal before scooping up his replacement for your blue line.