As everyone but the St. Louis Blues have played at least three games, we’re already getting a signal of the fantasy haves and have-nots. This isn’t about overreacting to a slumping asset and giving them the all-too-hasty boot in a fit of panic; there’s a big difference between early and premature. And there’s nothing impetuous about making immediate adjustments, as a small handful of semi-popular fantasy players already appear largely irrelevant this season.
Jamie Benn, F, Dallas Stars (55.5%): Feels like the end of an era, doesn’t it? After serving as a valuable fantasy asset with Dallas for years, the 33-year-old now appears entrenched in a supporting role with the Stars. Averaging 13:39 in a bottom-six slot, Benn has two shots and two hits to show for three games.
Until he hangs up his skates for good, the 14-year-vet will be one of the toughest forwards to play against, but his most productive years are clearly in the rear-view. Even if deeper fantasy leagues, I’m already shopping around for another skater to replace Benn.
Jack Roslovic, F, Columbus Blue Jackets (49.8%): Behind Boone Jenner and Cole Sillinger, Roslovic is already the early odd-center out as far as the Blue Jackets’ top-six is constructed. His new (experimental) position on the No. 1 power play hardly feels etched in stone either. The 25-year-old will undoubtedly break out of this early-season slump, and start contributing, but to what degree?
Unless your fantasy league is offshore deep, there are more exciting players with greater upside available. At least have a look. Roslovic topped out at 45 points in 81 games with Columbus this past season.
Shane Wright, C, Seattle Kraken (44.2%): Not this year, not yet. Not in re-draft fantasy leagues. Logging about six minutes per game on the Kraken’s fourth line, credited with a single assist that was difficult to detect, Wright could be headed back to Junior shortly after Halloween.
The organization doesn’t want to shatter the kid’s confidence and he needs to play. Especially after missing out on opportunities because of COVID over the last couple of years. (Should he instead be able to compete in the AHL like teens who cut their competitive teeth in college or Europe? Take that up with the CHL.) Even if Wright manages to stick in Seattle, his production will be limited.
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Juraj Slafkovsky, F, Montreal Canadiens (9.4%): Skating on the Habs’ fourth line, Slafkovsky has zero points through four contests, in which he’s averaging not quite 11 minutes/game. There’s already talk of this year’s first overall draft pick being sent to the minors, where he can play a much more prominent role. Which frankly, if coach Martin St. Louis isn’t going to promote the formidably sized teen up the lineup, makes sense.
A dynasty gem for future seasons, Slafkovsky may not have much to offer fantasy managers this year. Not anytime soon, anyway.
Owen Power, D, Buffalos Sabres (72.4%): Allow me to assure Buffalo fans everywhere, I heartily agree Power is going to be a great asset on the Sabres’ blue line for years to come. He just isn’t there yet, especially as a fantasy commodity. Not outside ESPN.com’s deepest leagues. Give the lad some time.
Vince Dunn, D, Seattle Kraken (50.9%): A pair of power-play assists through five contests isn’t enough to stoke loyalty outside leagues that count more than just scoring (even then, a little underwhelming, no?). Dunn doesn’t hit much or block shots or even shoot the puck on net as often as you might like, limiting his potential in more comprehensive fantasy competition.
Within the Kraken fold, give fellow blueliner Adam Larsson consideration – if he isn’t already spoken for – then scope outside Seattle for more well-rounded fantasy punch.
John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks (65.8%): It’s been ugly. Following the Ducks’ opener against the visiting Kraken – in which he still surrendered four goals – Anaheim’s No. 1 has served as a full-blown fantasy liability. While the team as a whole deserves their fair share of blame, Gibson hasn’t looked great either. Bench him for now, beginning with Thursday’s road tilt in Boston, and then re-evaluate. Having a goalie that hemorrhages fantasy points more often than not isn’t a help. Quite the opposite.
This isn’t a case of packing some patience (for now) with a solid netminder, on a good team, getting off to a wobbly start – like Marc-Andre Fleury, Jeremy Swayman, or Thatcher Demko. The Ducks could struggle more often than not this season.
This isn’t to suggest Georgiev will be the starting netminder two months from now, or even two weeks, or that Jared Bednar will be fiercely anti-tandem in 2022-23, but the gig is the former Ranger’s to lose at present. So managers with limited roster spots, which is most of us, may instead choose to take a swing with another slightly riskier candidate, on a not terrible team, who’s going to play more over Colorado’s more rarely used backup. At least until/if Georgiev fumbles and Francouz starts stealing more starts.