Special to Yahoo Sports
Let's get past those initial inconsistencies and Halloween hangovers. Time to shape up your rosters and prepare for the heart of the schedule.
We have a fairly good idea which NHL clubs carry deep lineups, though there are a few that may get overlooked due to slow starts. The Kraken, Panthers and Stars were all top-10 offenses last season and currently find themselves in the bottom half. And it appears they've recently started to deliver again.
Here are a few players rostered in half of Yahoo leagues whose hard work and opportunities should translate to improved fantasy results.
(Rostered rates as of Nov. 10)
Nazem Kadri, Calgary Flames (Yahoo: 47%)
We're going just below the halfway threshold with a player who probably hasn't been this available in a long time. Some may characterize Kadri's first season with the Flames as disappointing following an 87-point effort to end his time in Colorado, but recording 56 points — including 19 on the power play — on top of 267 shots, 56 PIM and 99 hits doesn't sound like a letdown. And he wasn't receiving a lot of love after only generating one assist from the opening eight games, though that's sure to turn around as he's racked up six points over four to go with 18 shots and a continuing premium role within Calgary's top six.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Carolina Hurricanes (Yahoo: 34%)
Great production and solid linemates will often get you far in fantasy, even if the individual's history doesn't necessarily suggest any massive return. Take Kotkaniemi, for example. The third-overall pick from 2018 didn't really get much of a chance in Montreal and has never received a decent amount of ice time, but broke through last year with 18 goals and 25 assists while not missing any action. And in Carolina's deep forward contingent, Kotkaniemi is centering the second trio between Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen. He's not doing too shabby on the scoresheet either, having already accumulated 12 points. There are plenty of pivots and some offer more widespread activity, but Kotkaniemi's offensive upside and lineup situation make him an attractive target.
Matthew Knies, Toronto Maple Leafs (Yahoo: 33%)
Knies has bounced around the Toronto depth chart this year and recently hit the jackpot by being moved on the top even-strength unit alongside Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner. That switch paid immediate dividends Monday when he reeled off a goal, two helpers, two shots, and two hits on 15:37. Poolies may shy away from Knies, as he's only on the second man advantage and neither Tyler Bertuzzi nor Calle Jarnkrok enjoyed an extended stint with the dynamic duo. But the fact Knies is still in that great fantasy spot qualifies him as someone to add right away.
Ryan Strome, Anaheim Ducks (Yahoo: 30%)
The Ducks have flown under the radar, at least in terms of player coverage. But that's starting to change across their roster, one that boasts three pretty good forward units. Among the more under-looked in Anaheim is Strome, who didn't notch a point over his last two matchups — and he's still at 11 in 11. Skating beside the uber-talented Mason McTavish and the red-hot Frank Vatrano has helped along with a 17-plus minute average.
Alex Iafallo, Winnipeg Jets (Yahoo: 15%)
Gabriel Vilardi was operating as the Jets' No. 1 right winger until he hurt his MCL three games in. A couple players have since filled that role, with the latest being Iafallo. It was only natural for him to move up as he was already a member of the top power play. The results haven't been consistent, yet no one will complain about his four assists on Tuesday (which included two PPAs) or his two helpers Thursday. Vilardi is slated to come back before the end of the month and could reclaim his prime place, though Iafallo is doing enough to prevent that.
Scott Laughton, Philadelphia Flyers (Yahoo: 9%)
Laughton has generally been considered a great utility forward, one who can do a bit of everything without many even noticing — or at least roughly 90% of the Yahoo leagues where he remains on the wire. He skates on the second group at both five-on-five and the man advantage while leading the penalty kill. Laughton has posted eight points and set a career-high last year with 43. He'll get you two shots and hits per outing to go with a sufficient amount of blocks to round out your roster.
Anton Lundell, Florida Panthers (Yahoo: 7%)
If Kotkaniemi is enjoying his time based on his surrounding wingers, then Lundell must be in heaven. Imagine rushing down the ice and you're being flanked by Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe. Lundell experienced a bit of lag coming out of the gate, yet he's recovered to the tune of a goal and four assists since Oct. 24, supplemented by 17 shots and 49 faceoff wins. After Florida faces Carolina on Friday, the team will be up against five consecutive weaker defenses, including the Sharks and Oilers.
John-Jason Peterka, Buffalo Sabres (Yahoo: 6%)
The Sabres have been hurting on the right side with a few young candidates unavailable. Even Alex Tuch (upper body) is banged up. That's allowed Peterka to receive added opportunities and boost his scoreline. The 2020 second-rounder has gone off over the last week and a half to register three goals, three helpers and 16 pucks on net. Peterka's 16.7% shooting mark is bound to regress, but there's enough in his profile to at least be worthy as a fantasy fill-in.
Dmitry Orlov, Carolina Hurricanes (Yahoo: 15%)
Orlov was stellar for Boston last season after arriving right before the trade deadline with 17 points across 23 games. The Canes signed him during the summer to add to their already impressive blueline depth. Orlov won't be repeating those offensive feats in Carolina, though he can help in a few areas. The first five outings didn't help with a lone assist and a minus-10, yet he's since been solid by picking up five points, 11 shots, 14 PIM and eight hits. Orlov won't be the main man in your lineups, but more of as a secondary piece who'll consistently contribute.
Mattias Ekholm, Edmonton Oilers (Yahoo: 15%)
The Oilers have been horrible on the defensive end, holding a 4.17 GAA on an average of just under 30 shots against. It's tough for the team to handle, especially when the attack is also suffering. Ekholm, like Orlov, started scoring in bunches following a move to another team, but that's not what he's known for. He's someone to rely upon when you're looking for some hits, blocks and pucks on net — where he's at 17, 15 and 24, respectively. Ekholm posting a PPA Saturday and a PPG Monday is a pure bonus considering Edmonton's reliance on the top unit. Just don't expect this to be a regular occurrence.
Alec Martinez, Vegas Golden Knights (Yahoo: 10%)
Martinez is the gold standard when it comes to blocking shots, having lapped the league last year with 244, and probably would be the current leader if not for the fact that he's already missed five contests. He's only 10 blocks behind teammate Brayden McNabb. The offense has tailed off since his peak stretch in LA and debut season with Vegas, though a few should trickle through via the club's excellent attack and a regular place alongside Alex Pietrangelo.
Justin Schultz, Seattle Kraken (Yahoo: 3%)
Vince Dunn (93%) receives most of the fantasy attention when it comes to attacking Kraken defenders, yet Schultz hasn't done considerably worse this season. Both have made 14 appearances with the former at two goals, 10 assists, six PPPs, and 26 shots and the veteran chipping in two, four, two, and 20 in those same departments while supplementing that with 17 blocks. And Schultz has been able to accomplish that in eight fewer minutes per night. As a decent point-getter and with Seattle basically treating their two man-advantage units as equals, why not give him a chance?
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Buffalo Sabres (Yahoo: 18%)
There was a time when Luukkonen was deemed to be next-in-line as Buffalo's No. 1, but then Devon Levi came around and changed that outlook by dominating the NCAA and finishing last year on a strong run. Levi has battled injuries and poor form early on, which has opened the door for UPL to take the lead. Despite the mixed results (3.10/.899 line, shutout over Colorado), he's been involved in six of the Sabres' last seven games and will at least hold the top job while Levi works out his issues.
Connor Ingram, Arizona Coyotes (Yahoo: 18%)
Despite Arizona's defensive issues last season, both Karel Vejmelka and Ingram performed well in tough circumstances. The tandem has alternated starts of late, with the latter producing the better results since Oct. 27 (1.95/.939 and three wins from three vs. 4.03/.877 and no wins in four). Expect Ingram to earn more responsibility in the short term and the duo splitting time the rest of the way barring injury or one going on a prolonged hot streak.
Players to consider from past columns: Pavel Zacha, Seth Jarvis, Ryan O'Reilly, Logan Cooley, William Karlsson, Wyatt Johnston, Bryan Rust, Ryan Hartman, Jaden Schwartz, Josh Norris, Robert Thomas, Evan Rodrigues, Ryan Johansen, Nikolaj Ehlers, Adam Fantilli, Dylan Strome, Nick Paul, Trevor Moore, Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, Leo Carlsson, Jake Sanderson, Owen Power, Mike Matheson, Filip Hronek, Calen Addison, Bowen Byram, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Pavel Mintyukov, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Juuso Valimaki, Karel Vejmelka, Elvis Merzlikins, Petr Mrazek, Lukas Dostal, Joel Hofer