The biggest hockey news from week one of the 2016-17 National Hockey League season came on opening night when Auston Matthews took the hockey world by storm and scored a remarkable four goals in one game. Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 5-4 to the Ottawa Senators, Matthews became the first player since 1917 to record four goals in his first NHL game. According to CBC Sports, it should be noted that Joe Malone of the Montreal Canadiens and Harry Hyman of the Montreal Wanderers had five goals in their first NHL game on December 19, 1917, but they previously played in the National Hockey Association.
So how does this impact Auston Matthews’s fantasy status? One must realize he has gotten off to a thrilling start, but you have to realize it was only one game. On Saturday night, he did not record a point in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins.
The player that Matthews is tied for in the NHL in goals is a player that is receiving a fraction of the media attention to date. That is Richard Panik of the Chicago Blackhawks, who has got off to a sizzling start in his own right. Panik has seen regular playing time with the Blackhawks’ superstars of Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, and has even found his way on to the Blackhawks power play. Panik could be this year’s version of Artemi Panarin, who won the Calder Trophy last season, and is definitely worthy of fantasy consideration.
When it comes to points, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins and Paul Stastny of the St. Louis Blues are the current co-leaders with six. I was very annoyed last week that I did not get Stastny in a hockey pool, as he was taken one pick before I was ready to select him in the middle rounds. If healthy, Stastny could have a marvelous season. In 2015-16, Stastny had 49 points in 64 games, and would have had 63 points if he played a full year.
My projected fantasy stars for week two of the NHL season are Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Logan Couture and Brent Burns, who each play for the San Jose Sharks. In Pittsburgh, remember the fact that Malkin always shines more when Sidney Crosby is not playing. With Crosby out with a concussion at the present time, do not be surprised if Malkin steps up offensively.
As for Couture, he has been productive in 2016-17 to date, with three points in his first two games. Expect him to carry on from an outstanding 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs where he led all players in points with 30. Right behind Couture last season was Brent Burns, who had 24 playoff points. Where Burns impresses the most in fantasy hockey, is the high level of frequency that he takes shots on goal. Last season, Burns led all NHL defenseman with 353 shots and was only second in the entire NHL in shots on goal behind only Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Don’t let the fact that Burns is a defenseman scare you when considering him for a weekly league.