Non-scoring stat category help from all 31 NHL teams

From ESPN - December 7, 2017

These days, many NHL fantasy leagues go well beyond rewarding goals, assists and power-play production from skaters. This week, we examine those who provide valuable defensive and other secondary statistics that fall outside the realm of traditional scoring categories, and then evaluate whether those players merit any real fantasy attention.

Anaheim Ducks: Top of the league table in hits with a cool 100, forward Chris Wagner is centering the Ducks' second scoring line at present, a great gig, especially once winger Jakob Silfverberg returns from injury. Just know that Wagner will be quick to tumble from Anaheim's top six once fellow centers Ryan Kesler and/or Ryan Getzlaf return from their respective issues, which is loosely expected within the next couple of weeks.

Arizona Coyotes: Centering a top line with Brendan Perlini and Tobias Rieder, Derek Stepan is strides beyond his earlier funk, collecting three goals and seven assists in 10 games. As for offered bonus outside scoring categories, Stepan consistently hovers between 10th and 20th overall among all NHL forwards in average time on ice. After an ugly October, his plus/minus has since maintained an even keel (minus-one). Rostered in less than half of ESPN leagues, the Coyotes' No. 1 centerman feels underappreciated.

Boston Bruins: Rookie Charlie McAvoy is more than just a productive puck-moving force on the Bruins' blue line. The 19-year-old defenseman also leads his team in hits with 65, while averaging 23:37 minutes per game, second on the team only to veteran Zdeno Chara. Consider targeting this well-rounded fantasy asset via trade if your league rewards more than just goals and assists.

Buffalo Sabres: In the six contests following his recent recovery from a back issue, Rasmus Ristolainen has blocked 17 shots and launched 17 hits, all while averaging nearly 27 minutes per game. Impressive stuff. Less impressive? The young defenseman has managed only two assists through that stretch. No team has scored fewer goals this season than the basement-dwelling Sabres, and it is not even close (2.14 goals per game). Seasonal fantasy managers invested in Ristolainen and most other Buffalo skaters can either hope for a turnaround or consider cutting bait now.

Calgary Flames: While waiting for Mark Giordano to rediscover his production, take some comfort in the defenseman's 61 blocked shots (fifth in the West), his average ice time of 24:12 or even his 69 shots on net. A fixture on the Flames' power play and top pair, Giordano will undoubtedly start producing at an improved pace soon enough. Before then, the veteran blueliner presents as an intriguing fantasy trade target.

Carolina Hurricanes: Step aside Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin. When it comes to non-scoring categories, fellow defenseman Jaccob Slavin leads all Hurricanes skaters with 59 blocked shots and an average ice time of 23:18. Unfortunately, Slavin does not offer much else, and wo not unless the very same Faulk or Hanifin fall injured. Then a power-play role for the 23-year-old, along with increased scoring chances, should be in order.

Chicago Blackhawks: A disappointment on the production front to date, Brent Seabrook offers some value beyond goals and assists with 58 blocked shots and a Chicago blue line-leading plus-eight. Unfortunately, the former 40-plus-point player is seeing little, if any, power play time at present, taking a backseat to others. If production serves as the be-all, end-all in your league, consider moving Seabrook on name value while that's still an option.

Colorado Avalanche: Leading the Avalanche in ice time (26:20), shots (79) and blocked-shots (51), while maintaining a digestible plus-three rating, Erik Johnson is a steady presence on any fantasy roster with respect to those categories. Even though the production has dried up some of late, the 29-year-old power-play anchor had a solid run through late October and early November, accumulating eight points in 10 contests. He can score, too.

Columbus Blue Jackets: While three goals in six games is usually not all that newsworthy from a player like Nick Foligno, our perception changes when such a "flurry" follows a month-long drought. We can only assume the top-six forward has rediscovered his scoring rhythm. That breakthrough, in concert with his whopping 74 hits on the year (good for ninth in the East) suggests Foligno may be worth a look in the 40 percent of ESPN leagues where he's available. The 30-year-old also blocks an inordinate number of shots for a forward.

Dallas Stars: Antoine Roussel was on a nice little run there, with two goals and three assists in five games, before falling ill. More so appreciated for his penalty minutes (ranked 10th in the league with 47 PIM this year), the French skater is also productive in fits and bursts, on occasion. When back to health and on a productive roll, he serves as a solid daily fantasy asset in competition that rewards penalties. For all his bluster, Roussel has also comfortably reached double digits in goals these past few seasons.

Detroit Red Wings: An often frustrating asset for Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill and his respective fantasy managers alike, forward Anthony Mantha still deserves rostering most nights. If the recent minus-seven accrued over four games churned your stomach, take comfort in the club-leading 37 penalty minutes collected to date or that the 2013 first-rounder sits behind only fellow youngster Dylan Larkin on the Wings with 22 points on the season. You have got to lump the bad with the good from this ever-developing 23-year-old forward, but it should prove beneficial in the long run.

Edmonton Oilers: Adam Larsson is not likely to ever satisfy those Oilers fans, who want more offense out of the 2011 fourth-overall draft pick, but that does not mean his fantasy worth is null and void. Leading the league with 3.6 hits per game, Larsson also blocks more than two shots per contest. Only fellow blueliner Oscar Klefbom sees more ice time with the club. We still believe the 25-year-old has the tools, and often opportunity, to contribute at a greater offensive clip than he has. Just keep in mind, Larsson is currently listed day-to-day on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. When again healthy, he serves plenty of purpose in deeper leagues that reward defensive categories.

Florida Panthers: Taking a brief break from discussing defensive fantasy categories, it's worth highlighting that forward Nick Bjugstad is subbing in for Evgenii Dadonov on a Florida top line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov and has consequently scored in each of his past two games (eight shots). With Dadonov anticipated out for weeks with a shoulder injury, Bjugstad could serve as an easy waiver-wire steal. He's rostered in only 3.3 percent of ESPN leagues.

Los Angeles Kings: Only Edmonton's Kris Russell has more blocked shots than Los Angeles' Alec Martinez (74), and the Oilers' blueliner has two additional games. Plus, the Kings' defenseman is starting to contribute offensively again, earning three assists in his past five games, including two with the man advantage. Available in almost half of ESPN leagues, Martinez should be snagged before he really gets going, particularly in competition that values shot blocking along with production. Martinez collected a career-high 39 points just last year.

Montreal Canadiens: Forward Andrew Shaw should merit a little more attention these days for scoring three goals and three assists in five games while skating on a top line and the power play with Max Pacioretty. The feisty forward also leads his club with 1.10 PIM per game, which matters to some fantasy managers.


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