Collecting a ton of fantasy points by playing 20 to 25 minutes per night is one thing. But what about those players who have seen significantly less average ice time this season? Maybe it's not more impressive to see them collecting a ton of fantasy points, but it's impressive in a different way.
This list of players is inspired by Mats Zuccarello's torrid start to his season. While his 12.00 fantasy points per 60 minutes (FPP60) is more than double what he'll end up with eventually, I'm less apt to shrug it off as a streak you should ignore. The chief reason for that is because, while his FPP60 is going to tank, his minutes per game have room to increase. Zuccarello is playing only 14:23 per game. Considering he topped 20 minutes a night just two seasons ago, there is room for the Wild to use him more.
It had me wondering about who the rest of the league leaders are for FPP60 that are currently stepping on the ice for fewer than 15 minutes per game. Maybe there's a chance for them to get more minutes, which could lead to more points? This list only includes players with a minimum of 65 minutes total this season to cut out any one-game wonders.
Brandon Tanev, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (8.07 FPP60): Even though he is tops on this list after Zuccarello for FPP60, I don't see a world where Tanev starts putting up much more than the 1.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG) he currently is. He's piling up the points by playing on a hard-hitting checking line for the Pens and sits third in the league in hits. There are opportunities with Pittsburgh -- and we'll get to that in a bit -- but not for Tanev to increase his overall output. There is still fantasy value here, he's just not what we are looking for with this exercise.
Josh Anderson, W, Montreal Canadiens (7.88 FPP60): Will a new coach looking to put his mark on the team consider giving more minutes to a player that has done so much with minimal ice time? That's the hope. Anderson has averaged 14:38 per game this season, yet is second on his team in goals (nine) and fourth on the team in shots. His FPP60 is on par with the likes of Mark Scheifele, Patrick Kane and Leon Draisaitl. While we wouldn't expect that same pace if Anderson started getting 20 minutes of action a game, the coaching change presents an opportunity for something new to happen. It's worth keeping an eye on the lines for Montreal ... well, once Anderson returns to action after he suffered an undisclosed injury Thursday night.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Los Angeles Kings (7.54 FPP60): I don't see an immediate path up the depth chart for the currently injured Anderson-Dolan. He's been collecting the points in the bottom six. While he has the upside to play as an occasional scoring-line winger, the Kings are full on those positions and already have plenty of other prospects also waiting in the wings. It's nice to see some production from the checking lines, but things would have to go perfectly for Anderson-Dolan to parlay his FPP60 into something fantasy relevant when he returns to health.
Max Comtois, W, Anaheim Ducks (7.23 FPP60): There's some potential here, as the Ducks continue to try to find their footing this season. The recent addition of top prospect Trevor Zegras shows the team is still trying to piece together a winning roster. Comtois, who easily leads all Ducks skaters in fantasy points this season (like, it's not close), has been doing so while averaging just 14:53 per game. The hope here is that continued tweaking of the lines will find Comtois on the top one -- and if Zegras happens to be there too, all the better.
Zach Aston-Reese, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (6.63 FPP60): The opportunity for Aston-Reese is already happening. Jason Zucker is on the IR for a longer-term, and Aston-Reese stepped into his role on a wing with Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. A late arrival this season due to a shoulder injury, Aston-Reese started the season with goals in his first three games and points in his first four. He's definitely in the right place at the right time for a chance at fantasy success.
Fantasy Forecaster: March 1 to March 7
While the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights had a game cancelled Thursday due to COVID, the current state of affairs calls for it to be the only game postponed. That means next week's schedule is a go at this stage. Make sure to double-check the Sharks before locking your lineup in.
All teams have three or four games with the sole exception of the Detroit Red Wings only playing twice. Of course, that should have little to no impact on your roster decisions.
For those new to the forecaster chart, here are some explanations: "O" (offense), which is on the left for each game, and "D" (defense), on the right, matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The "Ratings" column lists the cumulative rating from 1 to 10 of that week's offensive ("O") and defensive ("D") matchups.
Carolina Hurricanes: The domino effect of Teuvo Teravainen's concussion looks like it will take Andrei Svechnikov off of Jordan Staal's line. That will mean a diminished outlook for Staal, who was already cooling off from his ridiculous pace. But it's also a big opportunity for Jesper Fast, who took the spot with Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho. We'll see if things shuffle more, but you'll want to chase whichever winger gets that spot.
New York Islanders: It's difficult to capitalize on the Islanders good schedule as the fantasy relevant commodities are universally rostered. Jordan Eberle is a tick below the others when it comes to availability though, so it may be worth checking in your league to see if you can plug him in for this four-game week that splits out as the best in the league on the forecaster. In addition to Eberle, Ilya Sorokin might be worth stashing for a spot start (or two?) as the schedule exclusively features the Devils and possibly-Eichel-less Sabres.
Vegas Golden Knights: If you are not already riding the Alex Tuch wave, you might be too late. Still, it's worth checking ahead of what looks like a quality four-game week from the Knights. It's been a seismic shift in responsibility over the last week, with Tuch supplanting Max Pacioretty on the top line and even leading the forwards in ice time in their last game.
Dylan Cozens, F, Buffalo Sabres: If Jack Eichel's reported lower-body injury keeps him out for a while, Cozens will have a chance to contribute more. It appears he is next man up for the Sabres power play -- which has been quite good of late (seven for 16 in last seven games) -- and he was already playing on a scoring line with Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.
Eeli Tolvanen, W, Nashville Predators: Getting time as the fourth forward for the Predators power play, Tolvanen has picked up a point on the man advantage in each of his last two games. He's also playing with Ryan Johansen at even strength. In case you've forgotten about him, Tolvanen was all the rage as a teenager when he was breaking age-related scoring records in the USHL and KHL. It's been a slow boil to see him contribute at the NHL level since then, but there's potential here.
Colin Blackwell, F, New York Rangers: With Artemi Panarin away from the team, it has been Blackwell slipping into a role on the top six and power play. An AHL player for the better part of the past four seasons, he certainly doesn't have the resume of a 27-year-old breakout. But key ice time with Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome has meant good things so far. At the very least, it's probably worth capitalizing on his recent success and the fact he'll be a lock for minutes with Panarin out ... Just be sure to check his status, as he's back and forth to the taxi squad.
Vladimir Tarasenko, W, St. Louis Blues: A regular at practice again, Tarasenko is described as being a couple of weeks away from a return from shoulder surgery. But we are coming to that point that the potential value from his return is already arguably fantasy relevant. If he came back March 15 and averaged his usual FPPG, he would currently rank 153rd among all skaters for remaining fantasy points. That ranking will shoot up as the date approaches as other players start losing out on games remaining. Tarasenko is available in one-third of ESPN leagues.