Fantasy hockey rankings: Impact of Vancouver Canucks' coaching change

How will the coaching change in Vancouver affect forward Brock Boeser? Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

In one of the most drawn out head coach firings we've seen in a while, the Vancouver Canucks finally pulled the plug on coach Bruce Boudreau on Sunday, installing Rick Tocchet as the new bench boss.

Whip-smart as Boudreau is, I think he nailed the reason for the protracted firing when he pointed out that the Canucks' next three games are against the Chicago Blackhawks, Seattle Kraken and Columbus Blue Jackets, setting themselves up for two out of three wins for a good spin on the coaching change.

Boudreau tinkered a lot with the depth chart this season, which is not something we usually love in fantasy. But the Canucks personnel exist in such a way that the top assets are more or less immune to the tinkering. As in, Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes haven't had bad fantasy seasons and haven't been to impacted on by the constant line changes.

But a coaching change here does offer an opportunity for some players to settle into more prominent roles and potentially climb out of season-long slumbers.

Perhaps the first tidbit that jumps to mind will be the fact that two of the Canucks players featured prominently on Tocchet's power play during his four-year tenure with the Arizona Coyotes from 2017-18 to 2020-21. For the bulk of that time, Oliver Ekman-Larsson was Tocchet's power-play quarterback and Conor Garland featured heavily on the advantage for the last three years of Tocchet's tenure. Does familiarity breed opportunity here? Andrei Kuzmenko and Brock Boeser have traded in as the fifth member of the Canucks power play so far this season, but Ekman-Larsson and/or Garland could get a chance now. Both players are well off the fantasy radar with 1.2 and 1.1 fantasy points per game (FPPG), respectively.

Boeser is the other one too watch, as he has room to become a fantasy fixture again. He averaged 19:19 in ice time during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign, in which he scored at a pace that would have been 33 goals in 82 games. He's down to 16:37 this season and has been sitting outside the top six of late.

But we'll have to keep an eye on how the Canucks fare this week -- remembering that Boudreau pointed out the competition isn't too stiff -- and reassess after Tocchet gets a couple games in.

As for the rest of the rankings, we have a theme for the players being highlighted this week: It's players that are rostered in fewer than two-thirds of leagues.

Forward notes

Brandon Hagel, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (up 11 spots to No. 80; rostered in 61.6%): Go check now. This column will be here when you come back. Hagel is available in almost 40 percent of ESPN leagues, but is a roster-lock forward that should be universally in lineups. His line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov leads the league in expected goals (MoneyPuck.com) and is third in actual goals. He's not always on the Lightning's top power play, but he is usually there and sits fifth in power-play ice time on the team.

Dylan Cozens, C/W, Buffalo Sabres (up 10 spots to No. 119; rostered in 64.5%): The Sabres power play has the third-most power-play goals this season and leads the league in power-play goals in the past month. Cozens is the fifth man on a unit that features the Sabres deadly top line with Rasmus Dahlin on the point. He's rocking 2.0 FPPG and looks to be on pace to top 160 fantasy points -- which would have put him among the top 75 skaters last season.

Scott Laughton, C/W, Philadelphia Flyers (up 26 spots to No. 147; rostered in 21.8%): His 1.9 FPPG on the season doesn't jump on the page, but take notice of the Flyers settling on their lines over the past couple of months. Since the start of December, Laughton has 21 points in 24 games with six points on the advantage -- and don't overlook the 0.5-point bonus from his six shorthanded points in that span, which leads the NHL.

Carter Verhaeghe, C/W, Florida Panthers (up one spot to No. 151; rostered in 58.9%): He's been a lock to play with either Aleksander Barkov or Matthew Tkachuk for the bulk of this season and is currently on pace for a 38-goal campaign. He's the most available potential 40-goal scorer you'll find in fantasy hockey. Verhaeghe is currently lining up with Tkachuk and Sam Bennett, but he still projects to stay in the top six with further tinkering.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, New York Islanders (up one spot to No. 199; rostered in 40.0%): With 2.1 FPPG for the past month and charging fast, Pagueau is on track to become the Islanders top fantasy skater this season unless the team's power play wakes up. The players ahead of him on the team for fantasy points -- Brock Nelson, Noah Dobson, Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal -- have slowed their fantasy pace with the power play deep in the doldrums. But Pageau gets his points on and off the advantage and should be in lineups.

Defense notes

Sean Durzi, D, Los Angeles Kings (up 15 spots to No. 122; rostered in 63.8%): Despite playing in two fewer games, Durzi is outpacing Drew Doughty in fantasy points (93.3 to 90.8), goals (six to three) and blocked shots (87 to 74). He's the most valuable defenseman on the Kings roster but isn't getting nearly the fantasy love we still shower on Doughty.

Ben Chiarot, D, Detroit Red Wings (up 33 spots to No. 142; rostered in 41.7%): The separation of Moritz Seider and Chiarot as defense partners is playing dividends for both of them. In 11 games since Chiarot was taken off the top pairing and he's posted 2.3 fantasy points. Maybe it's from facing less-stiff competition away from the top pairing, but he's tied for second in blocked shots in the league since Dec. 31 and tied for 13th in hits among defensemen.

Brayden McNabb, D, Vegas Golden Knights (up 10 spots to No. 182; rostered in 55.4%): Dropping in front of pucks and throwing hits is what McNabb does well. In fact, if you look at fantasy points from only hits and blocked shots, only Alec Martinez, Jacob Trouba and Moritz Seider have more than McNabb this season. It equates to 1.8 FPPG despite minimal points.

Goaltender notes

Martin Jones, G, Seattle Kraken (up 14 spots to No. 98; rostered in 49.6%): He doesn't sport the best ratios in the league, but winning is half the battle in fantasy for goaltenders. Jones sits third in the league in wins, has three shutouts for some bonus points and his crease share sits at 71% for the past month. Even if you don't view him as a No. 1 fantasy goaltender, there's no question he's a No. 2.

Filip Gustavsson, G, Minnesota Wild (up 20 spots to No. 130; rostered in 24.8%): Of goaltenders with at least 12 starts this season, Gustavsson sits in the top five for both goals-against average and save percentage. He's fifth in the league in goals saved above expected per 60 (MoneyPuck.com), so the big thing missing for Gustavsson to be a fantasy regular is more ice time. Unfortunately, that's probably not on the horizon as the Wild are doing well with their tandem of Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury. To that end, even with how hot he's been compared to Fleury, Gustavsson only has a 49 percent crease share in the past month. Even still, this kind of skill should be on rosters for spot starts, if nothing else.

Jeremy Swayman, G, Boston Bruins (up 15 spots to No. 202; rostered in 58.7%): Like Gustavsson, the only thing holding Swayman back from fantasy glory is a timeshare in the crease (and a Vezina candidate as his tandem partner). As you might expect, Linus Ullmark is among the top netminders with 5.22 fantasy points per 60 (FPP60) in the past month, but Swayman has posted 5.56 FPP60 in that span. Swayman's play has pushed this into a near 50-50 share, with Swayman actually sitting on 51 percent crease share in the past month. As much as Ullmark is a great story this year, it looks like the Bruins are happy to share so long as Swayman can keep up. Get him on rosters.

ESPN fantasy NHL top-250 rankings

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edm (F1)
2. David Pastrnak, RW, Bos (F2)
3. Leon Draisaitl, LW, Edm (F3)
4. Auston Matthews, C, Tor (F4)
5. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buf (D1)
6. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Col (F5)
7. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (D2)
8. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (F6)
9. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Col (F7)
10. Tage Thompson, C, Buf (F8)
11. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Wpg (G1)
12. Linus Ullmark, G, Bos (G2)
13. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Min (F9)
14. Elias Pettersson, C, Van (F10)
15. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (F11)
16. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G3)
17. Cale Makar, D, Col (D3)
18. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Fla (F12)
19. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Wsh (F13)
20. Juuse Saros, G, Nsh (G4)
21. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G5)
22. Timo Meier, RW, SJ (F14)
23. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G6)
24. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (F15)
25. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vgk (D4)
26. Travis Konecny, RW, Phi (F16)
27. Bo Horvat, C, Van (F17)
28. Kyle Connor, LW, Wpg (F18)
29. Jake Oettinger, G, Dal (G7)
30. Jason Robertson, LW, Dal (F19)
31. Josh Morrissey, D, Wpg (D5)
32. Brad Marchand, LW, Bos (F20)
33. Aleksander Barkov, C, Fla (F21)
34. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D6)
35. Tim Stutzle, LW, Ott (F22)
36. Brayden Point, C, TB (F23)
37. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bos (D7)
38. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Wpg (F24)
39. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Wpg (F25)
40. Mitchell Marner, RW, Tor (F26)
41. Sidney Crosby, C, Pit (F27)
42. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D8)
43. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ott (F28)
44. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edm (F29)
45. Jordan Kyrou, C, StL (F30)
46. Jack Eichel, C, Vgk (F31)
47. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D9)
48. Zach Hyman, LW, Edm (F32)
49. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D10)
50. Jakob Chychrun, D, Ari (D11)
51. Tristan Jarry, G, Pit (G8)
52. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Col (G9)
53. Roope Hintz, C, Dal (F33)
54. Sebastian Aho, C, Car (F34)
55. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (F35)
56. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nsh (F36)
57. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Min (F37)
58. John Tavares, C, Tor (F38)
59. Alex Tuch, RW, Buf (F39)
60. Mark Scheifele, C, Wpg (F40)
61. Moritz Seider, D, Det (D12)
62. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ott (F41)
63. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (F42)
64. Frederik Andersen, G, Car (G10)
65. J.T. Miller, C, Van (F43)
66. William Nylander, RW, Tor (F44)
67. Elias Lindholm, RW, Cgy (F45)
68. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D13)
69. Logan Thompson, G, Vgk (G11)
70. Thomas Chabot, D, Ott (D14)
71. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bos (F46)
72. Vitek Vanecek, G, NJ (G12)
73. Darcy Kuemper, G, Wsh (G13)
74. Jake Guentzel, LW, Pit (F47)
75. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dal (D15)
76. Rasmus Andersson, D, Cgy (D16)
77. Joe Pavelski, RW, Dal (F48)
78. Seth Jones, D, Chi (D17)
79. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D18)
80. Brandon Hagel, LW, TB (F49)
81. Dylan Larkin, C, Det (F50)
82. Jared Spurgeon, D, Min (D19)
83. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (F51)
84. Adam Larsson, D, Sea (D20)
85. Brent Burns, D, Car (D21)
86. Aaron Ekblad, D, Fla (D22)
87. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Col (F52)
88. Drake Batherson, C, Ott (F53)
89. Jesper Bratt, RW, NJ (F54)
90. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, StL (F55)
91. Patrik Laine, RW, Cls (F56)
92. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Col (F57)
93. Jeff Skinner, LW, Buf (F58)
94. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Car (F59)
95. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Min (F60)
96. Matty Beniers, C, Sea (F61)
97. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (F62)
98. Martin Jones, G, Sea (G14)
99. Kevin Fiala, C, LA (F63)
100. Logan Couture, C, SJ (F64)
101. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Col (F65)
102. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pit (F66)
103. Nazem Kadri, C, Cgy (F67)
104. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (F68)
105. Justin Faulk, D, StL (D23)
106. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (F69)
107. Brandon Montour, D, Fla (D24)
108. Kris Letang, D, Pit (D25)
109. Quinn Hughes, D, Van (D26)
110. Evander Kane, LW, Edm (F70)
111. Martin Necas, C, Car (F71)
112. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Cls (F72)
113. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (F73)
114. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D27)
115. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Ari (D28)
116. Jamie Benn, LW, Dal (F74)
117. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (F75)
118. Erik Gustafsson, D, Wsh (D29)
119. Dylan Cozens, C, Buf (F76)
120. Vince Dunn, D, Sea (D30)
121. Blake Wheeler, RW, Wpg (F77)
122. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D31)
123. Ivan Provorov, D, Phi (D32)
124. Vincent Trocheck, C, NYR (F78)
125. Claude Giroux, LW, Ott (F79)
126. Alec Martinez, D, Vgk (D33)
127. Devon Toews, D, Col (D34)
128. Clayton Keller, C, Ari (F80)
129. Rickard Rakell, C, Pit (F81)
130. Filip Gustavsson, G, Min (G15)
131. Boone Jenner, C, Cls (F82)
132. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (F83)
133. Darnell Nurse, D, Edm (D35)
134. David Krejci, C, Bos (F84)
135. Mark Stone, RW, Vgk (F85)
136. Phillip Danault, C, LA (F86)
137. Ilya Samsonov, G, Tor (G16)
138. Pheonix Copley, G, Wsh (0)
139. Morgan Rielly, D, Tor (D36)
140. Lawson Crouse, LW, Ari (F87)
141. Jeff Petry, D, Pit (D37)
142. Ben Chiarot, D, Det (D38)
143. Stuart Skinner, G, Edm (G17)
144. Hampus Lindholm, D, Bos (D39)
145. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Min (G18)
146. Michael Bunting, LW, Tor (F88)
147. Scott Laughton, C, Phi (F89)
148. Tony DeAngelo, D, Phi (D40)
149. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Cgy (F90)
150. Chandler Stephenson, C, Vgk (F91)
151. Carter Verhaeghe, C, Fla (F92)
152. Robert Thomas, C, StL (F93)
153. David Savard, D, Mon (D41)
154. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Cgy (F94)
155. Matt Murray, G, Tor (G19)
156. Sam Reinhart, RW, Fla (F95)
157. Patrick Kane, RW, Chi (F96)
158. Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Nsh (F97)
159. Jacob Markstrom, G, Cgy (G20)
160. Neal Pionk, D, Wpg (D42)
161. Tyson Barrie, D, Edm (D43)
162. Owen Tippett, RW, Phi (F98)
163. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, StL (F99)
164. K'Andre Miller, D, NYR (D44)
165. Filip Hronek, D, Det (D45)
166. Nick Suzuki, C, Mon (F100)
167. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D46)
168. Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Van (F101)
169. Jared McCann, LW, Sea (F102)
170. Jake McCabe, D, Chi (D47)
171. Joel Edmundson, D, Mon (D48)
172. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Buf (G21)
173. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bos (F103)
174. Cam Talbot, G, Ott (G22)
175. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, LA (F104)
176. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, Det (F105)
177. Ville Husso, G, Det (G23)
178. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Fla (G24)
179. Shea Theodore, D, Vgk (D49)
180. Jake Walman, D, Det (D50)
181. T.J. Oshie, RW, Wsh (F106)
182. Brayden McNabb, D, Vgk (D51)
183. Sam Bennett, LW, Fla (F107)
184. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (F108)
185. Thatcher Demko, G, Van (G25)
186. Nick Schmaltz, C, Ari (F109)
187. Matt Duchene, C, Nsh (F110)
188. J.T. Compher, RW, Col (F111)
189. Jason Zucker, LW, Pit (F112)
190. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sea (F113)
191. Carter Hart, G, Phi (G26)
192. Brayden Schenn, C, StL (F114)
193. Luke Schenn, D, Van (D52)
194. Calle Jarnkrok, C, Tor (F115)
195. Matt Boldy, LW, Min (F116)
196. Daniel Sprong, RW, Sea (F117)
197. Jack Campbell, G, Edm (G27)
198. Ryan Graves, D, NJ (D53)
199. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, NYI (F118)
200. Adam Henrique, C, Ana (F119)
201. Lucas Raymond, LW, Det (F120)
202. Jeremy Swayman, G, Bos (G28)
203. Bryan Rust, RW, Pit (F121)
204. Trevor Zegras, C, Ana (F122)
205. Evan Rodrigues, C, Col (F123)
206. Tom Wilson, RW, Wsh (F124)
207. Kevin Hayes, C, Phi (F125)
208. Jordan Binnington, G, StL (G29)
209. Anthony Duclair, LW, Fla (F126)
210. Mason McTavish, C, Ana (F127)
211. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Wsh (F128)
212. Alex Iafallo, LW, LA (F129)
213. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (F130)
214. Brandon Tanev, LW, Sea (F131)
215. Nicholas Paul, C, TB (F132)
216. Brock Boeser, RW, Van (F133)
217. Tyler Seguin, C, Dal (F134)
218. Ondrej Palat, LW, NJ (F135)
219. Jake Sanderson, D, Ott (D54)
220. Karel Vejmelka, G, Ari (0)
221. Barrett Hayton, C, Ari (F136)
222. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Wsh (F137)
223. Filip Chytil, RW, NYR (F138)
224. Esa Lindell, D, Dal (D55)
225. Dmitry Orlov, D, Wsh (D56)
226. Torey Krug, D, StL (D57)
227. Matt Roy, D, LA (D58)
228. Scott Mayfield, D, NYI (D59)
229. Kirby Dach, C, Mon (F139)
230. Connor Clifton, D, Bos (D60)
231. Noah Hanifin, D, Cgy (D61)
232. Marcus Pettersson, D, Pit (D62)
233. Dawson Mercer, C, NJ (F140)
234. Mike Matheson, D, Mon (D63)
235. Connor Murphy, D, Chi (D64)
236. Jamie Oleksiak, D, Sea (D65)
237. Brady Skjei, D, Car (D66)
238. Max Domi, C, Chi (F141)
239. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Car (F142)
240. Jonas Siegenthaler, D, NJ (D67)
241. Radko Gudas, D, Fla (D68)
242. John Carlson, D, Wsh (D69)
243. Mark Giordano, D, Tor (D70)
244. Mattias Ekholm, D, Nsh (D71)
245. Gustav Forsling, D, Fla (D72)
246. Taylor Raddysh, RW, Chi (0)
247. Dominik Kubalik, LW, Det (F143)
248. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Phi (D73)
249. Brett Pesce, D, Car (D74)
250. Jonas Brodin, D, Min (D75)

Just missed

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