A healthy diet of hockey is on tap to start Week 9 of the fantasy hockey season. You won't see the Toronto Maple Leafs or Boston Bruins on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but every other team is in action with 18 games across the three days.
We start the week with a six-game Monday that includes the Battle of Pennsylvania. Maybe facing each other can help spur the clubs that currently sit 28th (Philadelphia Flyers) and 30th (Pittsburgh Penguins) in power-play percentage.
Tuesday we'll be watching to see if Patrick Kane is able to make his Detroit Red Wings debut as they visit his hometown Buffalo Sabres, among a slate of eight games. Though the suggestion is that he is more likely to start his season Thursday or Saturday.
But taking a moment to look back, Friday was the NHL debut of 2022 second-overall pick Simon Nemec on the New Jersey Devils blue line. A notable moment for fantasy, as the hope is for Nemec and Luke Hughes to be a dominant force on the Devils back end for years to come.
Nemec is forced into action earlier than expected due to Dougie Hamilton getting injured. Hamilton is expected to be out of action until mid-January, leaving Nemec plenty of space to make a case for staying in the NHL permanently.
The debut went very well for fantasy purposes, but a little less well for NHL purposes. Nemec assisted on two of the Devils three goals, including one on the power play. But Nemec was also on the ice for two of the San Jose Sharks six goals against the Devils.
There's a case for grabbing Nemec from the free-agent list in almost any-sized ESPN league, especially if you just lost Hamilton to the injured reserve. But don't get too attached, as Luke Hughes remains the top option for the power play, so not all Nemec's games will be quite as nice as his 2.9-fantasy point debut.
Michael Carcone, W, Arizona Coyotes: You may want to ignore Carcone, as he's sometimes only getting 10 minutes a game for the Coyotes, but the 11 goals is getting hard to look away from. If you had started him all season long you'd only have 1.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) -- which doesn't pass muster for most leagues. Still, there sits Carcone with five goals in five games playing on a line with Alex Kerfoot and Jason Zucker. He flashed some offensive firepower in the AHL the past two seasons, but it's not often we see an NHL breakout at 27, so temper expectations.
Casey Mittelstadt, C, Buffalo Sabres: Responding fairly well to essentially replacing Tage Thompson on the top line, Mittelstadt has managed 2.1 FPPG during the past five games. That said, we are supposed to get a health update on Thompson early this week, so the ride may be over soon.
Robby Fabbri, C, Detroit Red Wings: It's not shocking to see Fabbri scoring points in limited minutes. It is shocking to see him stay healthy for nine consecutive games. Even with Patrick Kane expected to debut soon and disrupt the line combinations, Fabbri remains a bench/spot start option across fantasy leagues -- when he's healthy.
Jonny Brodzinski, C, New York Rangers: Up to the NHL as Kappo Kakko's injury replacement, Brodzinski is skating with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Not a bad spot and certainly an explanation his consecutive two-assist outings. As of this writing and despite his callup, Brodzinski sits third in AHL scoring, so the offense isn't out of character.
Brock Faber, D, Minnesota Wild: What's this? Is new coach Jon Hynes throwing a little power-play quarterback action toward Faber? This would be big for his fantasy profile if Faber can add serious PP time to his resume. His minutes have crept up in all three games with Hynes behind the bench and he even overtook Jared Spurgeon for the most time on the advantage on Sunday.
Erik Gustafsson, D, New York Rangers: Adam Fox is back, as expected, and in the three games since his return, Gustafsson has no points. He can be safely tucked back on the free-agent pile until he's needed again.
Brandon Montour, D, Florida Panthers: He's getting the requisite power-play time due, but the groove isn't there yet for Montour. Give it time, but that could also mean some additional time on your fantasy bench.
Vladimir Tarasenko, W, Ottawa Senators: The Senators shortened their bench in recent games to the top six we all had on paper prior to the season. That does include Tarasenko on a line with Drake Batherson and Tim Stutzle. That said, if he doesn't start scoring now, in the ideal circumstances, it's time to cut bait.
Thomas Harley and Mason Marchment, D and W, Dallas Stars: I mean, not that we are expecting another drubbing of the Lightning here, but it's certainly not off the table either. Harley and Marchment have both been flashing the offense of late, with 9.8 and 11.0 fantasy points in their past five, respectively. The Stars also take on the Florida Panthers on Wednesday if you want to use volume as an argument for them.
Michael Bunting, W, Carolina Hurricanes (76.86% available): Use him whenever he is earning those top-line minutes. After a few weeks on the fourth line, Bunting has pushed his way back onto the ice with Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis. The results haven't been blockbuster yet, but he's finding his way onto the scoresheet. The Hurricanes have two games early in the week, including a date with the Oilers.
Semyon Varlamov, G, New York Islanders (79.57% available): If we learn early enough that Varlamov is drawing the Sharks assignment, it's a no-brainer streamer start. It didn't work out for Jonathan Quick on Sunday, but if you don't take a chance against the team with the worst record, who will you stream against?