Fantasy points are, at the end of the day and in your standings, fantasy points. That said, some fantasy points should be valued above others when it comes to projecting future fantasy points from a player.
The biggest obvious one here is primary assists versus secondary assists. Sure, plenty of secondary assists are justifiable points as part of a skilled play on the ice. But you know and I know that not all of them are. More than a handful of secondary assists handed out on score sheets are happenstance — right place, right time, right puck touch.
And yes, you can point to some primary assists that are just as incidental to a goal being scored. But with each subsequent name attached to a goal, you increase the chances that the point awarded is less relevant to the goal happening. ESPN standard leagues count primary assists and secondary assists the same for fantasy scoring, but let’s strip away the secondary assists and have a look at the results.
But let’s go one further. The other one I like to remove when digging down a little deeper is the bonus points for special teams. ESPN standard leagues hand out a 0.5-point bonus if a goal happens to be on the power play or while a team is shorthanded. While this is a little less happenstance than some secondary assists, it’s a situation the player doesn’t decide they are in — that’s up to the coaches. While most power plays and penalty kills won’t change much in terms of their makeup through the season, it’s one more thing we can strip away when having a closer look at what I like to call primary fantasy points.
So, what we are left with after removing secondary assists and special teams bonuses is a fantasy profile made up of the following: two points for a goal, one point for a primary assist, 0.5 points for a blocked shot and 0.1 points for a hit or shot on goal.
Statistics accurate through Nov. 20.
To be clear, just because a player butters their bread by collecting secondary assists on the power play doesn’t mean they get an automatic red flag here. Mitchell Marner loses the most fantasy points in the NHL here because 10 of his assists were secondary and 10 of his points have been on special teams (and, after the stats were already scraped for this, Marner notched a secondary, power-play assist on Monday to add to both totals at once). But Marner is at zero risk of losing his role as a top-six winger nor his power-play role. There has to be some reason to be concerned about the production being threatened to throw up a red flag on a player. There isn’t any concern with Marner repeating these secondary and bonus points.
Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vegas Golden Knights (14.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): This mark is second highest in the NHL to Marner (Pietrangelo added two more secondary assists on Monday night after these stats were clipped), but there are some minor concerns here when it comes to Pietrangelo. The main one is that we only have to look to last season to see Shea Theodore getting more minutes on the advantage. The Knights went back to Pietrangelo this season, but that doesn’t mean they are committed to him on the top unit until April. In fact, if you combine the output from the past two seasons, Theodore has 27 power-play points and 350 minutes of ice time to Pietrangelo’s 17 points and 285 minutes.
Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (13 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): The larger concern for Rielly is that any dry spell for the Leafs power play essentially erases his fantasy value. While he may have a touch fewer of his fantasy points from secondary helpers and special teams, Rielly doesn’t have nearly as many fantasy points overall compared to Pietrangelo. If you take away Rielly’s power-play production and secondary assists, there isn’t much left to hang your hat on. It would be great — and is probably inevitable — that the Leafs get going at five-on-five like they were last season. Rielly left Monday’s game injured, so there’s a chance someone else (Mark Giordano, Rasmus Sandin) will get to test drive the power play. If they flourish it could impact Rielly’s long-term outlook this season.
Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders (12.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): Eight of Barzal’s helpers this season have been of the secondary variety (nine if you include another on Monday after the stats were scraped). It would be nicer to see more of his points coming from goals or primary assists, so you know they would keep coming at a rate better than a point per game. When Barzal had his best season (outside his explosive rookie campaign) in 2019-20, he only had 11 secondary assists as part of a profile that included 30 primary assists and 19 goals in 68 games. The fact that he’s almost matched that secondary assist total this season already has me wanting more goals from Barzal.
Patrick Kane, W, Chicago Blackhawks (12.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): Maybe it’s more of a concern that Kane’s overall output has been really stagnant this season. Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou, his most frequent linemates, have been third-liners and press box players in recent seasons, so Kane can’t shoulder all the blame for doing little for fantasy. But if you take away his secondary assists and special teams bonuses, Kane has just 15.2 fantasy points, which ranks 408th among skaters. Ouch.
Brandon Montour, D, Florida Panthers (12.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): The red flag here can quickly signal to us that Montour’s extra stats won’t last. For starters, his fantasy production dips significantly when Aaron Ekblad is in the Panthers lineup. In 10 games that Montour played and Ekblad didn’t this season, Montour has posted 3.12 fantasy points per game (FPPG). In seven games that also featured Ekblad in the lineup, Montour has posted 1.98 FPPG. He’s still a fantasy asset with Ekblad in the lineup, but not to the same extent as he is with exclusive power-play responsibility.
Artturi Lehkonen, C/W, Colorado Avalanche (11.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): We’ve already seen how Lehkonen goes hot and cold based on how well the Avalanche power play is doing. Perhaps more salient as the months on the calendar flip faster than we expect them to, Lehkonen’s time on the first unit power play has a sunset date for the final three or four months of the season. Gabriel Landeskog’s return will bump him from the spot later this season. If you take away his secondary assists and special teams points, Lehkonen goes from inside the top 100 skaters in fantasy to outside the top 200.
J.J. Moser, D, Arizona Coyotes (nine fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): Jakob Chychrun‘s return really puts a nail in this fantasy coffin. Moser had a very respectable run to start this season by posting 2.0 FPPG through 16 games. But with Chychrun back on the ice, he bumped Moser from the top power-play unit. That’s enough to bump him from relevancy.
Hampus Lindholm, D, Boston Bruins (8.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): While Lindholm has managed to pick up one power-play point in the five games since Charlie McAvoy returned, his power-play time has plummeted. Prior to McAvoy’s return, Lindholm was averaging 3:21 on the advantage, but with McAvoy back in the fold, Lindholm is down to 1:58. Expect Lindholm to slowly fade from being an everyday deployment in fantasy.
There are two ways I see this exercise as highlighting players positively. The first is that they aren’t getting many of their fantasy points from secondary assists or special teams, so you can view the production as more stable. The second is that they are getting many of their fantasy points from secondary assists or special teams, which is a new role and a positive thing going forward.
It’s all about interpreting the situation for each player. Take our first one for example.
Mikhail Sergachev, D, Tampa Bay Lightning (11 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): I could have just as easily slotted Sergachev in with the red flags based on how many of his fantasy points are coming from secondary assists and special teams, but in this case it’s actually a massive positive. While it may not be permanent, Sergachev is going to earn more than a fair share of the time on the top power-play unit this season.
Mikhail Sergachev’s goal gives the Lightning a 4-0 advantage over the Capitals.
Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights (one fantasy point from secondary assists and special teams): The ultimate prime fantasy-point producer, throwing himself in front of more pucks than (quite possibly) any defenseman in history before him. As mentioned in the fantasy rankings this week, Martinez is on pace to not only beat, but obliterate the single-season blocked shots record. But perhaps the nicest part for fantasy managers is that Martinez isn’t relying on secondary assists or even points at all (he has just four points after doubling his season total on Monday), which means his stat total isn’t propped up by anything secondary yet. In fact, you could argue Martinez is due a few more goals and assists than he has recorded so far this season, which means we might see him push for the top fantasy defensemen spot in the coming months.
Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets (2.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): It’s quite encouraging to see Scheifele scoring so many primary fantasy points — mostly because he is well positioned to also collect plenty of secondary ones when the puck starts bouncing his way. In fact, Scheifele’s overall assist total is currently being suppressed by the lack of Nikolaj Ehlers. But we did learn this past week that Ehlers isn’t coming back to save the top line anytime soon and will have sports hernia surgery next week. Just what the Jets do to boost the top line and spark Scheifele is unclear. Mason Appleton had the role for an extended period, but didn’t impress and is now also hurt. Sam Gagner is currently filling in, but can’t be considered a long-term answer. Robbing from the second line would only leave them in the same predicament. The Jets have some teenagers in the AHL that were high draft picks (Brad Lambert, Chaz Lucius), but they would be better left to develop there. There isn’t an easy answer, but Scheifele is still managing 2.0 FPPG with room to grow.
Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota Wild (1.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): The writing really has to be on the wall at this stage that Calen Addison needs to be replaced on the top power-play unit. The Wild advantage is three-for-30 since Oct. 29, ranking dead last for conversion over that span. Addison keeps getting rolled out hoping for something different to happen. The Wild are forcing it so hard that they even dressed seven defensemen in their last game and basically used Addison as a power-play specialist with just nine shifts and seven minutes of ice time. Spurgeon is the veteran default on the advantage for this team. His 1.8 FPPG this season is right on the edge of being fantasy relevant, so the boost from some power-play responsibility would go a long way.
Jake Guentzel, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (3.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): The fact that Guentzel has averaged 2.4 FPPG this season with only two secondary assists and three special teams points is huge. Why? We’ll he was 36th in the NHL in power-play points in the past two seasons, so you have to believe those additional stats are coming.
Jamie Benn, C/W, Dallas Stars (8.5 fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): Benn needs these special teams fantasy points because it’s not easy to do a bunch of damage from the third line. Still hanging on to his role on the top power-play unit, there’s no reason to think his secondary points and special teams work is going anywhere.
Gabriel Vilardi, C, Los Angeles Kings (two fantasy points from secondary assists and special teams): It;s especially good to see Vilardi isn’t propping up his total with some secondary assists or special teams play because the role on the power play that he earned through hot scoring has already been taken away again. He’ll ebb and flow with his fantasy value, as many breakout candidates do, but the fact that so many of his points are coming directly off his stick is a net positive.
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