Special to Yahoo Sports
We turn the calendar* to December, which means we're roughly one-quarter into the NHL season. Still early enough not to worry too much in fantasy, but late enough to get a decent idea of where you're headed.
(*For those younger readers, a calendar is a printed representation of the year usually separated by months that can be displayed on the side of a fridge, the door of a bathroom or on top of a desk. It is now largely obsolete thanks to the introduction of this thing called the Internet.)
Feel good about your rosters? If not, here are some available recruits to make things easier:
(Rostered rates as of Dec. 2)
Blake Wheeler, WPG (Yahoo: 52 percent)
Remember when Wheeler notched consecutive 91-point campaigns and was taken in nearly every league? That was only four seasons ago, and he's roughly been on a point-per-game pace since. Poolies panicked about Wheeler when he only managed two points over a six-game span from late October to mid-November while skating lower down the lineup. Then, bam, 10 points in the last five, including a hat-trick Tuesday against Colorado. Wheeler has been reunited with Mark Scheifele, and everything is back to normal again.
Matty Beniers, SEA (Yahoo: 39%)
Can someone tell the Kraken to stop scoring? 29 goals from six contests — with two games of at least eight (!!) — have vaulted them into third with an average of 3.78 per game. Beniers began his freshman year registering five goals, four assists and 23 shots from 11 outings but was then held off the scoresheet across the next six games. The second selection in the 2021 draft has recaptured form in the last six with a whopping 12 points — including three on the power play — and a plus-9.
To top it off, Beniers netted the OT winner Thursday against the Capitals. Get him now!
Seth Jarvis, CAR (Yahoo: 27%)
Jarvis broke out as a rookie last season and consistently logged time in the top six en route to 40 points during the regular season and eight more in the playoffs. There was a sizable drop-off over a month in which he only posted a goal and three assists, yet he remained active, firing 25 pucks on net and keeping a place alongside Sebastian Aho at five-on-five as well as regular man-advantage duty. Jarvis has turned it around the last week-and-a-half with four points, 15 shots and 11 hits on 17:12 a night.
Dylan Cozens, BUF (Yahoo: 24%)
Thirty-eight points from 79 games last season was a respectable total from Cozens as a 20-year-old, and he's well ahead of that pace with 21 in 24 so far this year. He was especially productive in November, totaling four goals, eight assists and 36 shots, and started December with a bang, picking up a goal and two helpers Thursday against Colorado. Cozens has bounced between power-play units but is currently on the lead group. He's also a prominent penalty-kill participant and converted a shortie on a nice rush Wednesday in Detroit.
Tomas Tatar, NJ (Yahoo: 16%)
Tatar would probably like to forget his first year in Jersey and move on to the present where he's already up to 15 points, half of last season's haul. The veteran winger also went into Thursday's action leading all NHL forwards in plus-minus at +18. Tatar lines up with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt with their combined 31 points at even-strength and joins forces with a youthful second man-advantage, though he hasn't made an impact there yet. If he can stay healthy and keep a decent place within the lineup, he should be good for at least 40 points and 150 shots.
Filip Chytil, NYR (Yahoo: 9%)
It's been a steady process, but Chytil has developed into a solid middle-six forward. He returned on November 6 after missing six contests with an upper-body injury and accumulated two goals, six assists, 16 shots and 11 hits. Chytil centers the Rangers' second line, which means a regular place beside Artemi Panarin. The pivot position is fairly stacked, though he also qualifies as an RW in Yahoo. Monitor Chytil's progress in the next few games before adding him.
Nick Foligno, BOS (Yahoo: 3%)
For a few years, Foligno was the perfect fantasy player, as he could be relied upon for significant contributions in points, shots, hits and even faceoff wins. He's slowed down or completely stopped doing a couple of those functions yet remains an integral piece of the Bruins' attack. Even operating on single-digit/low-double-digit ice times, Foligno has picked up six points — including three PPPs — 12 shots and 16 hits in his last six appearances.
Taylor Raddysh, CHI (Yahoo: 1%)
Raddysh persevered through three AHL campaigns before finally making it to the top level and then was dealt by Tampa in March as part of the package that sent Brandon Hagel the other way. He almost immediately clicked with his new club and has carried that momentum to this season, where he's registered three PPGs on Chicago's first unit, including two in the last week. In addition to their partnership while up a man, Raddysh and Max Domi also skate together at five-on-five.
Low-risk, decent rewards. Give the kid a chance.
Ryan Pulock, NYI (Yahoo: 35%)
Nothing gets a player noticed in fantasy more than a huge performance, and that's been the case the last few days with Pulock after he racked up four assists Saturday against the Flyers. Of greater importance is that two of those helpers came on the power play, tripling his overall output in that department. Pulock's 11 total points aren't outstanding, but combining that with 24 hits and 26 blocks over the last three weeks along with a recent uptick in man-advantage minutes makes him a decent add.
Brett Pesce, CAR (Yahoo: 2%)
Pesce has generally been excellent over his career, yet he's hardly considered in fantasy based on mediocre offensive numbers. Like Pulock, he's experienced a boon of late with two goals, two assists, seven shots and five blocks in four games — including a PPG and PPA during that stretch. It's not like Pesce has suddenly been provided with a power-play position as he's averaging 1:37 for the year as part of the Canes' second unit. Since most leagues value PP production and since Pesce plays on a top team, he's at least worth a look in deeper formats.
Travis Sanheim, PHI (Yahoo: 2%)
We're once again going with recency bias, as Sanheim has recorded six points, 11 shots and 13 blocks since Nov. 19 while playing over 21 minutes a night. Beyond a modest man-advantage role, he's continuing his lead place on the penalty kill and notched a shorthanded marker on Tuesday. As will be repeated in this column until it no longer exists, there's enough prestige associated with someone who holds any power-play place. If they're like Sanheim and can also provide decent stats in other categories, then all the better.
Marcus Bjork, CLS (Yahoo: 1%)
With the Columbus D decimated by injuries, a couple of defenders have been given more opportunities. The biggest beneficiary has been Bjork, as he not only skates on the top pairing with Vladislav Gavrikov but also participates on the top power play. Thanks to a point in each of his first two NHL appearances, he was bumped up to the favorable spot and has picked up a pair of PPAs. Adam Boqvist (foot) could return in the next week and eventually claim the lead power-play post, but Bjork is currently the only Blue Jacket blueliner with advanced fantasy status.
Craig Anderson, BUF (Yahoo: 16%)
Anderson came into this season off a decent 17-12-2 record in his first year with the Sabres. The club still isn't performing particularly well when it comes to team defense, yet the 41-year-old's numbers have improved with a 2.87 GAA and .916 save percentage through 10 appearances. With Eric Comrie having struggled before getting hurt and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen not quite ready to assume a larger workload, Anderson should cover most of Buffalo's starts behind an outstanding offense.
Kaapo Kahkonen, SJ (Yahoo: 7%)
Similar to the previous entry, the Sharks have a veteran in James Reimer who's operating as their No. 1. Kahkonen was acquired last season and was expected to push Reimer for the lead gig, though he didn't help himself by beginning the current campaign with a 3.70/.878 line across six outings. He's looked better of late with a couple of wins, including a shutout in Montreal on Tuesday. Reimer should be taken off IR in time for either of San Jose's weekend contests, but Kahkonen should start at least one of them.
Players to consider from past columns: Logan Couture, Martin Necas, Joel Eriksson Ek, Gabriel Vilardi, Boone Jenner, Jeff Skinner, Andrei Kuzmenko, Phillip Danault, Dylan Strome, Kevin Hayes, David Krejci, Trevor Moore, Nick Schmaltz, Max Domi, Kent Johnson, Mikael Granlund, Alex Killorn, Jake DeBrusk, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Brandon Hagel, Kirby Dach, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Jordan Eberle, William Karlsson, Viktor Arvidsson, Jason Zucker, Nick Paul, Alexander Barabanov, Brandon Montour, Jake Sanderson, Calen Addison, Noah Hanifin, Cam Fowler, Sean Durzi, Vince Dunn, Janis Moser, Rasmus Sandin, Justin Schultz, Vitek Vanecek, Martin Jones, Karel Vejmelka, Pyotr Kochetkov, Stuart Skinner, Spencer Martin