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10 fantasy hockey takeaways: What to do with Evander Kane?

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Evander Kane's suspension is nearing its end as the San Jose Sharks forward can officially make his return to the lineup this Monday. Just because his ban is almost up, however, doesn't mean we can expect to see him anytime soon.

Bringing Kane back to the squad isn't as easy as it appears. Embroiled in an off-ice saga that gets messier by the day, there are a number of things the team must consider before he is able to throw on a Sharks uniform again.

For fantasy hockey, that creates a perplexing situation for managers. When on the ice, he's been a valuable asset, but there's a lot to consider beyond just stats in this scenario.

Here are my 10 fantasy hockey takeaways from the past week, starting with Kane.

1. The Evander Kane (28 percent rostered on Yahoo) return is further away than you think

Head coach Bob Boughner recently discussed the timeline for Kane to return, and it doesn't sound like there's a realistic chance he rejoins the lineup immediately, according to the Mercury News.

“That’s why players come to camp,” Boughner said. “It’s a couple-week process where you play preseason games and play inter-squad games, you get body contact, you get pushed around and that’s really what the next phase of the training would be.

“As far as I know, that hasn’t happened. So, realistic? No.”

A fair number of fantasy managers already have Kane stashed away as the forward was very effective last season. In 56 games, he potted 22 goals and 49 points while also contributing a hearty 97 hits. Looking to add the forward in hopes that he can rekindle that form isn't something I'm looking to do, though.

There is so much off-ice baggage with Kane — even some of his teammates reportedly don't want him back. Additionally, it's been reported by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman that the team is willing to retain salary in order to move him in a trade, another sign the Sharks don't want anything to do with Kane.

I would much rather let him be a headache for someone else in my fantasy league than be a problem for me. I don't see many ways where holding onto Kane is worth it in the end.

2. Fantasy hockey impact of the Brayden Point (99 percent rostered on Yahoo) injury

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point will miss the next four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury he suffered earlier this week, and his absence will have a major impact on the Bolts and fantasy managers.

The Tampa middle man was just heating up prior to his injury, as he recorded a goal in three-straight contests before his last game against the New Jersey Devils. With him out of the lineup, a number of players are seeing an expanded opportunity.

For starters, Alex Killorn has been promoted to the top power-play unit. He's undergoing a nine-game goalless streak, but he's still been productive over that stretch, recording eight assists. Anthony Cirelli is now seeing more consistent deployment at center with Point gone. The two were featured on the same line typically alongside Ondrej Palat, but with Point out, Cirelli is centring a line that features Killorn and Mathieu Joseph on the wing. Joseph was already locked into the Lightning's top-six, but he's seen a more consistent stream of minutes over the last two games, topping 15 minutes of ice time in each outing.

Lastly, Alex Barre-Boulet was recalled from the minors after Point's injury and has scored a goal in each game he's played in. He has slid onto a line with Steven Stamkos and Palat, and even though his ice-time remains limited, he's worth an add in deep leagues due to his exposure to Stamkos.

3. The Sidney Crosby (99 percent rostered on Yahoo) buy-low window is wide open

Sidney Crosby fantasy managers who waited all this time for the superstar center to return can't be happy with how he's performed through his first seven games of the season.

Over this stretch, Crosby has scored just one goal and has two points. His lack of production has been fascinating, too, as both his linemates at even strength and on the power play, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, have recorded a point-per-game or better over their last five outings. The underlying number suggest that Crosby has been fine since coming back from a stint in the league's COVID protocols, as his individual expected goals for (ixG) mark of 1.36 ranks fourth on the team, and so does his individual Corsi For (iCF) total of 25. He ranked third on the squad in each category last year, so it's not like there's been a major drop off.

It's fair to assume that Crosby is likely going through a mixture of acclimation and unluckiness as he settles back in. Locked into the No. 1 center slot and power play on a top-heavy Pens team, he's still someone who you should be actively trying to acquire in fantasy hockey. I'd be willing to part with players like Elias Lindholm and Anze Kopitar in an attempt to acquire Crosby.

4. Should you sell Sam Reinhart (81 percent rostered on Yahoo)?

With zero points over his last five games, fantasy managers are likely beginning to panic about Sam Reinhart.

His stint with the Florida Panthers certainly isn't going as smoothly as I expected. After producing with the Buffalo Sabres despite being surrounded by a lacklustre supporting cast, I figured he'd go nuclear while playing with a talent-rich group in Florida. That hasn't been the case, however, as the goal-scorer has just three markers in 19 contests with the Cats. Even though he has struggled to light the lamp, I am still very interested in Reinhart and highly suggest you don't rid yourself of him in fantasy.

For starters, his shooting percentage with the Panthers (7.9 percent) is nearly six percentage points lower than what it was with the Sabres (13.6 percent). Additionally, his ixG mark of 4.99 sits third on Florida, ahead of teammates Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe and Frank Vatrano, who all have more goals than he does. Also, his 21 high-danger scoring chances rank third on the squad.

More than anything else, Reinhart has been unlucky. He's another player who's worth trying to acquire via trade. I'd be willing to part with Timo Meier or the player under takeaway No. 8 for him in a deal.

5. What to make of the James Reimer (47 percent rostered on Yahoo) revival?

In one of the more unlikely storylines through the early portion of the 2021-22 NHL season, James Reimer has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.

The San Jose Sharks puckstopper owns an impressive .936 save percentage, a 1.98 goals-against average, and a strong 6.4 goals saved above-expected mark which ranks 13th in the NHL, according to MoneyPuck. His numbers have been otherworldly, but can he sustain it?

The short answer is no. Reimer hasn't posted a save percentage above .915 in five years, and it seems unlikely he'll have a career campaign on a mediocre Sharks team. Additionally, the Sharks blueline has held up well so far, allowing the seventh-fewest high-danger chances per-60 in the league, according to Natural Stat Trick, but considering it allowed the fifth-most in the NHL a season ago and it remains a fairly unchanged group, I expect it to loosen up at some point.

Reimer has been a nice story, and if you need immediate goaltending help, he's worth an add. If you can flip him for someone with a stronger track record like Alex Nedeljkovic, I'd make that move.

6. Send out an offer for Zach Hyman (89 percent rostered on Yahoo)

Zach Hyman has been held to just one point over his last five contests and was recently bumped off Connor McDavid's wing, so it's a perfect time to buy low on the winger.

Despite his recent struggles, he remains an effective player on the year as a whole as he's recorded 14 points across 19 games. Additionally, he's still featured on the Edmonton Oilers' top power-play unit, which has helped Hyman record five points on the man advantage this year. His hits per game (0.79) this season are down from where they were (1.60) last year, but there's still time for that to correct itself.

There's still a lot to like about Hyman despite his recent struggles and demotion. I'd be willing to trade Matt Duchene or Tyler Bertuzzi in a deal for him.

7. What's up with Mathew Barzal (87 percent rostered on Yahoo)?

Mathew Barzal has been all sorts of bad for the New York Islanders of late, and it's been extremely frustrating for fantasy managers.

Over his last four games, Barzal has zero points and owns a horrific minus-six rating. He's playing a lead role on an Isles team that has scored the second-fewest goals-per-game (2.00) of any team in the NHL this season, and the question shifts from whether you think Barzal will bounce back or whether you believe New York can snap out of it?

Under head coach Barry Trotz, the Islanders have never been a prolific scoring team. Since he took over ahead of the 2018-19 season, the squad has finished below 20th in goals for each season. Barzal's best statistical year actually came during his only season without Trotz at the helm in 2017-18, when the 24-year-old recorded 22 goals and 85 points as a rookie.

Since then, Barzal's flirted within the range of 60-70 points. He's currently on pace to score 44 points, which is well below that mark. Considering he still grades second on the Isles in ixG and iCF this season, I'd say he'll likely rebound and put himself back on track to reach the 60-point plateau. It's worth noting New York had an absolutely brutal start to the year with 13 straight games on the road to open its campaign. If you have Barzal on your team, I wouldn't accept any lowball offers. Hang tight, it'll get better.

8. Sell high on Andrew Mangiapane (80 percent rostered on Yahoo)

It pains me to write this as a proud Barrie Colts supporter, but you've got to trade Andrew Mangiapane right now.

The Calgary Flames winger has been electric to open the 2021-22 campaign with 15 goals and 17 points, but it's just simply unsustainable. The guy is currently rocking a 30.6 shooting percentage 20 games into the season, which is absolutely ludicrous and destined to crater.

There's really no other stat that does a better job to illustrate this point than his shooting percentage. To put it into perspective, no player in the NHL over the past 10 years has scored more than 20 goals while finishing with a shooting percentage greater than 25 percent, so if he's going to continue scoring, it certainly won't be at the rate he currently is.

Players I'd consider trying to acquire in exchange for Mangiapane are Nikolaj Ehlers, Alex DeBrincat, Elias Pettersson, and Sam Reinhart.

9. You can drop Jeff Petry (58 percent rostered on Yahoo)

I've seen Jeff Petry floating around on a lot of waiver wires, and while I've given the idea of adding him some thought, I haven't been able to bring myself to do it.

Through 21 games, the 33-year-old has just two assists, a minus-three rating, 24 blocks and 42 hits. While the defensive numbers aren't bad, it's likely not enough to make him worth clinging onto in leagues 12 teams or larger.

Additionally, it's hard to see a large scoring correction coming anytime soon. The Habs' 2.24 goals for per game rank fourth-worst in the NHL, and without a star-studded group of offensive talent on the roster, I highly doubt this team becomes an offensive dynamo anytime soon.

10. Dustin Brown (11 percent rostered on Yahoo) has been crazy unlucky

If you believe in the law of averages, then you agree with me when I say Dustin Brown is due to go absolutely bonkers sometime soon.

The Los Angeles Kings veteran has been peppering puckstoppers with the best of them this season, as his 62 shots on goal are tied for 17th-most in the league. The funny thing with Brown, however, is that his two goals are the lowest of any forward inside the top-30 in shots on goal.

That's resulted in a ridiculously low shooting percentage of 3.2 percent. Brown's career shooting percentage of 9.7 percent is more than three times greater than his current mark, which is a great indicator that this rough patch is unsustainable.

Another sign that suggests he's due for some more puck luck is the fact that his 26 high-danger scoring rank second on his team, and ahead of teammate Alex Iafallo who has four more goals than he does.

Brown is worth stashing or at the very least, keeping a close eye on in fantasy because he is way overdue.

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