Special to Yahoo Sports
With a couple of weeks in the books, a few questions need to be asked: Are the Sabres for real? What's wrong with the Habs? And is the Coyotes' D really that awful?
More time will be required to evaluate team situations, but at least we can sift through the weekly waiver picks. Just a reminder that this column is meant as a tool for any type of fantasy hockey format, whether it be head-to-head or roto, competitive or recreational, standard or deep. With the odd exception, I won't bring up someone if they're covered in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. And repeats aren't allowed until at least the New Year unless someone really deserves a second (or third?) mention.
And after you get through this, be sure to read RotoWire for the latest news and in-depth articles to prepare your lineups.
Here are 14 more hidden hockey gems.
(Rostered rates/stats as of Oct. 28.)
Andrew Mangiapane, CGY (Yahoo: 53%)
This week's get-him-before-he's-gone player is Mangiapane who, despite averaging 14:55, went into Wednesday night tied for the league lead in goals with seven. He showed promise last season with 32 points in 56 games and should be ready for more ice time, yet that hasn't stopped him from filling up the net. Mangiapane doesn't add much other than firing shots on net, but he's not there for the secondary material. Add him so you don't have to settle for crumbs.
Andrew Copp, WPG (Yahoo: 42%)
Following a few mediocre years, Copp stepped up his game last season with 39 points — with 12 of those on the power play — mainly skating on the third line. With Mark Scheifele out, he's been able to take advantage higher up on the depth chart with a pair of three-point showings and 14 shots in the last four games along with 34 faceoff wins across the last two. Even if Copp doesn't maintain a prominent role when Scheifele and Blake Wheeler return, he's a solid fantasy commodity who can fit anywhere in the lineup.
Jordan Staal, CAR (Yahoo: 38%)
Staal is coming off an excellent 16 goals and 22 assists from the abbreviated season while totaling 14 PPPs. His minutes are slightly down this campaign, but he's already accumulated four points. There's no shame being Carolina's third center within a stacked top-nine and logging substantial time on both special-teams units. Beyond the offense, Staal has been active in other categories with 12 shots, 13 hits, five blocks, and 40 faceoff wins.
Rickard Rakell, ANH (Yahoo: 29%)
We mentioned Jakob Silfverberg last week as a source of production and we're going to continue in Anaheim with the generally reliable Rakell. He won't provide a lot of points similar to earlier outputs, though he's still adept at goals (four) and shots (26). Rakell remains a mainstay on the Ducks' lead man-advantage where he's contributed two PPGs. Those stats may not be exciting, but they should be an incentive to pick him up.
Dustin Brown, LA (Yahoo: 21%)
There aren't many 36-year-olds who can keep it going offensively and physically, yet Brown continues to prove his worth in both areas. Two goals, three helpers, 22 shots, and 12 hits averaging 18:21 ain't bad for an old man. Brown's been a fixture next to Anze Kopitar for years and joins the Slovenian on even-strength and power play. And that partnership isn't likely to end anytime soon.
Jonathan Drouin, MON (Yahoo: 18%)
Montreal might look horrendous, but a couple of its skaters require attention. The team has only potted 11 goals from its opening seven games, and Drouin has figured in on five. After a much-needed personal break, the former first-rounder and multiple 53-point achiever looks rejuvenated alongside Christian Dvorak. Drouin's play may occasionally tail off, but you can't ignore his talent and fantasy upside.
Jason Zucker, PIT (Yahoo: 6%)
The Pens look significantly better than the Habs, though no one's bragging about their play without the services of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Jake Guentzel (99 percent) may be the most prominent healthy Pittsburgh forward worth rostering, but Zucker's more than capable of posting a respectable stat line with a goal in three of four outings. Throw in 20 shots, 15 hits, and a place on the first power play. And with Crosby set to come back soon, Zucker's PP appeal should only be enhanced.
Robert Thomas, STL (Yahoo: 4%)
After an injury-plagued season, expectations were tempered for Thomas heading into 2021-22. The 2018 WJC gold medalist wasn't given a lot of minutes the first three years, but an increase in the last four contests has resulted in five assists. Centering the third trio with Vladimir Tarasenko on the right side will do a lot to boost Thomas' offensive numbers. He also qualifies as an RW in Yahoo, which offers flexibility in leagues that count faceoffs.
Moritz Seider, DET (Yahoo: 35%)
Many jaws dropped when Seider was selected sixth overall in 2019 since he was ranked No. 6 for European skaters entering the draft. But following successful stints in the AHL and Swedish Elite League along with an excellent training camp, few doubters remain as to his tremendous potential. Seider marked his NHL debut with two assists and three hits versus the defending champs. He's gone on to add four assists — with three on the power play — and has averaged nearly 22 minutes. We're only seven games in and Seider has already risen to the top of Detroit's blueline depth chart.
Evan Bouchard, EDM (Yahoo: 24%)
Much like Darnell Nurse, Bouchard excelled offensively as a junior. And similar to his defensive partner, it's taken a couple of years to earn a full-time big-league spot. Both have begun decently in terms of scoring and combined for 38 shots while complementing each other with Nurse racking up 33 hits and Bouchard blocking 12 shots. The duo can also be found on the Oilers' much-lesser-used second man-advantage, though there's a remote chance Bouchard could eventually usurp Tyson Barrie as the RD on the lead group.
Noah Dobson, NYI (Yahoo: 19%)
Dobson was used as a power-play specialist in his first two seasons, though only a total of six PPPs were produced. With Nick Leddy and his 31 points — including 11 PPPs — moving to Detroit, a prime vacancy opened. It's too early to determine whether Dobson will eventually become the biggest beneficiary, but the three helpers qualify as a respectable start while the 11 hits and 14 blocks are an unexpected bonus.
Matt Roy, LA (Yahoo: 1%)
It was announced Wednesday that Drew Doughty will miss up to eight weeks with a knee injury while Sean Walker is out for the season after suffering ACL and MCL tears. While newly promoted youngsters Kale Clague and Austin Strand will make their case for a regular role, the slightly older Roy should operate as the Kings' lead defender coming off a four-shot, two-hit 28:45 performance. He's also recently lined up at the right point on the first man-advantage, though Alexander Edler could also be in the mix. There's no guarantee Roy will be a serviceable fantasy blueliner, but the promise of mid-20-minute games presents the opportunity to do so.
Craig Anderson, BUF (Yahoo: 20%)
To the surprise of many, the Sabres are being led between the pipes by a 40-year-old who arrived during summer to join his sixth NHL club. And it's not as if Anderson is simply filling a roster spot, with a 1.76 GAA and .944 save percentage in four appearances, which includes victories over the Bolts and Bruins. Regression should eventually kick in, but the veteran is bound to get more starts based on what he's done, and considering Buffalo's other option — Dustin Tokarski — is 32 having spent nearly his entire 12-year pro career in the AHL.
Jonathan Quick, LA (Yahoo: 7%)
Cal Petersen is projected to see the bulk of action in net for LA this season. His first two starts went decently, allowing just four goals, though the last one saw him let seven through. Quick may be winless in three, but he's only given up a total of eight while being backed by a measly four. One would expect Petersen to recover, but a short-term goalie timeshare seems inevitable based on Quick's recent efforts and the Kings playing nine times over the next 16 days.