As we ring in the new year, let’s find out which players can help make a difference between winning and losing your matchup this week in addition to those who may be more valuable over the long haul. Thanks for reading and be sure to leave your own feedback below!
Nick Holden – D (NYR)
Defenseman Nick Holden of the New York Rangers is quietly having a special year and should be rewarded for what he has accomplished thus far. Heading into tonight’s action, Holden has accumulated eight goals and 13 helpers, with nine points coming in his previous ten games, including his team’s lone goal last night versus Buffalo. Four goals in his last three games has given Holden an inflation in ice time, as he has recorded at least 21 minutes in five of the last seven. The eight goals Holden has scored rates fifth in the league for defensemen and with the Rangers ability to score goals in bunches, there is no reason to feel he won’t continue his rise. Besides Ryan McDonagh, Holden’s stats are the best on the team for defesemen and while McDonagh is on the first line, Holden is doing it all from the second line. Along with The success he has had this season puts him on pace for 15 goals, 27 assists and 42 points which would all be career-highs. With bigger names out there and available in your league, Holden often gets passed up on, but with his recent hot streak, that should no longer be the case.
Anthony Mantha – RW (DET)
Red Wings right-winger Anthony Mantha has been playing out of this world the past two weeks and is really making a name for himself in his short time in the NHL. On the season, Mantha has put the puck in the back of the net nine times in just 22 games and is on pace for a 27 goal campaign. More impressive, the last six games have resulted in five goals and four assists for the youngster. His recent surge has given him more ice time and what appears to be a permanent stay in the league. For a team struggling to score – Detroit ranks 24th in the league with a 2.38 goals per game average – and win – they are seven points back of Boston for the final playoff spot – Mantha is doing his darnedest to keep the Wings relevant as they try to make the playoffs for the 26th consecutive season. Being on the first line with center Henrik Zetterberg should help him get opportunities to score. Mantha is hot right now and he hasn’t even reached his full potential, so do what it takes to land him in your lineup.
Frederik Andersen – G (TOR)
Not talked about much because of all the more successful goalies in the league but deserving of a chance is Toronto Maple Leafs goalkeeper Frederik Andersen. The Leafs lost their last game last night in Washington – 6-5 in overtime – but Andersen had won four in a row prior to that and has put his team in position to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season. In fact, it was just the second time since November 12 that Andersen has allowed more than three goals, so you know he has really been on top of his game for quite some time. On the season, Andersen sports a 16-8-7 record with a 2.63 GAA and a .920 save percentage and has blossomed between the pipes, losing only twice in regulation since the end of November. If you’re a fan of saves, Andersen has stopped lots of rubber, making 170 saves in his last five starts including a season-high 45 against Florida. Probably available on your waiver wire, Andersen has been lights out of late and is more than worthy of starting for your team.
Chad Johnson – G (CAL)
Another goaltender who is being talked about and not for positive reasons, is Calgary Flames backstopper Chad Johnson. Viewed as a backup when the Flames traded for Brian Elliot during the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Elliot has really struggled this season, opening the door for Johnson. For a while, Johnson held his own, winning six straight at one point while not allowing more than three goals in each game. However, Johnson has not produced in his time as a starter since, losing his last four starts and yielding a combined 15 goals, including at least three in each start. Those last four games for Johnson have resulted in a horrendous .859 average save percentage and has given Elliot the chance to regain his starter status once more. The journeyman goalie needs to make the most of his starts when they come and as he has not completely done that, the chances for more starts keep dwindling. With Johnson’s playing time unclear and him having troubles when he does play, it makes no sense to keep Johnson around any longer.
Travis Zajac – C (NJD)
As assistant captain of the New Jersey Devils, Zajac has not done enough lately to be considered in the world of fantasy hockey. Since his hat trick performance against Chicago on December 1st, Zajac has not so much as scored a goal in the 15 games that followed. More bad news for Zajac owners is that he has only recorded one point since December 18th and has managed just eight shots in his last six contests. Zajac has also been dealing with an illness that kept him out of the lineup for a game on Monday and even though he returned to action last night, maybe he is still feeling the effects of it. Perhaps he is a great leader to the younger guys on the team, but with the Devils having a hard time scoring – notching three goals or more just three in the last 14 games – the production is not coming for Zajac and company. Some solid teams are up next on the schedule for the Devils in Toronto and Edmonton, meaning Zajac may continue his scoring drought. At this time, there are more worthwhile centers available, so adjust your roster accordingly.