A bit of an unusual fantasy week on tap for the NHL, as American Thanksgiving means Thursday, Nov. 23, is a day with no NHL games, and Tuesday, Nov. 21, also doesn't have any games scheduled.
As such, we have a busy Monday with seven games and an extremely busy Wednesday with 14 games. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Minnesota Wild -- all returning from their Swedish sojourn -- have the start of the week off. The Detroit Red Wings, who left Sweden a little earlier, are among the teams in action on Wednesday.
Given the situation, fantasy managers in weekly head-to-head leagues might need -- or even just want -- and extra goaltending start or two from the free agent pile. The all-off days make this an improved possibility as it avoids back-to-back sets through the week. And, as it happens, there are a couple of goaltenders with solid schedules.
Philipp Grubauer, G, Seattle Kraken (91.46% available): While his grip hasn't been firm on the starting gig all season, it's never been as firm as it is at the moment. Grubauer is coming off two victories, including one against the league's most potent offense this season (Vancouver). He may get both of the starts for the Kraken in the early part of this week if the team want to keep his momentum up. Monday's opponent, the Calgary Flames, have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing goaltenders per game this season, while Wednesday's date with the San Jose Sharks will be against the team that allows the most.
Jacob Markstrom, G, Calgary Flames (49.43% available): The Flames take on the Kraken on Monday and the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. The schedule isn't as strong as it is for Grubauer -- and only one of them can win on Monday -- but he is also coming off his best stretch of goaltending of the season (also including a win against Vancouver).
Stuart Skinner, G, Edmonton Oilers (51.62% available): Though the negative fantasy points came back on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Skinner's results have been improving in tandem with the coaching change for the Oilers. More than anything, this stretch with the Florida Panthers on Monday and Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday will be a good test to see whether fantasy managers (and the Oilers, for that matter) can trust Skinner to help with turning this season around. The Cats and Canes are tough to win against, but they also haven't been sinking goaltenders this season, ranking 13th and 15th for fantasy points by the opposition goalie (so, middle of the pack).
Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose Sharks: The same warning that will come with all Sharks this season: Ignore this if your league uses plus/minus. That said, the team has seemingly found at least a modest formula to stay in some games. And Hertl will be at the center of it. He's picked up 12.7 fantasy points in his past five games after collecting only 6.2 in the five prior to that, which represents a personal uptick in production, too.
Matthew Knies, W, Toronto Maple Leafs: It's been six games since Knies was locked into the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Remembering, of course, that he'll be offered no access to them on the power play, his three goals and two assists across six games isn't terrible. The end result for fantasy has been 1.63 fantasy points per game, which is below the threshold we hold most players to for relevance (1.7) -- but only just. Given the potential for Knies to get to fantasy-relevant territory with only minor adjustments, he should probably be on rosters now (available in about 60 percent of leagues).
Scott Perunovich, D, St. Louis Blues: The Blues are giving Perunovich more than a fair shake on the advantage of late, as he only slightly trails Torey Krug in total power-play time in the past six games. The results aren't there yet, but Perunovich has upside if the power-play time remains consistent.
Anton Lundell, C/W, Florida Panthers: With Barkov projected to miss a game or two, Lundell will fill in among the top six -- potentially earning some power-play time, too.
Devon Toews, D, Colorado Avalanche: A slow start hopefully behind him, Toews has come on strong in the past five games, earning 2.72 fantasy points per game (FPPG) across that stretch. That's stark compared to the 1.13 FPPG from the first 10 games of the season. In fact, Toews has notched more total fantasy points across the past five (13.6) than across the first 10 games (11.3).
Michael Bunting, W, Carolina Hurricanes: Having not played more than 13:25 seconds in his past seven games, it's all but confirmed that Bunting is the odd one out for the Hurricanes scoring lines. When everyone is healthy, they just have one too many bodies for two lines. It's OK to ditch Bunting -- at least until the Hurricanes have to deal with an injury to their top six.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Florida Panthers: The ride has been fun to start the season, but it's unlikely OEL can maintain his fantasy-relevant pace with both Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad back in the Panthers lineup again.
Cole Caufield, W, Montreal Canadiens: Have a little patience, but maybe a brief benching could be in order for Caufield on your fantasy team. The bad news is that one of his past 42 shots have gone into the net. The good news is that he is back on a line with Nick Suzuki again.
MacKenzie Weegar, D, Calgary Flames (27.76% available): The Flames opponents to start the week (Kraken and Predators) are both among the top five in allowing fantasy points to opposing defence. It's as good a time as any to deploy Weegar, who is having a bounceback campaign.
Connor Zary, C, Calgary Flames (96.67% available): The good times keep rolling for Zary, who is on the wing of Nazem Kadri at even strength and on the top power-play unit for the Flames. Two more assists on Saturday evened him up to eight points in eight games this season.
Eeli Tolvanen, W, Seattle Kraken (26.2% available): The matchup with the Flames on Monday is fine, but what we are really targetting here is the hope that the Kraken feast on the Sharks on Wednesday. Tolvanen is quickly becoming one of Seattle's better offensive weapons alongside linemate Oliver Bjorkstrand.