It's Veterans Day, and while I am flashing back to the friends I made in the Marine Corps so many years ago (and it happens to be the Corps 241st birthday), I think about my own youth. And, that brings me to the kids in the NHL, for it seems the Rookies are lighting it up in cities across North America, and I for one pray it continues this year and beyond.
In Winnipeg, Patrik Laine is laying waste to the notion that the younger players need seasoning in minor league systems across North America, Russia and Scandinavia. After potting his second hat trick of this young campaign, Laine now leads the NHL in goals (11), is tied for fifth in points (15), and is second in goals created. The second overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft, Laine is here to stay and better be owned in all leagues. The future in Winnipeg is very bright.
The Maple Leafs trio of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner are all shining north of the border as Toronto’s top three leading scorers. Marner is tied for first place in the NHL with three game-winning goals, Nylander leads the Leafs with 12 points and while Matthews has slowed down from his four-goal opening night, he still has six goals with five helpers. All three young Leafs are shooting around 11% so far with only a 16.34 minutes per game average.
Zach Werenski is going to be a big favorite of mine simply because he’s a Wolverine, and a Michigan born player, and his impact has been huge as a 19-year- old defenseman in the NHL. Werenski scored the overtime game-winner Wednesday while playing on the Blue Jackets top defensive pair, and with Seth Jones sidelined, Werenski has been a staple on the team’s top player unit since day one. With all this success so soon, Werenski’s DraftKings value has jumped quite a bit since day one when he started at $3700. He now costs $5600, which means he needs to score five or six DFS points nightly to be worth that price.
Jimmy Vesey, as I have noted before, was worth the wait after all the signing drama that dragged out before the Entry Draft and throughout the summer. The Rangers have a very bright spot in the former Honey Baker winner, while Nashville and Buffalo are most likely weeping over not being able to sign the future All-Star. Vesey is tied for second with five other Rangers with ten points along with six goals, four even strength and two with the man advantage. Seven blocks and nine hits are also stat fillers in DFS so take advantage of the New York Rangers as they lead the NHL at over four goals per game, while none of them minus Chris Kreider cost more than $5600 on DraftKings, with Kreider usually around $6500.
The Philadelphia Flyers are also getting superb play from rookie Travis Konecny, with the former Ottawa 67 tied for fourth with three goals and six assists. Konecny makes for a sneaky DFS pick with a much lower price tag of $4500 with starting second line duties and second power play minutes as well. He plays in the dirty areas of the ice like a big man with no fear of the corners or the front of the net.
Joel Eriksson-Ek, on the Minnesota Wild, has impressed thus far in the new, more scoring-oriented tempo of the Wild under Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. With two goals and three helpers over seven games, Eriksson-Ek has earned a place on the roster with a 28.6% shooting percentage on only seven shots, and the more comfortable he gets the more the shots will come. Eriksson-Ek has four points in the last two games for the Wild, both wins at Buffalo and Boston, while only averaging 10:28 minutes of ice time.
Finally, Matthew Tkachuk has warmed up of late in Calgary with three points in his last two, including a two-goal game last week in San Jose. The son of former NHL Star Keith Tkachuk, Matthew was the sixth overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft after destroying the Canadian Hockey League last season on an absolutely stacked London Knights squad, with 30 goals and 77 assists in 59 games. Tkachuk has missed play with a minor wrist injury but will be returning the next game.
You can follow me on Twitter @PolkaPat.