The Winnipeg Jets enter this week 1-1-0, with Connor Hellebuyck starting both games.
The week ahead sees them with a standard schedule from the NHL’s point of view, with games Tuesday against Los Angeles, Thursday against Vegas, and Saturday against Edmonton.
In other words, the Jets are running the Pacific Division gauntlet.
What does it mean for your fantasy teams this week?
Here’s your Winnipeg Jets fantasy preview for the week.
As always, player ownership numbers will be referring to Yahoo.
This is a good week to target blocks, hits
The Jets will play this week against some of the best teams in the Conference, which can be a good time to stream defensemen. Players tend to get more blocks against good teams who have the puck often and shoot it.
Vegas and Los Angeles are also very physical teams, and Winnipeg will have no problem playing that style either. There could be more hits in those games, than say, against Edmonton. Although Evander Kane and Mattias Ekholm certainly take no prisoners.
Neal Pionk (32% rostered) sees regular penalty kill time and is great for hits and blocks.
Adam Lowry (4% rostered) is one of the most proficient hit accumulators in the league.
Brendan Dillon (5% rostered), meanwhile, currently leads the team in hits and blocks, with 5 and 6 respectively.
Be patient with Hellebuyck, there could be more poor stats coming
Connor Hellebuyck’s boasting a .852 save percentage and a 4.07 goals against average two games into the season so far. He was unlucky to surrender two in the third period against Florida on Saturday, ballooning his GAA up in a start where he was absolute quality.
Winnipeg’s schedule this week doesn’t make it any easier. In my mind, they’re playing three future playoff teams, with Vegas among the league’s best and the Oilers power play capable of giving any great goaltender a few extra goals against.
Personally, I’d be starting Hellebuyck no matter what.
But watch for Laurent Brossoit to possibly get a start this week, and if by Saturday the Jets and Hellebuyck haven’t instilled confidence defensively, you may be able to find a different interesting option on the waiver wire.
But long term, Hellebuyck is money. Keep him.
It’s a mistake to not have Gabe Vilardi on your watch list
I’m not going to tell you to pull the trigger now on Gabe Vilardi (14% rostered), but he is in prime position to eclipse last year’s career highs of 23 goals and 41 points.
But to tell you why, we have to divert the focus to his linemates.
Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele were absolutely dynamic on Saturday. Connor has 12 shots and three goals through two games, Scheifele has been the sniping playmaker he’s always been, and the early eye test suggests that these two are completely dialed in.
Both Rick Bowness and Paul Maurice rarely broke this duo up, making it important to know who the third wheel is. That trend should continue, and right now it’s Gabe Vilardi.
The Jets’ four lines have great harmony right now, and I don’t see them changing.
Vilardi, in particular is a great fit stylistically for the shifty Connor and cerebral Scheifele. He has great hands, he’s six foot three, and does great work along the boards while possessing a dangerous shot. His tool kit is easily the Jets’ best complement to 55 and 81, and I expect him to get a long look there.
He’s also on the top power play, and is second on the team in shots with 9 through 2 games.
He’s tallied an assist so far in two games.
Keep a close eye.
Adam Lowry and his stat stuffing magic
Lowry is one of those fantasy players who, if he produces any offense, is capable of having great all around impacts. This only applies if your league counts hits, though.
So far he has two assists through two games and five hits.
As mentioned in my Jets fantasy preview, Lowry is a good player to keep an eye on for streaming, or when one of your players hits the IR.
He typically generates two or three hits per game, gets penalties often enough (if your league counts PIMs) and usually can find some power play time.
The main interest this season though when it comes to Lowry, is the fact that the Jets are icing their best forward group from one through twelve in 3 or 4 years. Whether it’s Alex Iafallo and Mason Appleton, or Morgan Barron and Vlad Namestnikov, Lowry will be centering a quality third line.
He posted a career high in assists and points last year, with 36.
I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets over 40 points this year. That in combination with 150+ hits is a decent fantasy player, and one worth streaming.
That being said, Iafallo and Vilardi are playing on the top power play unit right now, not Lowry.
Thoughts on second line of Ehlers-Perfetti-Niederreiter
Three of the Jets’ four lines so far have been rolling, playing well to their identities.
The second line is the one that has not.
It has been the worst so far as they find their rhythm. Ehlers missed all of training camp, Perfetti is 21 years old and playing center in the NHL for the first time, and Niederreiter is an excellent complementary forward who relies on teammates to drive possession and get the puck down low.
Perfetti (9% owned) is a good player in dynasty or keeper pools. For this year, there definitely a chance he finds his way and produces consistent offence. Patience, then pounce.
Ehlers (40% owned) is electric, but can’t find his way on the top power play. He can be a buy low candidate as a near point per game player who shoots often. He personally may be due for a slow start from missing camp, in combination with this line needing some time to find its legs.
I wouldn’t target Niederreiter (9% owned) at the moment, unless he gets PP1 time, which as it stands, he is not.
Long term, I like this line and think it can eventually do damage. That just may not come in October.