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A quarter inch. That’s all that separates a loud post call from a celebratory pause.

The NHL tracks how many times a player hits the goalpost or crossbar to see how the bounce goes off the net instead of into the net.

I think it’s fair to call the small amount of movement it would take to deviate a matter of luck. With that premise established, let’s dive into the NHL season so far in an alternate dimension where the players who hit the metal actually found the net.

To be clear, this shows how many fantasy points a player has now compared to how many they would have had all of their posts and crossbars entered.

You can look at it as a way to say that this player is doing something right and with a little more luck could improve his value moving forward in fantasy. Included after their name is their current fantasy rating among skaters, what their rating would be if all those sticks were goals, and how many times they hit the post. We focus on how much the rating will change, not just fantasy points, because that paints a more relative picture. Also, it should be heard that in this alternate universe, Connor McDavid has eight more goals and continues to lead the NHL in fantasy points by a wide margin.

And don’t forget the fact that they could have been ranked higher because that doesn’t take into account that some of those goals were another 0.5 fantasy points for being on special teams. The stats were released after Sunday’s games (December 18).

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (current rating nine, alternate universe rating four, records eight). With eight pipes this season in our universe, Ovechkin ranks in the top five for fantasy production in this other universe with forgiving nets. He’s been a little slow out of the gate and is still a little behind the others in each game because the Capitals have played the most games, but Ovechkin is heating up at the right time. Why? Reinforcements are on the way. Tom Wilson is being lined up for a potential return later this month (the Caps’ top line last season was Ovechkin, Wilson and Evgeni Kuznetsov), while Nicklas Backstrom is now eyeing a return, possibly in January.

Kyle Connor, W, Winnipeg Jets (37; 16; eight). I like this other universe. Is Connor 16th in fantasy scoring not much more like what you expected before the season? After scoring 47 goals in his under-25 season, this year had the chance to be his peak. Connor has been better paired with Pierre-Luc Dubois than Mark Scheifele this season, but the Jets continue to be plagued by injuries in their top six. Still, seeing these eight posts from Connor helps him still feel like a low buy candidate despite being in his 40s.

William Nylander, W, Toronto Maple Leafs (35; 20; seven). It’s also a big, significant jump in the rankings, as Nylander has hit the iron seven times this season. Now locked in with Auston Matthews on the Leafs’ top line, the line is in the top 10 in the NHL in five-on-five goals per 60 minutes (4.72, per MoneyPuck). But there’s more we could see from Matthews, who helped Nylander go 5-for-5 after his 60-goal line went 6.6 last season.

Vincent Trocheck, C, New York Rangers (61; 26; nine). Well, well, well. If this isn’t a pleasant surprise in this alternate universe, seeing Trocheck almost crack the top 25 fantasy skaters. No one hit more iron here than Vinny. This isn’t as shocking as you might think, as the Rangers as individuals and lines are atop the analytics leaderboard for expected possession this and that. I think Rangers have been unlucky this campaign and in this alternate universe they are much higher up the table. Sure enough, a quick count shows that no team has scored more runs this season than the Rangers (38). Troshek, Artemi Panarin and even Chris Kreider, who has regressed from 52 goals, all look like solid acquisitions if their price has come down since draft day.

Elias Peterson, C/W, Vancouver Canucks (18; 13; seven). The Canucks’ catalyst (a 5-1 losing streak with him sick the last few days) is doing more in our alternate universe, breaking out of the top 13 skaters and entering contention as a first-round fantasy pick in the coming years. The jump from 14 to 21 goals is huge for Peterson in this universe, considering 32 is his career high.

Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Minnesota Wild (78; 56; four). Still featured in only 77.6% of the ESPN leagues in our universe, you just know that Eriksson Ek is, yes, universally listed in an alternate dimension with indulgent pipes. He falls outside of the top 50 skaters as he has been out of position four times this season. Playing with Marcus Foligo and Jordan Greenaway as a dangerous/energetic line, Eriksson Ek can also join the power play with the big guns.

Patrick Kane, W, Chicago Blackhawks (198; 139; five). I mean, we weren’t happy with Kane ranking 139th among fantasy skaters, but it’s definitely better than the 198th spot he has in our universe. Honestly, a trade can’t come soon enough when it comes to those who view the league through a fantasy lens. We have tanking in dynasty fantasy leagues as well, so I’m not looking forward to whatever the Blackhawks do. But it’s just as much fun in the NHL as it is in fantasy when you know you’re playing next season.

Tyler Toffoli, W, Calgary Flames (137; 86; six). That’s where all those goals are. The Flames’ top line entering the season looked fantastic on paper, and Toffoli was a fantasy target given his new role with Elias Lindholm and Jonathan Huberdeau, as well as the scoring he put up in a breakout season. But as a line, this trio has somehow managed to score just three goals against five. Just imagine if all six of Toffoli’s records were five-for-five (plus maybe a couple of Lindholm and Huberdeau’s four each). It’s tough to back off Toffoli as the Flames tweak and tweak lines on a weekly basis, still looking for that explosive trio.

Quick shots

Cole Caufield, W, Montreal Canadiens (current rank: 84; alternate universe rank: 59; entries: four). In another universe, we see exactly how big of a deal Caufield will be when the Habs come out the other side of this rebuild. to fly

Troy Terry, W, Anaheim Ducks (101; 78; four). That’s only four records, but with a season like the Ducks are having, we sure wish Terry had scored four more goals.

Pavel Buchnevich, W, St. Louis Blues (188; 160; three). If I were to do this stat by the minute, Buchnevich might jump to the top of the list as he has missed nine of the team’s 32 games. A big trade target.

Reilly Smith, W, Vegas Golden Knights (89; 61; four). Another potential target to continue production that didn’t pan out until Jack Eichel was out.

Johnny Gaudreau, W, Columbus Blue Jackets (106; 82; four). With Boone Jenner now out of the lineup, Gaudreau has reason to worry. That said, maybe one of the rookies can take a shot if possible.

Some others.

  • Kaapo Kakko, W, New York Rangers. (current rank: 302; alternate universe rank: 220; entries: four)

  • Kevin Labanc, W, San Jose Sharks. (272; 197; four)

  • Victor Olofsson, W, Buffalo Sabres. (215; 149; five)

  • Jared McCann, C/W, Seattle Kraken. (201; 140; five)

  • Anthony Mantha, Washington, Washington Capitals. (236; 175; four)

  • Jordan Eberle, W, Seattle Kraken. (185; 129; five)

  • Rickard Rakell, W, Pittsburgh Penguins. (97; 60; five)

  • Sam Rinehart, C/W, Florida Panthers. (124; 93; four)

  • Jonas Siegenthaler, D, New Jersey Devils. (181; 150; three)

  • Dylan Strome, C/W, Washington Capitals. (165; 135; four)

  • Dawson Mercer, C/W, New Jersey Devils. (196; 167; three)

  • Owen Tippett, W, Philadelphia Flyers. (191; 162; three)

  • Matt Duchene, C/W, Nashville Predators. (182; 154; three)

  • Andrew Mangiapan, W, Calgary Flames (282; 185; five)


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