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Saturday Daily Puck: Rookie Risk

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

One of the hardest things to know at the start of the season is how to rate rookies for fantasy. Guys like Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid are getting drafted and having their tires pumped by announcers and fans constantly. With so many writers projected McDavid to hit 70+ points, it's easy to see why you'd jump on the bandwagon.

But most rookies aren't McDavid and we aren't even sure what McDavid is really capable of at the NHL level (though he looked pretty good on Thursday).

What's interesting to me is how we start rate guys like Dylan Larkin, Max Domi, Anthony DuClair, Mattas Janmark, Nikolaj Ehlers, Oscar Lindberg, Artemi Panarin, Nicolas Petan, Robby Fabbri or Joonas Donskoi, among others. All of those rookies already have at least one point. It's a big year for young players and with most NHL fans not watching junior and college hockey very closely, it's hard to know if these guys are going to make the jump or if they'll struggle.

There are some like Larkin, Ehlers and Domi who have already shown an incredible hockey aptitude and an ability to put up points at other levels. They are projected to be high-impact players at the NHL level during their career. That's great if you're a Red Wings fan, but what does it mean for fantasy now?

In general, with rookies, we tend to over-project their greatness, over-hype a good game and overreact to failure. Fantasy players see Domi get a goal and an assist in his debut and rush to add him off waivers. He should be a good player, but he may score in streaks and go through long cold spells, like rookies do. They are figuring things out. Particularly when guys are jumping into the league between 18-20.

But the question isn't whether or not Anton Slepyshev is going to be a 30-goal guy within the next five years, but how many points is he going to earn you now.

With a rookie, there are a lot more risks. There's the possibility that they bounce around lines and are on a shorter leash. If Dylan DeMelo does nothing for four games, he might wind up in the AHL or with eight minutes of ice time. If Zach Parise does nothing for four games, he's not going to have his role change at all.

The other thing that can happen is you get Panarin playing with Patrick Kane for a bit. That's great. Kane fed him on his first goal (scored on his first NHL shot). But if Panarin isn't working hard one day or goes through a slump, it's easy to see how he slides down the lineup. He's still in the NHL. His minutes might not change. But he's not going to be the benefactor of playing with a dynamic player any more and teammates can effect rookie scoring in a big way.

In general, by wary of a 18 or 19-year-old for fantasy purposes. That roster volatility and the natural ups and downs of their game will lend your team less consistency. But if you're going for it, there can be big rewards. If you took a risk on Tomas Hertl or Nathan MacKinnon two years ago, you were handsomely rewarded (at least until Hertl got injured). But it took some patience and some risk to sit through the bust times to get to the boom.

If you're rostering a Larkin in a format where you keep your players match to match -- though not a keeper league, because obviously you're keeping him in a keeper league, kid's going to be great -- exercise some patience. If you feel like you have to take the risk and that a guy like this is the best player available, know that there will be some lean times ahead and you may just have to keep him on the bench for a bit to reap the rewards that can come back around. You should stick with it if you're going to do it. It's safer not to pick these guys, but if you're going to jump ship the first time Fabbri doesn't put up a point in three or four games, then you shouldn't have rostered him in the first place.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Buffalo Sabres (Chad Johnson), 1:00 PM
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price) at Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00 PM
Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson) at Toronto Maple Leafs (James Reimer), 7:00 PM
Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason) at Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 7:00 PM
Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider) at Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00 PM
Detroit Red Wings (Petr Mrazek) at Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Edmonton Oilers (Cam Talbot) at Nashville Predators (Pekka Rinne), 7:00 PM
St. Louis Blues (Jake Allen) at Minnesota Wild (Devan Dubnyk), 8:00 PM
New York Islanders (Jean-Francois Berube) at Chicago Blackhawks (Scott Darling), 8:30 PM
Dallas Stars (Antti Niemi) at Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov), 9:00 PM
Calgary Flames (Jonas Hiller) at Vancouver Canucks (Ryan Miller), 10:00 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Arizona Coyotes (Mike Smith), 10:00 PM
Anaheim Ducks (Frederik Andersen) at San Jose Sharks (Martin Jones), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Saturday

Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G - (vascular surgery for blood clot) remains out.
Cedric Paquette, C - (leg) may be available for Saturday's game.

Buffalo Sabres
Linus Ullmark, G - (hip) could return to active status within the next week.
Brian Gionta, RW - (lower body) is out.
Cody McCormick, C - (illness) was placed on IR Tuesday.
Bob Sanguinetti, D - (undisclosed) was placed on IR Tuesday.
Zach Bogosian, D - (lower body) was placed on IR Tuesday.
Robin Lehner, G - (lower body) will miss a few weeks.

Montreal Canadiens
Zack Kassian, RW - was suspended without pay.
Michael Bournival, C - (concussion) will open the season on injured reserve.

Boston Bruins
Seth Griffith, RW - (knee) has resumed skating, but will not play Saturday.
Zdeno Chara, D - (upper body) did not play Thursday.
Dennis Seidenberg, D - S(back) is slated to miss approximately the next six weeks worth of action.

Ottawa Senators
Colin Greening, LW - (undisclosed) is unlikely.
Andrew Hammond, G - (groin) is out for two weeks.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Stephane Robidas, D - (groin) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

Philadelphia Flyers
Christian Marti, D - (shoulder) will be out until mid-November while recovering from surgery.

Florida Panthers
Rocco Grimaldi, C - (ankle) returned to the ice and was observed skating Friday.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Rene Bourque, LW - remains out.
David Clarkson, RW - (lower body) did not play on Friday.
Alexander Wennberg, C - (concussion) took a big hit on Friday and is unlikely to play Saturday.

New York Rangers
Healthy.

New Jersey Devils
Patrik Elias, LW - (knee) is not yet ready to play.
Ryane Clowe, LW - (concussion) will not play hockey again.

Washington Capitals
Chris Brown, C - (hand) will miss a couple weeks.
Nicklas Backstrom, C - (hip) will miss four or five games to open the year.
Brooks Orpik, D - (wrist) is expected to return on Saturday.

Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk, C - (ankle) is on IR.
Darren Helm, LW - (shoulder) won't play during the opening weekend, but should return the following week.
Danny DeKeyser, D - (foot) was officially placed on 7-day injured reserve Sunday.

Carolina Hurricanes
James Wisniewski, D - (ACL) tore his ACL in the season opener and will be out for six months.

Edmonton Oilers
Jordan Eberle, RW - (shoulder) will start the season on injured reserve.

St. Louis Blues
Patrik Berglund, C - (shoulder) has been placed on long-term injured reserve.
Troy Brouwer, RW - (lower body) is expected to play Saturday.

Minnesota Wild
Nino Niederreiter, RW - (undisclosed) practiced on Friday.
Justin Fontaine, RW - (oblique) has been placed on injured reserve, though could play soon.
Tyler Graovac, C - (lower body) is unlikely to play Saturday.

New York Islanders
Jaroslav Halak, G - (upper body) did not play on Friday.
Thomas Hickey, D - (upper body) is on IR.

Chicago Blackhawks
Michal Rozsival, D - Rozsival was placed on long-term IR on Tuesday.

Dallas Stars
Brett Ritchie, RW - (wrist) is still recovering from surgery.

Colorado Avalanche
Dennis Everberg, RW - (shoulder) returned to practice Monday, but did not play in the opener.
Jesse Winchester, LW - (concussion) has been placed on injured reserve.

Calgary Flames
Ladislav Smid, D - (neck) opens the season on injury reserve.
Joe Colborne, C - (thumb) is week-to-week.
T.J. Brodie, D - (hand) has skated, but isn't yet ready for a return.

Vancouver Canucks
Jacob Markstrom, G - (lower back) will now be reevaluated within the week.
Chris Higgins, LW - (foot) remains out.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pascal Dupuis, RW - (lower body) will miss at least a month.
Eric Fehr, RW - (elbow) is working out, but not yet ready to return.

Arizona Coyotes
Healthy.

Anaheim Ducks
Clayton Stoner, D - (upper body) may return soon.
Nate Thompson, C - (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve Monday.

San Jose Sharks
Raffi Torres, LW - (suspension) won't appeal his 41-game suspension.

Hot
Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG Two games into the season, Wheeler is showing all the right signs and putting up points across categories. He's got two goals and an assist, a plus-1 rating, two penalty minutes and seven shots. Wheeler is often underrated. He has consistently put up points at just under a point per game rate over the last four seasons. He's a pretty good bet to keep that going.

Justin Abdelkader, LW, DET Abdelkader put up three goals in his first game of the season Friday. The 28-year-old winger scored 23 goals last season, crossing the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Let's hope he stays healthy and keeps the momentum going.

Cold
Jonathan Quick, G, LAK It's just two games into the season and Quick is having a tough time. He allowed four goals on 22 shots against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. That's just slightly worse than his first start, where he allowed five goals on 32 shots. His save percentage is currently at .833. Woof.

Jonathan Bernier, G, TOR Owners of Jonathan Bernier should be concerned. Coach Mike Babcock announced before the season started that Bernier would get the first two starts of the season, with James Reimer taking the third. Bernier had the opportunity to take the starting job firmly in hand, but Remier may have a chance to steal the job coming up. In both of Bernier's starts this season he allowed a goal on the first shot of the game. On Friday night, he was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots. He's running with a Sv% of .865 right now.

Recommended Pickup
Mark Scheifele, C, Jets Scheifele isn't entirely under the radar, but he's poised to have a breakout season. So far, it's going well with two goals in two games. If Scheifele is available in your league, he may be worth a look.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.