Fantasy hockey replacements for Nathan MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon left Monday’s game in Philadelphia with an upper-body injury, and the Avalanche announced Tuesday that he is expected to miss a month.

On average, MacKinnon was either the No. 4 or No. 5 pick in Fantasy drafts this fall, so his month-long absence leaves a huge hole to fill. I’ve outlined some of my favorite waiver wire mics (for different league sizes) to help you replace some of the lost production for the next four weeks.

Number of games while MacKinnon is away (per team)

Dylan Cozens (BUF – C) – 49% registered

Cozens’ roster percentage skyrocketed last week, but if he’s available in your league, he’s a must. The Sabers’ new line of Cozens, Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka is playing as well as any line in the NHL. They average an absurd 5.3 xGF/60, and production followed, scoring 5.9 GF/60. An SH% on ice of 15.3 is concerning, but as long as they average 5.3 xGF/60 they will be extremely productive. Cozens has 13 points (5G/8A) in his last eight games while posting an impressive 4.1 SOG/gm average.

Matty Beniers (SEA – C) – 47% Registered

Beniers is one of the top options available in over 50% of the leagues, but has a league-low 13 games in MacKinnon’s time out. Beniers has been on fire lately, scoring five goals and seven assists (12 points) in his last eight games. The best sign for Beniers was the increased volume of shots during this streak. Beniers averaged just 1.7 SOG/g in his first 17 games, but increased that to 2.8 SOG/g.

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Ryan O’Reilly (STL – C) – 38% registered)

O’Reilly had two goals and no assists in his first 12 games of the season, but turned things around with 11 points (7G/4A) in his last 14 games. O’Reilly is locked in big minutes at 5v5 and using PP, so he should be able to continue the mid-60s point production we saw from him during his time in St. Louis. O’Reilly will want to maintain his returning production as he is in the final year of a seven-year contract.

Kevin Hayes (PHI – C) – 32% registered

Hayes continues to be extremely productive, but his roster percentage is barely climbing for some reason. He’s playing massive minutes (19:05 ATOI) atop the Flyers roster and has 27 points (8G/19A) in 26 games. Plus, he’s been super consistent, picking up at least one point in 19 of 26 games (73.1%). Hayes doesn’t have the league-winning advantage, but his consistent production will help make up for losing MacKinnon for the next month.

Dylan Strome (WSH – C/RW) – 26% registered

Strome skated on the Capitals’ top line with Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary, and the line was really good. They are on average 3.1 xGF/60 but have been limited to 4.5 SH%. A positive regression should therefore set in, especially when you have Ovechkin on your line. He’s also among the top power-play unit, so Strome should continue to post solid point totals. He’s been scoreless in nine games but has eight points (1G/7A) ​​in his last 10, including three on the power play.

Cole Perfetti (WPG – C/LW/RW) – 26% entered

The Jets recently shook up their lines and Perfetti landed Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, and his production has been great ever since. Perfetti has seven points (1G/6A) in his last six games. Perfetti has also significantly increased its shot volume over this period, from 1.6 SOG/g to 2.7 SOG/g. Perfetti-Scheifele-Wheeler are averaging 3.2 xGF/60 and outclassing their opponents 7-2.

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Nick Schmaltz (ARI – C/RW) – 20% registered

Schmaltz was injured in the season opener but returned to the roster on November 21. In seven games since, Schmaltz has scored three goals and one assist with an average of 2.9 SOG/g. The Coyotes are far from an offensive powerhouse, but Schmaltz is playing big minutes (20:16 ATOI) and has 63 points (26G/37A) in his last 71 regular season games – 30 goals, 43 assists (73 points) by -82 pace of play. The Coyotes are one of six teams with 16 games in the span MacKinnon is out.

JT Compher (COL – C/RW) – 16% registered

With all of Colorado’s injuries, Compher has seen a massive increase in usage, playing 23:01 ATOI in his last three games. Compher has 12 points (3G/9A) in his previous 14 games and is in a top-6 role and on the Avalanche’s top power-play unit. He is a solid inside replacement for MacKinnon.

Jared McCann (SEA – C/LW) – 16% registered

McCann has been scorching for the past few weeks, scoring seven goals and two assists (nine points) in his last nine games. He’s not going to maintain a 29.2 SH%, but his shooting volume (2.7 SH%) will allow him to continue scoring plenty of goals. McCann skates with Beniers, and Jordan Eberle and the trio outscored their opponents 10 to 3.

Alex Newhook (COL – C/LW) – 8% registered

If you’re not riding Compher, Newhook will play a huge role while MacKinnon is out. Newhook played 23:04 Monday, scoring two first-line goals with Mikko Rantanen and the top power-play unit. Newhook should continue to skate in that role, but needs to be more productive than he was at the start of the season. He’s been better lately, starting Wednesday with six points (4G/2A) in his last nine games.

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