Although it is not the norm, many fantasy hockey leagues track hitting as a scoring category in the weekly showdowns that capture the imaginations and fill the smart phone screens of fantasy hockey managers throughout the continent. There are precious few fantasy hockey players who are at least respectable in standard scoring categories in addition to excelling at taking the body.
Let’s take a look at five of fantasy hockey’s best hitters who will likely improve or stay on pace for exceptional and sandpaper-filled seasons.
There are so few things going right in Columbus this year that it might be hard to believe a Blue Jacket forward is among the best at anything in fantasy hockey. Jenner is currently skating on a line with Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky and so far he has been a big surprise in fantasy. To go along with 138 hits in 52 games, Jenner has 30 points including 17 goals.
Nine of Jenner’s points have come on the man advantage, which has helped elevate his fantasy value despite the poor record of his team.
Those that didn’t know who Komarov was before the John Scott Celebration All-Star Game likely do now.
The Estonian forward who represented the Maple Leafs during the All-Star Weekend is having a breakout season in Toronto and is flourishing under head coach Mike Babcock. Already valuable in standard scoring categories, the hit-happy winger carries even more worth in leagues that track and compare body checks.
Komarov has 17 goals, 16 assists, 95 shots and a staggering 223 hits through 49 games. Only Matt Martin of the Islanders has delivered more body checks this season.
Sidney Crosby is back to playing like himself and that is exceedingly good news for left winger Chris Kunitz. The veteran Penguins’ forward has been one of the hottest pick-ups in fantasy hockey lately thanks to his scoring points in bunches in January and seeing a significant bump in his ice time since the acquisition of second-line staple Carl Hagelin.
On the nights when Kunitz doesn’t pick up goals, assists, and shots on Pittsburgh’s top line he will have plenty of value thanks to the edge he plays with. Through 47 games, Kunitz has an impressive 176 hits for the Penguins, but that isn’t all he can bring to your fantasy team. Crosby’s left wing is, as you might expect, a solid plus/minus player and currently stands at a plus 18 rating which more than makes up for his underwhelming power play production and just nine goals thus far this season.
The former Bruin has brought the same bruising hockey that made him a star in Boston to Los Angels. Lucic is a punishing hitter and has found 30 points playing mostly with fellow fantasy superstars Tyler Toffoli and Anze Kopitar. The Kings’ top left wing has been credited with 166 hits and 58 PIM through 49 games this season.
His nasty streak can single-handedly win a fantasy showdown thanks to the bounty of penalty minutes and body checks. From January 2 to February 2 alone, Lucic registered 37 hits in 12 games. The Kings’ newest power forward is right on pace to eclipse his goal and point total from last season and approach his impressive hit total of 259 from 2014-15.
Backes is so well-rounded in fantasy hockey that he is just as valuable in standard scoring category fantasy leagues as he is in leagues that include hits and blocked shots. The Blues’ captain has 30 points, nearly 100 shots, 49 PIM and 174 bone-rattling hits through 53 games this season.
The nasty streak in Backes’ game has made him a can’t-miss fantasy hockey center for the better part of a decade now. His point production may have taken a step down in his age-31 season, but Backes has not backed down from the physical play that has become synonymous with his name.
Backes is seeing nearly twenty minutes a night and when Jaden Schwartz returns to St. Louis’ top six forward group there’s a chance that he will be one of the Blues to have his offensive game sparked. As things currently stand Backes remains one of fantasy hockey’s best bruisers thanks to his endless appetite for hitting, his power play ice time in St. Louis, and the frequency with which he sits in the penalty box in order to make a statement and/or spark his team as its emotional leader on and off the ice.