In standard fantasy hockey scoring categories, and in most fantasy hockey leagues, players who take penalty minutes are valuable assets to any team. Only in fantasy hockey is it possible for quarrelsome players to have more value than their peers who are just as effective as they are because of how frequently they watch the game from the sin bin.
It’s time to take a look at fantasy hockey’s most notorious penalty minute-takers who also provide something more than just a predilection for pugilism or major penalties. The players who made this list are much more than just goons. They are players who bring something other than just penalty minutes to their fantasy owners. Let’s take a look at five of the best bad boys in fantasy hockey thus far this season and what has made them so valuable.
The hulking Winnipeg Jets defenseman is the epitome of a valuable fantasy hockey player that takes truckloads of penalty minutes. Byfuglien, who may or may not finish his season with the Jets, takes the body frequently and has one of the most notoriously short fuses in the National Hockey League. The Minnesota-born heavyweight has yet to drop the gloves this season, but that has not stopped him from piling up nearly 50 penalty minutes, which has directly contributed to his status as one of the top five most valuable defenseman in fantasy hockey this season.
In addition to spending loads of time in the penalty box, Byfuglien is a dangerous player for the Jets both at even strength and on the power play. The big blueliner already has more than a half dozen goals on the season and he has been peppering the net at a blistering pace. Once again, Byfuglien is proving to be keystone in the Jets’ offense, if he does end up being moved (he is on the last year of his current contract and is a pending unrestricted free agent) it will be interesting to see how it impacts his fantasy value.
The Boston Bruins are a hard team to figure out this season, but they have plenty of players who are fantasy hockey gold. One of those players is Brad Marchand. One of the league’s most quintessential pests is off to an amazingly productive start to the 2015-16 season and has already found the back of the net for the Bruins 13 times through 26 games. Marchand has dropped the gloves just once this season, but the 5’9″ nuisance has found a way to accrue over 40 penalty minutes for Boston.
In addition to making everyone who isn’t a Bruins fan absolutely miserable with his antics and goal scoring, Marchand has been a serious boon to his fantasy owners thanks to his fantastic plus/minus and his propensity to get pucks on the net. Marchand has been magic on the ice this season skating primarily with, ironically enough, one of the game’s greatest gentleman in Patrice Bergeron. Marchand’s hot start might see him eclipse 30 goals for the first time in his career. After trading away Milan Lucic in the offseason, the Bruins needed Marchand to step it up on the wing and thus far he has exceeded all expectations with his goal scoring.
Many have called James Neal a dirty player and for good reason. The former Pittsburgh Penguin, who is now in his second season with the Predators, has been putting pucks on net, scoring goals, and raising hell in Nashville’s top six forward group. The power forward has already found 10 goals this season, despite some inconsistent production from top players like Filip Forsberg. Neal’s offensive numbers might not be where his fantasy owners might like them to be, but he has still has displayed immeasurable fantasy value thanks to his power play production and his knack for taking penalties.
Through the first quarter or so of the 2015-16 season, Neal has over 40 penalty minutes. The 28-year-old winger still has the potential to be even more productive than he already has been this season. Neal is currently ranked in the top 25 in standard scoring categories and seems to give those who have him on their team something to work with every week with his goal scoring, power play production, and penalty minutes.
Despite having an abysmal plus/minus rating to start the season and a somewhat underwhelming first quarter in regards to his offensive production, Wayne Simmonds has remained a valuable fantasy hockey commodity thanks to his aggressive style of play and willingness to do whatever the Philadelphia Flyers need him to do. One of the league’s most imposing power forwards, he already has over 40 penalty minutes to go along with seven goals and eight assists for the Orange and Black.
Simmonds’ plus/minus has been parasitic to his fantasy value, but he is still comfortably ranked as one of fantasy hockey’s 150 most valuable players thanks to the other things he brings to the table. Simmonds has dropped the gloves twice this season and has picked up just four power play points, which is a number that should greatly increase as the regular season marches on. The 61st overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft can be so much better than he has been this season, which bodes well for those fantasy managers who took him the draft and have been waiting for things to turn around for Simmonds.
Indeed, one of these players is not like the others. McLeod, who is an alternate captain on the Colorado Avalanche, has always been the kind of player that needs to ice his knuckles after every few games, which makes the 70+ penalty minutes he has taken this season anything but surprising. What has been surprising is McLeod’s contribution, albeit modest, to Colorado’s offense while averaging less than twelve minutes of ice per game.
According to hockeyfights.com McLeod already has more than a half dozen fighting majors this season, including three in the month of October alone. McLeod is an interesting player to plug in to a fantasy hockey lineup if you happen to lose a winger to an injury. In Yahoo! fantasy hockey, McLeod is a top 100 player in standard scoring categories and can be used on both the left and right wing which adds a little something to his value.
Ice Your Knuckles
The five bruisers listed above aren’t the only players who have tremendous fantasy value that have been taking far too many penalty minutes. Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, already has surpassed 30 penalty minutes in addition to being one of the Penguins’ few stars that has been producing and getting onto the scoreboard. Finding those players that can chip in regularly with minor and major penalties is one way to ensure that you win the battle for penalty minutes week in and week out during the fantasy hockey this season.