Fantasy hockey category specialists: Let's talk about blocks

Ref overturns penalty after Detroit player hits himself with defender's stick (0:51)

The referee overturns a high sticking penalty after replay shows Detroit's Lucas Raymond grabbed the defender's stick and hit himself in the face. (0:51)

This column is inspired by none other than Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler. Which is certainly a first. Nothing against Seeler, who's carved himself out a nice NHL career nearing the 250-game mark, only that the veteran doesn't first pop to mind as an overtly attractive fantasy asset. Not a ton of scoring sparkle with this guy. But after taking a deeper dive into what individual members of the Flyers were up to of late, it came to my fantasy-focussed attention that the 30-year-old is blocking a lot of shots. Like, a lot.

Pacing out at a painful rate of 10.19 blocked-shots/60, Seeler ranks fifth in the league with 41 total since Nov. 1 (3.15/game). Throw in a few shots of his own, hits, and assists, and now you have yourself a nice little asset who's earning more fantasy points/game in November (2.1) than any other Flyer outside of the net. A skater who still happens to be available in 97% of ESPN.com standard leagues.

So, if you need blue-line help in fantasy competition that rewards blocked-shots - and not only in head-to-head category leagues where specialists truly shine - give Seeler a look. Essentially a quarter way through 2023-24, here are a few other skaters who are kicking fantasy butt in one particular category while also pitching in a bit otherwise. Non-fantasy studs, mind you, who may actually be available in your own league. No point in wasting everyone's time by pointing out Nikita Kucherov is effective on the power play.

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Pavel Buchnevich, F, St. Louis Blues: After a dismal launch to 2023-24, something clicked for Buchnevich on Nov. 11, when he scored a hat-trick against the Colorado Avalanche. Since then, the top-line forward is averaging a goal every second game, while pitching in an equal number of assists. Toss in a respectable sum of shots, and it all evens out at 2.92 fantasy points/game through nine contests.

Unsurprising bonus: Buchnevich also leads the league in shorted-handed points, with three. There's a moderate chance he's available in your league.

See also: Lawson Crouse, F, Arizona Coyotes


Casey Mittelstadt, F, Buffalo Sabres: He doesn't find the back of the net often himself, but Mittelstadt ranks relatively high in the assists department. Sixteen so far this season, plus four goals. And, right now, he's centering a top line with Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch, while Tage Thompson recuperates from an upper-body injury. As it happens, the 25-year-old center provided the primary assist on both Tuch goals in a 5-1 win over the Rangers just the other night. Available in nearly 90% of ESPN.com leagues, Mittelstadt sports extra value in competition of all variety where helpers are equal to goals.

Power-play points

Cole Perfetti, F, Winnipeg Jets: While he doesn't produce at the same pace as some Winnipeg teammates - Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele - the Sophomore offers a little fantasy bonus by scoring on the power play more often. Five of Perfetti's 11 points - six goals, five assists - through November have counted with the extra skater.

Even if the 21-year-old was averaging nearly a point/game without producing on special teams he should still be rostered in more than 17% of ESPN.com leagues.


Evander Kane, F, Edmonton Oilers: Ranking in the Top-20 in shots/game since Oct. 29, Kane likewise has 10 goals and seven assists to show for that 14-contest stretch. In fact, he's at his most sizzling right now with eight goals on 33 shots in his most recent eight games. Yet the sniper somehow remains available in nearly a quarter of all ESPN.com leagues.

Blocked shots

Mario Ferraro, D, San Jose Sharks: Considering the Sharks face more shots on goal than any other team (and it isn't close) logic suggests all the more for the blockin', amiright?

Seems so, since San Jose "leads" the league with 20.39 BkS/60, while Ferraro currently heads this banged-up pack with 42 through 13 games in November. Knowing he's dragging behind his usual (albeit modest) rhythm of pitching in points, it's also sensible to believe an upswing (again, modest) in production could be in order soon too.

Average time-on-ice

Travis Sanheim, D, Philadelphia Flyers: Aside from Washington's John Carlson, Sanheim skates more minutes than anyone in the whole wide league. An exhausting 26-per-game as it were.

While he's hit a productive cold skid of late, toppling off the Flyers No. 1 power play onto the second, the defender can still be counted on to block a reasonable number of shots. Not in step with Seeler, mind you, but Sanheim's going to score more, when all is said and done.

Faceoffs won

Robert Thomas, F, St. Louis Blues: Rocking and rolling this November with seven goals and 10 assists through 14 games, Thomas is also dominating in the faceoff dot with a win percentage rate of 59.1%. More critically to fantasy managers, the Blues' center nearly tops the league's faceoff win table with 162, only one fewer than Boone Jenner, despite the Columbus skater having played one more game.

Like his aforementioned linemate, guess who else is available in a quarter of ESPN.com fantasy leagues?

See also: Charlie Coyle, C, Boston Bruins


Sam Bennett, F, Florida Panthers: Over the course of a season, the Florida forward will satisfy your fantasy need for penalty minutes, while checking other boxes along the way. Back healthy after a delayed start to 2023-24, Bennett now appears much more himself. The points will start to add up again too. Grab the Panthers' second-line center/power-play asset in deeper leagues while he remains grabbable.