Looking at the most favourable schedules in fantasy hockey for Week Two.

The NHL season is here, and fantasy owners are looking to get a sense of who is due to break out or see a decline in production. While it’s important to identify some underrated options at each position, poolies need to properly identify those players whose reputations carry a little more weight than they should heading into the season’s first few weeks. Let’s take a look at four who could disappoint their owners with underwhelming numbers in 2015-16…

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh (Yahoo Original Rank: 31) – Pittsburgh’s “franchise goaltender” is one in name only. In 595 appearances for the Penguins over his career, Fleury has registered an uninspiring .911 save percentage. Owners who drafted him ahead of proven, above-average goaltenders such as Boston’s Tuukka Rask (Yahoo Original Rank of 33; career save percentage of .926), New Jersey’s Cory Schneider (Yahoo Original Rank of 43; career save percentage of .927) and Columbus’s Sergei Bobrovsky (Yahoo Original Rank of 59; career save percentage of .923) need to capitalize on Fleury’s standing as his squad’s sure-fire No. One goalie and sell him off before regression from last season’s incredible year (.920 save percentage and a career-best 10 shutouts) sets in. Fleury is a fine goaltender, but there are many others who can provide equal or better stats than him this season.

Nick Foligno, C/LW, Columbus (Yahoo Original Rank: 40) – Though he is slated to open the year on the same line as rising star Ryan Johansen and recent acquisition Brandon Saad, there are a number of reasons to think the 27-year-old Foligno is coming off a career-best campaign:

  • His 2014-15 shooting percentage of .170 is nearly seven points above his career mark of .106.
  • His 31 goals from a year ago represent Foligno’s first season in which he scored more than 30… and 20.
  • His 42 assists are exactly double his previous high in a season.

Foligno can play, and he has made the most of his opportunity to skate alongside a high-end offensive force like Johansen, but asking him to match last year’s point totals and perform like he’s worth the 40th overall pick is asking a bit much from him. He’s a good fantasy option who has been ranked like a great one.  

Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh (Yahoo Original Rank: 56) – The longtime Pittsburgh defenseman is a fantastic fantasy option… when he plays. Since he saw action in every game of the 2010-11 campaign, Letang has missed 95 games in the four years since. He’s valued like an elite option at his position, but owning him in a fantasy league comes with significant more risk than employing other high-end blueliners who were drafted around Letang (St. Louis’s Alex Pietrangelo, Nashville’s Shea Weber, among others) in Yahoo leagues. There’s no replacing Letang’s production if he goes down for an extended period of time, and such a scenario is almost always an inevitability with him.

Jason Spezza, C, Dallas (Yahoo Original Rank: 98) – Spezza is still quite valuable in fantasy leagues of all types and sizes, but he hasn’t been a point-per-game player in four years and his production has waned more than a bit since his heyday with the Ottawa Senators. A 60-point player during his two seasons in Dallas, it’s reasonable to wonder how long he can continue to be an above-average option at his position. Spezza’s shooting percentage has declined in each of the past two seasons he has seen considerable action, and his shots on-goal per game is trending in the wrong direction. Playing on the same line as superstars Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn would provide a significant boost to the 32-year-old center’s fantasy value, but alas… ‘tis not to be (at this point in time).

 

Some NHL squads are primed to help poolies more than others in the coming week. With that in mind, let’s look ahead…

 

Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)

Tampa Bay – The Lightning kick off the 2015-16 season with six games between Thursday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 17, including two matchups against the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres and one against the defensively-challenged Philadelphia Flyers. The volume is there, and the matchups are not that difficult.

FloridaRoberto Luongo and Co. open the season with back-to-back tilts with the Flyers, a road matchup against Carolina and a home game against Buffalo — all between Saturday Oct. 10 and Thursday, Oct. 15. Start any and all fantasy-relevant Panthers with confidence during that time.

Columbus – The opportunities will be there for the Blue Jackets to rack up stats in the season’s opening days. Columbus plays a whopping six games from Friday, Oct. 9 to Saturday, Oct. 17.

 

Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)

Toronto – Though the Leafs play three games between Wednesday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 10, they will not take to the ice again until Friday, Oct. 16. That game, against host Columbus, will be the first of four road games for the Leafs.  

Los Angeles – After opening the season with two games between Wednesday, Oct. 7 and Friday, Oct, 9, the Kings are off for three straight nights. Simply stated, the volume isn’t there for Los Angeles.

Philadelphia – The Flyers host the always-dangerous Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Then they are off for five days. Then they host the offensively-explosive Dallas Stars. Enough said.

 

Friday, October 9 to Thursday, October 15

Best Bets

Florida 4.36 – four games – PHIx2, CAR and BUF

Tampa Bay 4.19 – four games – BUF, BOS, DET and DAL

Columbus 4.04 – four games – NYRx2, BUF and OTT

Chicago 3.90 – four games – NYIx2, PHI and WAS

Montreal 3.80 – four games – BOS, OTT, PIT and NYR

Steer Clear

San Jose 1.75 – two games – ANA and WAS

Calgary 2.00 – two games – VAN and STL

Toronto 2.10 – two games – DET and OTT

Minnesota 2.14 – two games – STL and ARI

Colorado 2.15 – two games – DAL and BOS

Saturday, October 10 to Friday, October 16

Best Bets

Anaheim 4.56 – four games – three at home

Florida 4.36 – four games – PHIx2, CAR and BUF

Columbus 4.25 – four games – NYR, BUF, OTT and TOR

Tampa Bay 4.19 – four games – BUF, BOS, DET and DAL

Montreal 3.80 – four games – BOS, OTT, PIT and NYR

Steer Clear

Los Angeles 2.00 – two games – VAN and EDM

Toronto 2.00 – two games – OTT and CBJ

Arizona 2.70 – three games -PIT, ANA and MIN

San Jose 2.79 – three games – two on road

New York Rangers 2.81 – three games – CBJ, WPG and MTL

Sunday, October 11 to Saturday, October 17

Best Bets

Tampa Bay 4.31 – four games – BOS, DET, DAL and BUF

Florida 4.31 – four games – PHI, CAR, BUF and DAL

Columbus 4.21 – four games – BUF, OTT, TOR and CHI

Montreal 4.01 – four games – OTT, PIT, NYR and DET

Ottawa 3.69 – four games – MTL, CBJ, PIT and NSH

Steer Clear

New York Rangers 1.76 – two games – WPG and MTL

Toronto 1.85 – two games – both on road

Colorado 1.86 – two games -BOS and ANA

Los Angeles 2.00 – two games – VAN and MIN

Minnesota 2.00 – two games – both on road

Monday, October 12 to Sunday, October 18

Best Bets

Anaheim 4.41 – four games – all at home

Tampa Bay 4.31 – four games – BOS, DET, DAL and BUF

Florida 4.31 – four games – PHI, CAR, BUF and DAL

Columbus 4.21 – four games – BUF, OTT, TOR and CHI

Edmonton 3.94 – four games – DAL, STL, CGY and VAN

Steer Clear

Colorado 2.71 – three games – two on road

Toronto 1.85 – two games – both on road

Arizona 2.75 – three games – ANA, MIN and MOS

Philadelphia 2.10 – two games – FLA and CHI

Minnesota 2.80 – three games – all on road

Tuesday, October 13 to Monday, October 19

Best Bets

New York Rangers 4.07 – four games – three at home

St. Louis 3.85 – four games – CGY, EDM, VAN and WPG

San Jose 3.75 – four games – WAS, NJD, NYI and NYR

Edmonton 3.94 – four games – DAL, STL, CGY and VAN

Tampa Bay 3.36 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

Philadelphia 0.95 – one game – CHI

Toronto 1.85 – two games – both on road

Buffalo 2.00 – two games – both on road

New York Islanders 2.15 – two games – NSH and SJS

Boston 2.19 – two games – both on road

Wednesday, October 14 to Tuesday, October 20

Best Bets

Columbus 4.16 – four games – three at home

Arizona 3.80 – four games – ANA, MIN, BOS and NJD

St. Louis 3.66 – four games – EDM, VAN, WPG and MTL

Pittsburgh 3.41 – three games – all at home

New Jersey 3.32 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

Detroit 1.81 – two games – CAR and MTL

Toronto 1.85 – two games – both on road

Carolina 1.90 – two games – both on road

Buffalo 2.00 – two games – both on road

Los Angeles 2.05 – two games – MIN and COL

Thursday, October 15 to Wednesday, October 21

Best Bets

Edmonton 4.10 – four games – STL, CGY, VAN and DET

St. Louis 3.66 – four games – EDM, VAN, WPG and MTL

Pittsburgh 3.41 – three games – all at home

New Jersey 3.32 – three games – two at home

Tampa Bay 3.21 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

Ottawa 1.90 – two road games – PIT and NSH

Chicago 1.91 – two games – WAS and CBJ

Anaheim 2.05 – two games – COL and MIN

Los Angeles 2.05 – two games – MIN and COL

Winnipeg 2.05 – two games – CGY and STL