Looking at some of the most and least favourable schedules in fantasy hockey for the week ahead.

All fantasy owners need help in the short term AND the long term. The Looking Ahead feature identifies one player to plug into lineups in the short term, a second to invest in for the long term, a third to bench for the coming week and a fourth who will struggle to meet expectations for some time. Without further ado…

 

The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)

Francois Beauchemin, D, Colorado (Available in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues) – It seems strange to suggest a player who has not registered more than 28 points in any season since the 2005-06 campaign can be a useful fantasy asset. However, how the Avalanche are using the 35-year-old veteran blueliner makes him worthy of consideration in all but the shallowest of formats. Beauchemin currently leads all Colorado defenseman in power-play ice time per game (besting Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson in that category), and the longtime Anaheim Duck has totaled six assists in eight games played on the young season. He’s seeing enough action (nearly 23 minutes of ice time per game), and he’s being deployed in offensively-friendly situations, so it makes a ton of sense for poolies to take advantage in the short term. Pick up Beauchemin now, especially because his squad has an advantageous schedule in the coming days.

 

The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)

Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto (Available in 79 percent of Yahoo leagues) This has been covered already, but Rielly is an extremely gifted player being overlooked in fantasy circles because he’s toiling away for a Toronto squad in the early stages of a full-on rebuild. That shouldn't happen. Here are some (indisputable) facts about the 21-year-old blueliner’s 2015-16 campaign:

  • He currently leads all Leaf players in ice time.
  • He ranks second on the squad in power-play ice time per game among defensemen, behind only Dion Phaneuf.
  • He is tied for third on the team in shots per goal (17), and no blueliner has more.

He’s still learning, but Rielly should be worth a look in deeper formats (12 teams or more) as long as Leafs Coach Mike Babcock continues to play him in situations that boost his value in fantasy. He looks like he’s up for it, so don’t let Rielly end up on someone else’s roster.

 

The Odd Man Out (His short-term outlook is cause for concern)

Mikko Koivu, C, Minnesota (Owned in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues) – It seems safe to say that Koivu is in the decline phase of his solid, 10-year career with the Wild. Some fantasy prognosticators even suggested that this may be the year when the up-and-coming (yet unaccomplished) Mikael Granlund would overtake Koivu as Minnesota’s most productive centerman. That hasn’t happened (thus far). Koivu has eight points in nine games, while Granlund has five points in as many contests. It’s early, but Koivu is seeing more ice time per game and increased playing time on the man advantage. In the other hand, Granlund has been seeing regular action on the same line as all-world winger Zach Parise and accomplished veteran Jason Pominville. Koivu, meanwhile, has been sharing the ice with Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker.

Fantasy owners would be well advised to monitor how Koivu and Granlund are deployed very closely. So far, Koivu has been an extremely valuable player in fantasy. Expect that to change this week though, as the Wild aren’t playing all that much in the coming days. Koivu (and Granlund) belong on their fantasy owners’ benches in the short term.

The Anchor (He’ll do nothing but disappoint (even over the long haul)

Seth Jones, D, Nashville (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Just 21 years of age, Jones has established himself as a clear-cut top-four defenseman at the NHL level. There’s no disputing his effectiveness on the blueline, but the young Predator’s value in fantasy is up for debate for a few key reasons:

  • He’s being paired up with Barrett Jackman, not Shea Weber.
  • There is some uncertainty as to who is playing on the team’s top power-play unit.
  • Jones is shooting more than in his past two seasons (he’s up to almost two per game through ninegames) and seeing more ice time, but not enough to suggest a significant change in production.

Can he score 30 points this year? Sure. Will he? Probably, given the increase in shots and playing time. But he’s still a better real-life d-man than a fantasy one. That’s (probably) not going to change for the foreseeable future.

 

By setting aside a few moments to look ahead at the upcoming NHL schedule, poolies can gain a significant and measurable edge over their opponents. Now let’s find some teams that will either help or hurt fantasy owners in the coming days.

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

Colorado – No team has a more advantageous schedule during the first few days of November than the Avalanche. Colorado plays four games in the first six days of the month. Three of those games are at home, while the fourth is against the rebuilding (and currently overachieving) Arizona Coyotes. When in doubt, fire up your Colorado players.

San Jose – The Sharks open November with a road game against the aforementioned Avs, then the team hosts four straight at the SAP Center at San Jose. It’s the sort of fantasy-friendly schedule that makes it difficult for poolies to keep their Sharks out of action.

Toronto – The matchups won’t be easy for them, but the struggling Leafs are poised to be relevant in fantasy in the coming days. Toronto is slated for three straight home matchups to begin the month of November (versus Dallas, Winnipeg and Detroit). Let’s not focus on the fact that once that abbreviated home stint is over, the squad will be on the road for four out of its next five…

 

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

Arizona – The Coyotes do not play Halloween Night. They don’t play the first of November. Or the day after that. Or the day after that. Or the day after that. Let’s revisit this team next week, shall we?

Minnesota – Like the Coyotes, the Wild will not suit up for a game on any of the first four days of November. Unlike the Coyotes, the Wild DO play on Halloween. At least Minnesota should be well rested for its three-game home stint starting on Nov. 5.

Nashville – Not only do the Preds open the month of November with two straight road games Nov. 1 and Nov. 5), they also have three days off in between them. After that, the schedule gets… uhhh… weird (five straight home games followed by five straight road games).

 

Friday, October 30 to Thursday, November 5

Best Bets

Colorado 4.30 – four games – CAR, SJS, CGY and EDM

San Jose 4.25 – four games – DAL, COL, CBJ and FLA

New York Islanders 4.17 – four games – NJDx2, BUF and MTL

Tampa Bay 4.14 – four games – BOS, CAR, DET and BUF

Washington 4.05 – four games – CBJ, FLA, NYR and BOS

Steer Clear

New Jersey 2.00 – two games – NYIx2

Pittsburgh 2.09 – two games – both on road

Anaheim 2.15 – two games – NSH and FLA

New York Rangers 2.15 – two games – TOR and WAS

Carolina 2.21 – two games – COL and TBL

Saturday, October 31 to Friday, November 6

Best Bets

Colorado 4.34 – four games – three at home

Toronto 4.25 – four games – all at home

San Jose 4.25 – four games – DAL, COL, CBJ and FLA

New York Islanders 4.17 – four games – NJDx2, BUF and MTL

Dallas 4.15 – four games – SJS, TOR, BOS and CAR

Steer Clear

Arizona 1.16 – one game – COL

Minnesota 1.90 – two games – STL and NSH

New York Rangers 1.99 – two games – WAS and COL

Buffalo 2.00 – two games – NYI and TBL

Carolina 2.15 – two games – TBL and DAL

Sunday, November 1 to Saturday, November 7

Best Bets

Colorado 4.34 – four games – three at home

Anaheim 4.25 – four games – three at home

Montreal 4.15 – four games – four at home

San Jose 4.14 – four games – three at home

Toronto 4.11 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

New Jersey 1.90 – two games – NYI and CHI

Minnesota 2.05 – two games – NSH and TBL

Detroit 2.14 – two games – TBL and TOR

Edmonton 2.15 – two games – PHI and PIT

Arizona 2.15 – two games – COL and NYR

Monday, November 2 to Sunday, November 8

Best Bets

Vancouver 4.29  – four games – PHI, PIT and BUF and NJD

Toronto 4.11 – four games – three at home

Chicago  4.09 – four games – three at home

Dallas 4.04 – four games – TOR, BOS, CAR and DET

Los Angeles 3.96 – four games – CHI, STL, CBJ and FLA

Steer Clear

Buffalo 2.15 – three games – TBL and VAN

Nashville 1.81 – two games – MIN and STL

Carolina 2.15 – two games – DAL and OTT

Minnesota 2.05 – two games – NSH and TBL

Arizona 2.15 – two games – COL and NYR

Tuesday, November 3 to Monday, November 9

Best Bets

Anaheim 4.51 – four games – three at home

Detroit 3.25 – three games – TBL, TOR and DAL

Winnipeg 3.20 – three games – TOR, OTT and PHI

Boston  3.67 – four games – DAL, WAS, MTL and NYI

Calgary 3.20 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

Nashville 1.81 – two games – MIN and STL

Minnesota 2.05 – two games – NSH and TBL

Buffalo 2.15 – two games – TBL and VAM

Carolina 2.15 – two games – DAL and OTT

St. Louis 2.70 – three games – two on road

Wednesday, November 4 to Tuesday, November 10

Best Bets

Anaheim 4.51 – four games – three at home

Vancouver 4.09 – four games – PIT, BUF, NJD and CBJ

Winnipeg 4.01 – four games – TOR, OTT, PHI and MIN

Toronto 4.01 – four games -WPG, DET, WAS and DAL

Arizona 3.82 – four games – COL, NYR, ANA and LAK

Steer Clear

Edmonton 1.85 – two games – PIT and CHI

Montreal 2.10 – two games – NYI and BOS

Boston 2.57 – three games – all on road

Columbus 2.77 – three games – two on road

St. Louis 2.80 – three games – all on road

Thursday, November 5 to Wednesday, November 11

Best Bets

Anaheim 4.46 – four games – three at home

Arizona 3.82 – four games -COL, NYR, ANA and LAK

Los Angeles 3.47 – three games – CBJ, FLA and ARI

Washington 3.30 – three games – BOS, TOR and DET

New York Rangers 3.24 – three games – COL, ARI and CAR

Steer Clear

St. Louis 1.95 – two games – both on road

Chicago 2.15 – two games – NJD and EDM

Boston 2.57 – three games – all on road

Edmonton 2.66 – three games – two on road

Los Angeles 2.77 – three games – two on road