Why Dubinsky makes a nice pick up and others with a favourable schedule in the next week.

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)

 

Brandon Dubinsky, C/LW, Columbus (Available in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues) – For a defensive-minded centerman, Dubinsky is a pretty useful fantasy option in rotisserie formats. He racks up hits. He wins faceoffs. He offers some upside in terms of penalty minutes. Scoring goals and registering points isn’t really this rough and tumble 29-year-old’s specialty, but poolies can safely project Dubinsky as a 45-point player over a full NHL season. He’s also seen action on the same line as Ryan Johansen right now, which bodes well for his offensive prospects in the short term. It must be said, though… This is not someone who should be a fixture in fantasy lineups in points leagues, or even someone who needs to be owned over a significant period of time in those formats. But he is a capable fill-in option, and he is someone that can be employed on a fairly regular basis in roto. No, the power-play time won’t be there. Neither will the shots on goal. That being said, fantasy owners in need of a little bit of grit and physicality (with a dash of scoring to go along with it) can count on this proven veteran to be there when they need him.

 

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

 

Ryan Strome, C/RW, Columbus (Available in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Don’t look now, but the 22-year-old Strome has worked his way back to Long Island after a three-week stint in the AHL. He’s also scored five points in six games since his return. It would be ideal if he could see a little bit more ice time (he’s been hovering around 12-15 minutes per game as of late), but that should come with time. He’s shooting more than he did early on in the season and is currently on his squad’s top power-play unit, and that bodes well for his future fantasy value. The opportunity to snatch up a player off the waiver wire with such pedigree and upside doesn’t come around every often, so take advantage here and grab Strome while he’s so widely available. .

 

The Odd Men Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)

 

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg (Owned in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Kudos to this young centerman taking a bit of a step forward with his game in 2015-16. Scheifele is a top-six forward capable of holding his own on both ends of the ice, but he’s yet to establish himself as a “must-use” player in fantasy. After all, he ranks just seventh on the team in power-play ice time on the season and is only on pace to finish around 50 points. With a less-than-fantasy-friendly schedule coming up, this 2011 first-rounder should be benched in all leagues in the short term. The production will be there, but the timing is bad.

 

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

 

Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim (Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Remember when this guy scored 10 goals and registered 40 points during his age-19 campaign? That was five years ago, and Fowler has failed to match that level production in each season since. Once lauded for his offensive potential, Fowler has settled into a middling fantasy defenseman capable of notching around 30-35 points. Considering that the 24-year-old currently leads all players on Anaheim in time on the man-advantage per game, is logging a ton of playing time and is shooting the puck more than he has in years, it’s disappointing to see Fowler hasn’t been able to provide more in the way of fantasy-relevant production. Simply stated, he’s okay. He’s never going to reach the offensive heights expected of him after his fantastic rookie campaign, though. That’s just asking a bit too much.

 

By taking some time to analyze the upcoming NHL schedule, poolies can gain a significant and measurable edge over their opponents. Now let’s identify some teams that will help or hurt fantasy owners in the coming days.

 

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

 

Chicago – No squad has a better schedule in the coming week than the Blackhawks do. They play four games between Friday, Dec. 11 and Thursday, Dec. 17. All of them will take place in the Windy City. Expect smooth sailing for Patrick Kane and Co. in the short term.

 

Columbus – Three of the Blue Jackets’ next five games will occur at home, while the other two are offense-friendly tilts against Dallas and Arizona (teams whose goaltenders rank in the bottom half in the league in goals-allowed average and save percentage). The production will be there for John Tortorella’s squad… at least this week.

 

New York Islanders – The volume will be there for the Islanders in the coming days. New York is slated to take to the ice six times between Saturday, Dec. 12 and Monday, Dec. 21. The matchups could be easier, but fantasy owners can’t complain about the opportunities.

 

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

 

Winnipeg – B-b-b-yfuglien and the Jets hit the ice for a road matchup against the always-difficult Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, Dec. 11. Then the team is off for three straight days. Then their next two games come at home against St. Louis and the Hendrik Lundqvist-led New York Rangers (a squad that currently leads the NHL in save percentage). Let’s just say the schedule could be easier for this squad.

 

Arizona – The Coyotes have back-to-back games on the schedule Dec. 11-12, but then they have four straight days off after that. That doesn’t bode well for Arizona, who has seen a precipitous drop-off in quality of play after a strong start to the season. This team has lost five consecutive games, and things aren’t expected to turn around for them at any point in the near future.


Anaheim – The upcoming schedule for the Ducks is… uhh… not good. Don’t expect much from this team in the coming days. After taking the ice on Friday Dec. 11, the team is off until Thursday Dec. 17. Then the Ducks play four straight games on the road. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.

Friday, December 11 to Thursday, December 17

Best Bets

Chicago 4.36 – four games – all at home

New Jersey 4.35 – four games – DET, NYI, BUF and FLA

New York Islanders 4.31 – four games – CBJ, NJD, FLA and COL

Minnesota 4.29 – four games – ARI, SJS, VAN and NYR

Columbus 4.24 – four games – NYI, TBL, DAL and ARI

Steer Clear

Winnipeg 1.85 – two games – CHI and STL

Anaheim 2.14 – two games – CAR and BUF

Toronto 2.21 – two games – TBL and SJS

Detroit 2.25 – two games – NJD and BUF

Ottawa 2.56 – three games – two on the road

Saturday, December 12 to Friday, December 18

Best Bets

New York Islanders 4.31 – four games – CBJ, NJD, FLA and COL

Columbus 4.24 – four games – NYI, TBL, DAL and ARI

St. Louis 4.16 – four games – three at home

Boston 4.16 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 4.04 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

Anaheim 1.09 – one game – BUF on the road

Winnipeg 2.00 – two games – STL and NYR

Arizona 2.10 – two games – CAR and CBJ

Philadelphia 2.15 – two games – CAR and VAN

Toronto 2.21 – two games – TBL and SJS

Sunday, December 13 to Saturday, December 19

Best Bets

New York Islanders 4.50 – four games – NJD, FLA, COL and ARI

Chicago 4.45 – four games – three at home

Columbus 4.34 – four games – TBL, DAL, ARI and PHI

St. Louis 4.11 – four games – three at home

New Jersey 4.09 – four games – NYI, BUF, FLA and ANA

Steer Clear

Winnipeg 2.00 – two games – STL and NYR

Arizona 2.10 – two games – CBJ and NYI

Anaheim 2.14 – two games – both on road

Detroit 2.31 – two games – BUF and VAN

Calgary 2.80 – three games – all on road

Monday, December 14 to Sunday, December 20

Best Bets

Chicago 4.51  – four games – three at home

Columbus 4.34 – four games – TBL, DAL, ARI and PHI

Boston 4.16 – four games – three at home

New Jersey 4.09 – four games – BUF, FLA, ANA and BOS

Florida 4.05 – four games – NYI, NJD, CAR and VAN

Steer Clear

Winnipeg 2.00 – two games – STL and NYR

Arizona 2.10 – two games – CBJ and NYI

Anaheim 2.14 – two games – both on road

Los Angeles 2.80 – three games – all on road

Nashville 2.85 – three games – CGY, STL and MIN

Tuesday, December 15 to Monday, December 21

Best Bets

Chicago 4.51 – four games – three at home

New York Islanders 4.23 – four games – FLA, COL, ARI and ANA

Colorado 4.22 – four games – three at home

Toronto 4.20 – four games – three at home

Columbus 4.20 – four games – DAL, ARI, PHI and PIT

Steer Clear

Los Angeles 1.85 – two games – both on road

Arizona 2.10 – two games – CBJ and NYI

Detroit 2.15 – two games – VAN and CGY

Ottawa 2.96 – three games – two on road

Buffalo 2.99 – three games – NJD, ANA and CHI

Wednesday, December 16 to Tuesday, December 22

Best Bets

Chicago 4.35 – four games – EDM, BUF, SJS and DAL

Toronto 4.29 – four games – SJS, LAK, COL and PHI

Florida 4.15 – four games – NJD, CAR, VAN and OTT

Pittsburgh 4.10 – four games – three at home

Vancouver 4.09 – four games – PHI, DET, FLA and TBL

Steer Clear

Buffalo 1.84 – two games – ANA and CHI

Nashville 2.64 – three games – STL, MIN and MTL

Edmonton 2.90 – three games – two on road

Winnipeg 2.95 – three games – two on road

Carolina 3.00 – three games – FLA, PIT and WAS

Thursday, December 17 to Wednesday, December 23

Best Bets

Chicago  4.35 – four games – EDM, BUF, SJS and DAL

Toronto 4.29 – four games – SJS, LAK, COL and ARI

Florida 4.15 – four games – NJD, CAR, VAN and OTT

Vancouver 4.09 – four games – PHI, DET, FLA and TBL

St. Louis 4.04 – four games – NSH, CGY, PHI and BOS

Steer Clear

Buffalo 1.84 – two games – ANA and CHI

Nashville 2.64 – three games – STL, MIN and MTL

Edmonton 2.90 – three games – two on road

Washington 2.90 – three games – two on road

Winnipeg 2.95 – three games – two on road