Why Paul Stastny makes a great buy and other players with favourable upcoming schedules.

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)

Here are a few interesting names that could fit the bill. Alec Martinez (available in 85 percent of Yahoo leagues) is playing well of late. Those in need of a decent defenseman as a plug-and-play option could do worse than him. The same could be said for a couple of Martinez’s teammates, as veteran forward Marian Gaborik (available in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues) and young up-and-comer Tanner Pearson (available in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues) are worth looks in the short term, especially since The Los Angeles Kings have a favorable schedule coming up.

 

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

Paul Stastny, C, St. Louis (Available in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The time to add this veteran centerman is now. Stastny production as of late has been underwhelming, so he’s available in the vast majority of Yahoo leagues. Forget about his struggles. He spent his last game playing alongside gifted teammates Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko, and he’s still entrenched on his team’s top power-play unit. Furthermore, Stastny has been bitten by a bout of bad luck as of late. Consider the following stats:

  • His PDO 95.5. That should regress toward 100.0 (probably).
  • St. Louis goaltenders are posting an on-ice save percentage of .871 in all situations while Stastny is on the ice.
  • His shooting percentage of .088 would be the lowest of Stastny’s career and way down from his career mark of .128.

The production is coming. Getting Stastny on the cheap, and get him now.

 

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

Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo (Owned in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Fantastic young player? Yes. Useful NHL player? Absolutely. Valuable fantasy option? Ehhhh… Sure, Eichel has shown glimpses of being the franchise-altering star player everyone expects him to evolve into at some point in the future. He can skate. He can handle the puck. He has the potential to affect the game on both ends of the ice. All that being said, his stats are rather ordinary through 31 games played: 9 goals and 14 points. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is seeing almost 19 minutes of ice time per game and is a core member of the Buffalo power-play attack. His offensive zone start percentage is north of 50 percent, and he’s taking more than three shots on goal per game. So why hasn’t there been more production? It’s simple. Eichel is a rookie who just turned 19 years of age. It’s going to take a little time for him to find his footing as an NHL regular. He’s worth holding onto in case he really starts putting things together, but this gifted rookie should not be activated into lineups right now. He’s not ready for primetime just yet, and Buffalo’s upcoming schedule does Eichel no favors.

 

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

Joe Thornton, C, San Jose (Owned in 66 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Let’s hope Logan Couture can eventually get healthy and help jumpstart Jumbo Joe’s production, because right now the 36-year-old veteran centerman needs all the help he can get. Thornton has scored just three points in his last 12 games and is pretty much unusable in fantasy right now. So what’s the problem here? Well, he’s currently centering a line that includes the lackluster Tommy Wingels and the nondescript Melker Karlsson. He’s also 30 games into his 20th NHL season and on pace to take the fewest shots on goal in his season for his entire career. Thornton, who is poised to fall short of 50 points on the year for the first time since the 1998-99 season, his second in the league. He needs some help around him, and he needs to start performing better to quiet concerns that his advanced age is causing his skills to erode.

 

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)

St. Louis – The Blues are poised to close out 2015 in spectacular fashion for fantasy owners. The team has three games in four days between Saturday, Dec. 19 and Tuesday, Dec. 22, and then it finishes up the month with three of four contests at home. There is absolutely nothing not to like about this squad’s schedule in the short term.

Boston – On Friday, Dec. 22, the Bruins will travel to Pittsburgh for a road matchup against the Penguins. After that, they play just one game away from Boston for the remainder of the month. Only some tough matchups (at Pittsburgh, versus St. Louis, versus Ottawa twice) could derail fantasy goodness for Tuukka Rask and Co. during this upcoming stretch.  

Los Angeles – Fun fact: The Kings play six of their final seven games of the month on the road. However, that shouldn’t dissuade poolies from turning their collective attention toward the Kings as a team whose players could help in the coming weeks. The matchups are fantastic, starting with the team’s Saturday, Dec. 19 road tilt against Toronto. After that game, here is how the rest of December plays out for the team: versus San Jose, at Arizona, at Vancouver, at Edmonton and at Calgary. Simply stated, the production will be there.

 

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

San Jose – Things are about to get ugly for the Sharks. San Jose embarks on a four-game road trip on Thursday, Dec. 17, and then the team is off for five consecutive days. Pass on this team… for now.

Buffalo – The Sabres are a squad on the rise, but fantasy owners won’t know it during the last several days of December. Here is the schedule between Saturday, Dec 19 and the end of the   month:

  • versus Chicago
  • at Boston
  • versus Washington
  • at Washington
  • at the New York Islanders

Yeah… look elsewhere.

New York RangersSo many road games this month.

Friday, December 18 to Thursday, December 24

Best Bets

Detroit 3.31 – three games – all at home

Chicago 3.25 – three games – BUF, SJS and DAL

Pittsburgh 3.15 – three games – all at home

Ottawa 3.15 – three games – SJS, TBL and FLA

Toronto 3.13 – three games – LAK, COL and ARI

Steer Clear

Buffalo 0.95 – one game – CHI

Nashville 1.73 – two games – MIN and MTL

Philadelphia 1.95 – two games – CBJ and STL

New York Islanders 2.03 – two games – ARI and ANA

Edmonton 2.04 – two games – COL and WPG

Saturday, December 19 to Friday, December 25

Best Bets

Chicago 3.25 – three games – BUF, SJS and DAL

Toronto 3.13 – three games – NYI, TBL, DAL and ARI

St. Louis 3.05 – three games – CGY, PHI and BOS

Calgary 2.95 – three games – STL, DET and WPG

Anaheim 2.90 – three games – NJD, NYI and NYR

Steer Clear

Buffalo 0.95 – one game – CHI

San Jose 1.71 – two games – both on road

Nashville 1.73 – two games – MIN and MTL

New York Rangers 1.84 – two games – WAS and ANA

Carolina 1.85 – two games – PIT and WAS

Sunday, December 20 to Saturday, December 26

Best Bets

Boston 3.36 – three games – all at home

Tampa Bay 3.20 – three games – all at home

Detroit 3.11 – three games – CGY, NJD and NSH

Vancouver 3.10 – three games – FLA, TBL and EDM

St. Louis 3.10 – thee games – PHI, BOS and DAL

Steer Clear

New York Islanders 0.89 – one game -ANA

Buffalo 0.95 – one game – BOS on road

Philadelphia 1.00 – one game – STL

Colorado 1.21 – one game – TOR

San Jose 1.71 – two games – both on road

Monday, December 21 to Sunday, December 27

Best Bets

St. Louis 4.10  – four games – PHI, BOS and DALx2

Dallas 3.65 – four games – MIN, CHI and STLx2

Arizona 3.20 – three games – TOR, LAK and COL

Boston 3.16 – three games – STL, BUF and OTT

Toronto 3.14 – three games – COL, ARI and NYI

Steer Clear

San Jose 0.86 – one game – LAK on road

New York Rangers 0.89 – one game – ANA

Buffalo 0.95 – one game – BOS on road

Washington 1.79 – two games – CAR and MTL

Philadelphia 1.81 – two games – STL and ANA

Tuesday, December 22 to Monday, December 28

Best Bets

Los Angeles 3.29 – three games -SJS, ARI and VAN

Arizona 3.20 – three games – TOR, LAK and COL

Boston 3.16 – three games – STL, BUF and OTT

St. Louis 3.05 – three games – BOSx2 and DAL

Vancouver 3.00 – three games – TBL, EDM and LAK

Steer Clear

Philadelphia 0.81 – one game – ANA on road

New York Islanders 1.21 – one game – TOR

Pittsburgh 1.71 – two games – both on road

New York Rangers 1.80 – two games – ANA and NSH

Buffalo 1.90 – two games – BOS and WAS

Wednesday, December 23 to Tuesday, December 29

Best Bets

Boston 3.21 – three games – BUF and OTTx2

Los Angeles 3.14 – three games – ARI, VAN and EDM

St. Louis 3.10 – three games – DALx2 and NSH

Columbus 3.10 – three games – TBL, FLA and DAL

Nashville 3.06 – three games – DET, NYR and STL

Steer Clear

Philadelphia 0.81 – one game – ANA on road

New York Rangers 0.90 – one game – NSH on road

San Jose 1.16 – one game – COL

Pittsburgh 1.71 – two games – both on road

Florida 1.89 – two games – CBJ and MTL

Thursday, December 24 to Wednesday, December 30

Best Bets

Boston 3.21 – three games – BUFx2 and OTT

Ottawa 3.16 – three games – BOSx2 and NJD

Washington 3.14 – three games – MTL and BUFx2

Los Angeles 3.14 – three games – ARI, VAN and EDM

St. Louis 3.10 – three games – DALx2 and NSH

Steer Clear

New York Rangers 1.85 – two games – both on road

Philadelphia 1.85 – two games – both on road

Edmonton 1.89 – two games – CBJ and MTL

Calgary 2.00 – two games – EDM and ANA

Vancouver 2.05 – two games – EDM and LAK