Looking Ahead: Week 21 (2015-16)

Mike Schmidt


Analyzing next week's NHL schedule (and why Seth Jones and Jackets are looking so good)…


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. All players discussed are selected based on their team’s upcoming schedule. Without further ado…


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


Cam Atkinson, RW, Carolina (Available in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues) – It feels like Atkinson’s been around forever, and it seems like he has been on the cusp of widespread relevance for just as long. After two straight almost identical campaigns in 2013-14 and 2014-15, this diminutive winger has taken a step forward this season. His ice time is up, his even strength scoring rate is up, and power play time is not a concern… He’s just been better. Fun fact: Atkinson led the Blue Jackets in shots on goal last season with 212, and he finished second on squad in that category in 2013-14 (behind former teammate Ryan Johansen). He’s been firing pucks on net for some time now, and now they are starting to go in with some semblance of regularity. Atkinson may lack for upside a bit, but the 26-year-old is a steady contributor that’s hitting his stride and in the prime of his career. Give him a look in the coming days, especially given his squad’s advantageous schedule.


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


Seth Jones, D, Columbus (Available in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues) Dobber predicted great things for the 21-year-old blueliner when he was acquired by the Blue Jackets in early January, and Jones has been a fantastic fantasy asset ever since. After scoring ONE point in the entire month of December (for his previous employer, the Nashville Predators), the budding star has registered a whopping 10 in 17 games for Columbus since the trade went down. It’s really no surprise as to why, either. There just wasn’t enough quality ice time to go around in Nashville, what with the likes of Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis on the blueline. The trade to the Blue Jackets instantly led to more (and better) opportunities for Jones. Consider the following:


  • Jones averaged 19 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time per game in 40 appearances for Nashville in 2015-16. In Columbus? 24:20.
  • He has yet to see less than 20 minutes of action in 17 games for the Blue Jackets.
  • Jones is showing great chemistry as one half of his team’s No. 1 pairing, which includes another stellar young defenseman in Ryan Murray.


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