Looking ahead at the Rangers favourable schedule and other teams to focus on for your fantasy hockey squad.
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)
Derek Stepan, C, New York Rangers (Available in 59 percent of Yahoo leagues) – It seems as if the 26-year-old Rangers centerman has been around forever. I guess it makes sense, given that Stepan broke into the NHL at the outset of the 2010-11 campaign at the tender age of 20. Two years later, he broke out in a big way. Stepan registered a whopping 44 points in 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, bolstered by a career-best .167 shooting percentage and an incredibly fortunate PDO of 103.6. It eventually became clear to the fantasy community that, while Stepan is a good player, he’s most certainly not a point-per-game player. The longtime Rangers forward is, however, someone who is firmly entrenched in his squad’s top six and will be relied on to play a significant role on his team’s power play. In fact, only one Rangers centerman averaged more time on a per-game average than Stepan did last year, and he’s no longer on the team. Considering his track record of production, his projected role with his team, as well as the fact that he’s in the prime of his career, Stepan looks like an attractive plug-and-play option when needed in shallow leagues. In deeper formats, he should be a fixture in lineups. Fifty points is pretty much a lock over a full season for Stepan.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production) –
Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, New York Rangers (Available in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues) – From one Rangers forward to another… Zibanejad is an intriguing young talent who became an ultra-desirable late-round fantasy option after being traded by Ottawa to the New York Rangers this past July. At just 23 years of age, he already has one 50-point campaign on his resume and has managed to increase his point total in each year he’s been in the league since debuting in 2011-12. Now he’s on the Rangers, he’ll be one of his squad’s top two centerman and he’s reaching the age where he should (at least theoretically) start putting up the best numbers of his career. He only just started seeing a decent amount of ice time, as last season was the first year in which he exceeded 17 minutes per game and only the second season in which he averaged more than two minutes of ice time on the man advantage per contest. Simply stated, Zibanejad just keeps getting better and continues to be afforded greater opportunities to produce. Being employed by the Rangers instead of the Senators should only help him this year, and 60 points is very much in play. Pick him up or trade for him. Whatever it takes, acquire him.
The Odd Me