Looking Ahead: Get Rakell in Your Lineup Immediately

Mike Schmidt

2016-12-23

Why you should add Rickard Rakell and other things to consider 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. All players discussed are selected based on their team’s upcoming schedule. Without further ado…

 

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

 

Rickard Rakell, C/LW, Anaheim (Available in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The 23-year-old Ducks forward has registered a whopping 21 points in 23 games played this season. Or, to put it another way, Rakell has scored nearly half as many points this year in 23 appearances as he did a season ago in 72 appearances. Everything has been going right this year for him, as evidenced by his .215 shooting percentage (which is nearly double his career mark of .119) and his PDO of 103.4. While it may be easy to suggest regression is inevitable, one can’t but wonder when it will take effect. Rakell is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down his prodigious scoring pace. He has totaled eight points in his last eight appearances, including at least one goal in five of his past 10 games played. Given that he’s seeing ample action on the man advantage and hitting the ice on the same line as veteran stars Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, fantasy owners should take advantage while the going is good.

 

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

 

Bo Horvat, C, Vancouver (Available in 86 percent of Yahoo leagues)Sorry Wayne, but this Bo does know hockey. The Canucks centerman is putting together a nice season, and he stands a decent chance of hitting the 50-point mark if everything breaks right. Horvat, whom Vancouver selected with the ninth overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has steadily improved his production each year since breaking into the league in 2014-15. While the Canucks don’t exactly boast a dynamic offensive attack, Horvat is being leaned on as a key contributor. It’s also reasonable to think his role will continue to grow in the season’s second half. Horvat is available in the vast majority of leagues, and he makes a great bench stash due to his pedigree as a first-round selection, his production so far this season and the opportunities that are available to him as a young talent on a squad in transition. Give him a long look in all but the most shallow of formats.

 

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

 

Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis (Owned in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Fun fact: Parayko and yours truly have something in common. Neither of us have scored a goal in an NHL game during the 2016-17 campaign. All kidding aside, this 2012 third-rounder hasn’t exactly put together a breakout year in his sophomore season. Fifteen points in 34 games? Not bad, but not great, either. Parayko’s biggest problem is he plays for a team with too many fantasy-relevant defensemen. Alex Pietrangelo has long been a fixture in poolies’ lineups. So has Kevin Shattenkirk. There’s only so many advantageous minutes to go around, and Parayko ranks third among defensemen on the team in power-play ice time per game (and just ninth overall). All of this is to say that the young blueliner can be benched when the schedule isn’t looking so hot for St. Louis. Which, in the short term, it isn’t.

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

 

Marc Edouard-Vlasic, D, San Jose (Owned in 69 percent of Yahoo leagues) –  Is Vlasic good? Yes. For fantasy, though? No, not so much. To put it another way, he’s barely on pace to barely break the double-digit mark for assists registered over the course of the 2016-17 campaign. Vlasic just doesn’t provide enough on the offensive end of the ice to be useful for fantasy purposes. He’s 29 years of age and broke into the NHL a decade ago, yet he’s only managed to put together two seasons of 30-plus points (last year and 2008-09). A year ago, he saw a jump in power play time per game and put together a pretty useful season where he scored eight goals and tallied 38 assists. Now, with even more time on the man advantage, his production has plummeted (three goals and a measly five assists in 32 games played). But bad luck is not to blame for this veteran defenseman’s downturn in production.  Simply stated, he’s just not involved in as many scoring plays when he’s on the ice. The Sharks shot .110 at even strength when Vlasic was on the ice a year ago. This season, they are shooting .111. Vlasic’s shooting percentage is also right around his career mark. He’s pretty much always who he’s always been, with the exception of a couple of outlier seasons. And that means Vlasic is primed to let down fantasy owners in the long term.

 

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

 

Anaheim – Few squads suit up as often as the Ducks over the course of the next week or so. Anaheim will take to the ice four times in six days from Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Sunday, Jan. 1. That’ll do… That’ll do…

 

Arizona –  Sure, Arizona is arguably the worst team in hockey. But for fantasy purposes, the Coyotes can still be useful. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Co. will play three straight at home (versus Toronto, versus Dallas and versus the New York Rangers) starting Dec. 23.

 

Vancouver – Starting Wednesday, Dec. 28, the Canucks play at least every other day through Saturday, Jan. 7. The squad will play six times over the 11-day stretch. Start any and all fantasy-relevant Canucks during the time period.

 

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

 

Edmonton – Times will be tough the Oilers as the calendar turns from December to January. The team will play five of seven on the road between Friday, Dec. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 8. Feel free to deploy members of this squad, but be willing to temper expectations in terms of its overall production.

 

St. Louis – The Blues took on host Tampa Bay on Thursday, Dec. 22. Now the team will get five consecutive days off before matching up against visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday, Dec. 28. ‘Nough said.

 

San Jose – Starting, Saturday, Dec. 24, the Sharks will play one game in the six ensuing days. The squad’s schedule doesn’t heat up again until January, so feel free to look elsewhere for fantasy help in the coming days.

 

Friday, December 23 Thursday, December 29

Best Bets

Arizona 3.36 – three games – all at home

New York Rangers 3.24 – three games – two at home

Calgary 3.20 – three games – two at home

Los Angeles 3.18 – three games – DAL, VAN and EDM

Chicago 3.17 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

Philadelphia 0.86 – one game – STL on road

St. Louis 1.10 – one game – PHI

Edmonton 1.74 – two games – SJS and LAK

Nashville 1.84 – two games – MIN and CHI

Vancouver 1.89 – two games – CGY and LAK

Saturday, December 24 to Friday, December 30

Best Bets

Anaheim 3.18 – three games – SJS, CGY and VAN

Chicago 3.06 – three games – WPG, NSH and CAR

Nashville 2.69 – three games – two at home

New York Rangers 2.35 – two games – OTT and ARI

Dallas 2.30 – two games – ARI and COL

Steer Clear

Edmonton 0.84 – one game – LAK

New York Islanders 1.65 – two games – WAS and MIN

New Jersey 1.65 – three games – CHI, CGY and EDM

Vancouver 1.73 – two games – LAK and ANA

Carolina 1.75 – two games – PIT and CHI

Sunday, December 25 to Saturday, December 31

Best Bets

New York Rangers 3.39 – three games – OTT, ARI and COL

Arizona 3.25 – three games – two at home

Colorado 3.25 – three games – two at home

Boston 3.25 – three games – CBJ and BUFx2

Dallas 3.24 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

Philadelphia 1.76 – two games – both on road

Ottawa 2.00 – two games – NYR and DET

Ottawa 2.00 – two games – NYR and DET

St. Louis 2.05 – two games – PHI and NSH

Edmonton 2.10 – two games – LAK and VAN

Monday, December 26 to Sunday, January 1

Best Bets

Anaheim 4.29 – four games – SJS, CGY, VAN and PHI

Washington 4.06 – four games – NYI, NJDx2 and OTT

New York Rangers 3.39 – three games – OTT, ARI and COL

Detroit 3.29 – three games – BUF, OTT and COL

Arizona 3.25 – three games – two at home

Steer Clear

New Jersey 2.49 – three games – PIT and WASx2

St. Louis 2.05 – two games – PHI and NSH

Philadelphia 2.57 – three games – all on roaf

Edmonton 2.10 – two games – LAK and VAN

Montreal 2.61 – three games – all on road

Tuesday, December 27 to Monday, January 2

Best Bets

Colorado 4.39 – four games – CGY, DAL, NYR and VAN

Boston 4.15 – four games – CBJ, BUFx2 and NJD

Washington 4.66 – four games – NYI, NJDx2 and OTT

Anaheim 4.29 – four games – SJS, CGY, VAN and PHI

Chicago 3.91 – four games – WPG, NSH, CAR and STL

Steer Clear

Edmonton 2.10 – two games – LAK and VAN

Philadelphia 2.57 – three games – all on road

Montreal 2.61 – three games – all on road

San Jose 2.67 – three games – two on road

Nashville 2.69 – three games – MIN, CHI and STL

Wednesday, December 28 to Tuesday, January 3

Best Bets

Tampa Bay 4.36 – four games – all at home

Washington 4.26 – four games – three at home

Los Angeles 4.04 – four games – VAN, EDM and SJSx2

Vancouver 3.89 – four games – three at home

New Jersey 3.75 – four games – WASx2, BOS and CAR

Steer Clear

Ottawa 1.81 – two games – DET and WAS

New York Islanders 1.85 – two games – both on road

Pittsburgh 2.05 – two games – CAR and MTL

Arizona 2.10 – two games – NYR and CGY

Dallas 2.10 – two games – COL and FLA

Thursday, December 29 to Wednesday, January 4

Best Bets

New York Rangers 4.34 – four games – ARI, COL, BUF and PHI

Anaheim 4.34 – four games – CGY, VAN, PHI and DET

Vancouver 4.31 – four games – three at home

Colorado 4.28 – four games – DAL, NYR, VAN and CGY

Washington 4.26 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

Pittsburgh 0.89 – one game – MTL

Ottawa 1.81 – two games – DET and WAS

New York Islanders 1.85 – two games – both on road

St. Louis 1.89 – two games – NSH and CHI

Minnesota 2.21 – two games – NYI and CBJ

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency N.J Players
29% NICO HISCHIER KYLE PALMIERI MILES WOOD
19.5% JESPER BRATT NIKITA GUSEV PAVEL ZACHA
12.5% JOEY ANDERSON JACK HUGHES TRAVIS ZAJAC

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