Looking Ahead: Matthew Tkachuk Hitting His Stride

Mike Schmidt


Tkachuk and the Flames have a great upcoming schedule, and other thoughts for the coming 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. 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)


Andrej Sekera, D, Edmonton (Available in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues) – At various times during the past few NHL seasons, Sekera has been a solid, competent fantasy blueliner. This year, particularly as of late, he’s been quite productive as a member of the Oilers defense corps. Edmonton coach Todd McLellan has leaned on Sekara to play significant minutes on the power play, and the veteran defenseman has responded by tallying seven points in his last 11 games. While he’s never been known as a big-time scorer, Sekera does have a 44-point season on his resume, and he’s seeing more time on the man advantage than he has since that banner 2013-14 career campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes. Simply stated, Sekera is just interesting and productive enough to use in a pinch in the vast majority of leagues. And while his long-term fantasy value is not as bright, that doesn’t mean he can’t be of service in the short term. Give him a look.


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


Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Calgary (Available in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Don’t look now, but Tkachuk has started to hit his stride in his inaugural season in the NHL. The sixth overall selection in this past year’s NHL Entry Draft, Tkachuk is blessed with the sort of skills and physicality every team is looking for in a top-line winger — and his production as of late shows it. With seven points in his last seven games, he’s starting to look like an intriguing high upside option in season-long leagues. At this point, only a lack of consistent opportunity stands in the way of his widespread fantasy relevance. Tkachuk is averaging just a little more than 14 minutes of ice time per game and a little less than two minutes of time on the man advantage per contest on the year. However, because he’s proven to be quite productive in recent days, poolies should hope first-year Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan will lean on him more in the season’s second half. Tkachuk is worth a speculative add in all but the most shallow of fantasy formats. The talent is there. He’s starting to put it all together. Now all the rookie forward needs is a chance to shine.


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


Marc Andre-Fleury, G, Pittsburgh (Owned in 76 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The first overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Penguins, Fleury spent th