Looking Ahead: Backlund Won’t Backfire

Mike Schmidt


Backlund and the Flames have a great upcoming schedule and more thoughts 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)


Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia (Available in 73 percent of Yahoo leagues) – One of the top blueliners in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Provorov seems to be everything a team would look for in an offensive-minded defenseman. He can score. He can skate. He’s intelligent beyond his years. So… can he help fantasy owners in the short term? Sure. While he’s hardly scoring in bunches, Provorov is a high-upside rookie who is contributing just enough to be considered as a plug-and-play option in the majority of leagues. Perhaps more importantly, he’s starting to see more action on the power play as the season has gone on (especially since fellow d-man Mark Streit went out with a shoulder injury). Yes, it’d be nice if he shot a little more (67 shots on goal through 40 games played), but good blueline help is difficult to come by via the waiver wire. Philadelphia’s schedule in the coming days makes Provorov a decent pickup, and he’s one hot streak away from being a regularly useful player in fantasy. 


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


Mikael Backlund, C, Calgary (Available in 67 percent of Yahoo leagues) – If the 27-year-old Flames forward seems like he’s been around for forever, it’s because he more or less has been around forever. Backlund, Calgary’s first-round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, broke into the league in 2008-09 at just 19 years of age. Offensive production has never really been his calling card, as his 47 points, a year ago, marked a career high. However, he’s always played with a maturity beyond his years and displayed an ability to play tough minutes effectively. Now Backlund’s seeing more than two minutes of power play time per game per game for the first time in his career, and he’s a decent bet to crack the 50-point barrier in 2016-17. Nine points in his past four games has put him on the fantasy radar and makes him an interesting speculative add. He’s showing some great chemistry with linemate and standout rookie winger Matthew Tkachuk (who appeared in last week’s article under the “Building Block” section). Give Backlund a look, as it looks like he’s potentially building off of last year’s banner campaign.


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


Nazem Kadri, C, Toronto (Owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues)