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 upcoming schedule. Stats in this article updated through December 21st – HAPPY HOLIDAYS

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

Jeff Petry, D, Montreal (Available in 90 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Not only do the Canadiens have a good number of games coming up, but Shea Weber is on IR with an undisclosed foot injury. That’s bad news for the Canadiens but great news for fantasy players with the foresight to pick Petry up; in the first game after the Weber announcement, Petry picked up 1G1A with 2Ht 2Blk and 3SOG. He’s averaged 25 minutes/game in his last three since Weber went out and plays on the top power play and penalty kill, and has a ton of value in leagues that count peripherals.


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

Justin Williams, RW, Carolina (Available in 84 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Mr. Game 7 is very quietly having a great season in Carolina, with 7G-16A in 33 games played, a 17G-57pt pace for the year which would be his best in seven years. Williams tends to avoid injury – going back to 2010-11 he’s only missed 12 games – and gets around 17 minutes a game. He’s really found his rhythm recently with Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn, with five points in seven games since they were put together, and he does pick up the odd peripheral stat as well. He’s a great bench player in deeper leagues and with an AAV of 4.5MM he’s a respectable play in cap leagues.


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

Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville (Owned in 73 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Johansen is currently on pace for the worst season of his career, only 57 points. For a player that doesn’t score goals or shoot the puck – he topped out at 33G and 237SOG with Columbus as his career-best, and has only 26G and 295SOG in 154 games with Nashville – RyJo is far too highly-owned. Johansen has only fired 44 shots on net this year and struggles to pick up peripherals, and should either be shopped or benched for the next little while.


The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)

Conor Sheary, LW, Pittsburgh (Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Sheary’s perceived value before the season started is about the only reason he’s owned at 36%, the idea being that he would stick beside Sidney Crosby for most, if not all, of the season. Unfortunately for the 36%, Sheary’s been bounced up and down the Penguins lineup and gets no power play time on the top unit. Sheary has 9-5-14 in his 35 games which is respectable in very, very deep leagues, but he’s also a -8, has only 68SOG, and collects no peripherals. The advice would be wait until he has a big game and shop him if he’s sitting on your bench, but if he’s in your starting lineup there’s better long-term options available.


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

With the holidays coming up, the number of games gets pretty light for every team during this stretch.

New Jersey – The Devils have been a surprise fun team this year in terms of fantasy, with production coming from all four lines while still getting strong numbers from their studs (Hall, Hischier, etc.). With five games upcoming and off games where they scored four, five and five goals, keep your Devils active and in your lineup.

Tampa Bay – With the schedule not giving much in the way of teams to target for or against, the Lightning should be rolled out over the holidays with impunity. Their first line continues to produce at a great clip, they have a strong second offensive line clicking in Palat-Point-Johnson, and the Lightning still sit first in the league in Goals For. They have three home games (Minnesota, Montreal, Philadelphia) before leaving for two road games at Columbus and Toronto.

Montreal – The Habs have six games between the 22nd and January 3rd, which is a great number considering all the holiday breaks. The unfortunate thing for Montreal owners is that five of the six come on the road, and there are two different back-to-backs: on the West Coast against Calgary and then Edmonton, and a post-Christmas set against Carolina and Tampa Bay. On volume, roll out the Montreal studs and Carey Price, but leave any marginal Canadiens (Charles Hudon, Brendan Gallagher) to the side during this stretch.


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

Calgary – The Flames have a great schedule…for the Flames’ players’ families. Calgary only plays four games between the 22nd and January 3rd, with two home games (vs. Montreal and Chicago) sandwiching back-to-back road games against tough opponents in San Jose and Anaheim.

Ottawa – Ottawa has five games during this period, but they all come against tough competition: they play road games against Florida, Boston and Detroit, and have two home games against Columbus and Boston (again). Beyond Detroit, those are three teams that shut down opposing studs very effectively, which will

Arizona – There aren’t many fantasy-relevant Coyotes in the first place, but Arizona only has five games in this stretch as well, but they have a home-home back-to-back (vs. Washington and Colorado) and then travel to Colorado after Christmas to face the Avs again. With the shut-down abilities of the MacKinnon line, the only relevant players on the Coyotes won’t be able to muster much in those games.

December 22nd to December 28th

Best Bets

ARI 4.19 – Away COL – Home WSH COL TOR

WSH 4.1375 – Away ARI VGK NYR – Home BOS

MTL 3.8475 – Away CGY EDM CAR TBL

BUF 3.1025 – Away CAR NYI – Home PHI

FLA 3.045 – Home MIN OTT PHI

Steer Clear

TBL 1.8375 – Home MIN MTL

CGY 1.8475 – Away SJS- Home MTL

NYR 1.89 – Home TOR WSH

PIT 1.89 – Home ANH CBJ

NSH 1.9 – Away DAL STL

December 23rd to December 29th

Best Bets

NJD 3.4125 – Home CHI DET BUF

ARI 3.35 – Away COL – Home COL TOR

NYI 3.255 – Away WPG- Home WPG BUF

COL 3.25 – Away ARI – Home ARI TOR

ANH 3.2175 – Away PIT – Home VGK CGY

Steer Clear

SJS 2.0475 – Home LAK CGY

VAN 2.1 – Home STL CHI

FLA 2.1525 – Home OTT PHI

LAK 2.1625 – Away SJS – Home VGK

VGK 2.5975 – Away ANH LAK – Home WSH

December 24th to December 30th

Best Bets

NJD 3.1225 – Away WSH- Home DET BUF

WSH 3.055 – Away NYR – Home BOS NJD

STL 3.05 – Away DAL – Home NSH CAR

MIN 2.95 – Away NSH- Home DAL NSH

MTL 2.8975 – Away CAR TBL FLA

Steer Clear

CBJ 1.7575 – Away PIT OTT

VGK 1.7575 – Away ANH LAK

CGY 1.805 – Away SJS ANH

DAL 1.8575 – Away MIN – Home STL

PIT 1.89 – Away CAR – Home CBJ

December 25th to December 31st

Best Bets

ANH 3.5175 -Home VGK CGY ARI

TOR 3.2775 – Away ARI COL VGK

COL 3.255 – Home ARI TOR NYI

NYI 3.245 – Away WPG COL- Home BUF

EDM 3.15 – Away WPG – Home CHI WPG

Steer Clear

VAN 1.995 – Home CHI LAK

NYR 1.9325 – Away DET – Home WSH

SJS 2.0525 – Away DAL- Home CGY

BUF 1.9475 – Away NYI NJD

FLA 2.1 – Home PHI MTL

December 26th to January 1st

Best Bets

ANH 3.5175 -Home VGK CGY ARI

COL 3.255 – Home ARI TOR NYI

NYI 3.245 – Away WPG COL – Home BUF

TOR 3.2775 – Away ARI COL VGK

EDM 3.15 – Away WPG – Home CHI WPG

Steer Clear

VAN 1.995 – Home CHI LAK

SJS 2.0525 – Away DAL – Home CGY

FLA 2.1 – Home PHI MTL

LAK 2.4 – Away VAN – Home VGK

NSH 2.65 – Away STL MIN – Home MIN

December 27th to January 2nd

Best Bets

ANH 4.6575 – Away VAN- Home VGK CGY ARI

COL 4.3575 – Home ARI TOR NYI WPG

TOR 4.3275 – Away ARI COL VGK – Home TBL

NYI 4.295 – Away WPG COL – Home BUF BOS

STL 4.1525 – Away DAL – Home NSH CAR NJD

Steer Clear

CGY 2.855 – Away SJS ANH – Home CHI

OTT 2.8925 – Away BOS – Home CBJ BOS

FLA 2.9075 – Away MIN- Home PHI MTL

SJS 2.9075 – Away DAL MTL- Home CGY

DET 2.94 – Away NJD – Home NYR PIT

December 28th to January 3rd

Best Bets

TOR 4.3275 – Away ARI COL VGK – Home TBL

CHI 3.9425 – Away VAN EDM CGY NYR

TBL 3.8575 – Away CBJ TOR – Home MTL PHI

ANH 3.3975 – Away VAN – Home CGY ARI

LAK 3.3025 – Away VAN EDM – Home VGK

Steer Clear

BUF 1.995 – Away NJD – Home NYR

BOS 2.6125 – Away WSH OTT NYI

CAR 2.735 – Away STL – Home PIT WSH

NSH 2.84 – Away MIN VGK – Home MIN

PHI 2.845 – Away FLA TBL – Home PIT