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)
Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Columbus (Available in 92 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Bjorkstrand has bounced between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines in Columbus this season, which is fairly typical for a Tortorella-coached team, but he’s produced consistently for a young player – and sees power play time – and is in a great spot while Cam Atkinson and Alex Wennberg are on the mend. In the first game without the aforementioned Jackets, Bjorkstrand saw 17:16 (his third-most ice time on the year) and got on the scoresheet with an assist and a +1 with 1SOG. Bjorkstrand is more a set-up man than a Cy Young winner, with 6G-18A, so he should especially be targeted by players lagging in the assist category.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Mathieu Perreault, RW, Winnipeg (Available in 82 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With Mark Scheifele out 4-6 weeks, that’s a great opportunity for a player that should really already be owned in most leagues, even as a 4th-liner. Perreault now gets the chance to jump up with Bryan Little and Nikolaj Ehlers, so his ice time should rise from the 12:24 he’s currently seeing on average to something closer to the 16-minute range. Perreault has 9G-11A in only 26 games with that minimal ice time – including 8PPP – and should look to improve on that with his new role.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Arizona (Owned in 90 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – OEL is still one of the league’s best fantasy defensemen, so in no way, shape or form should he be dropped, but there are a lot of factors that make shipping him out or at the very least benching him the right decision. As mentioned below, the ‘Yotes only play three games in this next stretch which obviously hurts, but OEL has only one assist (no goals) going back to Novembe