(Editor's Note: due to the expected volume of content Monday, we are posting the Wild West a half day earlier)
As everyone’s seasons start to wind down these last few weeks are key for anyone in the hunt for a playoff spot or a playoff bye. In honor of that need we turn to a pretty traditional format of fantasy analysis, three up and three down. We are going to look at three players who stand to help your team down the stretch, and three who might not provide the kick your team needs to get over the edge. We are looking at changes in time on ice, line combinations, potential game numbers and general player performance.
(Note: I have tried to identify players with varying levels of availability for deep and shallow leagues)
Alex Galchenyuk – Galchenyuk is playing at just about a point per game pace over the last 10 games, and he is shooting over three shots a game. He is seeing over 50% of his team’s power play time over the last two weeks and Arizona has 11 games (second highest in the West) coming up over the next three weeks. He is spending most of his time with Clayton Keller at the moment, which certainly never hurts. He ownership number is up at 32% in Yahoo, but there are certainly reasons why that number should be much higher.
Carl Soderberg – J.T. Compher has previously gotten the mentions here as he was the only Colorado forward not on the top line getting top power play time. Things have been shaken up a bit lately, and over the last two weeks Soderberg has is seeing 15% more of his team’s power play time, some of that time with Nathan MacKinnon. He is getting upwards of 20 minutes of ice time, and regularly seeing three plus minutes on the power play. He is shooting more than three times per game, and his point per game numbers are looking great. Unfortunately most of those points have come in two three point games, but the opportunity is certainly there. Colorado also has ten games over the next few weeks, so at 15% owned he is worth a shot.
Robert Thomas – Thomas, as the youngest and least owned player on this list, is definitely the choice for deep leagues where you need to take a swing. He has seen a huge increase in time on ice in general and particularly on the power play. Over the last two weeks he is seeing 50% more of his team’s power play time on the first unit with Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. He is pointing at close to a .75 point per game pace, though is still a bit inconsistent. This is the best opportunity he has seen all season and he is answering the call, At 1% owned he is certainly worth the gamble.
Drake Caggiula – The fire wagon that has been the Chicago Blackhawks over the last month or so seems to have passed Caggiula by. He has lost his position next to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and is seeing decreases in time on ice. He is shooting less than twice per game, and pointing in only around a third of his games. With only eight games, over the next few weeks you are snoozing if you are still hanging on to Caggiula.
Oskar Sundqvist – The experiment seems to be over. For a short stretch a few weeks ago Sundqvist was seeing top line, top power play deployment, but he seems to have lost out on that role in favor of Thomas. He is recently playing with Zach Sanford and Patrick Maroon, is getting no power play time, and has several games with zero shots on goal. He was always a short term stream, but at this point he should be safely in the free agent pool.
Colin Miller – Miller has had significant streaks of value this season, but now is not one of them. Vegas has nine games over the next few weeks so he is already at a bit of a disadvantage but losing time on ice doesn’t help. He has lost about two and a half minutes of time on ice over the last month, and about 10% of his team’s power play time. Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt seem to be the favored defensemen at the moment. He is still putting together a few shots, but is only pointing in about a third of his games. Unless his deployment changes it is looking like slim pickings from Miller over the next few weeks.
Last article’s recommendation:
These are from a couple of weeks ago, but in the interest of full disclosure and transparency here is the update:
Jaden Schwartz: Hopefully you grabbed Schwartz when advised to a couple of weeks ago. In that four game week he put up two goals, one assist, and six shots. He has continued his strong play win points in his next two games as well.
Josh Leivo: Leivo on the other hand chose to take the opportunity of my recommendation to go very cold. He was still seeing good power overall time on ice, power play time, and line mates during the week, but could not keep translating it into points.
Drop or Not:
Cody Eakin: Eakin is surfacing on many free agent lists as he has managed to point in the majority of his last ten games. From 2/5 to 2/20 he had six points in eight games. Part of this stretch has coincided with Max Pacioretty being moved down to the third line with Eakin, but is this production sustainable?
For the season Eakin is on a 45 point pace, so right off the bat, no I don’t think he has suddenly morphed into a 60 point player. To further make the case, that 45 point pace he is on screams unsustainable. His personal shooting percentage, PDO, and five-on-five shooting percentage are in most cases the highest of his career. Most of them would likely come down even if he had a great change in deployment – but he hasn’t. He is not getting more power play time, in fact for most of this hot stretch his power play time is zero. He has a better linemate in Pacioretty, and may have added a minute or so to his overall ice time, but he is still averaging less than 15 minutes a night. His two shots per night recently is not nearly enough volume to make up for his shooting percentage regression. It is possible extended time with Pacioretty gets him closer to keeping that 45 point pace, but a 60 point pace should not be the expectation going forward.
Overall Eakin has historically been a bottom six forward, and continues to look like a bottom six forward, even if he has been on a bit of a streak and a new linemate.
Thanks for reading.