Whether you’re making one last push to qualify for the playoffs, or your playoff matchup has already begun, this week may be an important one in shaping your legacy as a fantasy hockey GM. To ensure your success, I’ve found a few players that may strengthen your fantasy roster because of their position in the real-world lineup. Some players provide extra value because of their off-day schedule – allowing you to maximize the number of games your roster plays which in turn creates more opportunity for them to put up points. We’ll also take a look at a few attainable players who are currently riding hot streaks.
Playing Often on Off-Days
Washington Capitals (WED/FRI/SUN)
This season, Washington’s highest scoring line at even strength has been the Vrana-Backstrom-Oshie trio. The Capitals are in Philadelphia on Wednesday before heading home to face the Devils on Friday and the Jets on Sunday. Two games against non-playoff teams – one of which is currently rolling out an AHL roster – should provide plenty of opportunity for the Caps to score some goals. While a guy like Backstrom isn’t hanging out on your waiver wire and Oshie is available in only 20% of leagues, there’s an 80% chance Jakub Vrana is a free agent in your fanatasy format. The 23-year-old Vrana was drafted 13th overall in 2014 and this is his second full season in the NHL, he’s currently riding a mini hot streak with three points in his last four games. Coach Todd Rierden has been allowing Vrana to develop gradually through modest amounts of ice-time, which is great for his long-term growth but slightly limits his short-term value. Fortunately, he gets to play with some extremely talented line mates when he is on the ice. That Nicklas Backstrom guy leads the league in assists over the past five seasons, so he’s pretty good, I guess. While the line as a whole hasn’t done anything crazy in terms of out-shooting or out-chancing their opponents, they have out-scored the opposition by a score of 17-9.
Anaheim Ducks (WED/FRI/SUN)
I really thought the Ducks would be contributing more to fantasy rosters than they have been. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think the team as a whole was playing well – relying heavily on John Gibson to steal games while mustering very little offense themselves. However, I did expect better numbers from guys like Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. While they did both deal with injuries, it’s hard to believe Getzlaf leads the team in scoring with just 39 points in 55 games and Rakell only has 27 in 53.
The beauty of fantasy hockey playoffs is that past struggles can be forgiven easily with a solid week or two of production. If Anaheim is able to produce offensively over the next few weeks, it’s easier to forgive them for what has been a very disappointing season overall. Fortunately, their upcoming schedule includes some very winnable matchups. They’re in Arizona on Tuesday before heading home to face the Blues on Wednesday, Habs on Friday and Kings on Sunday. Now, no disrespect to any of those teams but I don’t think any of them would be considered Stanley Cup favourites this season. Those games on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are the important ones as only four games are being played around the NHL on both Wednesday and Friday, with five being played on Sunday.
When it comes to Anaheim’s line combinations, nothing can really be taken for granted. Sure, Getzlaf has been playing with Perry recently, but he’s also played with Rakell a lot in the past. Heck, the three of them have played on the same line before. What I can tell you is that Kevin Roy played on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry during the team’s last game (A 2-1 win against the Avalanche on Sunday). It was Roy’s first game of the season and he saw 13 minutes of ice-time. I’m hesitant to recommend you add him to your fantasy team, but if you’re in a really deep league, it’s a gamble that might pay off. However, be warned that Anaheim has plenty of wingers with top-line experience, guys that might take Roy’s spot if he’s not producing. Names like Daniel Sprong and Jakob SIlfverberg come to mind.
Ride the Heat Wave
Dobber’s Frozen Tools are some of the most useful resources for fantasy hockey GMs. One of my favourite features is the ‘Hot/Cold Players’ page under the ‘Recent Trends’ tab. It allows you to see who has been playing well recently and often includes players that don’t get much attention – hidden gems if you will. For example, did you know that Erik Gustafsson has 18 points in his last 15 games? That Jesper Bratt has 13 points in his last 13 games? That Travis Sanheim and Anthony DeAngelo both have 10 points in their last 10 games played? Let’s take a look at a few more cases of hot players that are probably available on the waiver wire.
Ryan Donato has seven points in six games as a member of the Minnesota Wild and is still available in 70% of Yahoo leagues. From the few Wild games I’ve seen this season, Donato has always looked dangerous because of his willingness to shoot the puck (15 shots in his last six games). The 22-year-old is definitely getting a bigger opportunity in Minnesota than he ever had in Boston and he’s making the most of it. It helps that he’s playing with capable line mates in Eric Staal and Jason Zucker. Now, Staal’s current 57-point pace is a far cry from the 76 points he tallied last season, but he does have eight points in his last six games. The same goes for Zucker, whose current 43-point pace is significantly lower than the 64 points he put up last year, but he has five points in his last five games. The three players haven’t played very much together this year – just about nine minutes actually – but they were together in the team’s last game (Sunday against the Predators).
If you don’t already, go ahead and follow @DobberHockey on Twitter. That way, if you don’t have time to check out the Hot/Cold Players page, you can be informed of hot streaks from the man himself. That’s how I learned about a heat wave in the desert, caused by Vinnie Hinostroza who has 16 points in his last 18 games. With five goals in his last four games (most of which came in a four-goal game against the Canucks) Brad Richardson has benefitted from Hinostroza’s strong play recently. Both players are owned in just 4% of Yahoo leagues! Richard Panik has also been hot with five points in his last two games. The Hinostroza-Richardson-Panik trio has some impressive numbers during their time together. They’ve controlled 57.8% of all shots taken while they’re on the ice and 62% of all scoring chances, outscoring their opponents 8-3.