Looking Ahead: Jared McCann Loving Life In Pittsburgh

Adam Daly-Frey




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.


Most stats updated through Thursday, March 7th


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

Jared McCann, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (Available in 95 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Pittsburgh wasn’t listed in the Love ‘Em section this week (spoiler alert!) although they have a fantastic schedule, and McCann should be able to take advantage of his newfound role over the next couple weeks. That newfound role for those not in the know is the top line wing alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, although he doesn’t collect any power play time (yet).


McCann has been in that spot for the past three games now and has picked up 1G-3A in those games, with seven shots and a +6. He’s played at least 16 minutes in all three games – a huge bump from the 12 minutes he was getting in a third-line role – and has seen in increase in his peripherals: +0.3 shots/game and +0.4 blks & hits/game. The only downside to McCann’s new role is he’s no longer taking faceoffs, so those in faceoff leagues should tread carefully as he’s still listed as a centre. Beyond that, grab him and reap the rewards until he gets bumped back down.


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

Jakub Vrana, W, Washington Capitals (Available in a nice 69 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He’s had a fairly inconsistent season, but Vrana’s really solidified his role as a second-line winger and contributor on the second power-play unit for Washington, which is a role rife for production; his average time on ice is relatively low at only 14:12/game, but on the season Vrana has put up 19G-22A (1G/3A on the PP) and has fired 131 shots on goal through his 67 games.


Nobody should expect Vrana to suddenly jump up to 19 minutes/game through the end of the season, but his rate stats are fantastic: of qualified forwards (500+ minutes) at 5v5, Vrana sits 15th with 1.27 Goals/60 and 80th with 1.2 Assists/60, ranking 32nd overall in Points/60. That would reasonably project for an additional 8-9 points over the Caps’ remaining 15 games, but Vrana is also wielding a hot stick these days with 1G-3A in his past five games, so that projection is more of a floor. This late in the season at that ownership and with the Caps’ remaining schedule, he’s a strong consideration for a pickup.


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

T.J. Brodie, D, Calgary Flames (Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Brodie has been a top-pair defenseman with Mark Giordano for the past season and a half and before that reaped the benefits of playing with Dougie Hamilton; he’s cleared 30 points every season for the past six, averages 22:52/game for his career, and plays on a current division leader – so why worry?


*dramatic pause*


Rasmus Andersson.

In Brodie’s past five games, he’s seen ice time of 18:33, 22:46, 19:55, 20:32 and 18:06 – four of those well below his career average, but also below his season average of 21:42. He’s lost his top pairing role in three of those five games, with Andersson slipping onto the top pair, and Brodie has also ceded the point on the second power-play unit to Rasmus.


There’s not much in the way of point production to be expected from Brodie, which is why he’s only 32% owned in the first place, but in the 15 games since February 1st (when Andersson started playing more), Brodie has put up only six points which is a significant drop off his average leading up to that mark.



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

James van Riemsdyk, W, Philadelphia Flyers (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – A real disappointment for the bulk of the season, JvR has put up 19G-16A in 51 games and has stopped producing in the peripheral categories: 2.27 SOG/game this year compared to the 3.1/game he averaged in Toronto and 0.58 combined Hits & Blks/game compared to the 1.3/game as a Leaf.


A large part of the disappointing production from JvR this season is the team around him, as he’s carried over the third-line winger/top power play net-front guy role that he had in Toronto, but he’s playing with players like Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl rather than Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau. The biggest concern with van Riemsdyk is that he’s shooting a career-high 16.4%, a full 4.6% higher than his career average, and taking so few shots.


There may be some points in the very near future coming from JvR due to injuries on the Flyers, but as soon as Jakub Voracek returns, van Riemsdyk will slide back into the depths of mediocrity and poor production from whence he came. Drop him soon if not immediately.



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

Toronto – The Maple Leafs lead the way this week, with seven games upcoming between March 8th and 20th. Not only do they have a great schedule by getting the most games possible, but they get to play some defensive tire fires in Edmonton, Chicago, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Buffalo with their two remaining games coming against Nashville and Tampa Bay. They’ve scored five or more in five of their past ten games, and are loaded with fantasy studs – stock up.


Washington – Like the Leafs, the Caps have a loaded schedule, with seven games in the period; unfortunately their seven games aren’t as enticing as Toronto’s, but the Caps will get to play against the Devils (twice!), Flyers and Pens, as well as the the Jets and Lightning (also twice!) Only three of their games come at home, but they should be filling nets for most of March.


Arizona Christian Dvorak is back, Vinnie Hinostroza is the hottest player on Earth, and the Coyotes are almost in a playoff position even with all the injuries they’ve suffered this season – absolutely wild to think about. In their past five games they’ve scored 17 times and have won four of five, and their upcoming schedule is both packed (six games) and has great matchups (Kings, Hawks, Ducks, Oilers, Lightning as well as the Blues.)


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

Los Angeles – They’re essentially irrelevant from a fantasy perspective at this point in the season anyway, but the Kings’ schedule doesn’t help them any: the Kings play only five times between March 8th and 20th, including tough matchups against Arizona, Nashville and Winnipeg (as well as matches vs. the Ducks and Panthers.)


Colorado – The Avs went back to a loaded top line/three non-scoring lines which hurt their fantasy appeal outside of the big 3, and like the Kings have a short schedule with only five games in this period. On the plus side, four of the five games Colorado play will be at home, and they face some soft competition in Anaheim, Buffalo and the Binghamton New Jersey Devils. Their other two games are against Carolina and Minnesota, with the game against the Wild coming on the road.


Montreal – The start of Montreal’s next stretch comes in the worst way, with the second half of a road back-to-back (against Anaheim) kicking off their period. Because the Habs’ California road trip comes to an end Friday night, Montreal has a few extra days off this week, not playing again until the 12th (at home vs. Detroit.) They only have three games beyond that, playing the Islanders, Blackhawks and Flyers.



March 8 to March 14

Best Bets

WPG 4.095 – Away CAR WSH – Home SJS BOS

ANH 3.9425 – Away ARI- Home MTL LAK NSH

WSH 3.905 – Away PIT PHI- Home NJD WPG

ARI 3.885 – Away CHI STL – Home LAK ANH

SJS 3.8575 – Away MIN WPG – Home STL FLA


Steer Clear

VGK 2.0425 – Away VAN CGY – Home

CGY 2.1525 – Away – Home VGK NJD

VAN 2.205 – Away – Home VGK NYR

COL 2.415 – Away – Home BUF CAR

LAK 2.7975 – Away ARI ANH – Home NSH


March 9 to March 15

Best Bets

CBJ 4.2525 – Away NYI – Home PIT BOS CAR

DAL 4.105 – Away BUF MIN – Home CHI VGK

TOR 4.1 – Away EDM – Home TBL CHI PHI

NYR 4.095 – Away EDM VAN CGY- Home NJD

PHI 4.0475 – Away NYI TOR- Home OTT WSH


Steer Clear

MIN 2.1525 – Away – Home SJS DAL

FLA 2.1575 – Away SJS – Home DET

MTL 2.205 – Away NYI – Home DET

CAR 2.66 – Away NSH COL CBJ- Home

LAK 2.7975 – Away ARI ANH – Home NSH


March 10 to March 16

Best Bets

CBJ 4.2575 – Away NYI BOS- Home BOS CAR

CGY 4.21 – Away WPG- Home VGK NJD NYR

TOR 4.195 – Away OTT- Home TBL CHI PHI

PIT 4.09 – Away BUF – Home BOS WSH STL

ARI 4.0425 – Away CHI STL – Home ANH EDM


Steer Clear

VGK 1.9475 – Away CGY DAL – Home

COL 2.2575 – Away – Home CAR ANH

VAN 2.2575 – Away – Home NYR NJD

NSH 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS- Home

LAK 2.8975 – Away ANH – Home NSH FLA


March 11 to March 17

Best Bets

MIN 4.41 – – Home SJS DAL NYR NYI

CBJ 4.2575 – Away NYI BOS – Home BOS CAR

BUF 4.2375 – Away CAR – Home DAL PIT STL

TOR 4.195 – Away OTT – Home TBL CHI PHI

EDM 4.1575 – Away ARI VGK- Home NYR NJD


Steer Clear

BOS 2.6025 – Away CBJ WPG – Home CBJ

LAK 1.995 – Away – Home NSH FLA

FLA 2.66 – Away SJS LAK ANH- Home

VGK 2.0475 – Away DAL – Home EDM

NSH 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS – Home


March 12 to March 18

Best Bets

VAN 4.3 – Away DAL CHI- Home NYR NJD

DAL 4.1575 – Away BUF MIN – Home VGK VAN

PIT 4.09 – Away BUF – Home WSH STL PHI

BUF 4.2375 – Away CAR – Home DAL PIT STL

STL 3.995 – Away OTT PIT BUF – Home ARI


Steer Clear

CAR 1.9625 – Away CBJ – Home BUF

COL 2.1 – Away – Home ANH NJD

OTT 2.1 – Away – Home STL TOR

BOS 2.6025 – Away CBJ WPG – Home CBJ

FLA 2.66 – Away SJS LAK ANH – Home


March 13 to March 19

Best Bets

MIN 4.4625 – – Home DAL NYR NYI COL

VAN 4.3 – Away DAL CHI – Home NYR NJD

PIT 4.285 – Away BUF CAR- Home STL PHI

DAL 4.1625 – Away MIN – Home VGK VAN FLA

NYI 4.1525 – Away DET MIN – Home MTL BOS


Steer Clear

OTT 2.1 – Away – Home STL TOR

BOS 2.7925 – Away WPG NYI- Home CBJ

WSH 2.8025 – Away PHI TBL NJD- Home

NSH 2.8075 – Away LAK SJS – Home TOR

ARI 2.9025 – Away TBL – Home ANH EDM


March 14 to March 20

Best Bets

MIN 4.4625 – – Home DAL NYR NYI COL

VAN 4.3 – Away DAL CHI – Home NJD OTT

PIT 4.285 – Away BUF CAR – Home STL PHI

BUF 4.185 – Away CAR – Home PIT STL TOR

DAL 4.1625 – Away MIN – Home VGK VAN FLA


Steer Clear

CHI 2.2525 – Away MTL – Home VAN

BOS 2.7925 – Away WPG NYI – Home CBJ

NSH 2.8075 – Away LAK SJS – Home TOR

EDM 2.85 – Away ARI VGK STL – Home

ARI 2.9025 – Away TBL – Home ANH EDM





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