All fantasy owners need help in the short term AND the long term. The Looking Ahead feature typically 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, but with the season just about done it’ll look more for players to pick up through the end of the season and deeper keepers into next year.
Most stats updated through Wednesday, March 20th
The Immediate Fixes (Grab these guys and use them for the next several days)
Brett Connolly, W, Washington Capitals (Available in 87 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Joining the 20-goal club two games ago to bring his season totals to 20G-22A on the year, Connolly is a diamond in the rough these days and could be a very strong add for players still in the hunt.
He’s shown more of a trigger this season, hitting a career-high in SOG with 123 in 74 games so far, and he’s playing more than he ever has before with third-line minutes and time on the second power play unit. Normally, a third-line player wouldn’t jump off the page that much due to a low time on ice, but the Caps’ trio of Connolly, Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin have been unstoppable since Hagelin joined up: at 5v5, they have a 62% CorsiFor, are taking 42SF/60 and 15HDCF/60 (90-minute sample).
David Perron, W, St. Louis Blues (Available in 67 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After a hot season that got derailed by injury twice – mostly by his latest concussion – Perron is back and has slipped right back into his point-scoring ways with 3G-2A in the three games he’s played since coming back. After the first game where he played 14:58, Perron’s been thrown right back into the same role of second-line winger/second unit power play guy and has hit 19 minutes in back-to-back games; this is closer to where Perron was when he first got hurt back in January, in the 18+ minute range.
On the season, the cagey veteran is having a very solid year from a per-game perspective, as he’s picked up 20G-20A in only 48 games, but the concern as always is his concussion history along with all the other nicks & bumps that he’s seemingly prone to. He’s on a personal 16-game point streak (not including Thursday night’s game) and is a strong add through the rest of the season as there’s no concern about using draft capital on an injury-prone player, it’s a free add of a good point producer.
The Building Blocks (Buy now, sit back and keep them)
Christian Wolanin, D, Ottawa Senators (Available in 100 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the Sens’ defense corps in shambles from an offensive perspective – next year will return Thomas Chabot, maybe Cody Ceci, and possibly see Erik Brannstrom up – Wolanin has a ton of upside as a deep pick-up.
Since Guy Boucher was fired on March 1st, Wolanin has picked up 1G-3A in eight games, with 14 shots on goal and 13 blocked shots. He’s been swapping between the first and second power play units (although that’s one and the same on a dismal Sens team) and has played 19+ minutes in six of those eight games, including back-to-back games of 24+ minutes. It’s clear he’s earned the trust of interim coach Marc Crawford, and his value as a late keeper/dynasty stash going into next year is strong especially if Crawford sticks around.
Going forward through the rest of the season, Chabot’s broken toe will keep him out of action and Cody Ceci has missed parts of the past two games which means Wolanin should continue to see strong minutes through to the end. Even if he’s not added as a keeper, he’s a fine bench body for worst case scenario injuries.
Dylan Strome, C, Chicago Blackhawks (Available in 71 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Just under a point per game (44 in 48) with Chicago, Strome being available in 29 percent of leagues is unfathomable; he’s playing 17:09/game (two minutes more than his career average) and is on a sheltered scoring line with Alex DeBrincat (who is 88% owned!) and Brendan Perlini, as well as the top power play unit.
At 5v5 since the day Strome was traded to the Blackhawks, Strome sits 23rd in Points/60 (min. 300 minutes) which is ahead of luminaries such as Mark Stone, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin – and even more appealing is his 62% IPP, which is the lowest percentage of anyone in the top-75. That points to fantasy gold, so if you’re in the 71% of Yahoo! leagues where Strome is currently un-owned, he should be grabbed immediately.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Chicago – The Blackhawks have the most possible games over the next two weeks (seven) and are somehow still fighting for their playoff lives for a wild-card spot, which means their games won’t be mailed in (until at least near the back half of the period); they’ll play a home-and-home against Colorado, road games against Arizona, San Jose and L.A., and wrap up the stretch with home games against the Jets and Blues. Their opponents aren’t an easy out, but Chicago can score with the best of them so slot them in.
Buffalo – A lost season doesn’t mean they can’t still have fantasy production to close it out, and with seven games between the 22nd and April 3rd, the Sabres are a good bet for more production. Being in the East means some weak competition defensively, and that should bear fruit as the Sabres will face Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa and the Islanders on the road, and Detroit, Columbus and Nashville at home – only three playoff teams in the bunch.
Carolina – The last team with the full seven games available in this period is the Hurricanes, who continue to be dominant offensively in terms of shots taken but have been up & down in terms of scoring. That being said, they have three very well-balanced lines these days and like Buffalo get to face some of the weaker defensive teams in Washington (twice), Philadelphia and Toronto; beyond those games, Carolina will also face Minnesota, Montreal and Pittsburgh to round out the period.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Nashville – The Preds only have seven games left in total and only five left between March 22nd and April 3rd, a very light schedule to close out the season. They’ve struggled to get scoring outside of their stud d-men and their top line, and four of their five games coming on the road won’t help – they play the Jets, Wild, Penguins and Sabres away, and the Jackets at home.
Pittsburgh – Much like the Predators, Pittsburgh has a light finish to their season although they have games against the Rangers and Red Wings to look forward to. Unfortunately, they also have games against Dallas (in Dallas), and Nashville and Carolina at home – not the most conducive schedule for fantasy scoring.
Detroit – They’ve got six games in the period but that includes a road/home back-to-back (against Buffalo and New Jersey) and well, it’s the Red Wings – they’ve hit four goals in a game only three times since February 1st. They play at Vegas, San Jose and Buffalo, and have home games against New Jersey, Boston and Pittsburgh.