There is an open debate about whether or not the final week of the regular season should be used during the fantasy hockey playoffs. On the one hand teams often change their lineups around. Key players on playoff teams might sit star players as a precaution. Similarly teams well out of the running might tinker with lines and give some of their young guys an increased role for a few games to see what they have. On the other hand, how frustrating is it to miss out on a hat trick or a shutout because the league decided to end a couple of days earlier? If you are still reading these at this point in the season, chances are your teams are still in it. I am going to try and highlight some of the players to keep an eye on as they might see some deployment changes over the week. They will roughly be grouped into two categories: players who might lose time or be sat, and players who stand to gain time.
As of Monday morning it looks like we have several teams who are either out, or will have a very hard time reaching a Wild Card spot with the numbers of games remaining. We are looking at Anaheim, Chicago, Edmonton, LA, and Vancouver. Since these team are looking like they are on the outs, they have some rational to switch things up. After taking a look at their TOI logs for the last week and a half there are a few players who seem to be playing more than usual. We don’t know exactly what is going to happen down the stretch, but these are names to keep in mind if you need an extra stream at the end of the week as they are likely going to be available and may be in line for some more time.
Andy Welinski (D): Has only played 25 games this year, but has two points in his last six games (exciting I know), with decent shots, hits, and blocks and saw almost 27 minutes of ice time on March 30th, one minute of which was on the power play.
Sam Steel (C): Thanks to a hat trick Steel has six points in his last five games. He recently passed 18 minutes of total time on ice with again about one minute on the power play. Also he has been playing with Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg.
Dylan Sikura (R): Hopping onto a line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad is doing wonders for his ice time, if not for his scoring thus far. Up from fiveish minutes he has been consistently seeing over 14.
Matt Benning (D): Not much in the way of points yet, but he has recently jumped from 11-12 minutes a night up to 16-17, seeing decent hit and block numbers to go along with it.
Carl Grundstrom (R): A third line King may not be your cup of tea, but top power play deployment might be. He has been getting almost three minutes of time over the last week.
Tanner Pearson (L): Pearson has been seeing time with Bo Horvat and Loui Eriksson. He has been getting between 19 and 21 minutes of ice time over his last three games (about a minute and a half on the power play).
In Danger of Being Rested Up for the Post-Season
We also have a few teams who don’t seem to have much to play for as their positions are locked. Calgary, San Jose, and Las Vegas. These teams have every motivation to rest their top forwards. Towards the end of the week you may see players or goalies moved down the lineup or healthy scratched all together. I have listed a few of the key players on each team who might bear some extra scrutiny this week.
Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Mark Giordano: The first line is working on coming back from a bit of a funk so they may still see their time to make sure they are in top form for the playoffs but keep an eye out for updates.
Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns: This list is a little longer as the Sharks have an extensive lineup of players who are getting older, are injury prone, or are/just returning from injuries. Don’t expect anyone rushed back to the lineup now, and a few extra days off might do some of these guys some good.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Reilly Smith, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty: Don’t expect a lot of time, or a a sense of urgency for Vegas to get their injured players back until the first round. The possible exception might be Fleury, as he may want to get in a game or two if he can before the playoffs.
And just so they don’t feel left out we do have some teams fighting for the playoffs, or at the very least home ice advantage. St. Louis, Nashville, and Winnipeg are in an all out battle for positioning in Central, with Dallas attempting to close the gap. Colorado is trying to fend off Arizona and Minnesota for the last wild card spot.
What does all that mean? Likely more power play time for the top line, more starts from the top goalie. These guys are probably all owned in your league already, but checking line combos mid week to note is a good place to start.
Good luck in your final week. Next week, playoff pools.