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.
Stats updated through Wednesday, October 24th
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
J.T. Compher, W, Colorado Avalanche (Available in 99 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Mikko Rantanen’s pain is (currently) J.T. Compher’s gain, as Compher is the first winger to get a crack alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog. Compher’s a fine player in his own right, with 1G-3A in six games, but he’s not much of a shooter – just a touch over 1S a game, not a great way to pile up goals. He’ll have to rely on his line mates to pick up points, but that’s fine as Compher holds a whopping 75% IPP, so if that holds up, he’ll be paying dividends in no time
When playing with Mackinnon, Compher sees a slight uptick in goals/60 (2.1/60 vs. 1.72/60) and shots/60 (30.0/60 vs. 28.3/60) at 5v5, but the real bonus for Compher owners will be on the power play as Compher will also slot into Rantanen’s spot on special teams as well. Given the Avs’ strong upcoming schedule, he should be grabbed immediately.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Dominik Kubalik, W, Chicago Blackhawks (Available in 97 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – A third-liner on a deep team (on the wings) like Chicago shouldn’t be someone to focus on, but by every available metric so far, Kubalik is an absolute star in the making; at 5v5, Kubalik is third of qualified forwards with 23.59 shot attempts/60 – ahead of Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Skinner and Cam Atkinson to name just a few – and actually leads the league in shots on goal/60 with 16.95/60.
This past summer at the World Championships Kubalik scored 6G-6A in only ten games for the Czech Republic, which was a slight increase over his 3G-5A in eight games in the 2017-18 World Championships and continues to demonstrate he can play with and against NHL-calibre players and find success. Through his first seven games Kubalik has 2G-1A which admittedly isn’t much, but he’s playing a key shutdown role with Brandon Saad and David Kampf which means more minutes, and he’s recently been starting to see a bit of power play time thanks to his strong shot. Don’t expect him to shoot 7 percent forever, and until that creeps up, he still holds value for his hits (20 in six games) and obviously for his shots.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Brady Tkachuk, W, Ottawa Senators (Owned in 78 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After scoring a goal in each of his first two games, the younger Tkachuk has fallen completely off the map by only picking up one assist over his next seven games. Tkachuk is a big-time shooter – and after recommending Dominik Kubalik, it would be hypocritical to recommend dumping Tkachuk – and picks up peripherals at a strong rate which gives him value, but fantasy owners should definitely be concerned in points-only leagues.
After topping 18 minutes in all but one of his first eight games, Tkachuk dropped down to just 14:40 against Detroit in the Sens’ last game. That drop is partially due to not killing penalties, but Ottawa is a team without a true top line and without Colin White in the picture the scene gets even murkier, so Tkachuk should probably see time in the 15-17 minute range over the next few weeks. With all that uncertainty and Ottawa’s light schedule, Tkachuk should be riding the pine if possible and traded to the Sens-fan owner in any points-only leagues.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Anders Lee, W, New York Islanders (Owned in 61 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After scoring 34-40-28 over the past three seasons and getting a big payday to stay on Long Island, Anders Lee has been nowhere near expectations so far: 3G-1A over nine games with only 16 shots, and just over one hit per game.
A large part of the reason Lee has been struggling is the complete lack of success on the power play – zero PP goals or assists so far after 10G-6A last year and 14-8 the year prior. With lots of movement in terms of line mates on special teams, Lee hasn’t yet settled down, and point shots aren’t getting through often enough to let Lee score his bread-and-butter, the in-tight rebound goal.
He’s worth rostering in deep leagues but is a major concern in cap leagues, and he especially sees his value dip to almost worthless until Jordan Eberle returns.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Boston – The Bruins have been winning games but have really struggled with their secondary scoring, which has been tough for Jake DeBrusk owners but an absolute gold mine for anyone with a piece of the “Perfection Line”. Expect to see the names Marchand, Pastrnak and Bergeron quite a bit through the next couple weeks as the B’s have six games through Nov 6th which includes games against the Senators and Rangers. If ever the secondary scoring was going to pick up, this would be the time for it so don’t give up on DeBrusk/Coyle/etc. just yet.
Colorado – Although missing Mikko Rantanen, the Avalanche have a great schedule from the 25th to November 6th, with three home games (Ducks, Cats, Stars) and three road games (Vegas, Coyotes, Stars). While two of those sets are back-to-backs – they play Anaheim and Arizona on the second half of the b2bs – those are still fine matchups, and Colorado has scored four or more in six of their nine games so far so fantasy production should be high.
Vancouver – The Canucks have six games during this period, and only one of those is a b2b. Vancouver’s been a very inconsistent team so far in terms of scoring – shutout twice in nine games but five or more goals three times – but have a very strong top-6 as well as super rookie Quinn Hughes now running the top power play. Owning a VAN goalie this month can come in handy, as the Canucks will play home games against Washington, Florida and St. Louis as well as a three-game Cali road trip against the Kings, Ducks and Sharks; expect to see Demko start at least two of those and expect the VAN PP to run a little wild.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Ottawa – With only 22 goals in nine games, the Sens aren’t the most fantasy viable team in the first place – especially with Colin White on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Even if they were, the schedule isn’t doing the Senators any favours as the Sens play five times this period (including a b2b) with home games vs. the Islanders and Sharks, and road games vs. the Bruins, Rangers and Islanders.
Toronto – Since losing John Tavares to a broken hand, the Maple Leafs have scored nine goals in three games (going 1-1-1) which in a small sample is a big drop from the 31 goals they had scored in the eight games previous – 3.8G/Gm with JT vs. 3G/Gm without. Their schedule does them no favours, as they have a home game against the Sharks followed by a road game in Montreal the following night; they only have three other games in this stretch, against the Caps, Flyers and Kings.
Tampa Bay – The Lightning are making their second straight appearance on here, with only four games – including a b2b! – between the 25th and November 6th; that includes a tough home match against the Predators followed by a New York swing against the Rangers, Devils and Islanders. Tampa’s been an early-season disappointment with a 5-3-1 record so far which has led to endless line shuffling, which has then led to a reduction in goals per game of 0.5G/Gm.