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, November 28

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

Bryan Rust, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (Available in 59 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Given the Penguins’ cushy schedule heading into December, Rust is a nice free pickup to help replace some of the recent winger injuries (Arvidsson, Mantha, Burakovsky). He may be owned in your league already, as 41% is fairly high on Yahoo considering how many leagues go inactive or limit pickups. But for those where he’s available, he should be snatched up immediately.

In a vacuum, Bryan Rust is a middling player who wouldn’t normally garner consideration for fantasy as he’s been a ~35 point/season player when accounting for games missed (0.49 career Pts/GP rate though); he also doesn’t hit much (1.5/GP), block much (0.6/GP) or take penalties (0.29PIM/GP) so his peripherals are atrocious in leagues where that matters.

This is not a vacuum though, because Rust is playing on the Penguins’ top line with Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel, and in the seven games that line has been together, Rust has put up 4G-6A with a massive 32 shots on goal – 1.42 points per game and 4.5 shots per game. His ice time in those games ranged from 18:20 to 21:44 if you don’t include the blowout win against the Leafs (16:47). In his career he had topped 20 minutes only five times previous, and now has done it four times in eight days. Hopefully he’s available, because his value is astronomical at the moment.

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

Anthony Beauvillier, W, NY Islanders (Available in 75 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After topping out at 36 points in his sophomore year, Beauvillier took a small step back with an 18G-10A season last year although he played more games and took more shots. This was mostly due to a shooting percentage dip.

This year, Beauvillier is playing on the second line at even strength (with Derick Brassard and Brock Nelson) and on the top power play (with his linemates and Mat Barzal) and has seen a three-minute jump in ice time/game from 14:39 to 17:49. He’s shooting at a higher pace than ever before (2.13/GP) and is on pace to pass a 20-20 season – and that’s not accounting for any possible linemate upgrades, given the Islanders’ recent scoring struggles.

From a fancy-stats perspective, Beauvillier is only picking up a point on 52.94% of 5v5 points scored while he’s on the ice which is a tiny rate – Brassard is at 73.3% for comparison’s sake – which means a possible production spike is coming. Because his value isn’t tied as much to current linemates as Rust’s value is, Beau is the safer longer-term bet which is what makes him a building block.

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

Tyler Bertuzzi, W, Detroit Red Wings (Owned in 60 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the injury to Anthony Mantha, Bertuzzi’s value takes a real hit: over the past three seasons he goes from scoring 3.22 GF/60 with Mantha (539 minutes of 5v5) to just 2.66 GF/60 without (1508 minutes), and turns into a negative possession player by every metric. The smaller sample of just this season looks even worse, dropping from 3.65 GF/60 (246 min) to 1.51 GF/60 (159 min).

Bertuzzi is still a valuable piece – Todd’s nephew has 22 points in 27 games this season after 47 in 73 last year – but he’s got a lot working against him over the next month. The injury to Mantha is just part of the concern, but Detroit’s short schedule is another (see below) and Bert’s unsustainably-high shooting percentage is another. With 10 goals on 53 shots so far, Bertuzzi is shooting 18.9%, which is 20th-most of forwards with at least 300 minutes, and he’s outperforming his individual expected goal total by 2.43 goals. If you can move him in a keeper league for someone that’ll help more now, that’s the move to make.

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

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Buffalo Sabres (Owned in 82 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Even after the concussion sustained by Rasmus Dahlin this week, Ristolainen hasn’t been able to get onto the top power play unit of the Sabres outside of a few attempts at the bumper position. He’s already been shifted back down to the second unit while Brandon Montour plays the point on PP1, and that’s a good capsule of where Risto’s value is these days.

On the season, Ristolainen has 1G-7A with only 55 shots on goal, and is a minus-4 (the high mark of his career!). His ice time has dropped substantially from where it was – between 2015-2018 he averaged 25:17, 26:28 and 26:30 but is now down to 23:39; while that’s still a lot of ice time, he’s just not doing anything with it. He averages 3.6 combined hits and blocks/game and just over 1 PIM/GP.

There’s not much point in talking about his fancy stats, as they’re barely replacement-level. His 40% goal share means more minuses are on the way, and he remains a negative possession player. The only small beam of possibility for point production is that his IPP% is currently 30.77%, which is a clear 10% less than his career average. If you can salvage any value in a trade on name alone, jump on it, but Risto can safely be replaced by any number of defensemen (Fowler, DeAngelo and Fox all jump out at 40% or less).

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

Boston – If the Bruins aren’t the hottest team in hockey, they sure feel like the hottest team in hockey after winning their last five and scoring 23 goals over those games; they get a great schedule to keep that scoring going, with seven games this period (Nov 29-Dec 11) against some horrendous competition. The B’s play home games against the Rangers, Habs, Hurricanes, Blackhawks and Avalanche before road games against Ottawa and Washington. Elite schedule.

NY Rangers – The Rangers got Mika Zibanejad back on Wednesday night which means a very dangerous top-six and dominant top power-play unit (without even accounting for Kaapo Kakko in either!) and have a strong schedule this period: seven games, with the highlights being games against the Devils, Blue Jackets, Canadiens and Kings. They do have to play the Golden Knights twice as well as Boston, but they should still have strong production.

NY Islanders – The other New York team also has a fairly good schedule with their six games, because they play the dregs of the Eastern Conference (Detroit and Montreal, with apologies to Carey Price owners) as well as Columbus. Beyond that, they’ll face Vegas at home, and Dallas and Tampa Bay on the road. Their short trip through California was a bump in the road (three losses, only two goals scored total) after their long point streak, and they should be able to put the puck in the net again.

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

Calgary – After getting shut out three times in four games last week – part of a longer streak of mediocrity where they lost six straight – the Flames broke that trend by scoring eight times in three games this past week; 2.6 goals/game being a big improvement should explain everything wrong with Calgary these days. This period will see them play only five times, although the competition is appealing with home games against the Sens, Sabres and Kings, and road games against Colorado and Arizona.

Detroit – Detroit’s somehow been even worse than the Flames and enter this stretch off two straight shutout losses and a one-goal losing effort against the Devils. That correlates perfectly with the indefinite injury to Anthony Mantha, as Detroit has been a team that relies on their top line for production; the Red Wings as a team have 25 goals when at least one of Mantha, Dylan Larkin or Bertuzzi are on the ice (561 minutes of 5v5) and just 13 with none of those players on the ice (732 minutes). Their schedule sees them play just five games this period, against PHI, WSH, NYI, PIT and WPG.

Anaheim – The Ducks don’t have much to offer for fantasy players in the first place – they’ve only scored five or more in three games all season and four or more in six games – and their upcoming schedule does them no favours with only five games this period. Their opponents are middling, as Anaheim will play the Jets twice in addition to games against the Caps, Kings and Wild.

November 29 to December 5

Best Bets

BOS 4.41 – – Home NYR MTL CAR CHI

PHI 4.3575 – Away MTL – Home DET TOR ARI

TOR 4.2525 – Away BUF PHI – Home BUF COL

COL 4.195 – Away CHI TOR MTL- Home CHI

N.Y. Islanders 4.19 – Away DET MTL – Home CBJ VGK

Steer Clear

ANH 1.9425 – Away – Home WPG LAK

FLA 1.9425 – Away – Home NSH MIN

CGY 2.3625 – Away – Home OTT BUF

NSH 2.845 – Away CAR FLA – Home TBL

PIT 2.85 – Away CBJ STL – Home STL

November 30 to December 6

Best Bets

MTL 5.1025 – Away BOS NYR- Home PHI NYI COL

EDM 4.4525 – Away VAN – Home VAN OTT LAK

NJD 4.3525 – Away BUF – Home NYR VGK CHI

N.Y. Islanders 4.19 – Away DET MTL – Home CBJ VGK

N.Y. Rangers 4.0525 – Away NJD CBJ – Home VGK MTL

Steer Clear

NSH 1.895 – Away FLA – Home TBL

ANH 1.9425 – Away – Home LAK WSH

FLA 1.9425 – Away – Home NSH MIN

DET 2.0475 – Away – Home WSH NYI

CGY 2.3625 – Away – Home OTT BUF

December 1 to December 7

Best Bets

BOS 4.41 – – Home MTL CAR CHI COL

N.Y. Islanders 4.185 – Away DET MTL DAL- Home VGK

NJD 4.1525 – Away BUF NSH- Home VGK CHI

MTL 4.0525 – Away BOS NYR – Home NYI COL

MIN 3.91 – Away FLA TBL CAR- Home DAL

Steer Clear

ANH 1.9425 – Away – Home LAK WSH

DET 1.995 – Away – Home NYI PIT

FLA 1.995 – Away – Home MIN CBJ

NSH 1.995 – Away – Home TBL NJD

CGY 2.1 – Away – Home BUF LAK

December 2 to December 8

Best Bets

N.Y. Islanders 4.185 – Away DET MTL DAL – Home VGK

NJD 4.1525 – Away BUF NSH – Home VGK CHI

BUF 4.1375 – Away CGY VAN EDM- Home NJD

N.Y. Rangers 4.0525 – Away CBJ VGK- Home VGK MTL

VGK 4 – Away NYR NJD NYI – Home NYR

Steer Clear

CGY 2.1 – Away – Home BUF LAK

DET 1.995 – Away – Home NYI PIT

VAN 2.3625 – Away – Home OTT BUF

NSH 1.995 – Away – Home TBL NJD

WSH 2.7075 – Away SJS LAK ANH – Home

December 3 to December 9

Best Bets

BOS 4.4 – Away OTT- Home CAR CHI COL

CBJ 4.005 – Away FLA WSH- Home ARI NYR

TBL 3.9475 – Away NSH – Home MIN SJS NYI

OTT 4.085 – Away VAN EDM PHI – Home BOS

N.Y. Islanders 3.9475 – Away MTL DAL TBL- Home VGK

Steer Clear

DET 0.945 – Away – Home PIT

ANH 1.9 – Away WPG – Home WSH

STL 1.9575 – Away PIT – Home TOR

NSH 1.995 – Away – Home TBL NJD

VAN 2.3625 – Away – Home OTT BUF

December 4 to December 10

Best Bets

EDM 4.3575 – – Home OTT LAK BUF CAR

PIT 4.2425 – Away DET – Home STL ARI MTL

LAK 4.095 – Away EDM CGY – Home WSH NYR

BUF 4.085 – Away CGY VAN EDM – Home STL

CGY 4.0475 – Away COL ARI- Home BUF LAK

Steer Clear

DET 1.8475 – Away WPG- Home PIT

NSH 2.1 – Away – Home NJD SJS

PHI 2.2575 – Away – Home ARI OTT

VAN 2.2575 – Away – Home BUF TOR

ANH 2.755 – Away WPG MIN- Home WSH

December 5 to December 11

Best Bets

BOS 4.2525 – Away OTT WSH- Home CHI COL

MTL 4.1625 – Away NYR PIT – Home COL OTT

BUF 4.085 – Away CGY VAN EDM – Home STL

CGY 4.0475 – Away COL ARI – Home BUF LAK

COL 4 – Away MTL BOS – Home CGY PHI

Steer Clear

DET 1.8475 – Away WPG – Home PIT

TOR 1.995 – Away STL VAN – Home

NSH 2.1 – Away – Home NJD SJS

STL 2.1475 – Away BUF – Home TOR

VAN 2.2575 – Away – Home BUF TOR