Looking Ahead: Holiday edition

Michael Clifford

2019-12-13

 

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, December 11th

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

Oliver Bjorkstrand, W, Columbus Blue Jackets (Available in 89 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although John Tortorella changes his lineup around more than anyone in the league – at least now that Dallas Stars line blender Jim Montgomery’s been fired – Bjorkstrand has been a power play staple this season, and has consistently been playing in the top-6. That’s led to him averaging 16:55/game this season, two full minutes more than his career average and 4:35 more/game than what he saw last year when he scored 23 goals.

Bjorkstrand is a lot like his teammate Cam Atkinson – more on him below! – in that he’s a volume shooter with a very strong wrist shot, but his line mates and special teams are crucial to finding any success. This season, Bjorkstrand has 100 shots in just 30 games and while that’s only worked out to seven goals so far, he’s also shooting 3.1 percent less than his career average.

Over the past five games, Bjorkstrand has only picked up one goal – he also had one called back – but has fired 31 shots on goal in those five games (6.2/game!) and is currently playing on the top line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Sonny Milano. Given that Bjorkstrand is available in so many leagues on Yahoo and the Blue Jackets’ great upcoming schedule, he’s a great fill-in the rest of this month.

 

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

Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville Predators (Available in 62 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although he’s the center on a dominant top line – one of the ten best lines in the league at 5v5 in terms of xGF/60 (min. 60m) – Ryan Johansen is consistently under-owned in fantasy hockey because he almost never shoots the puck; in the 309 games Johansen played in Columbus this was actually a bit over-stated as he averaged 2.3 shots/game, but since coming to Nashville he’s played almost the same amount of games (312 in Preds’ colours) and has just 563 shots, or 1.8/game.

That won’t change anytime soon, as Johansen has just 47 shots in 29 games this season, but he’s still cemented on the top power play and top line at even strength which means points. Johansen is currently on pace for 50 this year – which he’s accomplished while mostly playing with only one of Filip Forsberg or