Looking Ahead: Is Kovalchuk Worth a Pickup?

Adam Daly-Frey


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, January 15

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

Ilya Kovalchuk, W, Montreal Canadiens (Available in 75 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – In his 81 games over the past season and a half as a Los Angeles King, Kovalchuk managed 19 goals and 24 assists, good for a point rate of 0.53/game. He also barely touched the ice, averaging 16:14 in 2018-19 and just 15:25 as a King earlier this season. When Kovalchuk left the NHL after 2012-13, he had just averaged 24:44 per game, so that was a substantial drop.

Since signing a dirt cheap contract with Montreal though, Kovalchuk’s fantasy value has skyrocketed: he was immediately put onto the top line (Phillip DanaultTomas Tatar) and when Brendan Gallagher returns, Kovalchuk will get to play with Max Domi and one of Joel Armia or Nick Suzuki. Kovy also plays on the power play with Domi, and in his first six games as a Hab, Kovalchuk has put up 1G-4A while playing 20:20/game.

After only playing 17 games for the Kings this year, Kovalchuk is primed for production in the second half – and the busier weeks coming out of the All-Star Break – as his body hasn’t yet been worn down by a full schedule. He’s a first-liner with a goal-scoring pedigree, and his brief time as a third-liner in California isn’t enough reason to leave him on the waiver wire.

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

Conor Garland, W, Arizona Coyotes (Available in 89 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Garland has always had fantastic scoring rates – last year he had an overall goals/60 rate of 1.3/60, which ranked 40