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 40th of forwards with at least 500 minutes and this year he’s sitting at 1.49/60 – but he had never been given the opportunity to play valuable (top-6) minutes at even strength. Garland played 12:47/game last year in all situations (only 10:04/game at 5v5), and his assist rates were hurt by playing with poor linemates such as Nick Cousins, Mario Kempe, Alex Galchenyuk and Christian Fischer. In fact, Garland didn’t have any 5v5 primary assists last year.

That’s all changed now which really ratchets up Garland’s value, because the diminutive winger has been cemented on a scoring line ever since the acquisition of Taylor Hall – the two wingers are centered by Christian Dvorak – and Garland continues to get PP minutes. On the season, Garland’s scored 16G-10A in 48 games on 114 shots, but 4G-5A have come in the ten games immediately after the Christmas break when he joined Hall and Dvorak and Garland’s assist rate has jumped up to 0.93/60 (all situations) compared to 0.5/60 from last year.

Garland has also been playing more, topping 15 minutes in six of his past ten games which is a great increase over last year and even a great increase over earlier this season, given he had topped 15:00/game only nine times in the first 38 games. He won’t do much in peripheral categories, but in points-only leagues or deep leagues, he has definite value and should be added ASAP.

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

Mikko Koskinen, G, Edmonton Oilers (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After starting only once in January (six games) – in which the Oilers won four times and picked up one OTL point – it’s clear that Koskinen has lost his starting role to Mike Smith. Neither goalie has been great this year and in fact, Smith is behind Koskinen in both GAA and save percentage, but Smith’s stats are skewed by some four incredibly bad starts this year where he allowed five or more.

There’s not much beyond the loss of role as marks against Koskinen, who’s got the stats of a borderline starter (or a great backup), but Dave Tippett has continued to use Smith as if the 2019-20 Oilers were the 2011-12 Coyotes. With Edmonton’s light schedule and Koskinen seemingly relegated to backup duties, he can be safely dropped.

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

Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins (Owned in 60 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The young defenseman has seemed poised for a breakout ever since his rookie year when he picked up 7G-25A in just 63 goals, and then there were even more expectations after McAvoy managed 28 points in an injury-marred season of just 54 games last year. Unfortunately, McAvoy has been a disappointment even though he’s stayed mostly healthy, and he is yet to pot a goal this season.

McAvoy plays his even-strength minutes as a top pair option with Zdeno Chara, but because McAvoy doesn’t get the chance to play on the top power play, he rarely gets opportunities for easy points. The Bruins have scored 27 percent of their goals with the man advantage (third-highest in the league), and the second unit has accounted for only ten of those goals. Because McAvoy is a right-handed shot and Torey Krug (the PP1 point man) is a lefty, McAvoy doesn’t even get moved to the top unit when Krug is out – which really doesn’t bode well for McAvoy’s value in the future, either.

In peripheral leagues, McAvoy still has value because he hits more than twice a game, blocks more than twice a game, and gets 1.3 shots per game. Just lower expectations if hanging on to him, because he won’t be producing much from a points perspective.

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

Like last week, the All-Star Break and bye weeks create all kinds of havoc with the schedule, so pay extra attention to who’s off and who’s on!

Winnipeg – Four games isn’t an incredible amount, but it’s a lot this week! While the matchups aren’t ideal – the Jets play at Carolina and Columbus – they will get to play a game against Chicago as well as a home game against the Lightning who have struggled defensively this season. The Jets continue to struggle at 5v5 but have a dynamite power play (10th in GF/60) and their top-6 and top-2 PP defensemen should be able to rack up the points.

Detroit – There isn’t much fantasy relevance coming out of Detroit, but their schedule is appealing if nothing else: they play four games this period, and they get to play the Panthers (28th in GA/60 at 5v5) and Penguins (8th) at home, and Colorado (6th) and Minnesota (22nd) on the road. Two of those are plus matchups, and based on volume, targeting players such as Dylan Larkin, Filip Hronek or Robby Fabbri could pay dividends.

NY Islanders – After reuniting the Anders LeeMat BarzalJordan Eberle line against Detroit and promptly scoring eight goals (albeit against a combo of Jimmy Howard and Calvin Pickard), the Islanders get to play three times before the All-Star Break and seem like they can start scoring goals again – they’re a very streaky team, having two separate four-game streaks this year where they scored four or more. The Islanders will play in Carolina and at Madison Square Garden vs. the Rangers, and have a home game against the Capitals.

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

Edmonton – The Oilers start their bye week after their game on January 18, which means for this entire period – January 17 to January 29 – they play only twice, with the second coming on the last day. Both games are home games, with a game against Arizona on Saturday night and the Battle of Alberta re-match on the 29.

Colorado – Over the next three days, the Avs will play two games at home (St. Louis and Detroit) before the All-Star Break, and then are off until February 1. Playing a home game against Detroit is always ripe for scoring – they rank dead last in 5v5 GA/60 and second-last in PK GA/60 – but the Blues are always a tough matchup and on volume alone, the Avs shouldn’t be counted on.

Montreal – Even though Kovalchuk should be picked up, the Canadiens don’t have a great schedule through to the end of February: a home game Saturday night against Vegas, and then they don’t play again until January 27 at home against Washington. Both Vegas and Washington are strong teams defensively in terms of shot suppression (their goalies haven’t been great this year), and will make for tough matchups.

January 17 to January 23

Best Bets

WPG 3.89 – Away CHI CAR CBJ – Home TBL

DET 3.8475 – Away COL MIN – Home PIT FLA

MIN 3.4125 – Away – Home DAL FLA DET

CBJ 3.045 – Away NY Rangers – Home NJD WPG

CHI 3.045 – Away TOR – Home WPG FLA

Steer Clear

BUF 0.9025 – Away NSH – Home

LAK 0.95 – Away PHI – Home

ARI 1.045 – Away EDM – Home

EDM 1.05 – Away – Home ARI

CGY 1.0925 – Away OTT – Home

January 18 to January 24

Best Bets

MIN 3.4125 – – Home DAL FLA DET

OTT 3.145 – Away BUF- Home CGY NJD

CBJ 3.045 – Away NY Rangers – Home NJD WPG

CHI 3.045 – Away TOR – Home WPG FLA

STL 3.04 – Away COL VAN CGY- Home

Steer Clear

ANH 0.95 – Away SJS – Home

LAK 0.95 – Away PHI – Home

ARI 1.045 – Away EDM – Home

TBL 1.045 – Away DAL – Home

EDM 1.05 – Away – Home ARI

January 19 to January 25

Best Bets

WPG 2.945 – Away CHI CAR CBJ – Home

MIN 2.2575 – Home FLA DET

SJS 2.205 – Away – Home ANH VAN

NYR 2.1 – Away – Home CBJ NY Islanders

OTT 2.095 – Away BUF – Home NJD

Steer Clear

ARI 0.9025 – Away ANH- Home

VGK 0.9025 – Away BOS – Home

LAK 0.945 – Away – Home TBL

PHI 0.945 – Away – Home PIT

MTL 0.9975 – Away – Home WSH

January 20 to January 26

Best Bets

NSH 2.955 – Away WSH NJD- Home TOR

BUF 2.31 – Home OTT MTL

MIN 2.2575 – Away – Home FLA DET

SJS 2.205 – Away – Home ANH VAN

OTT 2.095 – Away BUF – Home NJD

Steer Clear

PIT 0.95 – Away PHI – Home

VGK 0.9025 – Away BOS – Home

CAR 0.9975 – Away – Home WPG

PHI 0.945 – Away – Home PIT

CBJ 0.9975 – Away – Home WPG

January 21 to January 27

Best Bets

OTT 3.0925 – Away BUF – Home NJD WSH

STL 3.0875 – Away VAN CGY EDM- Home

NSH 2.955 – Away WSH NJD – Home TOR

WSH 3.0875 – Away MTL OTT- Home NSH

ANH 2.945 – Away SJS – Home ARI TBL

Steer Clear

COL 0 – Away – Home

CBJ 0.9975 – Away – Home WPG

NYI 0.9975 – Away NY Rangers – Home

FLA 1.045 – Away CHI – Home

CHI 1.05 – Away – Home FLA

January 22 to January 28

Best Bets

OTT 4.09 – Away BUF TOR- Home NJD WSH

NSH 4.005 – Away WSH NJD – Home TOR VGK

STL 3.99 – Away VAN CGY EDM WPG- Home

ANH 3.8 – Away SJS LAK- Home ARI TBL

TBL 3.7525 – Away DAL LAK ANH SJS- Home

Steer Clear

CHI 0.95 – Away ARI- Home

COL 0.95 – Away PHI- Home

FLA 0.9975 – Away MTL- Home

CAR 1.05 – Away – Home VGK

PIT 1.05 – Away – Home PHI

January 23 to January 29

Best Bets

MTL 4.1425 – Away BUF – Home WSH FLA CBJ

OTT 4.09 – Away BUF TOR – Home NJD WSH

WSH 4.0325 – Away MTL OTT – Home NSH PIT

NSH 4.005 – Away WSH NJD – Home TOR VGK

STL 3.99 – Away VAN CGY EDM WPG – Home

Steer Clear

CHI 0.95 – Away ARI – Home

COL 0.95 – Away PHI – Home

FLA 0.9975 – Away MTL – Home

MIN 0.9975 – Away – Home BOS

NYI 1.2075 – Away – Home VAN