Looking Ahead: Finding Fiala

Adam Daly-Frey

2020-02-21

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, February 19

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

Kevin Fiala, W, Minnesota Wild (Available in 63 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – It took Fiala a while to find success in Minnesota, with 11 points (five goals and six assists) in his first 20 games, but his past 20 games have seen him pot seven goals and 11 assists. Even better, Fiala's first two games under new coach Dean Evason saw the diminutive winger play season-highs in ice time (19:26 and 21:35).

Fiala's been a volume shooter in his young career (8.04 shots/60 last year, 9.26/60 in 2017-18) and that's borne out with the Wild this season as well, as he's taking 9.79 shots/60 this year which is good for 37th-best in the league among forwards with 500+ minutes. Like the increased point production over the back half of his season, Fiala's also been shooting more over the second half of his year: 37 shots in his first 20 games (just 1.85 per game), 66 in his past 20 (3.3/game).

Playing in the 1A/1B top-6 of the Wild is a great spot – Fiala gets to play with Eric Staal and Zach Parise both at even strength and on the power play – and with the Wild's fantastic upcoming schedule, he should be added immediately but will pay dividends over the rest of the season.

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

Kevin Hayes, C, Philadelphia Flyers (Available in 81 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Even with the Flyers' weak schedule the rest of this month (see below), the Flyers have still only played 60 games this season which is as much or less than every team in the Atlantic and below average for the league, which means Hayes can pay dividends later in the year – and he will pay dividends.

With the Flyers' having shifted their lines around over the season, Hayes has gone from a third-line shutdown role – playing behind Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux at center earlier this year – to a second-line scoring role against weaker competition. That new role has paid dividends for Hayes, who's scored five goals in his past ten games while adding two assists, and playing over 17 minutes in seven of those games.

On the season, boxcars of 18 goals and 15 assists isn't anything to be too excited about, but the recent uptick is a great sign, and Hayes also provides strong peripherals: he's taking 2.46 shots/game, as well as adding 1.68 combined hits and blocks/game. Hayes isn't the biggest name on the board, but he can easily replace the production of this week's Anchor and Odd Man Out, and should be a strong consideration for the rest of the season.

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

Phil Kessel, W, Arizona Coyotes (Owned in 64 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the Coyotes' dismal upcoming schedule (see below) and the current cold streak Kessel is on – two goals and two assists in the past ten games, four goals and eight assists in the past 20 games – he can definitely be tossed to the side, at least for the foreseeable future.

After joining Arizona in an off-season trade, Kessel was supposed to be "the guy" for the Coyotes, as he's scored 25+ goals every season since his sophomore year as a Bruin (20 goals in 48 games in the lockout season) – but he's currently on pace for just 17. Kessel's been exactly as advertised on the power play, where he's scored 17 points (nine goals), but he's only picked up four even-strength goals which is a major disappointment. That's partly due to a lack of chemistry with the Arizona centers (Derek Stepan and Nick Schmaltz primarily), but Kessel is also playing his lowest EV minutes per game since leaving Boston.

There's probably still value in keeping Kessel on the bench, especially if power play goals/points come into play in your league, but don't expect great returns over the next few weeks. He's droppable (for someone like Kevin Fiala) and unless rosters are large, he'd probably survive the waiver wire until the Coyotes' schedule improves.

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

Patric Hornqvist, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although Hornqvist has been scoring of late – two goals and three assists in his past five games – Hornqvist is fully a bottom-6 player at this point, at least on the Penguins. He's playing 15:46 on the season but hasn't touched 15 minutes ever since Jason Zucker arrived four games ago, so Hornqvist's only value comes with the man advantage.

Unfortunately for Hornqvist owners, there hasn't been much production on the power play this year so even that small added value has diminished. Although he plays on the top power play unit alongside Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and so on, Hornqvist has only put up six power-play points this year (two goals, four assists).

On the year, the thorny Swede has a decent stat line (14G-13A in 41 games played), with just under three combined hits and blocks per game – so he'll contribute in peripheral categories. That's fine in deep leagues, but in standard leagues he can absolutely be dropped.

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

Nashville – The Predators play a whopping seven times this period (February 21 to March 4), but it's the opponents that really make the Predators a team to target: they play at Chicago and Minnesota, and the rest of their games come at home against Ottawa, Columbus, Calgary, Colorado and Edmonton. While not all of those matchups are ideal, the Preds are worth a look on volume alone.

Minnesota – Another team with seven games this period, the Wild have a mixed bag in terms of opponents, playing tough games against Columbus (twice), Nashville and Washington, but also playing Edmonton, Detroit and Nashville. In their past ten games, the Wild have scored three or more goals seven times, which is a good sign for their offense.

Vegas – The Knights only play six times in this stretch, but it's Vegas' opponents that really make Vegas worth a second look: the Golden Knights have plus matchups against Florida, Edmonton, Buffalo, Los Angeles and New Jersey (all at home!) as well as a road game in Anaheim. While Vegas' home ice advantage isn't what it used to be, it's still helpful, and in their past six games the Knights have scored 22 times which includes getting shutout once.

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

Arizona – It's a very short schedule for the Desert Dogs this month, with Arizona playing just four games through the end of this period (March 4). Three of the four are home games which is appealing – Tampa, Florida and Buffalo will roll through Gila River Arena – but outside of Buffalo and Florida, games against the Lightning and Canucks shouldn't get anyone excited.

Philadelphia – The Flyers have been scoring well recently, with 21 goals in their past five games, and their schedule isn't horrible in terms of matchups: home to Winnipeg, San Jose and the Rangers, and road games against the Rangers and Capitals. Unfortunately for Flyers owners, there just aren't enough games played in this stretch to count on any Flyers player, which makes them a Leave 'Em.

Carolina – Carolina's schedule is similar to Philadelphia's, which is to say short (only five games) but they do have some appealing matchups (Toronto, Colorado, Montreal). Unfortunately, the Canes also play Dallas and Philadelphia, and just on volume alone should be avoided.

February 21 to February 27
Best Bets
NSH 4.3525 – Away CHI – Home CBJ OTT CGY
NYI 4.2625 – Away STL- Home DET SJS NY Rangers
BOS 4.2475 – Away CGY VAN – Home CGY DAL
MIN 4.185 – Away EDM DET- Home STL CBJ
OTT 4.1625 – Away CBJ NSH – Home MTL VAN
Steer Clear
ARI 1.995 – Away – Home TBL FLA
PHI 2.0475 – Away – Home WPG SJS
BUF 2.85 – Away PIT COL – Home WPG
TOR 2.855 – Away TBL FLA- Home CAR
COL 2.9125 – Away ANH LAK – Home BUF
February 22 to February 28
Best Bets
VGK 4.2625 – Away ANH – Home FLA EDM BUF
OTT 4.1625 – Away CBJ NSH – Home MTL VAN
MIN 4.09 – Away DET CBJ- Home STL CBJ
SJS 3.9475 – Away NY Rangers NY Islanders PHI – Home NJD
NYR 3.9475 – Away NY Islanders MTL PHI- Home SJS
Steer Clear
ARI 1.995 – Away – Home TBL FLA
EDM 2.7075 – Away LAK ANH VGK – Home
CHI 2.8025 – Away DAL STL TBL – Home
TOR 2.855 – Away TBL FLA – Home CAR
CGY 2.8975 – Away DET BOS NSH – Home
February 23 to February 29
Best Bets
OTT 4.2675 – Away CBJ NSH – Home VAN DET
STL 4.215 – Away MIN – Home CHI NY Islanders DAL
DET 4.1375 – Away OTT- Home CGY NJD MIN
MIN 4.09 – Away DET CBJ – Home STL CBJ
NYI 4.0525 – Away STL – Home SJS NY Rangers BOS
Steer Clear
PHI 2.1525 – Away – Home SJS NY Rangers
ARI 2.205 – Away – Home FLA BUF
WSH 2.845 – Away WPG – Home PIT WPG
NJD 2.8975 – Away DET SJS LAK- Home
NYR 2.8975 – Away NY Islanders MTL PHI – Home
February 24 to March 1
Best Bets
OTT 4.2675 – Away CBJ NSH – Home VAN DET
FLA 4.2575 – Away ARI – Home TOR CHI CGY
CBJ 4.215 – Away MIN – Home OTT MIN VAN
MIN 4.09 – Away DET CBJ – Home CBJ WSH
VAN 4.0375 – Away MTL OTT TOR CBJ- Home
Steer Clear
ARI 2.205 – Away – Home FLA BUF
CHI 2.7075 – Away STL TBL FLA – Home
PIT 2.7075 – Away LAK ANH SJS – Home
DAL 2.755 – Away CAR BOS STL – Home
WSH 2.755 – Away WPG MIN- Home WPG
February 25 to March 2
Best Bets
NSH 4.515 – – Home OTT CGY COL EDM
FLA 4.2575 – Away ARI – Home TOR CHI CGY
DET 4.19 – Away OTT – Home NJD MIN COL
COL 4.1 – Away CAR NSH DET- Home BUF
MIN 4.09 – Away DET CBJ – Home CBJ WSH
Steer Clear
ARI 2.205 – Away – Home FLA BUF
CHI 2.7075 – Away STL TBL FLA – Home
PIT 2.7075 – Away LAK ANH SJS – Home
DAL 2.755 – Away CAR BOS STL – Home
WSH 2.755 – Away WPG MIN – Home WPG
February 26 to March 3
Best Bets
VGK 4.305 – – Home EDM BUF LAK NJD
NSH 4.1625 – Away MIN- Home CGY COL EDM
COL 4.1 – Away CAR NSH DET – Home BUF
MIN 4.0375 – Away DET CBJ – Home WSH NSH
NYR 3.995 – Away MTL PHI – Home PHI STL
Steer Clear
ARI 1.155 – Away – Home BUF
WSH 1.7575 – Away WPG MIN – Home
CAR 2.1 – Away MTL – Home COL
PHI 2.1 – Away NY Rangers – Home NY Rangers
CBJ 2.1525 – Away – Home MIN VAN
February 27 to March 4
Best Bets
NSH 4.1625 – Away MIN – Home CGY COL EDM
VAN 4.09 – Away OTT TOR CBJ – Home ARI
MIN 4.0375 – Away DET CBJ – Home WSH NSH
ANH 4.0375 – Away CHI COL- Home PIT NJD
NYR 3.995 – Away MTL PHI – Home PHI STL
Steer Clear
LAK 2 – Away VGK – Home NJD
CAR 2.1 – Away MTL – Home COL
ARI 2.2475 – Away VAN- Home BUF
BUF 2.8025 – Away VGK ARI WPG – Home
CHI 2.8025 – Away TBL FLA – Home ANH

 

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency MTL Players
25.2% JOEL ARMIA JONATHAN DROUIN NICK SUZUKI
17% PHILLIP DANAULT BRENDAN GALLAGHER TOMAS TATAR
11.7% PAUL BYRON JESPERI KOTKANIEMI ARTTURI LEHKONEN

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