Looking Ahead 2015: Week 10

by Mike Schmidt on December 4, 2015

Why Paul Stastny makes a great pickup and more about the schedule for the upcoming week.

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. Without further ado…

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

Artem Anisimov, C/LW, Chicago (Available in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues) – This versatile forward was a 20-goal scorer just two seasons ago, and now he’s enjoying the spoils that go along with being on the top power-play unit for the Blackhawks and seeing action on the same line as Patrick Kane. That makes him a worthwhile short-term add or injury replacement for fantasy owners looking for a little bit of scoring on the cheap. He’s going to need to perform at a fairly high level to ensure he retains his enviable role in the lineup, and it is extremely unlikely he’ll continue to shoot at a .263 clip (given that his career mark is .103). However, he’s a capable offensive player surrounded by the ideal supporting cast. Grab Anisimov and worry about his true fantasy level later.

 

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

Paul Stastny, C, St. Louis (Available in 66 percent of Yahoo leagues) – This veteran pivot returned from a foot injury just in time to make his way onto the same line as extremely talented Blues teammates Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. That immediately drew the attention of fantasy of the fantasy community, and for good reason. Stastny is the kind of savvy, experienced player who can utilize his good skills and capitalize on his gifted linemates to produce high-end fantasy production. The track record is there. The situation is a best-case scenario. The 29-year-old forward should pretty much be universally owned in fantasy leagues right now.

 

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

Ryan Kesler, C/RW, Anaheim (Owned in 65 percent of Yahoo leagues) – This guy should not be in fantasy lineups on the regular. He’s 31 years of age and has logged a ton of ice time over his 10-plus years in the NHL. He’s a respectable two-way defender at this point in his career. Nothing more. Kesler is fine to own in fantasy leagues, but poolies need to recognize his production is very much replaceable. He’s on pace for 36 points, which is less than half than the 74 he averaged over two seasons with Vancouver in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Kesler’s low PDO of 94.1 suggests a bit of a rebound could occur in the coming weeks and months, but a wait-and-see approach to employing him is the best course of action his owners can take right now.

 

The Anchor (He’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)

Dion Phaneuf, D, Toronto (Owned in 79 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The days of double-digit goals and prodigious point totals are behind Phaneuf. Now he’s a name-brand player with an off-brand game who is surrounded by below-average talent. While he’s no longer being miscast as a shutdown defenseman (the percentage of zone starts he’s taking in his opponents’ end of the ice this year is his highest since 2011-12, which was the last year he scored 10-plus goals in a season), he’s currently just 19th among blueliners in shots-on-goal this year with 55. That’s one less than Jeff Petry, exactly as many as Travis Hamonic and about half as many as Brent Burns. If Phaneuf doesn’t shoot more, he won’t score more. If he doesn’t score more, he’s not worth that much in any leagues but those that count hits, blocks and/or penalty minutes. A recent hot streak (four points in his last four games) means there may be no better time to sell high-ish on Phaneuf than right now.

Some NHL squads are primed to help poolies more than others in the coming week. With that in mind, let’s look ahead…

 

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

St. Louis – Get a load of this schedule… Between Saturday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 19, the Blues will play seven out of eight games at home. The squad’s lone game away from St. Louis is against the unimposing Colorado Avalanche. Expect big things this holiday season from Vladimir Tarasenko and Co.

Chicago – Just like the aforementioned Blues, the Blackhawks will spend quite a bit of time on their home ice during the month of December. Between Sunday, Dec. 6 and Sunday, Dec. 27, Chicago will host nine of 11 contests at home. Fire up any and all fantasy-relevant ‘Hawks during that stretch. Solid production from them is more or less inevitable.

BuffaloJack Eichel’s playing pretty well. The Kane Train is back in action (for now). Things are looking up for the Sabres, especially when one considers how their schedule shapes up in the coming days. The squad plays a whopping five times between Friday, Dec. 4 and Saturday, Dec. 12. Sure, three of those tilts are on the road, but the opportunities to rack up stats will still be there.

 

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

Anaheim – The Ducks host Pittsburgh on Sunday, Dec. 6. Then they have a scheduled off day set for Monday of that week. Same with Tuesday. Same with Wednesday. Same with Thursday. Nothing else needs to be said here.

Toronto – Simply stated, this squad doesn’t play very much in the next several days. In fact, after the Leafs host the Devils on Tuesday, Dec. 8, they don’t take to the ice again for a whole week.

Vancouver – Lack of opportunity is a problem here as well. The Canucks have three straight days off following their Dec. 9 home tilt against the New York Rangers. It could be worse, as they play more than the Ducks and the Leafs during that stretch. So does everyone else, though.

Friday, December 4 to Thursday, December 10

Best Bets

St. Louis 4.57 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 4.21 – four games – ARI, EDM, VAN and CGY

Philadelphia 4.05 – four games – NJD, CBJ, NYI and STL

Columbus 4.05 – four games – FLA, PHI, LAK and WPG

Florida 3.99 – four games – CBJ, NJD, OTT and WAS

Steer Clear

Dallas 2.05 – two games – EDM and CAR

New York Rangers 2.05 – two games – OTT and VAN

Toronto 2.06 – two games – STL and NJD

Anaheim 2.15 – two games – SJS and PIT

Minnesota 2.20 – two games – COLx2

Saturday, December 5 to Friday, December 11

Best Bets

Philadelphia 4.00 – four games – CBJ, NYI, STL and DAL

Ottawa 3.95 – four games – NYI, NYR, FLA and TBL

Carolina 3.91 – four games – MTL, ARI, DAL and ANA

Los Angeles 3.90 – four games – PITx2, TBL and CBJ

Nashville 3.90 – four games – BOS, CHIx2 and COL

Steer Clear

New York Islanders 2.00 – two games – both on road

Anaheim 2.05 – two games – PIT and CAR

Toronto 2.06 – two games – STL and NJD

Dallas 2.21 – two games – CAR and PHI

Calgary 2.36 – two games – SJS and BUF

Sunday, December 6 to Saturday, December 12

Best Bets

Carolina 4.21 – four games – ARIx2, DAL and ANA

New York Rangers 4.00 – four games – OTT, VAN, EDM and CGY

Los Angeles 4.00 – four games – TBL, CBJ, PIT and BUF

Florida 3.99 – four games – NJD, OTT, WAS and BOS

Nashville 3.91 – four games – BOS, CHIx2 and COL

Steer Clear

Toronto 1.16 – one game – NJD

New York Islanders 2.00 – two games – both on road

Anaheim 2.05 – two games – PIT and CAR

Vancouver 2.21 – two games – BUF and NYR

Detroit 2.74 – three games – WAS, MTL and NJD

Monday, December 7 to Sunday, December 13

Best Bets

St. Louis 4.67  – four games – all at home

Chicago 4.00 – four games – three at home

Nashville 3.91 – four games – BOS, CHIx2 and COL

Colorado 3.70 – four games – MIN, PIT, NSH and STL

Calgary 3.36 – three games – all at home

Steer Clear

Anaheim 1.05 – one game – CAR

Toronto 1.16 – one game – NJD

Winnipeg 1.91 – two games – CBJ and CHI

Pittsburgh 1.99 – two games – COL and LAK

Tampa Bay 2.00 – two games – OTT and WAS

Tuesday, December 8 to Monday, December 14

Best Bets

St. Louis 4.67 – four games – all at home

Washington 4.05 – four games – DET, FLA, TBL and PIT

Chicago 4.00 – four games – NSHx2, WPG and VAN

Detroit 3.95 – four games – WAS, MTL, NJD and BUF

Columbus 3.95 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

Anaheim 1.05 – one game – CAR

Toronto 1.16 – one game – NJD

Vancouver 1.85 – two games – NYR and CHI

Winnipeg 1.91 – two games – CBJ and CHI

Minnesota 2.19 – two games – both on road

Wednesday, December 9 to Tuesday, December 15

Best Bets

St. Louis 4.32 – four games – three at home

Montreal 4.30 – four games – three at home

Chicago 4.16 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 4.10 – four games – CGY, LAK, DET and NJD

New York Rangers 4.05 – four games – VAN, EDMx2 and CGY

Steer Clear

Anaheim 1.05 – one game – CAR

Toronto 1.05 – one game – TBL

Arizona 2.21 – two games – MIN and CAR

San Jose 2.65 – three games – EDM, MIN and MTL

Ottawa 2.66 – three games – two on road

Thursday, December 10 to Wednesday, December 16

Best Bets

St. Louis  4.32 – four games – three at home

Chicago 4.16 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 4.10 – four games – CGY, LAK, DET and NJD

Tampa Bay 4.04 – four games – OTT, WAS, CBJ and TOR

Columbus 4.00 – four games – WPG, NYI, TBL and DAL

Steer Clear

Anaheim 1.05 – one game – CAR

Toronto 1.05 – one game – TBL

San Jose 1.65 – two games – MIN and MTL

Vancouver 1.66 – two games – both on road

Arizona 1.94 – two games – MIN and CAR