Looking Ahead: Bet on Vegas

by Adam Daly-Frey on December 6, 2019


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 4

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

Henri Jokiharju, D, Buffalo Sabres (Available in 98 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Last week’s Looking Ahead said that Rasmus Ristolainen was a major concern for fantasy hockey because he had lost his PP1 role first to Rasmus Dahlin and then to Brandon Montour, but it’s actually Jokiharju who gets the plum role – and used it to great success in his first game on the top power play, scoring a power-play goal and adding two shots, while being a +2.

This season’s 6:07 of power-play time is too small a sample, but last year in Chicago when Jokiharju was on the ice with the man advantage (37:54), the Hawks had 68 shot attempts/60 and scored 6.33GF/60; those numbers aren’t elite but they’re comparable to Zach Werenski, Miro Heiskanen and Shayne Gostisbehere. Given the setup that Buffalo uses, where the PP d-man runs high in the middle and feeds either half-wall (Jack Eichel and Victor Olofsson) for one-timers, there should be many power-play assists in Jokiharju’s future. the player he’s replacing (Dahlin) had seven power-play assists this season on 12 PPG. Jokiharju also has a heavier slapshot than Dahlin, which can only help.

Given he’s available in a whopping 98% of Yahoo leagues, pick him up now (especially if you’re an Alex Edler owner) and give him a shot over the next few weeks until Dahlin comes back.

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

Tristan Jarry, G, Pittsburgh Penguins (Available in 79 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Coming into the year, it was a question of who would get to back up Matt Murray in Pittsburgh, and the consensus had been Casey DeSmith would win the job. Alas, it’s been Jarry who was supposed to see the ~25 games in relief of Murray, after Jarry was fine in spot duty in the 2017-18 season (14W in 23 starts, 2.77GAA, 0.908sv% and only four “really bad starts”).

Jarry’s been a completely different goalie this season, and has jumped all the way up from “AHL starter” in pre-season to “capable backup” to “possibly the new starter/the 1B at worst” for the Penguins. He’s saved 7.58 goals above average, has seven quality starts to zero really bad starts in his eight starts (10 total games), and has a sparkling 0.936 SV%. Comparatively speaking, Matt Murray has surrendered 6.55 goals above average, has a 9:5 ratio from quality starts to bad starts, and has a horrendous 0.897 SV%.

Tristan Jarry has started four of the past six and played in five of the past six after Matt Murray got yanked against Vancouver, and Jarry’s allowed three or more goals in only two of the ten games he’s played so far. The recent starts are a great sign for his potential as a fantasy asset this season, and given how “goalies are voodoo” (see: Jordan Binnington, Murray’s rookie season, etc.) it’s always better to take a shot on a waiver wire guy than trade tangible assets for a big name (especially if that big name is…..Matt Murray.)

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

Alexander Radulov, W, Dallas Stars (Owned in 90 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Fresh off a healthy scratch, it’s anyone’s guess how Radulov’s season goes from here. It’s been an inconsistent start for the big Russian, as he’s put up only 8G-7A in 29 games, and that includes a two-assist game, a three-point game, and a four-point game. Radulov’s had zeroes on the board in a whopping 21 games so far, and while he’s shooting the puck often enough (2.65 shots/game) that number is also inflated by a 10-shot game.

Radulov will always have value in leagues that track peripheral stats, as he’s good for about 1 PIM/game, and just under 2 HIT/BLK per game. The penalty minute total is a concern though, as Radulov leads the Stars in minor penalties and sitting in the box for important goals against is the main reason he found himself in the press box on Thursday night.

The Stars have been all over the map with line combinations – Radulov isn’t play 700 minutes with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn – which doesn’t help anyone’s value, but it certainly doesn’t help Radulov. On the season, his most common linemates have been still been Seguin and Benn, but Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Jason Dickinson and Denis Gurianov are all right there with them. Getting rid of him now will be selling at (hopefully) his lowest point, but Radulov is also 33 and will be hard-pressed to meet 50 points this year, let alone the 72 points he put up in each of the past two seasons.

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

Erik Gustafsson, D, Chicago Blackhawks (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Touted in the off-season as the PP1 quarterback on what should have been a dynamic power play unit in Chicago, Gustafsson has been a major disappointment this year: 3G-6A in 26 games, getting healthy scratched for a game, and playing less than 18 minutes in six games – not to mention he was relegated to PP2 duties until recently (when Duncan Keith got hurt).

Chicago on the season has converted on a dismal 13.4% of power plays (fifth-worst) and only three of Gus’ nine points have come with the man advantage. Gustafsson doesn’t do much if he’s not getting points, with only 38 shots on goal this year (1.46/game) and a combined 49 hits/blks (1.88/game). He doesn’t take penalties – although he’s on pace to smash the 34 PIM he had last season, as he’s already at 19 PIM – and is lucky to have an even plus-minus given how bad the team he’s on has been. He’s straight-up droppable in yearly leagues and with Adam Boqvist and company coming up soon, his value in keeper leagues is marginal at best as long as he’s on Chicago. He is a UFA after this season so he could get moved to a better situation, but playoff-bound teams will certainly have a top power-play defenseman in place already so his value wouldn’t explode if he got moved.

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

Arizona – The Coyotes haven’t blown anyone away this season from a scoring perspective, settling in as a bottom-half team in Goals For, and the few Coyotes that were drafted (Phil Kessel, etc.) are probably disappointments sitting on the bench or on the waiver wire. All that considered though, the Coyotes have a fantastic upcoming schedule: six games, which includes TWO against the Blackhawks in addition to games against the injury-riddled Pens, the Flames, Devils and Sharks.

Florida – Unlike the Coyotes, the Panthers truly are a one-line team, so the next two weeks is good news for any Aleksander BarkovJonathan HuberdeauEvgenii Dadonov (and/or Keith Yandle) owners. Florida’s on a stretch of nine straight home games so during this period (12-06 to 12-17) all six games are at home, with only one back-to-back. They play CBJ, SJ, TB, NYI, BOS and OTT.

Vegas – The Golden Knights get to go back home after their NY swing ended Thursday night, and their first two opponents out of the gate are juicy – the Rangers and Blackhawks, in Vegas. Hard to want more than that! After those two games, Vegas heads to St. Louis and Dallas before heading back home to play the Canucks and Wild. While four of their opponents aren’t complete pushovers, the first two certainly are, and Vegas should be able to reward fantasy owners in a big way.

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

Philadelphia – The Flyers have had a ton of success recently, scoring four or more goals in three of their past five, with balanced scoring from all lines. Unfortunately, that’s not great for finding consistent fantasy production and their upcoming schedule is light with only five games. Philly will play against Ottawa and Anaheim at home (great!) but go on the road to face the Avs, Wild and Jets.

NY Islanders – Since losing to the Ducks in regulation in late November and breaking a long streak of games with at least one point, the Islanders have scored only nine goals in five games (including the game against Anaheim). That runs counter to how they’ve played for most of the season, as the Islanders scored three or more goals in 15 of their first 20 games. Three of their next five games come on the road (Dallas, Tampa, Florida), and they finish this period with home games against the Sabres and Predators.

Montreal – After a string of eight straight losses – including three games where they scored only once – the Habs finally broke out of their slump against the Islanders, but they’re still a team to avoid. Montreal has struggled without Jonathan Drouin in the lineup (his nine games missed line up with the losing streak) and their upcoming schedule does them no favours: On the road against the Rangers, Penguins and Canucks and home to Ottawa and Detroit. In terms of opponent, that’s pretty nice, but with only five games in two weeks and scoring coming from three lines, it’ll be too tough to trust Habs.

December 6 to December 12

Best Bets

PIT 4.295 – Away DET – Home ARI MTL CBJ

BUF 4.1325 – Away VAN EDM – Home STL NSH

ARI 4.105 – Away PIT CHI – Home CGY CHI

FLA 4.095 – Away – Home CBJ SJS TBL NYI

TBL 4.0475 – Away FLA – Home SJS NYI BOS

Steer Clear

DAL 2.1 – Away – Home NYI NJD

PHI 2.205 – Away COL – Home OTT

CBJ 2.7075 – Away FLA WSH PIT- Home

DET 2.845 – Away WPG – Home PIT WPG

N.Y. Islanders 2.85 – Away DAL TBL FLA- Home

December 7 to December 13

Best Bets

VGK 4.205 – Away STL DAL- Home NYR CHI

BUF 4.1325 – Away VAN EDM – Home STL NSH

FLA 4.095 – Away – Home CBJ SJS TBL NYI

COL 4.0525 – Away BOS – Home CGY PHI NJD

TBL 4.0475 – Away FLA – Home SJS NYI BOS

Steer Clear

WSH 2.0475 – Away – Home CBJ BOS

MTL 2.0625 – Away PIT – Home OTT

PHI 2.205 – Away COL – Home OTT

ANH 2.7025 – Away WPG MIN – Home LAK

CBJ 2.7075 – Away FLA WSH PIT – Home

December 8 to December 14

Best Bets

ARI 4.3 – Away CHI – Home CGY CHI NJD

VGK 4.205 – Away STL DAL – Home NYR CHI

SJS 4.1625 – Away FLA NSH – Home NYR VAN

EDM 4.1625 – Away MIN – Home BUF CAR TOR

CGY 4.1 – Away COL ARI – Home TOR CAR

Steer Clear

PHI 1.8525 – Away COL MIN- Home

CBJ 2.85 – Away WSH PIT OTT- Home

LAK 2.86 – Away ANH PIT- Home NYR

DET 2.8975 – Away WPG MTL- Home WPG

WSH 2.9025 – Away TBL- Home CBJ BOS

December 9 to December 15

Best Bets

VGK 4.31 – Away STL DAL – Home CHI VAN

MIN 4.2475 – Away CHI- Home ANH EDM PHI

CGY 4.1 – Away COL ARI – Home TOR CAR

VAN 4.0525 – Away SJS VGK- Home TOR CAR

TBL 3.995 – Away FLA – Home NYI BOS WSH

Steer Clear

CBJ 2.85 – Away WSH PIT OTT – Home

N.Y. Rangers 2.7075 – Away LAK SJS ANH – Home

ANH 2.9025 – Away MIN – Home LAK NYR

PHI 2.755 – Away COL MIN WPG- Home

WSH 2.9025 – Away TBL – Home CBJ BOS

December 10 to December 16

Best Bets

STL 4.3525 – Away BUF – Home VGK CHI COL

NSH 4.2475 – Away BUF NYR- Home SJS DAL

MIN 4.2475 – Away CHI – Home ANH EDM PHI

VGK 4.31 – Away STL DAL – Home CHI VAN

FLA 4.2 – Away – Home TBL NYI BOS OTT

Steer Clear

N.Y. Islanders 2.105 – Away FLA – Home BUF

BOS 2.7075 – Away WSH TBL FLA – Home

PHI 2.755 – Away COL MIN WPG – Home

WSH 2.8025 – Away TBL CBJ- Home BOS

ANH 2.9025 – Away MIN – Home LAK NYR

December 11 to December 17

Best Bets

MIN 4.2 – Away CHI VGK- Home EDM PHI

NSH 4.1475 – Away BUF NYR NYI- Home DAL

VGK 4.1 – Away STL DAL – Home VAN MIN

VAN 4.0525 – Away SJS VGK – Home CAR MTL

CBJ 4.0375 – Away PIT OTT DET- Home WSH

Steer Clear

NJD 1.9475 – Away COL ARI – Home

CHI 2.7975 – Away ARI STL – Home MIN

WSH 2.8025 – Away TBL CBJ – Home BOS

N.Y. Rangers 2.85 – Away SJS ANH – Home NSH

BUF 2.945 – Away NYI TOR- Home NSH

December 12 to December 18

Best Bets

STL 4.4625 – – Home VGK CHI COL EDM

MIN 4.2 – Away CHI VGK – Home EDM PHI

NSH 4.1475 – Away BUF NYR NYI – Home DAL

VGK 4.1 – Away STL DAL – Home VAN MIN

VAN 4.0525 – Away SJS VGK – Home CAR MTL

Steer Clear

WSH 1.805 – Away TBL CBJ – Home

MTL 2.3 – Away VAN – Home DET

BOS 2.75 – Away TBL FLA – Home LAK

PHI 2.755 – Away MIN WPG – Home ANH

N.Y. Rangers 2.85 – Away SJS ANH – Home NSH