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, November 21st
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Charlie Coyle, C, Boston Bruins (Available in 89 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After being labelled a disappointment in Minnesota – 242 points in 479 games for the Wild – Coyle gets to spend his age-27 season in Boston, where he’s picked up 4G-7A in 21 games while playing 16:33. That’s an improvement over the 21 games he played for Boston last season after getting moved at the trade deadline, when he put up a paltry 2G-4A while playing 15:59/night.
This season has seen Coyle bounce around between a second-line role and a third-line role, mostly depending on the health of Patrice Bergeron, but for the time being it looks like he’s sticking on the second line as a winger. More importantly, Coyle’s been given a shot on the dominant top power play of the Bruins in what used to be Jake DeBrusk’s position; he immediately paid that off with a power play assist.
While his ice time will eventually drop back down to earth with Bergeron back in the fold, Coyle’s ice time has jumped up to as high as 20:25 and the average of his past five games is just over 18:30. It’s no surprise that his increased role also coincides with an uptick in scoring, as Coyle’s picked up 2G-4A in his past five games, which is one assist more than he’d earned in the 16 games prior.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Kirby Dach, C, Chicago Blackhawks (Available in 91 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The 18-year old is sticking with the Blackhawks, and has seen a steady increase in responsibility and ice time as Chicago has juggled things around; Dach’s topped out at just over 14 minutes so far – his season average is just 11 – but his past four games have seen him play 11:50, 12:36, 13:46 and 14:06.
Dach unfortunately isn’t getting any power play time these days after playing on the PP for three games earlier this month (zero goals for, one goal against) so that hurts his upside, but at 5v5 he’s taking 10.74 shot attempts/60, has 0.85 individual xGF/60, and has 3.33 pts/60. His shooting percentage is out of whack at 23.81 percent so that’ll come back down, but Dach is getting a spin with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane at even strength.
Last year in 150 minutes, the line of DeBrincat-Kane (without Dylan Strome) had a 3.99 GF/60 rate with 64 shot attempts/60 and a plus-possession combo, so slotting Dach into that mix is a great opportunity. He’s a must-add in keeper leagues and is a speculative add in one-year leagues given the current lack of ice time, but his upside is through the roof if he gets to continue playing with Kane.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Victor Olofsson, W, Buffalo Sabres (Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – A great story at the start of the season, Olofsson has 7G-8A on the season (21 games) and although he’s mostly played on the top line for Buffalo at even strength, he’s recently been moved down to the bottom-6. While he’ll more than likely bounce back and will continue to get top power play minutes, scoring hasn’t come easy at even strength for Olofsson: of his seven goals, six came on the power play, and two of his assists came on the power play as well. More than half of Olofsson’s points came with the man advantage, which is a major cause for concern.
With Buffalo struggling to score recently, it’s time to put the young Swede on the shelf. He’s worth trying to buy low on in keeper leagues or leagues with deep benches – he’ll eventually start shooting more than four percent at 5v5 – but for now, don’t expect much if any production.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins (Owned in 72 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Seven assists in 21 games shouldn’t necessarily qualify a defenseman as a disappointment, but given the expectations around McAvoy entering the season, he’s definitely one of the bigger let-downs of the season so far. McAvoy has yet to score this year and has only taken 22 shots, even though he’s playing 22:23/game and is on the top pair along with Zdeno Chara.
After scoring 7G-21A in just 54 games last year, the expectation for McAvoy is that his game would take another leap and he would possibly replace Torey Krug as the top option on the Bruins’ potent power play. That hasn’t borne out and in fact, things are only looking worse for McAvoy: Torey Krug got injured and rather than let McAvoy take PP1, Bruce Cassidy decided to give that plum spot to Matt Grzelcyk due to handedness.
If Grzelcyk hadn’t been producing, that would be one thing, but in his past five games he’s put up 2G-2A at 5v5 while the power play scored twice – without Patrice Bergeron.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Montreal – Between November 22nd and December 4th, the Habs have six games, with the bulk of them coming against very soft competition; of the six games, five are home games and Montreal will get to face the Rangers, Devils, Flyers and Islanders as well as the Bruins. They play the Bruins on the road for the sixth game.
Boston – The Bruins have six games during this stretch, and with a mostly healthy roster (Brett Ritchie is ailing) they should continue their high-scoring ways, especially on the power play. They get to face the dregs of the Eastern conference to end the month, with games against the Sens and Rangers being the highlights but also games against the Wild, Hurricanes and Canadiens (twice).
Philadelphia – The Flyers are getting production out of Joel Farabee, Oskar Lindblom and Morgan Frost these days – along with the usual suspects – and have a great schedule upcoming: home games against the Flames, Canucks, Red Wings and Maple Leafs, and road tilts against Columbus and Montreal. Their road games could be a little sluggish, but the home games should see a ton of production.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Calgary – Not only have the Flames been putrid this season – 10-11-3 with only 62 goals in 24 games – but they’ve been excessively bad recently, scoring only five times in their past five games. Their upcoming schedule does them no favours, playing only four times between Nov. 22nd and Dec. 4th; three of those are road games out east, playing in Philly, Pittsburgh and Buffalo before heading home to face Ottawa.
Winnipeg – The Jets will run through California next Wednesday, playing three road games in four nights against the Sharks, Ducks and Kings before heading home to play Dallas. Three in four is always a tough ask but doing it on the road with the last game coming on getaway day is even tougher; don’t expect much out of Jets players. Their other game is at home against the Blue Jackets, prior to the Cali swing.
Anaheim – The Ducks’ leading scorer after 22 games is Jakob Silfverberg with 17, and only four players have more than ten points; suffice it to say, there’s not much fantasy relevance coming out of Anaheim these days. That won’t get any easier, as the Ducks play only five times this period: at Tampa and Arizona, and home to the Islanders, Jets and Kings.
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