Looking Ahead: December 14-26

by Adam Daly-Frey on December 14, 2018


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 13th

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

Ondrej Kase, W, Anaheim Ducks (Available in 85 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Given all the love shown to Kase in pre-draft rankings, Kase’s availability in Yahoo! leagues is shockingly low. Although his time on ice per game remains low – Kase vacillates between third- and first-line roles but gets good power play time – Kase this season is just under a point-per-game at 8G-6A in 15 games. The young Czech is taking 3.4 shots per game, is a positive possession player, and with the wingers in Anaheim constantly being in flux, he should be able to hang onto his productive role.


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

Tyler Toffoli, W, Los Angeles Kings (Available in 72 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – It’s funny that Toffoli should be added as a building block given his teammate is this week’s Anchor, but Toffoli has seen a major increase in ice time this season under Willie Desjardins, all the way up to an average of 17:44 which is two full minutes over his career average. Toffoli is still firing the puck at a solid rate – although not always getting the puck on net, he’s taking 17.2 shot attempts per 60 minutes. The major issue with Toffoli’s poor season to date – 5G-8A in 32 games – has been his low shooting, as he’s getting the puck in the net at only 4.41% at 5v5 (~4% less than his career average).

He can be picked up on the cheap given his poor-on-its-face stat line and is definitely worth stashing. Toffoli plays on the top power play, on the penalty kill, and has had some chemistry recently with Adrian Kempe.


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

Cam Talbot, G, Edmonton Oilers (Owned in 64 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Talbot’s lost his starting spot to Mikko Koskinen, even if he’s still in a sort of 1A/1B situation, and his value has plummeted because of it. Going back to November 1st, Talbot has started only seven of the Oilers’ twenty games, most likely due to losing every game he played in November and letting in three or more in every game. He’s since righted the ship to a degree – two wins in his two December starts with four goals allowed total – but new-ish coach Ken Hitchcock has clearly picked his starting goalie.

On the season, Talbot’s had five “really bad starts” and a horrifying save percentage of 0.895; given so much of his value over the past two seasons was how often he got starts and wins, he should be a major concern and can be dropped in shallow league / shopped in deeper leagues.


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

Jeff Carter, C, Los Angeles Kings (Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The owners who tend to flock to Carter as a mid-to-late round pick have to be majorly disappointed with his line on the season so far, as Carter has put up only 6G-9A in 32 games, and he’s taking only 2.65 shots per game. That’s a big drop for a perennial ~28-goal scorer whose career shots per game average is 3.32/game, and Carter’s ice time this season is right in line with seasons past.

There’s a major caveat to Jeff Carter’s poor season so far: he’s shooting a paltry 7.1%, which he hasn’t done since his sophomore year (6.5% in 2006-07) and is 4.4% below his career average. At the same time, the Kings are dead last in scoring as a team and Carter’s assists have dried up as a result. Carter can be shopped on the cheap in keeper leagues, stashed on the bench in deep leagues in case he gets traded, or dropped if needed.


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

Colorado – If you’re lucky enough to own one of the Big 3 in Denver, you’re in luck through the rest of the month: the Avs have six games between the 14th and 26th, with four of the six coming at home and five of the six coming against poor defensive teams. They play the Blues and Coyotes on the road, and the Stars, Islanders, Canadiens and Blackhawks at home.

Vegas – Another team with a fairly packed schedule, the Knights have pushed their way into playoff position and have scored three or more in seven of their last ten games. Vegas is on the road for the first three against the Eastern conference (Devils, Rangers and Blue Jackets) and go home before the holidays with games against the Islanders, Canadiens and Kings.

Arizona – Ever since Nick Schmaltz joined the Coyotes, the team has scored 23 goals in seven games (3.28G/game) which is an improvement of 0.8 goals per game. They play six times during this period – four times against weaker Eastern conference teams (Sabres, Rangers, Hurricanes and Canadiens) before heading into the Christmas break with games against the Avs and Sharks.


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

Los Angeles – The Kings play only four times between the 14th and 26th, and three of those four are road games – with all four being very tough matchups. They’ll face Pittsburgh, San Jose and Vegas on the road with a home game against the Jets jammed in the middle, and through 32 games have only scored four or more goals six times.

Edmonton – It’s tough sledding for the fantasy owners of Oilers these days – although the team’s 7-2-1 record in the last ten games is good, the Oilers in that time have scored fewer than three in six of those ten. The Oilers have only four games during this period, facing the Flyers, Blues and Lightning at home and the Canucks on the road.

Nashville – The Predators manage to play five times this stretch, which is better than the Kings and Oilers, but four of the games come on the road and they still have an injury list that would make an All-Star team blush. The Preds play the Devils as their sole home game, and play Ottawa, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston leading up to Christmas.