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.
Most stats updated through Wednesday, February 21st
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Jesper Bratt, W, New Jersey Devils (Available in 94 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He’d bounced around the lineup quite a bit, but over the past two months, Bratt has been cemented in a top-line role for the Devils. He’s put up 7G-23A through 46 games so far, but the sophomore Swede has really been coming along in his past five games: 2G-4A with 14SOG, and he topped 19 minutes of ice time twice.
Bratt is playing on the top power play for New Jersey which isn’t the most potent, but it’s a great opportunity, and his 5v5 time comes alongside Nico Hischier and (for the moment) Marcus Johansson. While Taylor Hall is still on the shelf, there’s no concern about Bratt losing his role when Hall returns, as Johansson should be gone by the deadline. Of forwards with more than 500 minutes at 5v5, Bratt has the 64th-best points/60 (tied with Dylan Strome), but he’s shooting a brutal 7.04% at 5v5 which ranks him 239th (tied with Jack Eichel). He’s got a ton of upside and should be picked up through the next few weeks, and keeper league owners should definitely make a move for him.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Tony DeAngelo, D, New York Rangers (Available in 97 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although he’s only 23, DeAngelo has long been a fantasy darling that hasn’t really panned out – until now. On the season, he’s racked up 4G-15A in 40 games, with 78 shots and averaging just over two combined hits & blocks per game.
More impressive is his recent play, as DeAngelo is on the second power play unit, having Wally Pipp’d that spot from Neal Pionk; in his past ten games, Tony has put up seven assists (although no goals) and has played 20 minutes or more in five of those games. With Adam McQuaid most likely getting shipped out at the deadline, another spot should be freed up on the back end, which means DeAngelo won’t be swapping in and out with Pionk as he had been at times this season.
Given his scoring prowess at all levels, the concern with DeAngelo from a fantasy perspective has always been about getting the opportunities; now that he has them, he should be owned in closer to 50% of leagues, and could easily replace some players (like Justin Faulk) immediately.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Justin Faulk, D, Carolina Hurricanes (Owned in 58 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He still has value because he’s the point man on the Hurricanes’ number one PP unit, but Faulk-owners should be concerned over the next stretch. Carolina this season has the ninth-worst power play at a dismal 16.92%, and Faulk contributing a paltry 3G-2A with the man advantage is a large part of that; hockey analysts of all types have been screaming to the high heavens all year about moving Dougie Hamilton to that spot, and while it feels optimistic to think that could happen, the possibility exists post-trade deadline.
Beyond the power play struggles, Faulk just isn’t contributing at any level: in 60 games, he has only 5G-16A, although he’s continuing to shoot at great rates with 164 shots over the season (2.73 per game.) He collects peripherals which is worth something if your league tracks that, but in his last 10 games he’s picked up 2G-2A, and his lack of production combined with the ‘Canes dismal schedule makes him an Odd Man Out. Sit him for now, and consider replacing him with a Troy Stecher or Tony DeAngelo, whom are both trending up.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Carter Hutton, G, Buffalo Sabres (Owned in 55 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – From February 1st, Hutton’s had three starts – all losses – as Linus Ullmark has solidified the starting spot in Buffalo. While Hutton hasn’t been much of a game-breaker this season – he’s got a 0.909sv% on the year and has a 15-20 record in 34 stats – he’s still owned in more leagues than goalies such as Casey DeSmith (a strong 1B on a good team), Darcy Kuemper (a starter with passable numbers) and Curtis McElhinney.
In his past ten games, Hutton’s let in three or more goals in seven of those, although he’s only recorded three “Really Bad Starts” this season; he plays on the 6th-worst team in terms of 5v5 SA/60 which partially explains why he’s yet to record a shutout this season, but in general, Hutton’s been a below-average goalie and should be dropped immediately.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Toronto – Between Feb 22nd and March 6th, the Maple Leafs play seven times, including two home games against the Sabres which is always a nice bonus. Beyond their games against Buffalo, the Leafs also play home games against Montreal and Edmonton, and road games against the Islanders, Flames and Canucks. They only have one back-to-back in this stretch.
Florida – While there’s some concern about Derick Brassard and Mike Hoffman still being around post-deadline, the Cats have a strong top-6 that doesn’t include those two, and they have a great schedule through this period. Florida will squeeze seven games in, with home games against the Kings, ‘Canes and Sens, and road tilts against the Avs, Coyotes, Knights and Penguins.
New Jersey – They only have six games during this period, but the Devils play four of those six at home at the Rock, and should see some easy games: the Rangers, Flames, Flyers and Blue Jackets haven’t exactly been defensive forces this season. Beyond those games, the Devils will face the Bruins (in Boston) and the Canadiens at home; with 17 goals in their past five, which is half a goal more than their season average, their top-two lines have been clicking very well and are worth keeping around.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Pittsburgh – Four of the Penguins’ next five games will come on the road, which includes a back-to-back that takes them from Buffalo back up to Montreal. Although Pittsburgh’s been scoring at will recently – 21 goals in their past five games – their lack of games in general and home games specifically will hurt. There is one reason to consider keeping your Penguins active though: the competition is very soft, as the Penguins will play at Philly, Columbus, Buffalo and Montreal, and home to Florida.
Carolina – The “Bunch of Jerks” (which is already done to death after only one week) play only five times through March 5th, which includes three road games and one home/road back-to-back. While their top line should continue to produce, games against the Bruins, Blues, Stars and Kings don’t exactly scream fantasy gold; their remaining game comes in Florida against the Cats, and is the only game to get excited about – but it’s the second half game in the aforementioned home/road b2b.
Detroit – Three of their five games during this stretch are home games, which is about the only good thing going for the Red Wings heading into the trade deadline; the Wings could soon be without the services of Gustav Nyquist (among others) and with a light schedule – games against MIN, SJ, MTL, ARI and COL – they can be safely ignored outside of their top line. Even their top producers will struggle with such a light schedule however, so be wary.
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