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 6th
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Brayden Schenn, W, St. Louis Blues (Available in 47 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He’s a little over-owned for a free agent pickup, but Schenn has a ton of upside through the rest of February and has a great schedule along with the rest of the Blues. Schenn’s usage is very strong: 18:35/game, which is a drop-off from last season, but he’s picking up a large amount of offensive-zone starts (58%) and playing the net-front on the top power play unit for St. Louis.
He’s grabbed six assists in his past five games while adding nine shots on goal, nine hits, two blocks and even 15 faceoff wins if your leagues track those stats. He’s had a disappointing season so far with only nine goals and 22 assists on the year, but he’s also shooting 3% under his career average and his PP production has been lacking. Given his role solidifying under Craig Berube and the Blues actually winning games, pick up Schenn now while he’s still (close to) free.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Montreal Canadiens (Available in 93 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Once he gets through the next two weeks, Kotkaniemi and the Habs have a great schedule against some terribly-poor defensive teams, and should have a very strong finish to the season.
Kotkaniemi has been seeing 10+ minutes of 5v5 time every game – he’s averaging 14:06 overall per game, but has surpassed that in four of his past five games – and has been a force at 5v5 for the Canadiens. When Kotkaniemi is on the ice at 5v5, Montreal owns 58.7% of the shot share and 59.5% of goals, and he’s creating 0.84G/60 (which is okay) and 1.22A/60 (which is good) – ranking 78th of qualified forwards in Pts/60.
Beyond excelling at even strength and being a mini-Barkov, Kotkaniemi is also playing on the top power play where he’s added four PP assists. He’s not much of a shooter at any strength (1.72/game), but he’s trending up and is available in essentially every non-keeper league.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Josh Anderson, W, Columbus Blue Jackets (Owned in 43 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He’s picked up three points (2G/1A) over his last five games to push him to the 25-point mark on the year, but Anderson doesn’t pick up assists and doesn’t offer value outside of leagues that track peripherals.
Anderson is used in a shutdown role in Columbus – although that’s a little more fluid than a straight-forward Brandon Sutter/J.G. Pageau role – and rarely sees power play time, averaging 1:24 with the man advantage. While Anderson is actually a very good player and should be a fantasy performer, especially with the peripherals he picks up, his role and usage under John Tortorella mean he can safely be dropped in points-only or shallow leagues.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Michael Ferland, W, Carolina Hurricanes (Owned in 51 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the reports of Carolina not trading Ferland ahead of the trade deadline, it’s officially time to be concerned about Ferland. His role in Carolina has diminished since Nino Niederreiter has arrived in Raleigh, as El Nino has taken the net-front spot on PP1 that Ferland had, and Ferland’s no longer riding shotgun to Sebastian Aho.
In his last five games, Ferland has managed to score a goal and add two assists, but his ice time has been ugly: 12:54, 15:02, 15:02, 8:20 (injured) and 13:49. At the start of the year Ferland was seeing ~18 minutes a night – he hit that mark in seven of his first 15 games – and he had scored 7G-4A in those 15 games; since that mark he’s scored 6G-10A in his next 30 games.
Like Josh Anderson, Ferland has some value in leagues that count PIM or Hits, but he should be shopped or dropped if points-only leagues as his role shouldn’t be changing any time soon.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Tampa Bay – Tampa’s been struggling of late – scoring three or fewer in 8 of their past 10 – but have a strong schedule between Feb 8th and Feb 20th; the Lightning have four home games against the Penguins, Flames, Stars and Canadiens, and road games against the Panthers, Jackets and Flyers.
Boston – The Bruins also have seven games during this period, and they get to face some of the defensive dregs of the Western Conference – they’ll play Los Angeles, Colorado and Chicago at home, and play San Jose, Anaheim, L.A. (again) and Vegas on the road. Beyond Vegas, that’s a schedule ripe for goals.
St. Louis – Their top line has been buzzing since getting put together, Jordan Binnington has been a revelation, and they’re finally healthy (save for David Perron) which has helped St. Louis to four wins in their last five while scoring 18. Their next seven come between the 8th and 20th, and it looks like: road/home b2b against Nashville, home to New Jersey and Toronto, and on the road against Minnesota, Colorado and Arizona.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Montreal – This lull in the schedule couldn’t come at a worse time for the Habs, as they’ve been getting scoring from all three lines and have scored 14 times in their past five games and 30 in their past ten. Unfortunately, they only play five times in this stretch, with three of the five (Nashville, Tampa, Florida) coming on the road; they also play Toronto and Columbus.
Edmonton – Games against the Coyotes are typically a bright spot on the schedule, but that’s about the only bright spot for Edmonton over the next two weeks. Edmonton only plays five times including their game against Arizona, with three (PIT, CAR, NYI) on the road and their other home game coming against San Jose.
Ottawa – One of the worst teams in the league remains one of the worst teams in the league, and heading into the trade deadline, it’s a dicey proposition at best to count on any Sens players who could get traded at a moment’s notice. Their schedule doesn’t appeal either, as they play only five times between the 8th and 20th: home against the Jets and Hurricanes, and road games against the Red Wings, Jets and Blackhawks.
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