Looking Ahead: Gardiner and the Leafs Have a Great Upcoming Schedule

by Mike Schmidt on January 20, 2017
  • Looking Ahead
  • Looking Ahead: Gardiner and the Leafs Have a Great Upcoming Schedule

Jump on Jake Gardiner and the Leafs for their favourable upcoming schedule.

 

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 team’s upcoming schedule. Without further ado…

 

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

 

Jake Gardiner, D, Toronto (Available in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues) –  An integral member of an up-and-coming Leafs squad, the 26-year-old Gardiner is well on his way to a career-best campaign in 2016-17. He’s not really anyone’s idea of a top defenseman, but he’s been forced to assume such a role for Toronto this year. Now teammate and fellow blueliner Morgan Rielly is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, meaning the Leafs should lean on Gardiner as the top d-man on the No. 1 power play unit. No, he doesn’t ooze upside. But Gardiner is on pace for over 40 points and should see quite a bit of advantageous ice time in the short term. Take advantage.

 

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

 

Kyle Turris, C, Ottawa (Available in 61 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Is Turris suddenly fantasy relevant again? It sure seems like it. Playing alongside Bobby Ryan and seeing action on Ottawa’s top power play unit seems to have unlocked this veteran centerman’s ability to put up points. Will it last though? There are a couple of concerns:

 

  1. The potential exists for Derick Brassard to overtake Turris as the squad’s No. 1 center at some point in the second half. However, the Sens offense is humming right now, so why mess with a good thing?
  2. Turris has registered 15 goals on 82 shots this year, and he is on his way toward posting a career-best shooting percentage of .183. A .115 shooter over eight-plus years in the league, Turris should expect his shooting percentage to regress some over the final half of 2016-17. At this point, he stands a decent chance of scoring more goals this year than in any other season of his career. While that’s possible, it is not very likely (as Turris is on pace to take his fewest shots in a season since his 25-point campaign with the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2010-11).

 

So why is Turris listed here? Simply stated, he’s getting the job done in his current role and has been scoring at roughly a 50-point pace since the latter days of November. Good luck aside, he’s productive. Give him a look.

 

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

 

Jake Allen, G, St. Louis (Owned in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues) – It has not been Allen’s season. Fantasy owners have waited some time for the young netminder to earn the chance to be a true workhorse between the pipes for the Blues, and… he’s responded by posting a .900 save percentage in 33 appearances in 2016-17. To make matters worse, Carter Hutton has been in the lineup at goalie for the Blues in their last three games prior to Thursday evening (and he sports a save percentage of .898 on the year). Goaltending has been a significant problem for this team all year, and one can’t help but wonder if St. Louis will look to make a trade in an effort to secure a shot at the playoffs. Given his lackluster numbers and Hutton’s recent use, poolies should look elsewhere for help in net in the short term.

 

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

 

Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg (Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues) – While we’re on the topic of disappointing goalies, here’s Hellebuyck. His ascension to trusty No. 1 netminder has been somewhat rocky as well. Recently, he got pulled from two consecutive appearances in net, and he sports an underwhelming .907 save percentage on the year. As Steve Laidlaw astutely pointed out in one of the recent editions of the Daily Ramblings, Hellebuyck has been pretty bad on the road and solid at home this year. While fantasy owners can try to be creative with deploying Hellebuyck, I’m more or less writing him off in one-year leagues right now. His future is bright, but Winnipeg won’t continue to throw him out there if he’s not getting it done. At 23 years of age, he’s likely not ready to be a franchise netminder just yet.

 

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

 

Chicago – After the Blackhawks take to the ice Friday, Jan. 20 against host Boston, they will be back home for three consecutive games at home. As if fantasy owners needed another reason to deploy Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and other fantasy-relevant Chicago players…

 

Toronto – It seems like the rebuilding process is going well. Six Leafs are owned in 50 percent or more of Yahoo fantasy leagues right now. All of them should be utilized in the short term, as Toronto plays four times between Saturday, Jan. 21 and Thursday, Jan. 26. Volume, volume, volume…

 

San Jose – Like the aforementioned Leafs, the Sharks will be in action four times between Saturday, Jan. 21 and Thursday, Jan. 26. It doesn’t hurt that two of the games are against the woeful Colorado Avalanche, either.

 

Ottawa – Starting Sunday, Jan. 22, the Sens host Columbus in the first of three straight home games (on the second night of a back-to-back). Volume and home-ice advantage? Such advantageous circumstances bodes well for Ottawa players.

 

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

 

St. LouisJake Allen’s underwhelming campaign has been covered. To make matters worse for the Blues, they play three straight games on the road starting Saturday, Jan 21. Two of those contests pit St. Louis against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and a very dynamic Minnesota Wild squad. No bueno.

 

Winnipeg – Between Wednesday, Jan. 25 and the end of the month, B-b-b-Byfuglien and the Jets will see the ice just twice. Also, both games will be on the road… against the Blackhawks and Blues… so…

 

Carolina – Nothing says “rough schedule” like two games on the road, starting Saturday Jan. 21, against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals. Things get better after that, but the coming days look a little bleak.

 

Florida – Starting Friday, Jan. 20, the Panthers have at least two days between games through Thursday, Feb, 9. Enough said.

 

Friday, January 20 to Thursday, January 26

Best Bets

Chicago 4.46 – four games – three at home

San Jose 4.35 – four games – COLx2, WPG and EDM

Toronto 4.31 – four games – OTT, CGY, DET and PHI

Detroit 4.25 – four games – BUF, NYR, BOS and TOR

Washington 4.20 – four games – DAL, CAR, OTT and NJD

Steer Clear

St. Louis 2.66 – three games – all on road

Tampa Bay 2.85 – three games – all on road

Dallas 2.89 – three games – WAS, MIN and BUF

New York Rangers 2.89 – three games – DET, LAK and PHI

Anaheim 2.96 – three games – all on road

Saturday, January 21 to Friday, January 27

Best Bets

San Jose 4.35 – four games – COLx2, WPG and EDM

Toronto 4.31 – four games – OTT, CGY, DET and PHI

Washington 4.20 – four games – DAL, CAR, OTT and NJD

Ottawa 4.20 – four games – three at home

Philadelphia 4.05 – four games – NJD, NYI, NYR and TOR

Steer Clear

Florida 2.19 – two games – ARI and TBL

Carolina 2.65 – three games – two on road

St. Louis 2.66 – three games – all on road

New Jersey 2.68 – three games – PHI, LAK and WAS

Buffalo 2.71 – three games – all on road

Sunday, January 22 to Saturday, January 28

Best Bets

Chicago 3.47 – three games – all at home

Detroit 3.20 – three games – NYR, BOS and TOR

San Jose 3.19 – three games – COL, WPG and EDM

Washington 3.15 – three games – CAR, OTT and NJD

Ottawa 3.15 – three games – all at home

Steer Clear

Carolina 1.60 – two games – WAS and LAK

St. Louis 1.62 – two games – both on road

New Jersey 1.68 – two games – LAK and WAS

Edmonton 1.71 – two games – both on road

Tampa Bay 1.71 – two games – both on road

Monday, January 23 to Sunday, January 29

Best Bets

San Jose 3.19 – three games – COL, WPG and EDM

Washington 3.15 – three games – CAR, OTT and NJD

Toronto 3.10 – three games – CGY, DET and PHI

Calgary 2.95 – three games – TOR, MTL and OTT

Los Angeles 2.90 – three games – NYR, NJD and CAR

Steer Clear

New Jersey 1.68 – two games – LAK and WAS

Carolina 1.60 – two games – WAS and LAK

Edmonton 1.71 – two games – both on road

St. Louis 1.62 – two games – both on road

Tampa Bay 1.71 – two games – both on road

Tuesday, January 24 to Monday, January 30

Best Bets

Nashville 2.31 – two games – both at home

Vancouver 2.19 – two games – COL and ARI

Detroit 2.15 – two games – BOS and TOR

Chicago 2.21 – two games – both at home

San Jose 2.15 – two games – WPG and EDM

Steer Clear

Carolina 0.84 – one game – LAK

Florida 1.05 – one game – TBL

Anaheim 1.10 – one game – EDM

New York Rangers 1.10 – one game – PHI

Colorado 1.26 – one game – VAN

Wednesday, January 25 to Tuesday, January 31

Best Bets

Philadelphia 3.15 – three games – NYR, TOR and CAR

Toronto 2.99 – three games – DET, PHI and DAL

Edmonton 2.60 – three games – ANA, SJS and MIN

Dallas 2.31 – two games – both at home

New York Rangers 2.26 – two games – both at home

Steer Clear

Calgary 1.09 – one game – OTT on road

Winnipeg 1.71 – two games – both on road

New York Islanders 1.73 – two games – MTL and WAS

New Jersey 1.79 – two games – WAS and DET

Columbus 1.81 – two games – both on road

Thursday, January 26 to Wednesday, February 1

Best Bets

Los Angeles 3.34 – three games – CAR, ARI and COL

Minnesota 2.99 – three games – STL, EDM and CGY

Washington 2.96 – three games – NJD, NYI and BOS

Boston 2.60 – three games – PIT, TBL and WAS

Dallas 2.31 – two games – both at home

Steer Clear

Detroit 1.00 – one game – NJD

Vancouver 1.14 – one game – ARI on road

Anaheim 1.16 – one game – COL

New York Rangers 1.16 – one game – CBJ

Buffalo 2.71 – three games – two on road