Looking Ahead: Gusev Primed for Devil of a Start

by Adam Daly-Frey on October 4, 2019


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, October 2

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

Cody Glass, C, Vegas Golden Knights (Available in 84 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The first Vegas draft pick to play a game for the Knights, Glass has already played one game and managed a goal on two shots. Glass is getting a very, very plum role for the time being, centering a line with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, which is why his value for the next handful of games will be sky high.

Glass skated on the top power-play unit with his linemates and played a total of 14:51. As long as Cody Eakin (returning over the next week) and Alex Tuch (missing at least nine more games) are out of the lineup, he’s a free square.

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

Nikita Gusev, W, New Jersey (Available in 63 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – To regular Dobber readers, Gusev’s expectations this year being as high as they are shouldn’t come as a surprise. The ex-KHLer managed 17G-65A in only 62 games in his last season in Russia, and this summer he put up 4G-12A in the World Championships against strong, mostly NHL-calibre competition.

New Jersey paid a decent price to get him, both financially (he has a $4.5M cap hit) as well as in trade capital (NJ gave Vegas a second- and third-round pick to acquire him), so they’re going to give the 27-year old every opportunity to succeed: Gusev is skating at even strength alongside Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt, and stays with his linemates on the second power play.

In the pre-season, Gusev saw between 14 and 20 minutes (averaging a touch over 17 min/game) and scored twice while adding two assists. He only recorded nine shots on goal in the five games he played but fired 22 shot attempts, so he’s not afraid to shoot and those low SOG numbers shouldn’t be a concern. He has more value in points-only leagues as he’s not much for hitting or blocking shots, and won’t contribute in either category.

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

James van Riemsdyk, W, Philadelphia Flyers (Owned in 51 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With  the Flyers having a short schedule over the next few weeks thanks to playing their opener in Europe, JVR’s stock won’t have any opportunity to rise over the first month of the season – especially given his current role as a third-line winger for Philly.

He skated in a similar role last year – PP1 specialist but low even-strength minutes with poor linemates – and while he managed strong points-per-game numbers (27G in only 66 games), he was still a minus-10 with only 48 points on 167 shots come year end. That also includes shooting at a 16.2% clip which was ~5% higher than his career average, and for someone with a reputation as a big body, he only put up one hit every two games.

A resurgence is possible if there’s an injury or role change, but for now leave van Riemsdyk on the bench.

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

Jake Muzzin, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (Owned in 81 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – It may be a function of the Maple Leafs (probably) having the largest amount of fantasy-playing hockey fans, or it could just be a function of looking for players that hit and block and don’t do anything else, but there is no world where Jake Muzzin should be owned in 81 percent of leagues.

Muzzin does eat up 22 minutes per game so he’ll have opportunities to pick up secondary points, the odd shots and hits, but he doesn’t play on either power play unit for Toronto and he’s a career 0.43 point-per-game player. Other defensemen that provide the same peripherals but do play the power play and are less than 15% owned on Yahoo include Tyler Myers, Matt Niskanen, Zdeno Chara and Nick Leddy – all four of whom are arguably better additions.

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

Dallas – After keeping basically the same team as last year and adding in Joe Pavelski, the Stars will be able to tell quickly if the off-season was a success or not: Dallas plays seven times between the 4th and 16th, somehow only one of which is on a back-to-back. The only downside here is that five of the games come on the road (@ STL, DET, WSH, BUF, CBJ). Their two remaining games are against Calgary and Washington for a second time.

New Jersey – The new-look Devils have a heavy start to their year with six games in this period, three coming at home (Winnipeg, Edmonton, Florida) and the other half at Buffalo, Philly and Boston. The top-6 in New Jersey should be very potent, and games against the defensively hapless Oilers, Sabres and Flyers should see a lot of red lights.

Detroit – Detroit also has six games to kick off the season – only one of which is a back-to-back – and they should be close to full strength for most of them (Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou are currently questionable for the Wings’ first game but should come right back). They’ll play some defensive lightweights in Toronto, Dallas, Vancouver and Anaheim, along with games against Nashville and Montreal.

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

NY Rangers – Nobody has a worse schedule than the Rangers, who only have two games this period (October 4-16). That includes a Saturday road game against the Senators, so it’s possible that Panarin et al can get three or four games worth of production in that game alone, and a home matinee against the Oilers could also be juicy – but on volume alone, the Rangers are in a bad spot.

Minnesota – The Wild only get one home game during this stretch, and it comes against the Penguins. Minnesota plays their second game of the season on Saturday and then don’t play again until Thursday the 10th, so a mini-bye to kick off the season will be tough for fantasy production. Their other games are at Colorado, at Winnipeg, at Ottawa and at Toronto.

Chicago – Starting the season in Europe, the Blackhawks (and their opponent, the Flyers) have a very light schedule the first two weeks: a “road” game against Philly followed by six days between games for travel, and then three straight home games (vs. SJ, WPG, EDM). While Chicago’s opponents are all fairly enticing, only playing four times has them in the “Steer Clear” column this week.

October 4 to October 10

Best Bets

NJD 4.1475 – Away BUF PHI – Home WPG EDM

WSH 4.0575 – Away NYI NSH- Home CAR DAL

DET 4.0525 – Away NSH MTL- Home DAL ANH

TOR 3.995 – Away CBJ – Home MTL STL TBL

DAL 3.9475 – Away STL DET WSH – Home CGY

Steer Clear

N.Y. Rangers 1.0925 – Away OTT – Home

VAN 1.895 – Away CGY – Home LAK

MIN 1.9 – Away COL WPG- Home

COL 1.9425 – Away – Home MIN BOS

FLA 1.995 – Away – Home TBL CAR

October 5 to October 11

Best Bets

BUF 4.1525 – Away CBJ – Home NJD MTL FLA

DET 4.0525 – Away NSH MTL – Home DAL ANH

DAL 3.9475 – Away STL DET WSH – Home CGY

ANH 3.9475 – Away DET PIT CBJ- Home SJS

CAR 3.8475 – Away WSH FLA – Home TBL NYI

Steer Clear

CHI 1.05 – Away – Home SJS

PHI 1.05 – Away – Home NJD

N.Y. Rangers 1.0925 – Away OTT – Home

VAN 1.895 – Away CGY – Home LAK

MIN 1.9 – Away COL WPG – Home

October 6 to October 12

Best Bets

DET 4.2525 – Away MTL – Home DAL ANH TOR

N.Y. Islanders 4.1525 – Away CAR – Home WPG EDM FLA

DAL 4.0425 – Away DET WSH – Home CGY WSH

CAR 3.995 – Away FLA – Home TBL NYI CBJ

WPG 3.795 – Away NYI PIT CHI- Home MIN

Steer Clear

N.Y. Rangers 1.155 – Away – Home EDM

MIN 1.8475 – Away WPG – Home PIT

OTT 1.9425 – Away – Home STL TBL

SJS 1.9475 – Away NSH CHI – Home

VAN 1.995 – Away – Home LAK PHI

October 7 to October 13

Best Bets

LAK 4.09 – Away CGY VAN – Home NSH VGK

CGY 3.89 – Away DAL VGK SJS- Home LAK

VGK 3.8525 – Away ARI LAK- Home BOS CGY

WPG 3.79 – Away PIT CHI – Home MIN PIT

PIT 3.7525 – Away MIN WPG- Home WPG ANH

Steer Clear

OTT 1.9425 – Away – Home STL TBL

N.Y. Rangers 1.155 – Away – Home EDM

VAN 1.995 – Away – Home LAK PHI

MIN 1.8475 – Away WPG – Home PIT

CHI 2.0475 – Away – Home SJS WPG

October 8 to October 14

Best Bets

WSH 4.205 – Away NSH DAL – Home DAL COL

LAK 4.09 – Away CGY VAN – Home NSH VGK

NJD 4.0575 – Away PHI BOS – Home EDM FLA

N.Y. Islanders 4.1525 – Away CAR – Home EDM FLA STL

FLA 3.995 – Away BUF NYI NJD- Home CAR

Steer Clear

N.Y. Rangers 1.155 – Away – Home EDM

CBJ 1.9475 – Away CAR – Home ANH

VAN 1.995 – Away – Home LAK PHI

TOR 2.0375 – Away DET – Home TBL

ARI 2.0475 – Away COL – Home VGK

October 9 to October 15

Best Bets

MTL 4.195 – Away BUF – Home DET STL TBL

LAK 4.19 – Away VAN – Home NSH VGK CAR

NJD 4.0575 – Away PHI BOS – Home EDM FLA

CGY 3.995 – Away DAL VGK SJS – Home PHI

WPG 3.985 – Away CHI – Home MIN PIT ARI

Steer Clear

N.Y. Rangers 1.155 – Away – Home EDM

CBJ 1.9475 – Away CAR – Home ANH

SJS 2.095 – Away CHI – Home CGY

ANH 2.7075 – Away PIT CBJ BOS – Home

PIT 2.755 – Away MIN WPG – Home ANH

October 10 to October 16

Best Bets

WSH 4.1525 – Away NSH DAL – Home COL TOR

EDM 4.0425 – Away NJD NYR CHI – Home PHI

DAL 4.0425 – Away BUF CBJ- Home CGY WSH

CGY 3.995 – Away DAL VGK SJS – Home PHI

WPG 3.985 – Away CHI – Home MIN PIT ARI

Steer Clear

N.Y. Rangers 1.155 – Away – Home EDM

VAN 2.2575 – Away – Home PHI DET

NSH 2.8025 – Away LAK VGK – Home WSH

OTT 2.8875 – Away – Home STL TBL MIN

FLA 2.945 – Away BUF NYI NJD – Home