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, November 28th
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Curtis McElhinney, G, Carolina Hurricanes (Available in 72 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the waiving of Scott Darling, Carolina is down to two NHL goalies between McElhinney and Petr Mrazek, and McElhinney is the clear starter for the time being. Through his nine starts so far, C-Mac has put up seven wins, with five quality starts, and has a sparkling 0.930sv% with a 2.12 GAA. The opportunity exists that he loses that job, as the perennial backup has never topped 40 games in a season, but in a backup role last year with Toronto his numbers were sparkling (0.934sv%, 2.14GAA) and on a talented Carolina team there’s no reason to expect him to crater any time soon.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Brady Tkachuk, W, Ottawa Senators (Available in 54 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Making a very, very strong push for the Calder while proving a million Sens fans wrong – myself included – Tkachuk has been a dominant player for both points leagues as well as leagues that count peripherals. Through 14 games, Tkachuk has 9G-7A while firing 43(!) shots on goal and picking up a combined 35 hits/blocks as well as 17 PIM. He plays on the potent top power play for Ottawa and plays even strength alongside Mark Stone and Colin White, and while his ice time has been uneven – below 14 minutes twice in the past five games but the other three games have seen 17, 18 and 20 – he should continue to score at a torrid pace.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Jeff Petry, D, Montreal Canadiens (Owned in 68 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Over the last five games before Shea Weber returned, Jeff Petry saw ice time of 27 minutes (three times), 22 minutes, and 33 minutes, which pushed his season average to 24:52 per game. In Weber’s first game back, Petry already saw a drop in time – 22:53 which is still a strong number – but got pushed off the top power play unit. Petry’s a very strong player that piles up peripheral stats and shots on goal, but don’t expect his line of 2G-15A (25 games) to improve much; both of his goals have come on the power play and four of his 15 assists also came on the power play, and that combined with the cut in ice time will hurt Petry immensely. He’s worth hanging on to both for the off-chance Weber gets hurt again, or for the peripheral stats he adds if that’s something your league tracks.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, New York Rangers (Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Shattenkirk’s value should plummet in the short-term thanks to the Rangers’ light schedule, but he’s a major concern in the long-term and can safely be dropped in all formats. Beyond losing his PP1 time to Neal Pionk, Shattenkirk is seeing a full minute less per game than he’s ever averaged in his career and has a dismal 1G-7A in 24 games to show for it. He does contribute a small amount of peripherals, but there are better values available – especially in cap leagues – and won’t recapture his special teams time while he’s in New York.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Montreal – The Habs have six games between November 30th and December 12th, but four of those games should be wide-open hockey which is great for fantasy production. Montreal plays Ottawa (twice!), the Rangers and Blackhawks which are the appealing matchups, as well as facing Minnesota and San Jose. They have one back-to-back, but both games are at home.
Los Angeles – As they continue to struggle to score, the Kings still make this list on volume: seven games in this period, with four at home and three on the road, and only two back-to-backs. The Kings *did* manage a whopping five goals against a defensively-poor Oilers team, and games against Carolina, Arizona, Detroit and Buffalo should help them along.
San Jose – They only have six games in this period, but the Sharks have some easy opponents (Ottawa, Dallas and Carolina) as well as games against Montreal, Arizona and New Jersey. The Sharks are currently 10th in Goals For and – as long as Timo Meier’s injury isn’t of the long-term variety – have three strong scoring lines and a suddenly-awake power play.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Philadelphia – After firing their GM, the Flyers and head coach Dave Hakstol should be on edge, and with a short schedule coming up – just five games in this period, including four days off after playing their interstate rival – they’ll be hard-pressed to figure it out. Coaches on death’s door tend to make irrational line changes, so you can’t count on anyone outside of Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Beyond the Pens, Philly also plays games against Columbus at home, and Buffalo, Winnipeg and Calgary on the road.
Buffalo – The surprise Sabres also suffer from a light schedule, although their fantasy-relevant players in Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Ristolainen can still be rolled out without issue. Buffalo has only five games between the 30th and December 12th, which includes a game at Nashville as well as Florida, and home games against Toronto, Philly and Los Angeles.
NY Rangers – No team has a worse schedule than the Rangers, with only four games coming, and injuries to key parts in Mats Zuccarello and Vladislav Namestnikov. Although the Rangers have been scoring, with games against Montreal and Tampa Bay (both on the road) to go with games against Winnipeg (home) and Florida (road,) they’ll be in tough to provide any fantasy production.
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