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.
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Jesse Puljujarvi, W, Edmonton Oilers (Available in 94 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The concern with Puljujarvi has always been less about the player, and more about his usage; Edmonton’s young 4th-overall pick was finally moved up to a proper line alongside Leon Draisatl in the Oilers’ last game, and while JP sticking there is no sure thing, it does show that Todd McClellan trust Puljujarvi to produce offensively – the Oilers were losing badly when the switch was made. With Edmonton’s cushy schedule, he’s worth a grab in the short term that could pan out the rest of the way.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Tomas Tatar, W, Montreal Canadiens (Available in 57% percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although he’s currently shooting 14% on 21 shots (three goals,) Tatar’s career shooting percentage is 13.1% and he’s never shot below double-digits. That bodes well for Tatar, as for the first time in his career, he gets to play top-line minutes and top-power play minutes; he’s currently playing 17:31 a game which is the most he’s ever averaged, and he’s creating at a great pace – he’s on pace to beat his career high of 56 points by a large margin, with 3-5-8 in only six games, which includes two PP points. That he’s still available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues is surprising, so snap him up before other fantasy owners realize he’s finally hitting his ceiling given this new opportunity in Montreal.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Aaron Ekblad, D, Florida (Owned in 89 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – In leagues that don’t track hits or blocks, Ekblad doesn’t have much value these days; he’s a notorious slow starter, is stuck on the second power play unit, and currently has all of zero points with only seven shots on goal. Florida’s only scored 12 times in four games, have only connected once on the power play, and as the Cats go so to goes Ekblad. With Florida’s light schedule and the aforementioned historical slow starts, Ekblad should get pushed to the back burner.
See also: Dougie Hamilton, relegated to the 3F/2D second power play of the Hurricanes
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues (Owned in 91 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With only donuts to his name on the stats sheet and no more time on the potent first power play, Pietrangelo has been a massive disappointment this season in a year he was expected to take a big leap. Pietro is still playing his 25 minutes per game, but he’s taking less than two shots per game and – one game against Montreal aside – only picking up one block per game. He’ll no doubt start finding the back of the net at some point, but with Mike Yeo looking for any option except for Pietrangelo on the first power play, he’s one to shop around if he can get on the scoresheet a few times to prop his value back up.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Chicago – After scoring at least three goals in every game so far this season (through Wednesday’s games,) the Hawks have a whopping SEVEN games upcoming and their offensive horses should be able to keep popping pucks in the net. While they will have back-to-backs given that heavy schedule, Chicago gets to face Anaheim, the Rangers and Edmonton during that time which should lead to a ton of points.
Calgary – The Flames also have seven games during this stretch (19th-31st), and even more impressive is that only the last game comes on a back-to-back; the Flames are in Toronto and then Buffalo to finish out October, two games that should see their stars fill the net. Beyond that, Calgary rolls through the East, with games against the Rangers, Canadiens, Penguins and Capitals to go with a home game against Nashville.
Edmonton – It’s not seven games, but the Flames’ Alberta counterparts still manage six games through the rest of October, and four of them come at home. Although #HereComeTheOilers still exists for a reason, Edmonton has a ton of fantasy relevance thanks to McDavid and will remain that way even with some tough matchups; the Oilers play Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington, Nashville again, and Minnesota but do get a cake game against the Blackhawks who are as bad defensively as they are good offensively.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
New Jersey – The Devils make their second appearance into the Leave ‘Em category in only the third week of the season, thanks to having a mini-bye with four days off between games and only four games between the 19th and 31st. It’s a 50/50 split on home and road games, with New Jersey going on the road to face Philly and Tampa Bay, and facing Florida and Nashville at home; while they’ll get the advantage of last change against some tough teams in the Cats and Preds, the Devils will be in tough against deep teams and should see some muted production.
Toronto – Any time the Leafs have a tough schedule, there should be a preface: play your Leafs studs even if they only play a couple times in a head-to-head week, because they’re averaging 4.7 goals per game through seven games, even as they’ve had an easy start to the year. Toronto has only four games in this stretch, taking three days off between games against St. Louis and at Winnipeg; their next two come at home against Winnipeg (again) and Calgary.
Florida – The Panthers have five games in this stretch, but the back-breaking part for Florida will be a road-home b2b against the Caps and Detroit, followed by road b2bs against both New York teams, and they finish the month still on the road against the Devils. With no wins to their name and only 12 goals for in three games – only one coming on the power play (in 15 tries!) – Florida’s been a major disappointment so far.
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