Looking Ahead: Opportunity Knocks For Donskoi

by Adam Daly-Frey on November 1, 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 30

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

Joonas Donskoi, W, Colorado Avalanche (Available in 91 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – In what feels like a repeat from last week’s J.T. Compher recommendation – two assists and four shots in three games – this week sees more of the same, as an injury to a stud Avalanche winger (Landeskog) has created a great opportunity. Joonas Donskoi, welcome to the party!

Donskoi has always been a strong driver of play (53% CF or better in San Jose and 55% Goal Share or better in three of the four seasons in SJ) but hasn’t been great in that regard in Denver so far, a negative possession player (47% CF) for the first time ever. A large part of that has been his role on the team, playing essentially a shutdown role with Nazem Kadri at 5v5, and seeing his offensive zone starts drop from the 58-63% range of years past all the way down to 43% this season. That should change though, as Donskoi’s been gifted a spot alongside Nathan MacKinnon (and Kadri) on Colorado’s top line (as well as the top power play).

In his first game with MacKinnon, Donskoi played 15:27 at 5v5 (the 16th-most of his career), was on for two goals (scoring one with one of his two shots) and was on for zero d-zone starts/two d-zone faceoffs, which is a dramatic change in responsibilities from what he’d seen as an Av. With Mikko Rantanen listed as week-to-week and Landeskog expected to be out even longer, Donskoi’s value should be sky-high.

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

Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks (Available in 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After putting up 10G-30A in his rookie season, Fowler has yet to repeat that point total and has missed 15 and 23 games the past two seasons which could maybe explain why he’s so low-owned and devalued as a fantasy asset. For a player that sees great PP time and over 22 minutes/game for his career, Fowler as a free add has a ton of upside.

Already at 3G-4A on the season and with 14 BLK and 24 SOG, Fowler’s already having a better season than some of the (much) higher-owned defensemen on Yahoo! and his opportunity to build on that couldn’t be higher as teammates Josh Manson (MCL) and Hampus Lindholm (day-to-day) are injured. Fowler just needs to stay healthy to pay off, and should be added in any league where he’s available.

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

John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars (Owned in 92 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the Stars’ major struggles to start the season (5-8-1 in 14GP, only 10% PP success, last in goals/game), any player in the Big D could be picked out as a disappointment whose short-term value is cause of concern, but Klingberg has probably been the biggest letdown – especially when compared to the younger, lower-owned Miro Heiskanen (3G-5A).

Klingberg is still eating a ton of minutes (24:11 on the season, and usually top PP minutes) and shooting the puck a ton (33 SOG through 14 games), so his miserable point total (1G-2A) seems sure to rebound at some point – but that point doesn’t feel very close at the moment. Klingberg is a minus-10 on the year, shooting 3% lower than his career average and doesn’t pick up many peripherals, so rolling him out every night isn’t helping his owners.

The Swedish stud is too clearly talented to consider moving (at his lowest point) or dropping, but if there’s room on the bench, he should be riding the pine for the next couple weeks. This is especially true with the Stars’ very light upcoming schedule.

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

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks (Owned in 61 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Toews had a career resurgence last year under Jeremy Colliton, hitting 35G-46A and 235 SOG which were all career-highs, and he played 82 games for the first time since 2008-09. Unfortunately, the Hawks haven’t been able to recreate that magic so far, as Toews has a miserable 1G-1A in 11 games and is a -5; he’s playing 19:50/game which is a full minute less than last season, and Chicago’s 9% PP success rate isn’t helping anyone in a Hawks jersey.

Colliton has been swapping around the lines trying to find success to no avail, which means Toews has cycled through wingers both good (Alex DeBrincat) and bad (Drake Caggiula). Toews’ most common linemates last year were Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane and he had the most success with Kane, scoring 3.59G/60 at 5v5. He’s also struggled on the power play (obviously), but the lack of success looks starker because Toews had 25 PP points last season.

Toews doesn’t pick up much in the way of peripherals (outside of FOW), passing 50 PIM only once, 50 Hits only once, and never 50 blocks. He does usually end up in the ~200 shots on goal range, but there are better options available on the waiver wire.

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

Colorado – Making a second straight appearance here, the Avs have six games during the period of November 1 to 13, and have added value thanks to their opponents: both home and away games against the Stars, road games against the Jets and Coyotes, and home games against the Blue Jackets and Predators. The Nashville and Arizona games are a wash, but expect to see lots of scoring in the other four games.

N.Y. Rangers – Teams in the Metro division have played a startingly-low number of games so far (six have played 12 or less, including the Rangers and Devils at 10) especially when compared to some of the teams out West, which means the Rags get to squeeze six games in during this period. Even missing Mika Zibanejad (day-to-day), the Rangers have scored 14 goals in their past three games and get the opportunity to play defensive tire fires like Ottawa, Florida, Detroit and Pittsburgh (all at home!). Their other two games come on the road at Nashville and Carolina.

Carolina – Another Metro team, the Hurricanes have a phenomenal schedule to kick off November, with six games against laughably-bad teams: home against New Jersey, Detroit, Ottawa and the Rangers, and road games against Philadelphia and Ottawa. Those teams are allowing the second-most (NJ), fifth-most (DET), seventh-most (NYR), 11th-most (PHI) and 13th-most (OTT) goals against per game, while Carolina is scoring at the league average clip of 3.2 goals/game.

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

Buffalo – Only one team has a worse schedule in this stretch than the Sabres do, as Buffalo has to head to Europe to play against the Lightning for the NHL Global Series. They play four games in this stretch, which includes two back-to-backs, and then four- and five-day breaks for travel. They play in Washington, home against the Islanders (second half of the first b2b) and then the two games in Finland.

Tampa Bay – The Sabres’ Global Series opponent also has a tough run thanks to the travel to and from Europe, and actually only have three games; this is about the lowest possible amount of games during a two-week stretch, even when accounting for bye weeks. They play at the Islanders – funny enough, the night before the Sabres play the Islanders – and then head to Finland to face the Sabres. Nice to beat up on soft competition, but the light schedule means fade the Lightning in fantasy.

Dallas – Sitting DFL in terms of Goals For/game, the Dallas Stars have only topped four goals three times all season and have been shut out twice. They managed to put in six against the Wild but with only five games during this period, they’ll be in tough to score even without accounting for how bad they’ve been so far. They play the Avs twice, the Habs, Flames and Jets.

November 1 to November 7

Best Bets

CAR 4.31 – Away PHI – Home DET NJD NYR

SJS 4.305 – Home WPG VAN CHI MIN

N.Y. Rangers 4.2675 – Away NSH CAR- Home OTT DET

PHI 4.205 – Away NJD – Home TOR CAR MTL

ARI 4.1475 – Away EDM CGY – Home COL CBJ

Steer Clear

TBL 0.95 – Away NYI – Home

BUF 1.9525 – Away WSH – Home NYI

FLA 2.205 – Away – Home DET WSH

MIN 2.85 – Away ANH SJS- Home STL

EDM 2.9025 – Away PIT – Home ARI STL

November 2 to November 8

Best Bets

N.Y. Rangers 4.2675 – Away NSH CAR – Home OTT DET

BOS 4.2425 – Away MTL DET- Home OTT PIT

ARI 4.1475 – Away EDM CGY – Home COL CBJ

EDM 3.9525 – Away PIT – Home ARI STL NJD

CGY 3.9525 – Away CBJ WSH – Home ARI NJD

Steer Clear

TBL 1.045 – Away BUF- Home

BUF 1.995 – Away – Home NYI TBL

WSH 2 – Away FLA – Home CGY

ANH 2.1 – Away – Home CHI MIN

DAL 2.205 – Away – Home MTL COL

November 3 to November 9

Best Bets

CGY 4 – Away WSH – Home ARI NJD STL

ARI 3.99 – Away EDM CGY – Home CBJ MIN

OTT 3.9425 – Away NYR NYI – Home LAK CAR

CHI 3.915 – Away ANH SJS PIT- Home VAN

N.Y. Rangers 3.365 – Away CAR – Home OTT DET

Steer Clear

DAL 1.1025 – Away – Home COL

BUF 1.8 – Away TBL- Home TBL

FLA 1.9475 – Away NYI- Home WSH

ANH 2.1 – Away – Home CHI MIN

TBL 2.2 – Away BUF – Home BUF

November 4 to November 10

Best Bets

N.Y. Rangers 4.415 – Away CAR – Home OTT DET FLA

CHI 4.115 – Away SJS PIT – Home VAN TOR

TOR 4.09 – Away CHI- Home LAK VGK PHI

BOS 4.085 – Away MTL DET – Home PIT PHI

PHI 4.0525 – Away TOR BOS- Home CAR MTL

Steer Clear

DAL 2.005 – Away WPG- Home COL

BUF 1.8 – Away TBL – Home TBL

ANH 2.1 – Away – Home MIN EDM

WSH 2 – Away FLA – Home VGK

TBL 2.2 – Away BUF – Home BUF

November 5 to November 11

Best Bets

CAR 4.3525 – Away PHI OTT – Home NYR OTT

TOR 4.09 – Away CHI – Home LAK VGK PHI

PHI 4.0525 – Away TOR BOS – Home CAR MTL

CHI 4.115 – Away SJS PIT – Home VAN TOR

VAN 3.995 – Away CHI WPG – Home STL NJD

Steer Clear

BUF 1.8 – Away TBL – Home TBL

NSH 1.9475 – Away COL SJS – Home

DAL 2.005 – Away WPG – Home COL

ANH 2.1 – Away – Home MIN EDM

PIT 2.105 – Away NYI – Home CHI

November 6 to November 12

Best Bets

N.Y. Rangers 4.1525 – Away CAR – Home DET FLA PIT

VAN 3.995 – Away CHI WPG – Home NJD NSH

DET 3.9475 – Away NYR ANH- Home BOS VGK

EDM 3.9 – Away ANH SJS- Home STL NJD

FLA 3.8475 – Away NYI NYR BOS- Home WSH

Steer Clear

DAL 0.9025 – Away WPG – Home

BUF 1.8 – Away TBL – Home TBL

N.Y. Islanders 1.995 – Away – Home PIT FLA

CGY 2.0475 – Away – Home NJD STL

TBL 2.2 – Away BUF – Home BUF

November 7 to November 13

Best Bets

NJD 4.295 – Away CGY EDM VAN – Home OTT

VGK 4.1475 – Away TOR WSH DET – Home CHI

CHI 4.115 – Away PIT VGK- Home VAN TOR

TOR 4.095 – Away CHI NYI- Home VGK PHI

WSH 4 – Away FLA PHI- Home VGK ARI

Steer Clear

BUF 1.8 – Away TBL – Home TBL

DAL 1.8525 – Away WPG CGY- Home

STL 2 – Away CGY – Home ARI

TBL 2.2 – Away BUF – Home BUF

ANH 2.3625 – Away – Home EDM DET