Looking Ahead: St. Louis Won’t Give You The Blues

by Adam Daly-Frey on January 4, 2019
  • Looking Ahead
  • Looking Ahead: St. Louis Won’t Give You The Blues


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, January 2

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Don’t forget that the Midseason Guide will be available one week from now (January 11). Inside you’ll find second-half projections, sleepers, advanced stats, historical trends, prospects you need to know, and more! 

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

Mackenzie Blackwood, G, New Jersey Devils (Available in 55 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The cat’s already out of the bag when it comes to Blackwood thanks to his back-to-back shutouts heading into the New Year; Blackwood’s jumped 33% on Yahoo! in a week and will soon pass the 50% threshold, but the former OHL Goalie of the Year has taken the starting job in Jersey while Cory Schneider is on the mend and Keith Kinkaid holds a 3.02 GAA and 0.901SV%.

Expectations should be kept in check for Blackwood as he’s still just 22 years old and has only 83 AHL games and seven NHL games in his career, but his numbers have been strong if not sparkling: in the small NHL sample, Blackwood’s picked up the aforementioned two shutouts, but he’s also sitting on a 1.91 GAA and 0.945 SV% and has picked up four quality starts. Even his last game, a five goal-loss to the Stars, Blackwood had to make 35 saves and ended up with an 0.875 on the game. Pick him up if he’s available and roll with him.

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

Sven Baertschi, W, Vancouver Canucks (Available in 96 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Since coming back from a concussion that took him out of the lineup near the end of October, Baertschi has picked up three points in three games (1G-2A) while getting six shots on net, but more important is his plum role on the Canucks; Baertschi gets to play his even-strength minutes alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, and plays with them (as well as Bo Horvat and Alex Edler) on the top power play unit.

Although his career numbers don’t jump out as being anything special – his career high is 35 points in 68 games although he put up 29 in 53 last season – Baertschi lit up the WHL when he was younger and has always had a scoring pedigree. Given his top-six role on the Canucks who lack scoring wingers outside of Boeser, you can count of Baertschi to produce above-average numbers the rest of the way.

Honourable mention since the Canucks have a light schedule in January: David Perron (Available in 79% of Yahoo! Leagues)

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

Jason Zucker, W, Minnesota Wild (Owned in 55 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – This is extremely painful to write as a Zucker owner in my main league, but coming off a year where he put up 33G-31A for the Wild, Zucker has been a major disappointment to date: through 37 games, he’s put up 10G-10A while seeing his ice time increase on the Wild’s top line. A large reason for Zucker’s big year last season was the resurgence of Eric Staal, who was in on 37% of Zucker’s points last year and has been in on 45% of Zucker’s points this year; as Staal goes, so too goes Zucker.

There are some reasons to lessen concern though which is why he’s not an anchor, such as his role on the Wild as well as the fact that Zucker is shooting 3% less than his career average. With his ice time sitting around 17 minutes a game and getting play on the top power play unit, Zucker should be able to pick up more points in the second half but he shouldn’t be counted on at the moment.

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

Neal Pionk, D, NY Rangers (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – His scoring line on the season looks good, as he’s got a 5G-14A line over 37 games – which is great for a second-year defenseman, but that can be expected to dry up as David Quinn continues to roll out a five-forward power play unit. Given 12 of Pionk’s 19 points have come on the power play (2G-10A), so much of his value is tied into getting key time with the Rangers’ top power play; beyond the five-forward setup, the Rangers have also plopped Kevin Shattenkirk on the top unit a couple times since Shattenkirk has returned from injury, which also hurts Pionk’s value.

Because he’s so young and his line looks so inviting, the value in a return for Pionk should be fairly high – especially for fantasy players that think they know the league, but don’t read Dobber. He could be flipped easily for a solid asset (Shea Weber, perhaps) in one-year leagues; don’t just dump him back on waivers, but do look to move him.

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

St. Louis – The Blues have a packed schedule between January 4 and 16, and have some extremely good opportunities to get pucks in the net given their competition: they play the Islanders and Stars twice each (both home and road), as well as games against Montreal, Washington and Philadelphia.

Winnipeg – Although missing Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets shouldn’t hurt too much (they immediately scored four goals in their next game without him), and have a cupcake schedule with seven games between the 4th and 16th. All but two of their seven games are at home – against the Stars, Avs, Wings and Ducks – and their two road games are against the Wild and Penguins.

NY Islanders – With six games during this stretch, the Islanders don’t have the most games, but they do have one of the easiest; the Isles have a cupcake schedule with games against the Blues and Rangers (twice each, home/road), but also play Carolina and the Lightning. The Islanders have been scoring well – 18 goals in their last five – and should keep that up as Mat Barzal lights up the league.

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

Vancouver – Nobody has a worse upcoming schedule than the Canucks – expect to see them back here next week – with only four games between the 4th and 16th, although three of the four are at home against easy opposition (the fourth is in Toronto.) Vancouver will play Arizona, Florida and Edmonton.

Florida – The Cats get to play Columbus at home on Saturday night, but then spend the next five games on the road against the Penguins, Oilers, Flames, Canucks and Canadiens. They’ll play the Flames on the second half of a back-to-back, and although their top line has been producing, don’t expect miracles from Florida players (beyond Frank Vatrano who is #TheTruth.)

Los Angeles – As if sitting dead last in goals for wasn’t bad enough, the Kings have only five games during this upcoming period, although home games vs. Ottawa and Edmonton will help anyone score. Unfortunately, their other three games are against the Sharks, Pens and Wild which aren’t easy games. The Kings have only scored five goals twice this season, don’t expect miracles.

January 4 to January 10

Best Bets

NSH 4.94 – Away DET MTL TOR CHI CBJ- Home

STL 4.31 – Away PHI – Home NYI DAL MTL

VGK 4.21 – Away ANH – Home NJD NYR SJS

WSH 4.09 – Away DAL DET BOS- Home PHI

PHI 4.0575 – Away WSH – Home CGY STL DAL

Steer Clear

VAN 2 – Away TOR – Home ARI

BUF 2.0525 – Away BOS – Home NJD

FLA 2.6975 – Away PIT EDM- Home CBJ

CHI 2.85 – Away PIT – Home CGY NSH

COL 3.0075 – Away WPG CGY – Home NYR

January 5 to January 11

Best Bets

STL 4.31 – Away PHI – Home NYI DAL MTL

WPG 4.2675 – Away MIN – Home DAL COL DET

CGY 4.1475 – Away PHI CHI – Home COL FLA

PHI 4.0575 – Away WSH – Home CGY STL DAL

CAR 4.0525 – Away OTT NYI TBL – Home BUF

Steer Clear

COL 1.8525 – Away WPG CGY – Home

VAN 2 – Away TOR – Home ARI

ARI 2.2475 – Away VAN – Home NYR

CBJ 2.75 – Away FLA TBL – Home NSH

DAL 2.8025 – Away WPG STL PHI – Home

January 6 to January 12

Best Bets

VGK 4.3525 – Away CHI- Home NJD NYR SJS

WPG 4.2675 – Away MIN – Home DAL COL DET

STL 4.205 – Away PHI DAL- Home DAL MTL

MIN 4.2 – Away MTL BOS – Home WPG DET

NJD 4.095 – Away VGK BUF – Home TOR PHI

Steer Clear

VAN 1.05 – Away – Home ARI

CBJ 2.655 – Away TBL WSH- Home NSH

FLA 2.755 – Away PIT EDM CGY – Home

NSH 2.8025 – Away TOR CHI CBJ – Home

BOS 2.84 – Away TOR- Home MIN WSH

January 7 to January 13

Best Bets

NYI 4.405 – Away NYR – Home CAR NYR TBL

CGY 4.2475 – Away CHI – Home COL FLA ARI

STL 4.205 – Away PHI DAL – Home DAL MTL

MIN 4.2 – Away MTL BOS – Home WPG DET

TBL 4.195 – Away BUF NYI- Home CBJ CAR

Steer Clear

PIT 2.76 – Away ANH LAK – Home FLA

VAN 2.1 – Away – Home ARI FLA

BOS 2.84 – Away TOR – Home MIN WSH

OTT 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS – Home

WSH 2.8925 – Away BOS – Home PHI CBJ

January 8 to January 14

Best Bets

NYI 4.405 – Away NYR – Home CAR NYR TBL

EDM 4.205 – Away SJS – Home FLA ARI BUF

TBL 4.195 – Away BUF NYI – Home CBJ CAR

NJD 4.3 – Away BUF – Home TOR PHI CHI

WPG 4.1625 – Away MIN – Home COL DET ANH

Steer Clear

LAK 2.1 – Away – Home OTT PIT

VAN 2.1 – Away – Home ARI FLA

OTT 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS – Home

PIT 2.76 – Away ANH LAK – Home FLA

DET 2.9125 – Away WPG MIN – Home MTL

January 9 to January 15

Best Bets

TBL 4.3 – Away BUF NYI DAL- Home CAR

NYI 4.195 – Away NYR – Home NYR TBL STL

NYR 4.1675 – Away NYI CBJ – Home NYI CAR

WPG 4.11 – Away MIN – Home DET ANH VGK

ANH 4.095 – Away WPG DET- Home OTT PIT

Steer Clear

VAN 2.1 – Away – Home ARI FLA

OTT 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS – Home

PIT 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS- Home

DET 2.755 – Away WPG MIN – Home ANH

COL 2.945 – Away CGY MTL TOR – Home

January 10 to January 16

Best Bets

EDM 4.3475 – Away VAN- Home FLA ARI BUF

TBL 4.3 – Away BUF NYI DAL – Home CAR

NYI 4.195 – Away NYR – Home NYR TBL STL

NYR 4.1675 – Away NYI CBJ – Home NYI CAR

WPG 4.11 – Away MIN – Home DET ANH VGK

Steer Clear

CHI 2.0475 – Away NJD – Home VGK

PIT 2.66 – Away ANH LAK SJS – Home

DET 2.755 – Away WPG MIN – Home ANH

OTT 2.86 – Away LAK SJS – Home COL

NSH 2.8925 – Away CBJ CAR – Home WSH