Looking Ahead: The Cats Will Claw Ahead

by Adam Daly-Frey on November 23, 2018

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 Thursday, November 22

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

Jared McCann, C, Florida Panthers (Available in 100 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – After an awful, awful injury to Vincent Trocheck – don’t watch it if you haven’t seen it – there’s a gaping hole in the middle of the Panthers’ top-6, and McCann can more than capably fill that hole and get production while doing so. He’s typically been used in a checking role in the past, but when given the opportunity to produce, McCann has been a capable centre: at 5v5 over the past two seasons, McCann is taking 8.48 shots per 60, which is comparable to Trocheck’s 8.60, and he’s had Individual Point Percentages of 86% and 75% through those seasons. For leagues that track peripherals, McCann is picking up 1.5 combined blocks/hits per game – the best rate of his career – and with a bump in his ice time and playing with better players in Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, McCann should find some value until the Cats call up Henrik Borgstrom.

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

David Krejci, C, Boston Bruins (Available in 78 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Another injury-related pickup, Krejci has value even beyond the four-plus weeks that Patrice Bergeron is gone, but his value should be close to its peak over the next month. Krejci is currently sporting a shooting percentage of 8.7 – not a career-low, but 4% below his career average – and should see an uptick in TOI with Bergeron gone, but more importantly Krejci will get to play with David Pastrnak. Last year when Pastrnak played with Krejci, the duo combined for 3.37GF/60 at 5v5, and they should continue to pile pucks in the net; the Czech centre should retain some value after Bergeron returns thanks to a cushy spot on a Bruins second-line that sees soft competition and starts in the O-zone 60% of the time, playing with Jake DeBrusk. Krejci’s not much in the way of peripherals, but in points-only leagues or leagues that count faceoffs, he should be picked up.

Honourable mention: Joonas Donskoi (available in 92 percent of Yahoo! Leagues)

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

Jaden Schwartz, W, St. Louis Blues (Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – It’s not quite fair to Schwartz – who’s currently injured – to be worried about his value due to being a Band-Aid Boy, but it’s a quarter of the way through the way through the season and Schwartz has already missed five games and has only put up 2G-7A playing most of his time beside Vladimir Tarasenko. Not only is the production a disappointment, but the injuries are a major concern. Last year, Schwartz missed 20 games due to injury, and he missed 49 in 2015-16. While he’s not at the level of his bad luck-ridden teammate Robby Fabbri, the lack of production and possibility he misses more time means you should be very concerned about Schwartz.

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

Ilya Kovalchuk, W, Los Angeles Kings (Owned in 78 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Since John Stevens was fired eight games ago, Kovalchuk has put up 1G-2A, and seen his ice time cut drastically; in his first 13 games, the Russian sniper played 18 minutes or more 10 times – topping 20 minutes five times – and in the eight games since, has done that only twice. He’s been relegated to the third line, and new coach Willie Desjardins has been referring to him as a “power play specialist,” which means his low ice time will continue.

Oh, and that 1G-2A in eight games? Those came in the first game after Stevens was fired, and Kovalchuk has gone pointless ever since.

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

Tampa Bay – From November 23 to December 5, the Lightning play seven times – with only one back-to-back – and have some extremely promising opponents. The highlights for the team that leads the league in goals so far include: home to Chicago, Anaheim and Buffalo, and on the road at Florida and Detroit. The Lightning also face New Jersey twice, at home and on the road.

Florida – All but one of Florida’s games during this period come at home, after playing six straight on the road once the Cats play at Carolina tonight. The Panthers are a middle-of-the road team both offensively and defensively so far, but like Tampa they have some pretty easy scheduling: Chicago, Anaheim, Buffalo and the injured Bruins are the highlights, as well as games against New Jersey and Tampa Bay.

Los Angeles – The Kings remain #actuallybad, but have an appealing schedule and Kopitar/Brown/Carter and Toffoli are still decent fantasy options. LA sees a lot of the Western Canadian teams during their next seven games (all in this period,) with home & road games against both Vancouver and Edmonton and a road game against Calgary. The Kings will also play Carolina and Arizona.

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

Minnesota – The Wild only have five games between the 23 and December 5, and three of those games come against top-5 defensive opponents (Arizona, Winnipeg and Toronto.) They do get to face Columbus and Vancouver, but both of those games come on the road.

Arizona – Even with six games during this stretch, the Coyotes are in tough and should continue to struggle to score (30th in Goals For.) They’ll face some above-average defensive teams in Minnesota (9th in goals against,) Colorado (10th,) Nashville (1st) and St. Louis (12th) as well as games against Calgary and Los Angeles. They have no back-to-backs and have an even split with three home games and three road games.

Philadelphia – “Gritty’s Team” have the worst schedule of any team after Thanksgiving, with only four games in this period: home to the Rangers, at Toronto (on the second half of a back-to-back,) back home to Ottawa and at Pittsburgh. While the games against three of the four (all but the Leafs) are appealing for offensive production from the Flyers, they’re a one-line team these days and have scored two or less in three of their last five


November 23 to November 29

Best Bets

TBL 4.41 – – Home CHI NJD ANH BUF

FLA 4.395 – Away CAR – Home CHI NJD ANH

LAK 4.3 – Away VAN EDM- Home VAN EDM

VGK 4.2375 – Away CHI VAN- Home CGY SJS

SJS 4.1525 – Away VGK BUF TOR – Home VAN

Steer Clear

MIN 2.855 – Away CBJ- Home WPG ARI

NJD 2.9075 – Away TBL FLA – Home NYI

CGY 3.0025 – Away VGK ARI – Home DAL

STL 3.035 – Away DET – Home NSH WPG

CAR 3.0925 – Away NYI MTL – Home FLA

November 24 to November 30

Best Bets

LAK 5.25 – Away VAN EDM CGY- Home VAN EDM


COL 3.9525 – Away NSH – Home DAL PIT STL

BUF 3.9475 – Away DET TBL FLA- Home SJS

ANH 3.8 – Away NSH TBL FLA CAR- Home

Steer Clear

MIN 1.8575 – Away CBJ – Home ARI

PHI 2.105 – Away TOR – Home OTT

MTL 2.31 – Away – Home BOS CAR

NJD 2.66 – Away TBL FLA WSH- Home

VAN 2.75 – Away LAK – Home LAK VGK

November 25 to December 1

Best Bets

NSH 4.305 – – Home ANH COL ARI CHI

TBL 4.205 – Away FLA- Home NJD ANH BUF

OTT 4.2 – Away NYR PHI – Home NYR SJS

FLA 4.2 – Away – Home NJD ANH BUF TBL

LAK 4.0425 – Away VAN EDM CGY – Home EDM

Steer Clear

PHI 2.01 – Away PIT- Home OTT

CAR 2.0425 – Away MTL – Home ANH

WSH 2.1 – Away NYI – Home NJD

MTL 2.415 – Away – Home CAR NYR

NYI 2.7875 – Away BOS – Home WSH CBJ

November 26 to December 2

Best Bets

LAK 4.2525 – Away VAN EDM CGY – Home CAR

NYR 4.2425 – Away OTT MTL – Home OTT WPG

OTT 4.2 – Away NYR PHI – Home NYR SJS

FLA 4.2 – Away – Home NJD ANH BUF TBL

WPG 4.1425 – Away NJD NYR- Home PIT CHI

Steer Clear

NYI 2.7875 – Away BOS – Home WSH CBJ

PHI 2.01 – Away PIT – Home OTT

NJD 2.8025 – Away FLA WSH – Home WPG

ARI 2.76 – Away MIN NSH – Home STL

CAR 2.85 – Away MTL LAK- Home ANH

November 27 to December 3

Best Bets

NSH 4.4625 – – Home COL ARI CHI BUF

WPG 4.1425 – Away NJD NYR – Home PIT CHI

TBL 4.1 – Away FLA NJD- Home ANH BUF

LAK 4.2525 – Away VAN EDM CGY – Home CAR

SJS 4.085 – Away BUF TOR OTT MTL – Home

Steer Clear

NYI 1.8425 – Away BOS – Home CBJ

TOR 1.905 – Away MIN – Home SJS

CBJ 1.9425 – Away NYI – Home MIN

PHI 2.01 – Away PIT – Home OTT

WSH 2.1 – Away – Home NJD ANH

November 28 to December 4

Best Bets

LAK 4.21 – Away EDM CGY – Home CAR ARI

WPG 4.195 – Away NJD NYR NYI- Home CHI

TBL 4.195 – Away FLA NJD DET- Home BUF

FLA 4.1475 – Away – Home ANH BUF TBL BOS

DET 4.0475 – Away BOS – Home STL COL TBL

Steer Clear

PHI 0.855 – Away PIT – Home

CAR 1.805 – Away LAK – Home ANH

ARI 2.7125 – Away NSH LAK- Home STL

NJD 2.7975 – Away WSH – Home WPG TBL

CHI 2.8075 – Away WPG NSH – Home CGY

November 29 to December 5

Best Bets

LAK 4.21 – Away EDM CGY – Home CAR ARI

WPG 4.195 – Away NJD NYR NYI – Home CHI

TBL 4.195 – Away FLA NJD DET – Home BUF

EDM 3.89 – Away DAL STL- Home LAK VGK

CHI 3.71 – Away WPG NSH ANH- Home CGY

Steer Clear

PHI 0.855 – Away PIT – Home

TOR 1.9 – Away MIN BUF – Home

DAL 2.1425 – Away VAN – Home EDM

PIT 2.1525 – Away – Home PHI COL

ARI 2.7125 – Away NSH LAK – Home STL