Looking Ahead: Week 19 (2015-16)

by Mike Schmidt on February 5, 2016

Jiri Hudler makes a great short-term pick up and more tips based on the schedule for the next week.

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 team’s upcoming schedule. Without further ado…

 

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

 

Jiri Hudler, LW/RW, Detroit (Available in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The Hudler of a year ago is not coming back. As surprising as it was to see the veteran Flames forward establish career highs in goals, assists, points, shots on goal, and (what seemed like) every other notable statistical category during the 2014-15 season, it would have been more so for him to play anywhere near that level this year. In fact, the first half of 2015-16 has been a little unkind to Hudler. He’s on pace to match his career-worst shooting percentage for a season, and Flames goalies are registering a .861 save percentage in all situations when Hudler is on the ice. So yeah, he’s seeing some bad breaks. Despite all of that, he has totaled 26 points in 42 games. The fact that he’s currently playing on the same line as Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau (and seeing nearly three minutes of power-play time on the year) only helps Hudler’s case as a viable (if unspectacular) long term add.

 

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

 

Sam Bennett, C, Calgary (Available in 76 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Picking up Bennett and employing him for any considerable stretch requires a leap of faith. After all, he was the fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and will be 19 years of age for the entirety of 2015-16. There’s no doubt about his talent level, though. Dobber ranks him sixth on his list of the top 215 prospects to own in dynasty leagues. Hockey Prospectus prospect guru Ryan Wagman described Bennett as “quick and energetic” and “ready for a top-six NHL role” prior to the start of the current campaign. He’s sure looked like it over the past few weeks, racking up eight points in his last nine games (including four in a decisive 6-0 home win over Florida on Jan. 16). If he can start seeing a little more time on the man-advantage (he’s averaging less than two minutes per game on the power play this season), Bennett may start to make himself pretty useful in deeper formats.

 

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

 

Matt Niskanen, D, Washington (Owned in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Yes, Niskanen is the top fantasy defenseman on the elite Washington Capitals right now, but this is not someone who will be confused with Mike Green circa 2010. Niskanen is a steady veteran who plays his role well, but he’s managed just ONE 40-point season in eight full years in the NHL. He’s also scored just six goals since the start of the 2014-15 campaign. A decent number of points will be there in the long run, but poolies are advised to sit him for now while the Caps navigate a difficult schedule.

 

The Anchor (He’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)

 

Alex Goligoski, D, Dallas (Owned in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Owning this veteran blueliner in fantasy is wildly unexciting. Goligoski doesn’t score a ton of goals, nor does he rack up a high number of points. He’s… fine. The 30-year-old plays for one of the most explosive offensive teams in the league, is a cog in Dallas’s dynamic power play and sees well over 20 minutes of ice time annually. All that, and fantasy owners get little more than a healthy dose of assists and a goal every month or so. Chances are they can do better. Consider the following list of defenseman who have matched or exceeded Gologoski’s point total on the year:

 

 

This blueliner shouldn’t be dropped, but no one should be looking to plug Goligoski into a fantasy lineup on a regular basis (especially when his team isn’t seeing a ton of action in the short term).

 

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

 

Ottawa – Between Saturday, Feb. 6 and Thursday, Feb. 11, the Senators will take to the ice four times. Three of those games will be at home. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as that.

 

Detroit – Starting with a Saturday, Feb. 6 tilt against the visiting New York Islanders, the Red Wings will play five consecutive games at home. The matchups aren’t overwhelmingly easy, but fantasy owners can’t really argue about the volume or the circumstances.

 

Calgary – While they don’t enjoy as much home-ice advantage as the aforementioned Senators and Red Wings, members of the Flames (and the poolies who own them) can’t argue with the slate of games coming up for the team. Calgary will play five times between Friday, Feb. 5 and Friday, Feb. 12. Two of those games come against Columbus and Arizona, who rank in the bottom half of the league in save percentage at this point in the year.

 

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

 

Washington – There aren’t a whole lot of reasons not to love the Capitals for fantasy purposes. Here is one, though: Washington will play four of five games away from home between Saturday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, Feb. 13. Here’s another: The team will also have to take on some quality host opponents in Nashville, Minnesota and Dallas.

 

Dallas – What did this team do to upset the NHL Schedule Gods? The Stars have to play the Blackhawks TWICE in five days coming up. They also will be forced to play the Wild and the Caps over the course of the next week or so. How is that going to go?

 

Tampa Bay – Two out this squad’s next three are on the road. ‘Nough said.

 

Friday, February 5 to Thursday, February 11

Best Bets

Ottawa 4.46 – four games – three at home

Calgary 4.38 – four games – CBJ, VAN, TOR and SJS

Anaheim 4.16 – four games – ARI, PIT, PHI and CBJ

Winnipeg 4.05 – four games – CAR, COL, STL and BOS

New York Islanders 4.04 – four games – DET, EDM, CBJ and LAK

Steer Clear

Carolina 1.66 – two games – both on road

St. Louis 1.89 – two games – MIN and WPG

Los Angeles 1.90 – two games – both on road

Arizona 1.91 – two games – ANA and VAN

Nashville 2.10 – two games – SJS and WAS

Saturday, February 6 to Friday, February 12

Best Bets

Ottawa 4.46 – four games – three at home

Detroit 4.41 – four games – all at home

Calgary 4.39 – four games – VAN, TOR, SJS and ARI

Montreal 4.30 – four games – three at home

Florida 4.13 – four games – PIT, DET, BUF and STL

Steer Clear

Carolina 1.76 – two games – MTL and PIT

Columbus 1.94 – two games – NYI and ANA

Arizona 2.15 – two games – VAN and CGY

Dallas 2.61 – three games – two on road

Tampa Bay 2.71 – three games – two on road

Sunday, February 7 to Saturday, February 13

Best Bets

Ottawa 4.20 – four games – TBL, DET, COL and CBJ

Edmonton 4.20 – four games – NYI, NJD, TOR and WPG

Florida 4.13 – four games – DET, BUF, STL and NSH

Philadelphia 4.11 – four games – three at home

New York Islanders 3.95 – four games – EDM, CBJ, LAK and CAR

Steer Clear

St. Louis 2.04 – two games – WPG and FLA

Dallas 2.61 – three games – two on road

Boston 2.66 – three games – two on road

Tampa Bay 2.71 – three games – two on road

Los Angeles 2.80 – three games – all on road

Monday, February 8 to Sunday, February 14

Best Bets

Detroit 4.41 – four games – all at home

Ottawa 4.20 – four games – TBL, DET, COL and CBJ

Buffalo 4.20 – four games – three at home

Colorado 4.19 – four games – VAN, OTT, DET and BUF

Philadelphia 4.16 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

Carolina 2.05 – two games – PIT and NYI

Montreal 2.14 – two games – TBL and BUF

Dallas 2.62 – three games – two on road

Washington 2.71 – three games – all on road

Pittsburgh 2.84 – three games – ANA, NYR and CAR

Tuesday, February 9 to Monday, February 15

Best Bets

Chicago 4.36 – four games – all at home

Vancouver 4.29 – four games – COL, ARI, TOR and MIN

Calgary 4.29 – four games – TOR, SJS, ARI and ANA

Detroit 4.21 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 4.20 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

Carolina 2.05 – two games – PIT and NYI

Washington 2.71 – three games – all on road

Tampa Bay 2.76 – three games – MTL, NSH and STL

Winnipeg 2.95 – three games – two on road

Columbus 2.99 – three games – NYI, ANA and OTT

Wednesday, February 10 to Tuesday, February 16

Best Bets

Ottawa 4.36 – four games – DET, COL, CBJ and BUF

Philadelphia 4.31 – four games – BUF, NJDx2 and NYR

Detroit 4.21 – four games – three at home

Arizona 4.04 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 3.99 – four games – PHI, MTL, COL and OTT

Steer Clear

Montreal 2.23 – two games – both on road

Washington 2.75 – three games – two on road

Toronto 2.85 – three games – all on road

Columbus 2.99 – three games – ANA, OTT and BOS

Florida 2.99 – three games – STL, NSH and PIT

Thursday, February 11 to Wednesday, February 17

Best Bets

Philadelphia 4.31 – four games – BUF, NJDx2 and NYR

Chicago 4.11 – four games – three at home

Buffalo 3.99 – four games – PHI, MTL, COL and OTT

Calgary 3.97 – four games – SJS, ARI, ANA and MIN

Minnesota 3.94 – four games – WAS, BOS, VAN and CGY

Steer Clear

Pittsburgh 2.00 – two games – both on road

Vancouver 2.10 – two games – TOR and MIN

Washington 2.75 – three games – two on road

Toronto 2.85 – three games – all on road

Arizona 2.94 – three games – CGY, SJS and MTL