Looking Ahead: Week 22 (2015-16)

by Mike Schmidt on February 26, 2016

Matt Dumba and the Minnesota Wild have an excellent upcoming schedule, what does the future hold?

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)  

 

Carl Soderberg, C/LW, Colorado (Available in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues) – This Avs forward is a great plug-and-play option. He racks up a decent amount of assists and puts the puck in the net every now and again, making him useful when his team’s schedule is favorable. After two solid seasons in Boston (where he averaged 46 points per campaign), Soderberg is on pace to break the 50-point barrier for the first time in his three-year NHL career. He’s seeing more ice time than ever before, and he holds his own when playing at even strength. There are flashier players out there, and many have more upside than this 30-year-old, but fantasy owners who need a forward and in a pinch should look to employ Soderberg in the short term.

 

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

 

Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota (Available in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The talent has always been there for this offensive-minded, young blueliner, but now it’s starting to translate into production. The No. 7 overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has registered a whopping nine points in 11 games during the month of February, largely due to the volume and quality of ice time he has seen in that time. Dumba is averaging 16 minutes and 26 seconds of action per game on the year, but he has seen more than 19 minutes of ice time on five occasions this month. Perhaps even more encouraging is that the Wild have leaned on the 21-year-old to be a significant contributor on the power play. He has seen more than four minutes of action on the man-advantage six times in his past 11 games, even though he has averaged just two minutes of power-play time per game on the year. Poolies would be wise to snatch Dumba off the waiver wire now, as ownership of him should increase significantly in the season’s final weeks.

 

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

 

Brian Elliott, G, St. Louis (Owned in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Fun fact: Elliott’s career save percentage is .924. Pekka Rinne’s is .918. Jonathan Quick’s is .916. This perennially underrated player never seems to completely secure a job as a team’s No. 1 option in net, but he (almost) always rewards poolies who stash him and wait for him to get an opportunity to produce. Alas, he sustained a lower-body injury this past Monday and will be out for at least four weeks. That means the best-case scenario for a return is the regular season’s final couple of weeks at the end of March. One cannot help but wonder if the Blues will even consider putting Elliott between the pipes before the playoffs, what with a healthy Jake Allen at their disposal. It’s a shame, too, as Elliott was having a fantastic campaign (.929 save percentage, 2.15 goals-allowed average and 17 wins in 30 starts). His owners will need to look elsewhere for netminder production down the stretch. It’s highly unlikely this veteran netminder will return during the regular season.

 

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

 

Eric Staal, C/LW, Carolina (Owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Given Staal’s lengthy history as a star-level player in the NHL, it may be difficult for some poolies to adjust to the idea that they should expect to find his name on the waiver wire in most leagues right now. However, that is where he belongs. The veteran Hurricanes forward has scored just one goal since Jan. 12 and has managed just a single multi-point game since the start of 2016. And it’s no surprise that Staal is struggling. His shooting percentage of .066 is the worst mark of his career, and he’s taking fewer shots on goal than he has at just about any other time in his career. Staal’s owners should strongly consider dropping him and picking up his brother and teammate, Jordan, instead. Certain fantasy analysts may agree.

 

By taking some time to analyze the upcoming NHL schedule, poolies can gain a significant and measurable edge over their opponents. Now let’s identify some teams that will help or hurt fantasy owners in the coming days.

 

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

 

Colorado – It’s always nice when a squad plays a ton of games over a stretch of time, especially if the vast majority of them occur at home. The Avs play six games between Saturday, Feb. 27 and Wednesday, March 9 (the final four of which will take place in Denver). Lean on any and all fantasy-relevant Colorado players this week and next.

 

Ottawa – The Sens will open the month of March with three of four at home. The matchups? Yeah… not great (versus St. Louis, versus Tampa Bay, at Toronto and versus Dallas). However, fantasy owners should not be dissuaded from employing their Sens in the short term.

 

Minnesota – Volume, volume, volume… Between Friday, Feb. 26 and Sunday, March 6, the Wild play a whopping six games. Sure, half of them are on the road.  But no one will play more than Minnesota in the early days of March.

 

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

 

St. Louis – The Blues will play their next four games on the road (between Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, March 6). Just something to keep in mind when choosing between a St. Louis player and someone from another team…

 

Detroit – Between Saturday Feb. 27 and Tuesday, March 8, the Red Wings will play four of five games on the road (including two games against the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks). Many teams will have it easier than Detroit in the coming days.


Carolina – Seven of this squad’s first eight games during the month of March will take them away from Raleigh, NC. YIKES…

Friday, February 26 to Thursday, March 3

Best Bets

Minnesota 4.26 – four games – WAS, FLA, COL and TOR

Calgary 4.14 – four games – OTT, PHI, BOS and BUF

Buffalo 4.05 – four games – SJS, LAK, EDM and CGY

San Jose 4.04 – four games – BUF, VANx2 and MTL

Tampa Bay 4.04 – four games – NJD, BOS, TOR and OTT

Steer Clear

Columbus 2.06 – two games – FLA and NYR

St. Louis 2.80 – three games – all on road

Arizona 2.84 – three games – two on road

Los Angeles 2.90 – three games – BUF, ANA and MTL

New York Islanders 2.90 – three games – all on road

Saturday, February 27 to Friday, March 4

Best Bets

Dallas 4.21 – four games – three at home

Edmonton 4.14 – four games – NYI, BUF, PHI and CBJ

Calgary 4.14 – four games – OTT, PHI, BOS and BUF

Montreal 3.92 – four games – TOR, SJS, ANA and LAK

New York Rangers 3.81 – four games – DAL, CBJ, PIT and WAS

Steer Clear

Carolina 2.04 – two games – STL and NJD

St. Louis 2.80 – three games – all on road

San Jose 2.84 – three games – two on road

Arizona 2.84 – three games – two on road

Los Angeles 2.86 – three games – BUF, ANA and MTL

Sunday, February 28 to Saturday, March 5

Best Bets

Minnesota 4.50 – four games – FLA, COL, TOR and BUF

Vancouver 4.41 – four games – three at home

Edmonton 4.14 – four games – NYI, BUF, PHI and CBJ

Tampa Bay 4.04 – four games – BOS, TOR, OTT and CAR

Washington 4.01 – four games – CHI, TOR, NYR and BOS

Steer Clear

St. Louis 1.90 – two games – both on road

Detroit 1.94 – two games – DAL and CHI

Los Angeles 2.54 – three games – ANAx2 and MTL

New York Rangers 2.81 – three games – two on road

New York Islanders 2.90 – three games – all on road

Monday, February 29 to Sunday, March 6

Best Bets

Pittsburgh 4.35 – four games – three at home

Minnesota 4.34 – four games – COL, TOR, BUF and STL

Ottawa 4.24 – four games – three at home

Dallas 4.16 – four games – DET, NSH, NJD and OTT

Winnipeg 4.15 – four games – all at home

Steer Clear

Los Angeles 1.73 – two games – MTL and ANA

St. Louis 1.76 – two games – both on road

Carolina 2.00 – two games – both on road

Detroit 2.80 – three games – two on road

New York Islanders 2.90 – three games – all on road

Tuesday, March 1 to Monday, March 7

Best Bets

Minnesota 4.34 – four games – COL, TOR, BUF and STL

Ottawa 4.24 – four games – three at home

Colorado 4.22 – four games – three at home

Winnipeg 4.15 – four games – all on road

Florida 4.14 – four games – WPG, COL, ARI and BOS

Steer Clear

St. Louis 1.76 – two games – both on road

Detroit 1.80 – two games – CHIx2

Carolina 2.00 – two games – both on road

Columbus 2.15 – two games – EDM and PHI

Montreal 2.57 – three games – all on road

Wednesday, March 2 to Tuesday, March 8

Best Bets

Ottawa 4.20 – four games – TBL, TOR, DAL and CAR

Tampa Bay 4.10 – four games – OTT, CAR, PHI and BOS

Edmonton 4.05 – four games – PHI, CBJ, WPG and SJS

San Jose 4.05 – four games – VANx2, CGY and EDM

Pittsburgh 4.04 – four games – NYR, CGY, NJD and NYI

Steer Clear

St. Louis 0.81 – one game – MIN on road

Carolina 2.00 – two games – TBL and OTT

Detroit 2.75 – three games – two on road

New York Islanders 2.80 – three games – two on road

Los Angeles 2.84 – three games – MTL, ANA and VAN

Thursday, March 3 to Wednesday, March 9

Best Bets

Vancouver 4.32 – four games – SJSx2, LAK and ARI

Colorado 4.31 – four games – all at home

Toronto 4.20 – four games – all at home

Ottawa 4.20 – four games – TBL, TOR, DAL and CAR

Calgary 4.15 – four games – BUF, PIT, SJS and NSH

Steer Clear

St. Louis 1.75 – two games – MIN and CHI

Detroit 1.81 – two games – both on road

Carolina 2.00 – two games – TBL and OTT

Montreal 2.86 – three games – all on road

Dallas 2.87 – three games – two on road