Looking Ahead: Week 24 (2015-16)

by Mike Schmidt on March 11, 2016

Which teams have a favourable upcoming schedule as you plan for your playoff matchups?

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)  

 

Nazem Kadri, C, Toronto (Available in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues) – It’s highly unlikely he breaks the 50-point barrier this year, but the 25-year-old centerman has been pretty productive in the last couple of weeks. He’s registered nine points in his last 10 games, and while that puts him at a wildly unimpressive 37 points on the season, the recent scoring streak cannot be ignored. It’s hardly a slam dunk, but Kadri is seeing action of the Toronto’s top power play as well. Is he an offensive dynamo? No. A low-risk speculative add? For sure.

 

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

 

Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto (Available in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues) – The former fifth overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft just turned 22 years of age and is on pace to increase his season total for points for the third consecutive year. He has also totaled just three fewer points on the season than the gentleman profiled two spots down (SPOILER ALERT: It’s Zdeno Chara). Rielly is not going to help a fantasy squad’s plus-minus (and he’s hardly a must-own defenseman) but he continues to get better with time. The Leafs are giving the young defenseman a ton of action and are allowing him to learn on the job, and he’s worth a look from fantasy owners as a late-season waiver-wire addition. Give him a shot.

 

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

 

Loui Eriksson, L/RW, Boston (Owned in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Eriksson, or The Guy Boston Traded Tyler Seguin For, spent much of the 2015-16 campaign playing like that deal wasn’t all that lopsided. He totaled 33 points in his first 36 games of the season. Since Jan. 1, however, Eriksson’s production has dropped off considerably (16 points in 32 games played). His ice time is down a bit, but the veteran winger remains an important member of the Bruins power play. He’s not hurt… So what’s going on? Simply stated, he hasn’t been as lucky as he was in months past. Consider the following:

 

  • Eriksson took 23 shots on goal in 12 games played during the month of December. Seven (or roughly 30 percent) of them ended up going in the net.
  • He followed that up by scoring two goals on 30 shots in January.
  • Though he scored eight goals and converted on 25 percent of his shots on goal in February, he registered just one assist during that month. It was Eriksson’s only assist since Jan. 23.

 

It turns out Eriksson isn’t a point-per-game player after all. He’s fine and all, but expectations for his future output should be tempered.

 

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

 

Zdeno Chara, D, Boston (Owned in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Confession time: The author of this article once used a first-round draft pick in a 10-team fantasy hockey draft on Chara. He promptly scored seven goals and totaled 44 points in 80 games played. Said author never forgave the Bruins blueliner. On a more serious note, though, Chara is a middling option as a fantasy defenseman. He’s also been woefully unproductive in the past few weeks. The 38-year-old future Hall of Famer hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 13, and he’s totaled a mere two assists since Feb. 11. Chara used to be fun to own (so long as his owners didn’t grab him with one of the first handful of picks in their respective drafts, particularly prior to the 2009-10 season). That’s not the case anymore. He’s not irrelevant, just BARELY better than the aforementioned Reilly.

 

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)

 

Toronto – The Leafs play two road games in two days, starting Saturday, March 13. Then they follow that up with a seven-game homestand that lasts through Saturday, March 26. No team has it better in the coming weeks than Toronto.

 

Edmonton – Starting with a Saturday, March 12 home matchup against the unimposing Arizona Coyotes, the Oilers will play five consecutive home games. Roll with Connor McDavid and Co.

 

San Jose – The Sharks play a whopping 11 times in 19 days between Saturday, March 12 and Thursday, March 31. During that same stretch of time, the Sharks will have more than one day between games just once (two days between the Saturday, March 12 home matchup with Washington and the Tuesday, March 12 home tilt against Boston).

 

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

 

Carolina – On Thursday, March 10, the Hurricanes traveled to Boston for a matchup against the Bruins. It was the first game in what will be a five-game road trip for Carolina. Keep that in mind when making lineup decisions involving the ‘Canes.

 

Boston – Between Tuesday, March 15 and the end of the month, the Bruins six of seven games away from Boston. That’s a tough stretch for any squad, even an accomplished one like the Bs.


Colorado – Much like the Bruins, the Avs play a ton of road games in the second half of March. Colorado will take to the ice for six road contests out of the eight times they suit up between Tuesday, March 15 and the end of the month.

Friday, March 11 to Thursday, March 17

Best Bets

Toronto 4.20 – four games – OTT, DET, TBL and FLA

Detroit 4.20 – four games – NYR, TOR, PHI and CBJ

Tampa Bay 4.20 – four games – PHI, CBJ, TOR and DAL

Philadelphia 4.01 – four games – TBL, FLA, DET and CHI

Los Angeles 4.01 – four games – NJD, CHI, DAL and NYR

Steer Clear

Buffalo 1.89 – two games – CAR and MTL

Colorado 2.10 – two games – NYR and SJS

Boston 2.10 – two games – NYR and SJS

Washington 2.10 – two games – SJS and CAR

Ottawa 2.10 – two games – TOR and MIN

Saturday, March 12 to Friday, March 18

Best Bets

Edmonton 4.36 – four games – all at home

Toronto 4.20 – four games – OTT, DET, TBL and FLA

Detroit 4.20 – four games – NYR, TOR, PHI and CBJ

Vancouver 4.15 – four games – three at home

Winnipeg 4.05 – four games – COL, VAN, CGY and CHI

Steer Clear

Arizona 2.15 – two games – EDM and SJS

Columbus 2.21 – two games – TBL and DET

New Jersey 2.56 – three games – two on road

Minnesota 2.76 – three games – all on road

Carolina 2.85- three games – all on road

Sunday, March 13 to Saturday, March 19

Best Bets

Toronto 4.46 – four games – three at home

Detroit 4.25 – four games – TOR, PHI, CBJ and FLA

Tampa Bay 4.18 – four games – CBJ, TOR, DAL and ARI

Vancouver 4.15 – four games – three at home

Pittsburgh 4.05 – four games – NYR, NYI, CAR and PHI

Steer Clear

Colorado 1.95 – two games – both on road

Washington 2.05 – two games – CAR and NSH

Arizona 2.21 – two games – SJS and TBL

Carolina 2.57 – three games – all on road

New Jersey 2.65 – three games – two on road

Monday, March 14 to Sunday, March 20

Best Bets

San Jose 4.45 – four games – three at home

Edmonton 4.25 – four games – all at home

Montreal 4.25 – four games – FLA, BUF, OTT and CGY

Vancouver 4.15 – four games – three at home

Anaheim 4.11 – four games – three at home

Steer Clear

Carolina 2.57 – three games – all on road

Boston 2.71 – three games – all on road

New York Rangers 2.71 – three games – all on road

Ottawa 2.83 – three games – MIN, BUF and MTL

Nashville 2.90 – three games – two on road

Tuesday, March 15 to Monday, March 21

Best Bets

Toronto 4.46 – four games – all at home

San Jose 4.45 – four games – BOS, ARIx2 and NYR

Montreal 4.25 – four games – FLA, BUF, OTT and CGY

Pittsburgh 4.09 – four games – three at home

Calgary 4.01 – four games – WPG, COL, MTL and TOR

Steer Clear

St. Louis 2.00 – two games – both on road

Carolina 2.57 – three games – all on road

Boston 2.71 – three games – all on road

Winnipeg 2.79 – three games – CGY, CHI and ANA

Ottawa 2.83 – three games – MIN, BUF and MTL

Wednesday, March 16 to Tuesday, March 22

Best Bets

Columbus 4.51 – four games – three at home

San Jose 4.40 – four games – three at home

Edmonton 4.40 – four games – three at home

Arizona 4.35 – four games – three at home

Vancouver 4.05 – four games – COL, EDM, STL and WPG

Steer Clear

Boston 1.66 – two games – both on road

Nashville 2.85 – three games – NYI, WAS and LAK

Washington 2.85 – three games – two on road

Ottawa 2.88 – three games – BUF, MTL and WAS

New Jersey 2.89 – three games – MIN and CBJx2

Thursday, March 17 to Wednesday, March 23

Best Bets

Columbus 4.57 – four games – three at home

San Jose 4.40 – four games – three at home

Arizona 4.35 – four games – three at home

New York Rangers 4.11 – four games – LAK, SJS, FLA and BOS

New York Islanders 4.11 – four games – NSH, DAL, PHI and OTT

Steer Clear

Colorado 1.95 – two games – both on road

St. Louis 2.04 – two games – both on road

Boston 2.57 – three games – all on road

Anaheim 2.71 – three games – two on road

Nashville 2.85 – three games – NYI, WAS and LAK