Looking Ahead: Wild October

by Adam Daly-Frey on October 20, 2017

Jason Zucker is a great pickup because of the Wild's injury situation and upcoming schedule.

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 in this article updated through October 18.

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

Connor Brown, W, Toronto (Available in 95 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although Brown’s outlook has improved immensely since getting moved up to Toronto’s second line – moving from lining up beside Matt Martin and Eric Fehr/Dominic Moore to playing beside James vanRiemsdyk/Tyler Bozak will do that – Brown’s short-term outlook is better than just who his linemates are. He’s taken 20 shifts or more in almost every game (19 against Montreal), has seen 13 minutes on the power play, and also kills penalties which helps his value in leagues that count blocked shots. Since moving to play on the TOR2 line, Brown has scored in back-to-back games.

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

Jason Zucker, W, Minnesota (Available in 82 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With Minnesota’s Injured Reserve being able to ice a pretty good NHL team, Jason Zucker should take full advantage of extra ice time both in the short term and the long term. Zucker is already averaging a full five minutes more than any preceding season, and he saw 22 minutes in his last game (against Columbus) on the ostensible first line as well as the power play. He’s already fired 11 shots on goal in only four games – scoring twice and adding two assists – and as a player with a career 12% shooting percentage thanks to a heavy wrist shot, he should continue to contribute on the scoresheet.

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

Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg (Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With only four games through the rest of the month (including a back-to-back), Hellebuyck will be lucky to start three games even as Steve Mason struggles immensely. Hellebuyck is an excellent goalie, but the team in front of him is allowing 36 shots against per game and is giving up four power plays against per game. Given their struggles on the kill – 6 goals allowed in 24 chances – that bodes poorly for Hellebuyck. Even worse, three of the four games to end the month come against Pittsburgh (twice) and Columbus. Look elsewhere for a goaltender through October.

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

Jason Spezza, C, Dallas (Owned in 75 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – At 34, Jason Spezza’s best days are falling behind him at a remarkable rate; his average time on ice through six games this season is a good indicator of that at only 13:06/night. Spezza is still firing the puck at a reasonable clip – although his average shot up after getting 7 SOG against Arizona – but hasn’t scored, and losing his prime spot on the first power-play unit of the Stars has impacted his value tremendously. Especially in cap leagues or leagues that count peripherals beyond SOG, Spezza’s value is crumbling faster than his back did picking up groceries.

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

Minnesota – Although the are pretty banged up, it’s hard to ignore their schedule through October. the Wild get two games against the Jets (one road, one home) and face the Canucks, Islanders, Flames and Penguins. Beyond the play of Anders Nilsson and Mike Smith, there’s nothing on those teams that will come close to shutting down the Wild players that remain healthy.

Detroit – The Red Wings have six games through this next stretch – including some juicy ones against the Canucks, Sabres, Coyotes and Panthers – and have looked like a different team since moving Anthony Mantha to the first line. Detroit’s won the possession battle since making that move, have fired 64 SOG and taken 25 high-danger chances. With their schedule shading heavily towards easy, make sure to have your Red Wings in the lineup.

Carolina – Carolina’s five games from the 21st to November 1 come against some very soft competition: Tampa Bay (0.57 shots against/minute), Toronto (0.51 SA/m), Anaheim (0.58 SA/m) have all been porous, while the Stars are still a mess in their own end. With Carolina’s puck possession prowess, they’ll be fantasy relevant in all four of those games while holding their own against St. Louis.

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

Winnipeg –.As mentioned in the Connor Hellebuyck section, Winnipeg plays only four times in the next stretch (including one back-to-back), but three of those four games come against Pittsburgh and Columbus. With the Jackets being stingy defensively (13 GA in six games), Jets’ players will be in tough to score.

New Jersey –.The Devils only play four times between the 20th and the start of November, including a home back-to-back against Ottawa followed by Arizona. While their competition in those four games isn’t much to worry about (Arizona and Vancouver, specifically), they’ll be in tough to continue their high-scoring ways against a tight Ottawa defense and a Sharks team currently limiting the opposition to under 30 shots a game.

Colorado –.With by far the worst schedule of any team to end the month, the Avalanche play only three games from the 20th to November 1, and have a road-home back-to-back against Vegas and then Chicago at home. Games against Vegas and Dallas will come in handy for an Avs team that figured out how to score in the off-season, but this is egregiously poor scheduling by the league for poor Avs owners.

October 20th to October 26th

Best Bets

MIN 4.305 – Away WPG CGY – Home VAN NYI

BUF 4.225 – Away BOS CBJ – Home VAN DET

DET 4.095 – Away BUF TBL- Home WSH VAN

PIT 4 – Away FLA TBL – Home EDM WPG


Steer Clear

COL 1.05 – Home DAL

WPG 1.7475 – Away PIT- Home MIN

NSH 2.005 – Away NYR – Home CGY

CBJ 2.1 – Home LAK BUF

VGK 2.1 – Home STL CHI

October 21st to October 27th

Best Bets

OTT 4.1475 – Away NJD- Home TOR LAK PHI

DAL 4.095 – Away COL EDM CGY- Home CAR

CAR 4 – Away DAL TOR – Home TBL STL

CGY 3.795 – Away NSH STL – Home MIN DAL

LAK 3.515 – Away CBJ TOR OTT MTL

Steer Clear

WPG 1.6625 – Away PIT CBJ

ANH 1.995 – Away PHI FLA

MTL 1.995 – Home FLA LAK

BOS 2.1525 – Home BUF SJS

COL 2.19 – Away VGK- Home DAL

October 22nd to October 28th

Best Bets

DET 4.205 – Away BUF TBL FLA- Home VAN

LAK 3.6575 – Away TOR OTT MTL BOS

MIN 3.255 – Home VAN NYI PIT

COL 3.24 – Away VGK – Home DAL CHI

CHI 3.23 – Away VGK COL- Home NSH

Steer Clear

BOS 1.9425 – Home SJS LAK

WSH 2.0425 – Away VAN EDM

NJD 2.1525 – Home OTT ARI

VGK 2.2575 – Home CHI COL

VAN 2.74 – Away DET MIN – Home WSH

October 23rd to October 29th

Best Bets

CAR 4.0475 – Away TOR – Home TBL STL ANH

ANH 3.9425 – Away PHI FLA TBL CAR

PIT 3.905 – Away MIN WPG- Home EDM WPG

CGY 3.7425 – Away NSH STL – Home DAL WSH

LAK 3.6575 – Away TOR OTT MTL BOS

Steer Clear

VGK 2.2575 – Home CHI COL

BOS 1.9425 – Home SJS LAK

WPG 2.6075 – Away PIT CBJ – Home PIT

NJD 2.1525 – Home OTT ARI

EDM 2.745 – Away PIT – Home DAL WSH

October 24th to October 30th

Best Bets

CBJ 4.2575 – Away STL – Home BUF WPG BOS

DAL 4.1325 – Away COL EDM CGY VAN

NYI 4.125 – Away MIN NSH – Home ARI VGK

TBL 4.1525 – Away CAR FLA- Home DET ANH

FLA 4.11 – Away MTL – Home ANH DET TBL

Steer Clear

NJD 2.1525 – Home OTT ARI

WPG 2.6075 – Away PIT CBJ – Home PIT

VAN 2.6975 – Away MIN – Home WSH DAL

EDM 2.745 – Away PIT – Home DAL WSH

BOS 2.75 – Away CBJ- Home SJS LAK

October 25th to October 31st

Best Bets

CBJ 4.2575 – Away STL – Home BUF WPG BOS

ARI 4.0375 – Away NYR NJD PHI DET

STL 3.9375 – Away CAR – Home CGY CBJ LAK

WPG 3.415 – Away PIT CBJ MIN- Home PIT

NYR 3.27 – Away MTL – Home ARI VGK

Steer Clear

EDM 1.89 – Home DAL WSH

VAN 1.89 – Home WSH DAL

NSH 2 – Away CHI – Home NYI

CHI 2.09 – Away COL – Home NSH

NJD 2.1525 – Home OTT ARI

October 26th to November 1st

Best Bets

TOR 4.0625 – Away SJS ANH- Home CAR PHI

SJS 4.0425 – Away BOS BUF – Home TOR NSH

ARI 4.0375 – Away NYR NJD PHI DET

PHI 3.9575 – Away OTT TOR CHI- Home ARI

ANH 3.9475 – Away FLA TBL CAR – Home TOR

Steer Clear

CGY 1.89 – Home DAL WSH

COL 2.19 – Away VGK – Home CHI

BOS 2.75 – Away CBJ – Home SJS LAK

LAK 2.755 – Away MTL BOS STL

EDM 2.835 – Home DAL WSH PIT