Welcome to the eleventh edition of Weekly Dekes, your go-to location for information on the week ahead which includes team scheduling, injuries, hot streaks, and more. Take this information provided to make some roster moves, whether it’s a permanent replacement or a temporary rotisserie of your final roster spot. It’s kind of like economics. Draft day is macroeconomics where you look at the big picture and long term trends. Microeconomics is the day-to-day, focusing on back-to-back games, hot and cold streaks, short term injuries, and maximizing the number of fantasy games played for your roster.
With most fantasy leagues allowing 3 or 5 player adds each week, the last position on your roster can be changed multiple times during the week, allowing you to increase games played for your fantasy team while taking advantage of short term opportunities. This could be the difference in a tight matchup between a win and a loss.
Scheduling: The week ahead is a shortened one due to no action on Boxing Day. 26 teams play 3 times this week while 2 play only 2 games and 2 play four games. The week after the Christmas break is an interesting one. Some teams eat too much turkey and are uncharacteristically slow upon their return. Other teams enjoy some time away from the game and reverse their fortunes for the remainder of the season (I’m looking at you, Avalanche). The week ahead is always an interesting one – the last week of 2016!
2 Games – Edmonton, St. Louis
3 Games – Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders/Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg
4 Games – Anaheim, Washington
Link to Excel doc containing scheduling information for the full season: https://4fandfurther.com/2016/09/15/nhl-fantasy-hockey-2016-2017-team-schedules-by-week-night-of-the-week-and-fantasy-playoffs
Back-to-Backs: this is where backup goalies could potentially be good spot starts, pay attention to who is scheduled to play in the crease.
Wednesday/Thursday: Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Thursday/Friday: Anaheim, Chicago, Nashville
Friday/Saturday: Carolina, San Jose, Vancouver
24 teams play on Thursday and 22 teams play on Saturday. Keep in mind these busy peak nights this week.
Pittsburgh Powerhouse: The Penguins are the first team to play a back-to-back set over the first two nights of action this week. In Pittsburgh’s last 10 games, the team has scored seven or more goals on three occasions. Overall, they have been averaging an impressive 4.1 goals per game during that stretch – there are several players with low ownership that often are benefactors. Conor Sheary (31% owned) is available in most leagues despite his continued presence on the top line alongside Crosby and Hornqvist. I’ve talked up his strong point production (19 points in 28 games played) and the respectable +9, so I’ll shift my argument to those 45% of leagues where Chris Kunitz is owned. Swap Sheary for Kunitz. One player is aging and the other is continually improving at the NHL level. Sheary has outpaced Kunitz in goals (6), points (4), plus-minus (2), and shots on goal (9) despite playing one less game. They both average 15 minutes of time on ice per game too – Sheary has the higher ceiling and has also been the more consistent player so far this season. On defense, there isn’t anyone hotter than Justin Schultz who has a much-expanded role with the Penguins while Letang and Daley are sidelined (average ice time ~24 minutes for the past 5 games compared to ~17 minutes in the 6 games prior). Schultz has 13 points in his last 11 games played. He has 25 points on the year and is +19, immensely benefiting from his strong teammates. In fact, Schultz is ranked #1 among all defensemen over the last 30 days. His 74% ownership illustrates that he has been noticed – however it should be closer to 100%, at least until Letang returns.
Offnights: Hurricanes, Flyers, Blues, Canucks: Carolina, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Vancouver play on Wednesday and Friday this week when there is less activity throughout the NHL. While you might be benching players on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, pick up some players on these teams for 2 games in 3 nights for extra man games/spot starts.
Victor Rask is still only 34% owned despite scoring 26 points so far in 33 games played. He leads the Canes in ice-time per game for forwards and has been one of the team’s most consistent players.
Ivan Provorov has 15 points with the Flyers in 36 games from the blueline as a rookie. He is seeing more powerplay time while Streit is on the IR and could be a smart short-term pickup this week (31% owned).
David Perron is modestly rounding out most fantasy categories this year. In 36 games played the winger has amassed 9 goals, 10 assists, 28 PIM, 5 PPP, 3 GWG and 66 SOG (for leagues scoring hits, he has 34 of those as well).
Bo Horvat is getting closer to becoming Vancouver’s best player this year (Sedins are still on top but they will be replaced soon). He is only 14% owned and is therefore available for pickup for Wednesday and Friday night this week in all but the deepest leagues. With 21 points in 35 games played, Horvat could easily reward you. His -2 rating on the season does not place nearly as much risk on your fantasy team as compared to other Canucks (Henrik is -11, Sutter is -15, Gudbranson is -14).
Who’s Hot (and available):
Charlie Coyle – 3G, 6A, +5 in his last 6GP (59% owned). Coyle also has 27 points this season in 33 games played. He’s one of Minnesota’s bright young stars coming to form this season.
Jake Gardiner – 1G, 5A, +4, 4PPP in his last 6GP (41% owned). Toronto plays back-to-back games on Wednesday/Thursday. Add some defensive depth and scoring potential with Toronto’s #2 defender (assuming Rielly is #1).
Alex Killorn – 3G, 3A, +1, 23 SOG in his last 6GP (34% owned). He has logged over 20 minutes in ice time in three of his last six games played and has one game winning goal and one shorthanded point during that stretch as well.
Alexander Wennberg – 7A, +4, 3PPP in his last 6 games played (58% owned). The downside here however is the low shot total (7 SOG) during those 6 games for the Columbus center.
Viktor Arvidsson – 6A, +5, 17 SOG in his last 6 games played (45% owned). Arvidsson has been a great surprise for Nashville this season. He has 23 points in 33 games played this season, a big uplift from 16 points in 56 games played in 2015-2016. In fact, Arvidsson is currently the highest fantasy ranked Predator. He is tied with Johansen for 1st on team in points, tied for 2nd in plus-minus, and 1st in shots on goal. Give the kid a go during Nashville’s back-to-back set on Thursday/Friday and maybe just keep him around a little longer too.
Zack Smith – 3G, 3A, +6, 9 SOG in his last 4 games played (9% owned). Smith has quietly been a bright spot on the Senators for the past two seasons as a dependable third or fourth liner that kills penalties. He’s a streaky player, not necessarily worth owning all year long but definitely an asset while he’s hot. Ottawa plays on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday this week.
Jaromir Jagr – 6A, 2PPP, 18 SOG in his last 6 games played (64% owned). Special shout out to the ageless wonder who moved passed Messier into 2nd place on the all-time NHL scoring list. Jagr has scored 1889 points in 1664 games played (4th in most games played).
image source: thunder1320.com