Heading into the all-star break we have nearly a week off with which to recharge our batteries and prepare for the final third of the season. It is extremely important to start looking at the schedule ahead to maximize your roster.
In head-to-head leagues, it is most important to build up a roster with players who play the most games come head-to-head playoff time. You could own Patrick Kane and that would be great but if he only plays two games during a matchup week and I have P.A. Parenteau for four games, I stand a good chance outscoring you for at least that one roster spot just because of games played.
As for rotisserie leagues or points-only setups, assuming you don’t have a games-played limit or that if you do you are lagging behind, then a quick assessment of games remaining for your players will help you maximize your roster.
The Blackhawks (there’s that Kane example again) have the fewest games post-all-star with just 29 remaining. Every other team has at least 30 games left to play. Colorado and St. Louis have the next fewest games with 30 apiece. Deviating away from these clubs towards teams with more games left to play makes for good strategy.
For instance: thanks to last week’s blizzard causing multiple games to be postponed the Islanders, Flyers, Capitals and Ducks all have 35 games remaining on the schedule. There are small edges to be gained, you just have to seek them out!
Mining the waiver wire is a great way to gain an edge. Here are six players widely available in fantasy leagues (all ownership figures are based on Yahoo leagues):
David Perron – LW/RW – 21 per cent owned
Perron has been a tremendous hit for the Ducks having scored in all four games he has played with his new club, registering five points in total. He won’t sustain a point-per-game pace the rest of the way but he has shown the ability to score at a 60-point level.
Skating alongside Ryan Getzlaf on the top line at even strength and alongside Ryan Kesler on the second power-play unit, Perron is in a good spot for the surging Ducks. As mentioned above, the Ducks also have more games remaining than anyone in the league making Perron a savvy waiver claim.
Shea Theodore – D – 2 per cent owned
Sticking with the Ducks, Theodore is fitting in quite well, helping the Ducks’ normally woeful power play climb back to respectability. They now rank 12th in the league in power-play efficiency at 18.9 per cent. A big part of that is Theodore making the leap to the big club and adding another lethal shot along with some sound but quick decision-making on the point.
He has six points in the last six games and might be the best defenceman to own on the Ducks, though Sami Vatanen has something to say about that.
Carl Hagelin – LW – 18 per cent owned
Hagelin, like Perron, has had a soft landing with his new club. Skating alongside Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel with the Penguins, Hagelin has mustered four points in five games, an extremely good output.
It is worth remembering that Malkin pushed Blake Comeau to fantasy relevance last season. Hagelin appears to be receiving a similar boost here. Also relevant: the Penguins have 34 games remaining post-all-star break.
J.T. Miller – C – 9 per cent owned
Proceed with caution with this one. Miller has gone on a goal-scoring binge the last couple of weeks while filling in for injured wingers Chris Kreider and Rick Nash. In all, Miller has five goals in his last six games but is guaranteed nothing once we return from the all-star break since Kreider and Nash should be well rested.
Mika Zibanejad – C/RW – 31 per cent owned
Zibanejad comes into the break on a hot streak with seven points on a six-game scoring streak. He frequently lines up with Bobby Ryan on his flank, which is good news since Ryan seems to be the only Senators forward immune to slumping this season. Zibanejad also skates plenty of minutes on the top power-play unit, which gives him plenty of exposure to the phenomenon that is Erik Karlsson.
Andre Burakovsky – LW – 3 per cent owned
Burakovsky has been given another chance to skate alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams and seems to be taking full advantage with seven points in his last five games. Burakovsky has struggled with consistency early in his career, which has led him into Barry Trotz’s dog house many a time, so there is no guarantee that he hangs onto this lucrative spot in the lineup.
If he does, however, he might score 20-25 points over these final 35 games the Capitals have.