20 Fantasy Thoughts: How to navigate rest days, packed schedule down stretch

Montreal Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield, centre, is seen celebrating with teammates Erik Gustafsson and Phillip Danault in his NHL debut on April 26, 2021. (Montreal Canadiens / Twitter)

Attention fantasy owners: Beware of load management.

With many of the NHL’s elite already locking down playoff spots, don’t be surprised to see a fair share of maintenance/rest days dished out down the stretch.

Condensed schedule or not, this happens every year. It’s not ideal but just add it to the growing list of hurdles to overcome in the most unpredictable fantasy season to date.

Good luck to everyone in the finals, it’s been a pleasure helping you navigate through this mess.

1. Hope you’re ready for a jam-packed 57-game week of NHL action (May 3 – 9):

Monday: 14 Games
Tuesday: 5 Games
Wednesday: 9 Games
Thursday: 6 Games
Friday: 7 Games
Saturday: 14 Games
Sunday: 2 Games

2. In total, there are 24 four-game teams to target (ANA, ARI, BOS, BUF, CAR, CHI, COL, CBJ, DAL, EDM, LAK, MIN, MTL, NJD, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJS, STL, VAN, VGK, WSH).

3. Personally, these three schedules pique my interest the most:

Dallas Stars: Mon (@FLA), Wed (@TBL), Fri (@TBL), Sun (@CHI)
Waiver Looks: Denis Gurianov, Jake Oettinger
SN Fantasy Pool: DAL Goalies 3, Joe Pavelski 2, Jason Robertson 1

Edmonton Oilers: Mon @VAN), Tues (@VAN), Thurs (VAN), Sat (VAN)
Waiver Looks: Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto
SN Fantasy Pool: Connor McDavid 4, Leon Draisaitl 4, EDM Goalies 3

Pittsburgh Penguins: Mon (@PHI), Tues (@PHI), Thurs (BUF), Sat (BUF)
Waiver Looks: Jared McCann, Jeff Carter
SN Fantasy Pool: PIT Goalies 3, Jake Guentzel 3, Kris Letang 2

4. That would leave the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets with three-game weeks. The Predators, specifically, still have a lot to play for, so maybe you look there for a waiver play.

5. Lastly, steer clear of depth adds from Calgary, Detroit and Florida — they only play twice. Tough news if you own the red-hot Sam Bennett, that’s for sure.

6. The loss of Nikolaj Ehlers has prompted the struggling Winnipeg Jets to jumble up their top-nine up front:

Andrew Copp – Mark Scheifele – Mason Appleton
Kyle Connor – Paul Stasnty - Blake Wheeler
Kristian Vesalainen – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Mathieu Perreault

Obviously, Stastny is your best in-house replacement candidate.

7. Externally, Mikael Granlund, Nick Foligno, Casey Mittelstadt and Kasperi Kapanen are also worth your attention.

8. Scoop up Cole Caufield. Playing predominantly with Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki, the Hobey Baker Award winner hasn’t looked out of place so far. Caufield is fresh off scoring the OT winner for the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night — his first NHL goal and point.

Don’t be shocked if this kid gets hot in a hurry, he’s super talented.

9. Trevor Zegras is back with the Anaheim Ducks, this time strictly as a centre. That said, my level of interest in the rookie remains lukewarm at best. The Ducks are offensively challenged, to say the least.

10. Quinton Byfield is up with the Los Angeles Kings. Again, I wouldn’t be in a rush to add him either. Like their rivals, the Kings also can’t score. Byfield has been centering Adrian Kempe and Andreas Athanasiou on line two. He’s been seeing some power play time, too. I’ll be more intrigued next season.

11. Speaking of which, the time has come to drop Drew Doughty. He has two measly helpers over the past 11 contests.

12. Looking for help on the backend? Try Nick Leddy, Jared Spurgeon, Mattias Ekholm or Justin Schultz.

13. Roster Drake Batherson immediately. Since Feb. 15, the Ottawa Senators sniper has 16 goals and 26 points in 35 games. He’s been money in the bank.

14. Here’s two cheeky daily streamer options: the Arizona Coyotes' Michael Bunting and Tampa’s Alex Barre-Boulet.

Bunting has five goals in the past 12 games, he’s currently playing on the top line with Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller. Meantime, Barre-Boulet has tallied a couple points recently skating on the No. 1 line with Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point.

15. Robert Thomas and Sammy Blais are two internal grabs for injured St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko (LBI).

Outside of St. Louis, in addition to the aforementioned Batherson and Caufield, Craig Smith is stealth option. The veteran netted a hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon.

16. Entering next season, don’t sleep on Adam Boqvist. The 20-year-old Chicago Blackhawks defenceman is done for the year with a broken wrist. Quietly, he was hovering around a 40-point pace over an 82-game slate. Put him on your list of sleepers moving forward.

17. I’m completely out on the Philadelphia Flyers, and that includes Brian Elliott, who’s the de facto No. 1 the rest of the way now that Carter Hart is done for the season.

Jeremy Swayman, Jake Oettinger, Kaapo Kahkonen and Casey DeSmith are far better crease options worth a stream right now.

18. Kudos to Ryan Miller on a tremendous career. Buffalo Ryan Miller was a fantasy monster, never forget.

19. If he’s available, claim Teuvo Teravainen immediately. The dual-eligible winger has two goals and three points in three games since returning from a concussion. He’s playing on the Carolina Hurricanes' top line with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

20. Lastly, cut ties with Petr Mrazek. Once again, he’s day-to-day due to a lower-body ailment. At this point, I’d say Alex Nedeljkovic has earned the starting job. We’ll see how it shakes out.

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