Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Be mindful of upcoming NHL schedule

Here's what you need to know from this week in the NHL, where 44-year old Zdeno Chara goes toe-to-toe with Zack MacEwen, the Oilers don't put up much of a fight in a 6-0 loss to the Panthers, and Keefe calls the Leafs' effort "soft and purposeless."

Memo to Andrei Vasilevskiy owners: There’s trouble ahead.

On Wednesday, the NHL released an updated schedule for the balance of the regular season, one that will now feature 95 total games between Feb. 7-22.

As expected, it will be a period filled with lots and lots of Canadian content. On the other side of the spectrum, there are several teams – namely Los Angeles and Tampa – that will not be very active during that stretch.

Here’s a breakdown:

3 Games: LAK, TBL

4 Games: DET, FLA, NYR, SJS

5 Games: ANA, ARI, NJD, NSH, VGK, WSH

6 Games: BUF, CHI, COL, DAL, PHI, PIT, STL, VAN

7 Games: BOS, CGY, CBJ, MIN, MTL, NYI, SEA

8 Games: CAR, EDM, TOR, WPG

10 Games: OTT

Rest assured, schedule manipulation could prove to be a useful tactic as the year progresses, especially given how unpredictable things have been once again this season in fantasy hockey.

Be mindful of the upcoming schedule. Some food for thought next time you put together another roster for the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool.

Now to your questions:

I’ll go with Phil Kessel.

All things considered, the 34-year-old has put together a nice little season for the cellar-dwelling Arizona Coyotes (38 GP: 5 G, 22 A, 27 P). He’s already fantasy relevant on a bad team, imagine him in a cushy role on a contender, even if it’s a bit lower down in the lineup.

Additionally, did you know that the line of Lawson Crouse, Johan Larsson and Phil Kessel have combined for 29 points in the past nine games? Not bad, right? All three could be on the move by the trade deadline.

By the way, Kessel’s still widely available in standard leagues; he’s just 14 per cent owned.

Personally, I’d hang onto Oettinger. I know the Stars have struggled lately, but it’s important to have long-term perspective in mind. The last thing you want to do is make reactionary decisions. Those will plague you.

As for your second question, I think all three guys are pretty interchangeable in terms of what you’re searching for. It would be Johnson for me.

At the very least, I would get an understanding of what his trade market might look like.

The Ducks have managed to score just 16 times in the past 10 contests. Now is that regression, or is that just merely because they’ve been severely undermanned lately? To be fair, it’s probably somewhere in between. For context, Anaheim’s 2-8-1 in the past 11 games. It’s been a struggle.

Furthermore, I’m not saying Terry will fall off a cliff in the second half, but I think it’s fair to expect a bit of a dip in production. He’s been a tremendous story.

Be smart.

Fun question.

I guess it depends on what you’re looking to gain from the trade ultimately. Even with that, I’d be inclined to probably just stick with Matthews. The dude’s a goal scoring machine and is currently tracking positively towards a second consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy. And most importantly, he’s still just 24. Guentzel’s 24, Crosby’s 34.

Give me youth, stick with Matthews, although it’s a pretty fair deal all-in-all.

Like you, I’m banking on some positive regression for Hyman in the second half. We all know Edmonton needs it, that’s for sure.

The 29-year-old entered Covid protocol on Thursday, so I’d wait until he’s good to return to the Oilers lineup before picking him up. Simply put, I’m willing to overlook Hyman’s recent struggles because of who he routinely plays with.

The McDavid effect, you love to see it.

At the very least, it’s fair to say that Hartman’s in keeper contention. Having said that, there’s still plenty of season ahead. It’s too early to make any concrete proclamations.

Midway through this regular-season, I’m still having a difficult time trying to quantify what Hartman truly is. This offensive eruption literally came out of nowhere.

For now, I would tread carefully. Don’t forget, a lot can change over time. No need to jump to conclusions just yet.

Assuming Darcy Kuemper can stay healthy, I’d probably cut Francouz.

Bottom line, the Avs paid a pretty penny to get Kuemper and they’ll continue to give him every opportunity to be their number-one.

No, don’t do that. Demko is trending towards being a top-10 fantasy goalie by season’s end whereas Francouz is strictly a backup.

Keep Demko! Don’t overthink things.

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