Looking Ahead 2014: Week Four

by steve laidlaw on October 25, 2014 | (0 Comments)

TobiasEnstrom

 

Looking ahead at the best schedules in Week Four.

 

There are no guarantees in fantasy hockey, but a pair of tried and true strategies will always pay off in the long haul:

 

Bet on the best combination of talent and opportunity to achieve the desired level of production you are looking for from your roster. Talent means nothing without opportunity, and vice-versa.

 

Focus on the process by which you make roster decisions, as opposed to the results they yield. Long-term success is not attainable without the knowledge of why you were successful in the short term.

 

With that in mind, let’s take a look ahead at some teams and players to avoid in the coming week or so:

 

Love ‘Em (These squads are the best bet to produce for fantasy owners)

 

Vancouver

 

Long overlooked as one of the game’s consistent goal scorers, veteran winger Radim Vrbata is enjoying a tremendous start to the season. Playing alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin has been a significant boon to Vrbata’s fantasy value in his inaugural campaign with the Canucks. Vancouver’s top line combined for seven goals and 23 points through the team’s first five games. With struggling squads like Carolina (team save percentage of .889) and Edmonton (.855) on the schedule in the coming week or so, Vancouver’s top line should continue to pile up points for fantasy owners.

 

Chicago

 

It’s no secret the Blackhawks enjoy a tremendous amount of offensive talent. There are so many players who have the potential to contribute on any given night. The usual suspects (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith to name a few) are always must-starts, but Brad Richards, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Shaw also may be worthy of consideration this week. Chicago has a pair of matchups against Ottawa (home on Sunday, Oct. 26 and away on Thursday, Oct. 30), a squad with unspeakably bad defensive depth. They also take on a Toronto squad still trying to find consistency in net. Expect the Blackhawks to finish October on a high note.

 

Colorado

 

There’s a lot of skilled talent on Colorado’s top two lines. Nathan MacKinnon is developing into a fantasy monster. Gabriel Landeskog is a two-way forward blessed with maturity beyond his years. Ryan O’Reilly is an underrated and versatile top-line forward. Matt Duchene has put up a handful of impressive statistical seasons, and he’s still just 23 years of age. This is a team that’s better than what they’ve shown so far this season. It’s only going to get better from here. Upcoming matchups against Winnipeg and the New York Islanders should allow the Avs’ top offensive options to get on track. Expect big things from the aforementioned forwards, as well as elder statesman Jarome Iginla and promising young defenseman Tyson Barrie.

Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed for the immediate future)

 

Florida

 

There are a number of reasons to be wary of Panthers skaters over the next several days. First and foremost, they have very little high-end offensive talent. Aleksander Barkov is still trying to find his way and become a productive top-six player, as is Jonathan Huberdeau. They are surrounded by a bunch of veterans with limited upside and obvious flaws: Brad Boyes, Sean Bergenheim, Scottie Upshall and more. This team is nowhere close to boasting an explosive offense. Look elsewhere for help in the short term.

 

Ottawa

 

Between Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 1, the Senators play three games: a road matchup against elite netminder Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Bluejackets, a home matchup against the always-dangerous Chicago Blackhawks and a road game against reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins. That’s a tough slate of games, and it doesn’t bode well for the squad’s short-term fantasy prospects. Wins (and goals) will not come easy this week for the Senators.

 

Bet On ‘Em (These players are owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues or less and may be worth a look)

 

Anton Stralman, D, Tampa Bay – Stralman’s on-ice efforts have always translated better to real life than fantasy, but the 28-year-old Swede is worthy of consideration in deeper leagues. He’s seeing about than 22 minutes of ice time per game, and only one Tampa Bay defenseman is averaging more time on the power play on the young season – Victor Hedman. Expect Lightning head coach Jon Cooper to lean on Stralman as much as possible while Hedman works his way back from a broken finger, an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for another month or so. He’s not a dynamic player, but Stralman drives possession for his team and should be in line for his best statistical campaign since 2009-10 (when he scored 34 points in 78 games for Columbus).

 

Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto – His offensive ability and long-term potential have never been in doubt. All Rielly has needed to develop into one of the game’s most valued young defensemen is time and experience. Clearly his efforts have impressed Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, who is playing the 2013 first-rounder almost 20 minutes per game so far this season. In addition, Rielly is seeing almost as much power play time as established veteran teammates Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson. Few players with as much upside are as widely available in fantasy leagues as Rielly is right now. That needs to change.

 

Tobias Enstrom, D, Winnipeg – Remember when he was capable of posting 50-point seasons? It’s been a few years since Enstrom was a desirable fantasy option, but the longtime Thrasher-turned-Jet shouldn’t be written off just yet. After all, Enstrom is a fixture on the power play for Winnipeg. He’s not blessed with tremendous size or enviable skating ability. Enstrom is just a solid player who won’t fall out of favor. Simply stated, he’ll be there on the waiver wire if fantasy owners need him.

 

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg – Sometimes a speculative add is exactly that. There’s nothing to suggest the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft is on the verge of a massive breakout. (In fact, teammate Evander Kane is a much better bet to see a significant spike in production this year). However, Scheifele performed well a year ago in his first full campaign with the club. Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice is desperately trying to find the most effective line combinations, and Scheifele at least offers the potential to develop into a productive playmaking center. Fantasy owners should pay close attention to how he’s been used, but he could be an inexpensive source of assists and power-play points in deep leagues.

 

Mikael Backlund, C, Calgary – Probably Calgary’s most versatile forward, Backlund is capable of performing well in any situation. He potted 18 goals last year, which marked the first time he’s ever totaled double digits in that category. His 2014-15 started off badly with an abdominal strain in the preseason, but now the 25-year-old is healthy and seeing more than 18 minutes of ice time per game. Injuries are always a concern with Backlund, but he’s centering the Flames’ top line and known for his ability to drive puck possession for his team. There’s nothing flashy about Backlund, but he’s a solid depth addition for shallow and deep leagues alike.

 

Sunday, October 26 to Saturday, November 1, 2014

Best Bets

Vancouver 4.25 - three games - CAR, WAS and MTL

Columbus 4.06 - four games - LAK, OTT, TOR and NJ

Chicago 4.04 - four games - OTTx2, ANA and TOR

Colorado 3.95 - four games - WPG, SJ, NYI and STL

Winnipeg 3.94 - four games - COL, NYI, NJ and NYR

Steer Clear

Detroit 1.84 - two games - WAS and LAK

Nashville 2.09 - two games on the road

Carolina 2.20 - two games - VAN and ARI

Calgary 2.21 - two games - MTL and NSH

Florida 2.21 - two games - ARI and PHI

Monday, October 27 to Sunday, November 2, 2014

Best Bets

Montreal 4.34 - four games - EDM, VAN and CGYx2

Vancouver 4.31 - four games - CAR, MTL, EDM and NSH

Chicago 4.10 - four games - ANA, OTT, TOR and WPG

Arizona 3.99 - four games TB, FLA, CAR and WAS

Colorado 3.85 - four games - SJ, NYI, STL and ANA

Steer Clear

Florida 2.21 - two games - ARI and PHI

New York Rangers 2.21 - two games - MIN and WPG

Ottawa 2.65 - three games -  CBJ, CHI and BOS

Dallas 2.79 - three games - STL, ANA and MIN

St. Louis 2.89 - three games - DAL, ANA and  COL

Tuesday, October 28 to Monday, November 3, 2014

Best Bets

Vancouver 4.31 - four games - CAR, MTL, EDM and NSH

Chicago 4.10 - four games - ANA, OTT, TOR and WPG

Arizona 3.99 - four games TB, FLA, CAR and WAS

Colorado 3.85 - four games - SJ, NYI, STL and ANA

Buffalo 3.85 - four games, TOR, BOS, PIT and DET

Steer Clear

New York Rangers 2.05 - two games - WPG and STL

Florida 2.21 - two games - ARI and PHI

Edmonton 2.26 - two games - NSH and VAN

Ottawa 2.65 - three games -  CBJ, CHI and BOS

Dallas 2.79 - three games - STL, ANA and MIN

Wednesday, October 29 to Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Best Bets

Washington 4.36 - four games - three at home

Nashville 4.18 - four games - EDM, CGY, VAN and WPG

Chicago 4.15 - four games - OTT, TOR, WPG and MTL

Arizona 4.14 - FLA, CAR, WAS and TOR

Vancouver 4.11 - four games - MTL, EDM, NSH and COL

Steer Clear

San Jose 2.05 - two games - MIN and NYI

New York Islanders 1.81 - two games - COL and SJ

Tampa Bay 2.10 - two games - PHI and WAS

New York Rangers 2.05 - two games - WPG and STL

Anaheim 2.66 - three games - STL, DAL and COL

Thursday, October 30 to Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Best Bets

Montreal 4.29 - four games - VAN, CGY, CHI and BUF

Arizona 4.14 - FLA, CAR, WAS and TOR

Vancouver 4.11 - four games - MTL, EDM, NSH and COL

Chicago 4.15 - four games - OTT, TOR, WPG and MTL

Colorado 4.01 - four games - three at home

Steer Clear

San Jose 2.05 - two games - MIN and NYI

Tampa Bay 2.10 - two games - PHI and WAS

Edmonton 2.11 two games - VAN and PHI

New York Islanders 2.66 - three games - all on road

Dallas 2.79 - three games - ANA, MIN and LAK

Friday, October 31 to Thursday, November 6, 2014

Best Bets

Nashville 4.13 - four games - CGY, VAN, WPG and DAL

St. Louis 4.10 - four games - COL, NYR and NJx2

Colorado 4.01 - four games - three at home

Los Angeles 4.00 -four games - DET, CAR, DAL and NYI

Calgary 4.00 - four games - NSH, MTL, WAS and TB

Steer Clear

San Jose 2.36 - two games - NYI and VAN

Tampa Bay 2.26 - two games - WAS and CGY

New York Islanders 2.57 - three games - all on road

New Jersey - 2.70 - three games - CBJ and STLx2

Florida 2.86 - three games - PHI, BOS and PHI

Saturday, November 1 to Friday, November 7, 2014

Best Bets

Chicago 4.20 - four games - TOR, WPG, MTL and WAS

Detroit 4.20 - four games - BUF, OTT, NYR and NJ

Washington 4.12 - four games - TB, ARI, CGY and CHI

Buffalo 4.11 - four games - three at home

St. Louis 4.10 - four games - COL, NYR and NJx2

Steer Clear

San Jose 2.36 - two games - NYI and VAN

Tampa Bay 2.26 - two games - WAS and CGY

New York Islanders 2.57 - three games - all on road

Toronto 2.84 - three games - CHI, ARI and COL

Florida 2.86 - three games - PHI, BOS and PHI

 

Want to chat fantasy hockey, premium beer or mediocre hip-hop? Let’s follow one another on Twitter. Hit me up @MikeTSchmidt. 

 

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