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20 Fantasy Thoughts: Bo Horvat in tough to maintain value in Long Island

The All-Star game gives everyone a chance to exhale in the fantasy hockey season. 

Most leagues have about five or six weeks remaining until the fantasy playoffs, so it’s a great time to start assessing things like the impact of the trade deadline, playoff schedules, and what your team’s outlook is for the rest of the season. 

Is there a particular player that could benefit from a trade you may want to add? Or maybe someone might lose value if they move that you’ll want to monitor. The trade deadline coincides with the start of the fantasy playoffs, so even a small advantage at that point can end up making a big difference. 

There are also schedules to consider. Who plays the most in March? Weakest opponents? Most back-to-backs? Maybe there’s a player right now on waivers that you can bring aboard that might not have major value at the moment, but come the playoffs, they’ll be a coveted streaming option. 

A lot of this depends on where you’re at in the standings, too. If you’re near the top and have a postseason spot all but guaranteed, you can probably afford to think more long-term with your planning. However, if you’re just trying to stay alive in the playoff chase, you might have to make some tough short-term decisions to try to ensure that next week will even matter. 

If you want to gain an edge over your competition, you can’t leave any stone unturned. 

1.     Bo Horvat will play his first game for the New York Islanders on Monday and if I was rostering him, I wouldn’t really be looking forward to it. The Isles have scored two goals or less in 14 of their past 16 games and have the worst power play in the NHL. Say what you want about the struggles the Vancouver Canucks have gone through this season, but they did have a lot of high-end offensive talent for Bo Horvat to play with. It wasn’t a bad place for Horvat to be from a fantasy perspective. 

It remains to be seen where Horvat will slot in on Long Island, but I don’t see them breaking up the trio of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Kyle Palmieri, as they’re the only line clicking right now. The most likely scenario would see Mathew Barzal move to the wing and Horvat would centre him. Horvat should also get first power play duties. It’s a far cry from playing with Elias Pettersson, JT Miller and Quinn Hughes on the man advantage, but if you’ve got Horvat, you’ll have to just hope for the best. 

2.     Eeli Tolvanen is now up to eight goals since joining the Seattle Kraken and has scored in three straight games. He’s definitely shown flashes before only to not be able to maintain it, but in the short-term, Tolvanen might be worth a look. The Seattle Kraken are one of the few teams that play four times next week and they also have a busy Saturday off, meaning it will be easier to work Tolvanen into your lineup with games on Friday and Sunday. 

3.     I can’t shake the thought that the Pittsburgh Penguins could be in the market for a goalie. Tristan Jarry can’t seem to stay healthy and Casey DeSmith has not played well, so that’s certainly not ideal for a veteran team that’s in win-now mode. Seeing another season of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin get derailed by goaltending won’t fly. If they’re going to add one, I don’t think it’s going to be a huge splash, but instead maybe someone like Joonas Korpisalo or James Reimer for insurance and an upgrade on Casey DeSmith. Whoever it might be would probably see a boost in value after arriving in Pittsburgh. 

4.     One strategy you can employ around deadline time if you have the roster space, is grabbing a player or two sitting on waivers you think could benefit from a move. So, if we look at the aforementioned Korpisalo or Reimer that are stuck on bad teams this year, picking one up just before March 3 in case they wind up in Pittsburgh or Los Angeles for example, could be a shrewd move. If they don’t move you can simply drop them back on waivers. Nothing ventured nothing gained. 

5.     Some have voiced their concerns that Brent Burns is losing a bit of value after being relegated to the second power play unit. The Carolina Hurricanes defenceman, though, has really picked it up lately, recording points in seven straight games. I don’t think it will be long before Burns retakes his role on power play one from Brady Skjei. No need to panic where Burns is concerned. 

6.     Another defenceman suddenly filling the scoresheet is Drew Doughty, with 11 points in his past 10 games. Doughty hasn’t hit 50 points in a season since 2017-18 and he’s on pace to exceed that this season with an outside shot at 60. It was starting to seem like Doughty was wading into the territory of just being useful for hits, blocks and shots, so this offensive resurgence is certainly welcome. 

7.     Ridly Greig has caught my eye in Ottawa. Greig landed in the middle of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat during a four-game call-up before the break and posted a pair of assists. He also had a game with a whopping eight shots. I bring him up because there are going to be a number of players like Greig in the final couple of months getting called up for an opportunity on teams that have fallen out of the race. They’ll likely have some value in short spurts, so try and take advantage of it when you can. 

8.     Word is that Cam Talbot may not be ready to return from injury right after the All-Star break. You might remember Anton Forsberg had a good start to the year when he was playing regularly when Talbot was injured. Forsberg has a .939 save percentage and is 3-0-0 since Talbot went down recently. If you need help between the pipes and your league has a thin waiver wire, Forsberg could be a decent short-term gamble. 

9.     This break couldn’t have come at a worse time for those rostering Erik Gustafsson. After recording only a single assist in six games, Gustafsson broke out for two points and five shots in the Washington Capitals’ last game. Many were close to giving up on Gustafsson, but his upside is still really high on that top power play with John Carlson still sidelined. Hopefully Gustafsson can pick up where he left off before the pause.

10.  It sounds like Anthony Duclair could be returning to the Florida Panthers pretty soon. He’s only 18 per cent rostered and was a 30-goal scorer last season. The question is, where does he slot into the Panthers’ lineup? Florida has finally found a top six that’s working, so injecting Duclair into the group could throw things off. If I had to guess, Anton Lundell seems like the one who could slide down the lineup to the third line and play centre. That would be bad news if you were enjoying this recent point outburst from Lundell, but ideal if you are banking on Duclair to help provide your squad some offence. 

11.  I didn’t realize how much the Vancouver Canucks have been leaning on Luke Schenn. The blueliner is averaging over 17 minutes per game for the second straight season, after skating well under 13 minutes a night in the previous three campaigns. This concerns me if you’ve been counting on Schenn for his massive hit totals, as a deadline move to a stronger team could see him move down to play on the bottom pair and get considerably less ice time. Schenn currently leads the league in hits and is on pace for almost 400 this season, but those numbers will likely fall a bit if he’s moved to a team for a lesser role. 

12.  I’m amazed David Perron is still 46 per cent rostered. The Detroit Red Wings forward has been held pointless in 13 of his past 15 games and has had one shot or less in seven of those. It’s an incredible turn of events, after Perron scored 27 points in his first 33 games this year. Perron’s offensive numbers have been very good over the past five seasons, so maybe there’s some hope that he can get things back on track. You can only be so patient, though. 

13.  Hopefully Tage Thompson isn’t out long term after suffering an upper-body injury just prior to the break. As always with injuries to high-end talent, you have to ask how will it impact that player’s linemates. Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner are having huge years, on pace for 90 and 87 points respectively. Neither player will likely be able to keep that pace going with Thompson out. 

14.  We’ve officially reached the point of the season where it’s time to keep fantasy playoff schedules in the back of your mind. At a quick glance, I’m not loving Toronto, Columbus, Florida and Detroit’s schedules. The Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets play just twice each in the second week of March and the same goes for the Panthers and Red Wings in the third week of the month. 

Obviously, you aren’t going to go ahead and drop Auston Matthews or Matthew Tkachuk, but if you’re making any waiver wire adds or trades to fill out your roster, try to target players from teams that are going to play more when it matters most. 

15. On the other hand, the Colorado Avalanche might have the best playoff schedule this season. The Avs play four times in back-to-back weeks in the middle of March and face opponents like Montreal, Ottawa, Chicago, Arizona twice and Anaheim throughout the month. That’s very friendly. Colorado also has three back-to-backs in March, meaning Pavel Francouz should be very busy. Francouz could be an important pickup now that might pay dividends down the line. 

16.  If you’re concerned about a schedule in the more immediate future, I really like Anaheim’s next week, with four games, including outings on Friday and Sunday. That makes it easy to work someone like Cam Fowler into your lineup as a streamer. Fowler has three multi-point outings in his past five games. He’s done an excellent job fending off John Klingberg for time on the first power play unit. 

17.  I’m sure you caught Tim Stutzle’s four-point game earlier this week and as impressive as that was, it’s the Ottawa Senators forward’s versatility that makes him truly valuable on fantasy rosters. Stutzle reminds me a lot of Joel Eriksson Ek, as both can fill up a ton of categories for you, like shots, hits, faceoff wins, penalty minutes and blocks. The difference with Stutzle is his offensive game is much better than Eriksson Ek’s. The Minnesota Wild forward’s ceiling is probably around 60 points, whereas Stutzle should be a point-per-game player. I’d do everything I could to hold onto Stutzle if I was in a keeper league. 

18.  The fantasy trade market for Jack Eichel is going to be very interesting. Given how important Mark Stone is to Eichel, I think you could start entertaining offers for Eichel, as Stone’s injury really reduces his value. That said, there’s a good chance the Vegas Golden Knights try to add someone significant if Stone stays on LTIR, so Eichel could also be a buy-low candidate. If you’re rostering Eichel I’d at least see what offers are out there and at the same time, if you need some help at centre, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to see if you can get him on the cheap. 

19.  Don’t forget about injured players that have been out for a while and might have been forgotten about on waiver wires. Jake DeBrusk falls into that category and it sounds like he’ll be ready to return after the All-Star break. DeBrusk was on pace for nearly 70 points before going down and he’ll likely bump Pavel Zacha out of the Boston Bruins’ top six upon his return. 

20.  It’s getting down to crunch time if you’ve been holding onto Patrick Kane. He’s either going to get traded to a contender and likely be a huge contributor in the fantasy playoffs, or stick with the Chicago Blackhawks and probably have minimal value. Kane’s decision is going to tip the scales in more than a few fantasy leagues I would think.


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