Week 6 NHL Fantasy Preview

Week 5 was once again a wacky week for Fantasy Hockey. In the past week we saw much of the southern United States be affected by extremely atypical weather which caused power outages in many areas. Texas, and the Dallas Stars had the most impact as the Stars had each of their games postponed.

Generally speaking, Fantasy Hockey managers already have a grasp of the direction their team is heading and where their respective teams rank compared to league mates. It’s too early in most league formats for a GM to be feeling completely out of contention, but know that those moments will become more frequent as the next weeks pass. If you’re on the outside of the playoff picture looking in its time to get active in assessing your rosters weak points and positions. Most GM’s right now can find improvements via Free Agency simply by cutting loose a player who’s busted already. Chances are someone better at the same position exists in Free Agency, so get active!

COVID-19 News + Notes

From Monday – Sunday a total of 5 NHL games were postponed. 4 due to power outages in the Dallas area and 1 in relation to COVID protocols which was Monday evening between New Jersey and Boston. This is a big decrease from the week prior and we are now 6 days in the clear from schedule complications pertaining to COVID.

From a player perspective the NHL has also seen a significant decrease in the amount of players involved in the NHL COVID protocols. On Friday Feb 12th 59 players were involved in the league protocol while fast forwarding to Wednesday Feb 17th that number had decreased to 18.

Games per day

For week 6 and beyond, the NHL schedule per team will see some balance emerge as postponed games get slotted in throughout the week wherever possible. This week opens with an average of 7 GP per night through the first 3 days before 2 busy nights on Thursday and Saturday combine to see 25 of the remaining 36 games scheduled between them. Fantasy Managers will have to ensure that they account for lineup decisions on these nights in specific.

  • Monday – 8
  • Tuesday – 6
  • Wednesday – 7
  • Thursday – 11
  • Friday – 5
  • Saturday – 14
  • Sunday – 6
Teams playing 4+ games this week
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Buffalo Sabres (5)
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Calgary Flames
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • LA Kings
  • Minnesota Wild
  • NJ Devils
  • Nashville Predators
  • NY Islanders
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Washington Capitals
Teams playing 2 games this week
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Winnipeg Jets
Players to Add in the week

In week 5 I recommended that Fantasy GM’s look to add Tyler Johnson (C,RW) TBL and Joe Thornton (C) TOR. If you took that advice you would have seen a nice return as the two players combined for 3G, 5A and a +4 rating. Thornton looks like someone you can roster for another few weeks while Johnson is going to be someone you want to consider dropping should he fail to produce much offense in his 4GP this week.

OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 18: Buffalo Sabres Right Wing Sam Reinhart (23) stretches during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators on February 18, 2020, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sam Reinhart (C, RW) BUF – 43% Owned

The first reason for recommending Reinhart to you this week is that Buffalo is the first team to be scheduled for 5GP in a single fantasy hockey week on the season. Even with moderate performances Reinhart is someone who could out produce the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers or Brock Boesser on the week given that the Jets and Canucks only play twice. In his past 4GP Reinhart has 2G, 2A and 11 SOG. He hasn’t helped Fantasy Managers in the +/- department but his schedule this week features 2 GP against NJ who came in to the season ranking amongst the lowest in GF/GA projections. Reinhart plays L1 beside Jack Eichel and stays with Eichel on the BUF PP1 where Reinhart found the back of the net for his 2nd goal of the game against the Devils in his most recent game.

Brandon Saad (LW,RW) COL19% Owned

Towards the end of January Saad scored 4G in 4GP against San Jose and Minnesota. During that stretch you likely took a peek at him and considered him as a FA pickup or even pulled the trigger. He’s currently playing L2 with Kadri and Donskoi and Centers the PP2 unit for Colorado. Saad is regarded as a goal scorer and has 20G in a season 5x during his career including 21G and 23G respectively in his past two seasons the the Blackhawks. On the season Saad has a 30.0% shooting percentage, we can understand this to be unsustainable but give him the credit for making the most of his opportunities scoring 6G on only 20SOG.

Source: https://www.nhl.com/hurricanes/news/inside-the-hurricanes-nino-niederreiter-trade/c-304102864

Nino Niederreiter (LW,RW) CAR43% Owned

I had a hard time choosing between my recommendations for Niederreiter and Martin Necas of the Carolina Hurricanes this week. Both have been very good in recent games playing on the red hot L2 for Carolina. Niederreiter comes recommended slightly higher given that hes coming into action against TB on monday having scored 2G and 2A in his past two games while tallying 9SOG. His ice time saw a bump up to 17:29 in his last GP vs TB where he was an effective part of the teams 4-0 victory. Neiderreiter has nearly matched his 2019-20 goal total of 11 through only 16 games so far this year.

Players to Drop this week

Tanner Pearson (LW) VAN21% Owned

Tanner Pearson was a trending pickup in week 5 as he had 4GP for the Vancouver Canucks playing with Bo Horvat and Nils Hoglander on L1 and PP2. While having 5G, 4A and contributing a healthy SOG and HIT total is a purposeful stat line its hard to think that with just 2GP on the Pearson will contribute much for Fantasy Managers. Id recommend pivoting off of him to one of the Wingers mentioned above.

Paul Stastny (C) WPG – 20% Owned

For the past two weeks we’ve seen a dramatic cool down for Paul Stastny who was trending along with line mates Nikolaj Ehlers and Andrew Copp after a few healthy performances vs Edmonton at the end of January. Since those 2GP Stastny has tallied only 3Pts in 10GP and hasn’t been able to contribute in SOG, Hits or Blocked shots with any regularity. From a lineup perspective Stastny appears to be a difficult player to drop, he plays on the teams PP1 unit which is capable of turning in a goal seemingly every night even after the departure of Patrik Laine. Players like this will become a boat anchor for your team if you ride out the week ahead. I recommend swapping him out for Sam Reinhart and enjoying a 3GP advantage between the two players.

Lopsided Matchups

Last week we began talking about matchups which we would look to key in on. Toronto drew Ottawa 3x in one week and the top guns for the Leafs made it count across a multitude of stat categories for Fantasy Managers. You didn’t need to have Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner to realize the advantage adding Maple Leaf players and we are going to continue that in this week’s matchups.

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs(14-3-2) – Why change it up when a we’ve got a good thing going? The Leafs only play 3x on the week but they draw Calgary twice and Edmonton once. Calgary is coming off back to back losses to Edmonton who looked dominant in their most recent game beating the Flames 7-1 on the strength of a Connor McDavid hat trick. Calgary is currently without Sean Monahan who is DTD and is pushing Backlund up in the lineup to compensate. Matthews and the Leafs should be able to keep their momentum rolling when the Flames come to town.
  2. New Jersey Devils(6-5-2) – I’m going to recommend the Devils to you this week to get things kicked off. They play Buffalo twice to start their week off with at home. In the first of those two games the Sabres will have played the night before in NY on top of struggling to find their ability to score goals. The Devils best player on the year has been (G) Mackenzie Blackwood and they’ve recently seen a burst from Kyle Palmieri who has scored 5Pts in 3GP following the return to play for the Devils. If you’re shy about the matchup with Washington for two games to close out the week then consider planning some early week NJ Devils adds which you aim to drop after Thursday’s game in favor of a better head to head matchup such as Chicago players against Detroit.
Fantasy Tip of the week

Again this week we’re looking to take topics which we’ve discussed last week and build upon them. During week 5 we looked at maximizing the games played in our roster spots which have fringe players. These are guys who are often being added and dropped to address positions and categories of need.

This week that idea will go one step further and look in to the following week(s) ahead when making transactions in two specific ways:

  1. Adds to setup for the following week: Consider adding players with a high total of games played in the following week or players who have a 2-3 games compressed into the early portion of their week ahead. By doing this constantly you prevent yourself from starting the weeks to come with a deficit in GP vs your opponent or league.
  2. Dropping players at the right time: You don’t want to wait until your staring at 2GP in the next 7 days before dropping a player from your roster. Look to do this 1 game ahead of your opponents by going after a player whos just beginning to trend in a positive direction or a player who has a large number of games the week ahead.

For Example:

  • Last week adding a Jets player like Paul Stastny, Josh Morrisey or Adam Lowry to your roster was a bright move as the Jets had 4GP.
  • This week they play only twice and the first of their 2 games this week doesn’t happen until Thursday.
  • Rather than waiting until Sunday night or Monday morning to use an add/drop I recommend trying to scout some players with a packed schedule the following week.
  • My recommendation would be to drop that Jets player after thee game played Friday night and adding a player like Sam Reinhart ahead of his game Saturday where he would be playing a stretch of 6 games in 9 days, a net difference of +3 GP.

I appreciate those of you who have been following along week to week with my weekly NHL Fantasy Previews. Your suggestions and feedback go a long way towards shaping an article of this nature towards being helpful in a variety of ways. Feel free to reach out, comment and share with anyone you play Fantasy Hockey with. I’m always up for some hockey talk. May your season continue to trend up!

-Dave Carey

Follow me on Twitter @87_Carey and @fantasymarksmen

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