With the season coming to a close in the next couple weeks, I am going to switch things up just a tad. Due to a myriad of factors, chief among them being a reluctance to regurgitate the same facts and figures to the readers who have heard these things multiple times throughout the season, I will be covering the major changes that take place in the fantasy hockey landscape. I focus on important injuries/returnees, line changes, callups, and other tidbits that might impact your lineup construction process.
The normal caveats apply, so be careful to consider pricing on the DFS site you play on, as well as their scoring, and the options around that player’s price range. With that said, here are some players who have recently come onto the scene, and may (or may not, as sometimes may be the case) be fantasy relevant in the closing weeks of the season
Stats are gathered from War-On-Ice.com, Corsica.Hockey, and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Lines and Player Matchups are gathered from LeftWingLock.com and HockeyViz.com
Beau Bennett – As of this writing, Bennett is slotted into the Pittsburgh PP1 unit, having skated with them in the AM skate. This is a very cushy assignment for the winger who had success earlier in the year when called upon to play a larger role due to injuries. With no one on the Pens (besides Malkin, who’s been out for a while now) seeming to be injured, it is a peculiar move to make given how great the Pens have been recently. Morning skates can sometimes be a testing grounds, but I find them to be very predictive of how the game will look. As such, I am fairly confident Beau Bennett will have the PP time required to have tournament upside. His current role in the PIT bottom 6 leaves him as a fringe option for cash lineups, but it will only take one PP point to meet value as the Penguins take on the Sabres, who are on a road back-to-back and are still a porous team defensively.
Justin Schultz (PIT) – Schultz has been on our radar for a while now,serving as a PP1 point-man since his arrival in Pittsburgh, and is probably best served as a GPP play to add to a stack. But against the lowly Sabres, likely starting either a tired Chad Johnson (who isn’t good anyways) or a goalie in Jason Kasdorf or Nathan Lieuwen in their first start of the season, the PIT PP1 is in as good a spot as any unit on the slate, and getting pieces of it at super-low price points is a fantastic way to get the high-end stacks you want in the other games on the slate.
Matt Murray (PIT) – Okay, one more PIT player. They have been playing unbelievably well, with the most opponent-adjusted scoring chances for in their last 10 games, giving up the 2nd fewest. They are just smothering teams, as their 8-2-0 record and 2.00 GAA can attest to. Murray should be on the receiving end of a relatively easy win, so long as Jack Eichel and Samson Reinhart can be kept in check as they continue their fantastic rookie campaigns. Shooting volume shouldn’t be a major concern, as the shutout probability is one of the best on the slate, and the Sabres are in the top half of the league over the last 10 games in terms of shot generation.
Alex Steen (STL) – Let me first preface this with a bit about tonight’s slate from an industry standpoint. On FanDuel, quite the snafu took place last night, as they released the slate with Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp and John Klingberg at the minimum of $3k. If you want DAL exposure in a tough matchup with the Preds, who have been fantastic lately (while the Stars have been anything but), you need to play FanDuel. On other sites, I especially want to point out Steen as a fantastic tournament pivot for a couple of reasons. First, with the focus of the DFS community being on the Stars, some might think “the Stars are a good play on all the sites” and plug them in on DraftKings, Yahoo, Aces, etc… From the looks of things, Steen industry-wide is priced identically to Spezza at the C position. So while Spezza should have artificially high ownership due to the focus on FD’s mistake, Steen should scoot by under the radar due to the similar price point and that most sites still list him as “out.”
This, of course, is because Steen has missed the last 15 games due to an injury, but gets eased back into the lineup against an Avalanche team that has fallen out of the playoff picture with recent struggles finally matching up with their dismal season-long possession numbers. Centering David Backes and Patrik Berglund on the nominal 3rd line, it is safe to assume his ownership will be very low, given how many people absolutely avoid “red letters” at all costs. Don’t overlook him in a fantastic home matchup, as he makes for a great tournament option, especially if he can take over Backes’ spot on the dynamic STL PP1 unit.
Hopefully this brief rundown of some things to be aware of on Tuesday night’s slate helps you make your lineups. In conjunction with some of these tournament options, I highly recommend sticking to PIT1 (and Murray), STL1, S.J PP1, FLA1 (or 2), and DET2 in your cash games. If you have any questions, or want to talk hockey, or prospects, or anything at all, hit me up on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!