While some players may be headed to Ottawa for the weekend and others to various beaches, we, as fantasy owners, must not take the foot off the pedal over the next week. This is a checklist of to-dos over the NHL hiatus:
- If you are participating in a keeper league or in a one-year league and looking for next year’s breakout player, take a look at the different North American junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL), college leagues (CCHA, WCHA, ECAC, AH) and semi-professional leagues (AHL). In addition, don’t be afraid to check out European league (SEL, KHL, SM-Liiga) statistics, despite the fact they may require some translating. Also, check to see if any games are locally televised or broadcasted on the radio in order to gain insight into some players you might not normally hear of.
2. Take a look at the remaining games for all teams’ schedules. Look at the home and away splits, how many games teams have remaining as well as games that line up when your playoffs begin. The Bruins (16H, 19A), Rangers (19H, 16A) and Sharks (16H, 19A) have 35 games left this season, whereas the Senators (17H, 13A) only have 30 games remaining. In week one of the playoffs (March 12-18), the Wild and Canucks only have two games and in the finals (March 26-April 1), the Coyotes only have two games.
3. Glance over the most recent line combinations for different teams. This allows you to see why a certain player might be struggling as of late or who might be destined for a surge.
4. Analyze your team from top to bottom in all league categories. Look for its strengths and weaknesses in all areas and make the necessary changes accordingly. A player’s name or reputation could make it seem like he has ten more points on the year than he actually has in reality.
5. Peruse through your league’s free agent list and check to see who is sitting on the injured-reserve or who is currently set as day-to-day. Huselius, Ennis, Glencross, Bouchard, Gilbert, Rinaldo and Pitkanen could all add another dimension to your team in many formats and they are all are most likely available on the free agent list. What is there to lose by having another player on your roster who is simply sitting in an IR spot? Also, stay up to date on the injury status of the NHL’s star players (Toews, Jagr, Byfuglien), as you could find a useful tidbit on a player returning from the medical room sooner rather than later.
6. Evaluate the performance of your players as well as available free agents over the last fourteen days to a month. This is a great indicator as to who has been hot and who could remain hot for the next while.
7. If in a keeper league, look at the players on your team’s contracts for the upcoming season. When it comes to goalies, some teams might have excelling back-ups who just might be ready for a starting job elsewhere. A player such as Josh Harding is splitting time for the Wild, but come offseason, he will be an unrestricted free agent who could sign for a team in dire need of a starting goaltender.
8. Take a look at the current standings in the NHL. What are teams’ specific needs in the offseason and how will their draft position affect them? Yakupov is going to end up somewhere and when he does, who will be his potential go-to centreman?
9. Look for additional fantasy information using different resources. Diving into a fantasy hockey forum could assist you in your decision to pull the trigger on a deal or to scoop up the next hottest free agent.
10. Carefully read the list of sleepers who are destined for an offensive breakout: http://thehockeywriters.com/20-players-to-watch-under-20-owned-shaw-desharnais-and-more/
Make sure to follow me on twitter @thelandshock for fantasy hockey updates and NHL analysis.