The Vancouver Canucks are dealing with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the NHL this season, and the news continues to get worse. More than 20 members of the organization have tested positive, with the numbers still climbing.
It goes without saying that hockey – and especially fantasy – comes secondary to this awful situation.
However, we should be prepared for this to last well beyond the end of the fantasy regular season and into the playoffs. As long as it’s not a keeper league, all Canucks can be dropped.
The NHL trade deadline is one week away. Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Mikael Granlund and Rickard Rakell are all high on TSN’s Trade Bait board and could find themselves in much better offensive situations come next Monday.
Remember, they’ll have to face a seven-day quarantine if they’re traded north of the border, and if you’re a fringe team fighting for a playoff spot, they might not be worth the wait.
Speaking of playoffs, in most leagues they could begin as early as next week, with some leagues starting the week after in Week 14.
Now more than ever, we should be analyzing the schedules for not only the week we’re in, but the weeks to come.
If you are sitting in a playoff spot and want to get a head start on next week’s potential playoff matchup, look no further than the Jets or Capitals.
The Jets will kick off the fantasy playoffs with two games against the Senators on the Monday and Wednesday, before facing the Leafs and Oilers to close out the four-game week The Capitals face the porous Flyers defence twice, and the Sabres once in a four-game week as well.
For everyone else fighting just to get in, let’s look at the upcoming schedule in what will be the final week of the regular season for most.
Week 12 Notes:
The Bruins and Flyers will play five games apiece in Week 12, giving us two streaming targets off the hop.
Sixteen other teams will play four games so we’ll have to dissect the best opponents, while the remaining teams will play three games or less.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Flames will be limited to just one game. They play the Leafs on Monday, with their remaining two games against the Canucks unlikely to happen.
As mentioned, the Canucks extremely unfortunate situation will likely continue well past this week, expect zero games from them for the foreseeable future.
The Bruins are the best target this week with three games against the Flyers, and two against the Capitals.
The Flyers are by far the worst team defensively since March 1, giving up 4.28 goals per game. To put that in perspective, the Sabres are second worst over that span giving up 3.89 goals per game, almost half a goal less per game.
Nick Ritchie had a hot start to the year but was eventually taken off the top power-play unit, which limited his production. He’s now back in that role and that’s led to more ice time. He has five points over his past five games with 3.4 shots per game over that span. He’s available in close to 75 per cent of leagues.
Craig Smith has played on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand the last two games. It likely won’t last, but he’s still worth a look while Bruce Cassidy juggles his lines. Smith has five points over his past seven games and is available in 97 per cent of leagues.
The Flyers are the only other team with five games this week, and for that reason alone they become a streaming target.
Unfortunately, they’ll face the tough Bruins defence three times, with the other two games coming against the Islanders and Sabres.
Scott Laughton is rostered in just 13 per cent of leagues. He’s 24th in the league in hits this season, while chipping in a respectable 17 points in 33 games.
The Pens will play four games this week: two against the Rangers and two against the Devils.
Jason Zucker is back after missing more than a month with a lower-body injury. He’s on the second line and second power-play unit and has a goal and 9 hits in 3 games since his return. He’s available in 70 per cent of leagues.
C David Krejci, Boston Bruins (25 per cent rostered, up 5 per cent)
Krejci has 10 points in his past seven games, all while averaging more than 19 minutes a game over that span, close to two minutes more than his season average. Krejci only has two goals on the year to go along with his 21 assists in 30 games. We should expect his goal rate to increase though. He’s shooting at just 4.5 per cent this season compared to his 12.3 per cent career average. He’s getting unlucky, yet still producing due to all the assists he’s piling up. Playing alongside David Pastrnak the past two games has only helped. If Cassidy sticks with these lines, Krejci will be a must own, especially with a five-game Week 12.
C Jared McCann, Pittsburgh Penguins (16 per cent rostered, up 12 per cent)
Jared McCann makes this list for one reason: he’s on the Pens top power-play unit with Evgeni Malkin on the shelf. McCann has made the most of the opportunity with four power-play points over his past five games. He’s actually close to a point-per-game player over his last 12 games with 11 points. The Pens power play was on fire in March, clicking at a 28 per cent rate, which has continued into April. The other four guys on that unit are fantasy studs: Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, and Bryan Rust (the least rostered at 96 per cent). McCann should be owned in a lot more than just 16 per cent of leagues.
W Jacob Vrana, Washington Capitals (68 per cent rostered, down 4 per cent)
Vrana had a bit of a breakout year last season with 52 points in 69 games, and he’s followed that up with a modest 23 points in 35 games this season. The problem is, he’s been a healthy scratch the past two games. Peter Laviolette said he’s looking for a “higher level of play” from the Czech forward. He wasn’t getting much ice time before he was sent to the press box either, just 12 minutes per game in his past five. His roster percentage is decreasing but it still seems too high. There are much better options on the wire.