Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 21

The Edmonton Oilers are long out of the playoff race, but that doesn't mean Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can't help you in the fantasy hockey playoffs.

Here we are. There are only three weeks left in the NHL regular season and almost all fantasy hockey leagues are in their playoffs. Now is no longer time to think “what will this guy do the rest of the season?” We are now in “what will this guy do for me now?” territory. It has been a great run for Changing on the Fly, so with only three weeks left until the end let’s get straight to some closing strategy.

If you aren’t using up all your allotted roster moves this week, you are probably hurting your chances in day-to-day leagues. Now is the time to make as many transactions as possible and have as many man-games in your lineup as possible. A bunched player is a useless player.

Add Brad Richards, C/LW – Chicago Blackhawks (43% owned)

Brad Richards has had an underwhelming season and is a shadow of his former self. His 11 goals this year are a career low and long gone are the days of 11-straight seasons of at least a 0.75 points per game rate. Richards doesn’t hit or accumulate penalty minutes, both assets in fantasy leagues, and there are many arguments going against him.

There are however, two things that play into Richards’ favor for this week’s fantasy schedule. The Chicago Blackhawks play four games this week: at Carolina, Monday; at Philadelphia, Wednesday; versus Columbus, Friday; and at Winnipeg, Sunday. All the games are on off days of the hockey schedule and Richards would likely be able to slide into lineups easily without using valuable transactions.

Richards is seeing some power play time on the Hawks’ top power play unit and is available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues. The schedule applies to all Blackhawks, but most are unattainable. If you have a limited number of roster moves this week and need to maximize your bang for your buck, Richards could help you out.

Drop Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW – Montreal Canadiens (48%)

This week, the Montreal Canadiens have the exact opposite schedule as the Blackhawks; they play the standard-three games, but all are on the NHL’s busy nights. The Habs visit Nashville on Tuesday and Winnipeg on Thursday and home against the Florida Panthers Saturday night.

Alex Galchenyuk has 19 goals and 23 assists on the season,but has only scored once and added two assists in the month of March. Galchenyuk has been a serviceable piece for fantasy rosters this year, but this week it may come down to a numbers game, and if he is going to be on your bench, you want to find another option for your short term goals.

Add Cody McLeod, LW – Colorado Avalanche (6%)

The Colorado Avalanche are the only team in the league to play a mid-week back-to-back this week. They embark on the typical Calgary-Edmonton-Vancouver Western Canada road trip, playing Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Cody McLeod is available in 94% of Yahoo leagues. While his six goals and four assists are unappealing from an offensive standpoint, if he adds to his 174 penalty minutes by getting in a fight, or two, he could help swing a category in your quarter finals.

If your league counts hits, McLeod is an even more attractive sneaky play as he averages over three hits per game. A good strategy would be to have McLeod on your roster Monday through Thursday and then drop him Friday for someone who plays two games on the weekend. Be cautious though; there are 11 games on the schedule for Thursday, if you add McLeod and he ends up sitting on your bench, it is a wasted transaction.

Drop Jake Allen, G – St. Louis Blues (49%)

Saturday in Minnesota, Brian Elliott gave up four goals on 16 shots and gave way to Jake Allen. Allen came in for mop up duties and followed that with a great game Sunday in a hard-luck 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Normally that would be a good reason to hold onto Allen and wait and see how the situation develops. Now that we are in the fantasy playoffs there is no time for wait and see.

The Blues seem to be committed to Elliott as their starter and he will most likely get the nod for their only two games this week. For Allen and his owners that means a low probability of ice time a potential loss of a roster spot to a goaltender that just can't help you in a crucial moment in the season from the bench. Allen has been impressive this year with a 2.48 goals against average and .905 save percentage in 32 games, but it is time to cut him from your team and search out an active player.

Add Petr Mzrazek, G – Detroit Red Wings (12%)

If you envision being in a tight race in goalie categories this week, try to get Petr Mrazek on your roster as soon as it is convenient. 12 teams play back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. That means there is the possibility that a lot of fantasy hockey matchups will be decided by backup goalies on Sunday. The list of teams playing Saturday and Sunday back-to-backs and their respective backups are as follows.

PlayerTeamOwnershipSat/Sun OppGAASave %
John GibsonAnaheim51%@NYI/@NJ2.48.920
Cam WardCarolina37%NJ/BOS2.44.910
Anton KhudobinCarolina35%NJ/BOS2.64.903
Petr MrazekDetroit12%TB/@NYI2.50.914
Carter HuttonNashville7%@WAS/CGY2.48.907
Keith KinkaidNew Jersey2%@CAR/ANH2.42.919
Michal NeuvirthNY Islanders10%ANH/DET2.98.915
Thomas GreissPittsburgh5%ARI/SJ2.54.912
Alex StalockSan Jose8%@PHI/@PIT2.65.903
Justin PetersWashington1%NSH/@NYR3.38.879

This table excludes the Florida Panthers because Roberto Luongo will likely start both games this weekend, the Rangers because Cam Talbot is available in just 41% of leagues and because Henrik Lundqvist may or may not be back, and the Ottawa Senators because Andrew Hammond will most likely play for the whole week.

Some of these goalkeepers will probably play Saturday instead of Sunday, cutting down the potential last-minute stream options. Not knowing who will be in net Saturday or Sunday, Mrazek or John Gibson are probably the most appealing options, but since Gibson is taken in over half of Yahoo! leagues, acquiring Mrazek as your last minute goalie seems more likely. Keep a look at www.leftwinglock.com or www.dailyfaceoff.com. Both sites keep track of which goalies are starting in net for all teams. Stay up to date and be prepared Sunday.

Add Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C – Edmonton Oilers (67%)

There is no player in the league hotter right now than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He has registered 10 goals and 12 assists in 19 games since February 10th and has made up for his otherwise disappointing season.


The Oilers play Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- all light NHL days -- so regardless of your roster’s makeup, you should be able to fit Nugent-Hopkins into your plans if he is available.

Drop Brad Marchand, LW – Boston Bruins (70%)

Since having his four-game goal streak broken on March 10th, Brad Marchand had been held pointless in seven games until picking up and assist Sunday night. While the assist is a welcome sign of life, the Bruins are now off until Thursday and then play three games over the last four days of the week.

If Marchand is one of your fringe players, he is a good candidate to hit your waiver wire to maximize your games played in this crucial week of the season. If he or any other Bruins are available come Thursday, then it will be time to scoop them up.

Add David Krejci, C – Boston Bruins (57%)

Come Thursday, if Marchand isn’t available in your league, then maybe David Krejci is. The center has not yet returned to the Bruins lineup but is on the cusp of hitting the ice. When he does get back in the rotation for the Bruins, it looks like he will shift to the wing be on a line with Patrice Bergeron -- and Brad Marchand.

If I owned Marchand (I don't) and Krejci is available in my league (he isn't, he is on my roster in my injured reserve slot for the past two weeks), I am dropping Marchand for some early-week help, someone that plays two games Monday through Wednesday, and then adding Krejci to my roster Thursday morning.

Add Sean Monahan, C – Calgary Flames (56%)

Much like the Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames play all of their games this week on off days. They have matches at home against Colorado on Monday, Dallas on Wednesday, in Minnesota on Friday, and Nashville on Sunday. Therefore, Flames’ forwards such as Sean Monahan are ideal to get into your lineup if you only have a limited number of moves per week.

Monahan has 28 goals and 24 assists in 72 games and has been productive all year. But he is scorching hot right now. In 17 games since February 14th, Monahan has 12 goals and 8 assists for a 1.18 points per game rate. He should really be owned in more leagues than he is at this point, but if he is still available in yours, he should be grabbed for the stretch run.

Drop Nazem Kadri, C – Toronto Maple Leafs (39%)

Nazem Kadri has what you could call a bad month. First Kadri got suspended by Leafs' management for three games for showing up late for a meeting that added to other undisclosed early season transgressions. By the virtue of playing under the media microscope in Toronto, the situation blew up into a circus and Kadri has taken much criticism from the press and fanbase. He finally got back into the lineup for two games on a western road trip before being suspended by the league for an additional four games for an illegal check to the head of Edmonton’s Matt Fraser.

Things are pretty bleak in Leaf-land right now and with his suspension Kadri won’t be in their lineup until Saturday. The Leafs play four games next week, so if you have an affinity for Kadri, you can hold onto him if you are on a bye week, but I wouldn’t. Anyone playing in the fantasy playoffs this week should drop Kadri and find someone that will at least play some games.