Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Filip Hronek (17) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Fantasy Hockey

Unnumbered Fantasy Thoughts: Prepping for the fantasy playoffs

It seemed to have all happened in the blink of an eye. The Fantasy Hockey regular season is over. For leagues that run a two-week playoff setup (and conclude before the final days of the NHL campaign), then you’re currently battling through the final regular season match-up of the year.

That means it’s do-or-die time starting on Monday.

No longer can we simply rely on getting points when needed. Now we have to take every matter into our own hands. That means doing some homework. Or in this case, reading my completed assignments.

The Schedule

First things first. We need to maximize the amount of games we can get out of lineups each week. As such, understanding who plays who and how many times is the first step.

Round One: March 3rd - March 17th

Teams we like: Columbus, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis are the only clubs with eight games on tap. The Blues have five home games giving them the top path ahead. As for the clubs skating seven times, the Coyotes, Bruins, Rangers, and Blackhawks all have some things going their way - either home stands or easier opponents. That said, I’m not trusting much from Chicago.

Teams to avoid: Tampa Bay plays just four times while also facing some of the most difficult opponents. Vancouver skates five times and has a nasty set of matches too. I’d probably steer clear of Washington as well with just two home games out of six and a tough schedule of opponents.

Options to consider: Targeting secondary assets from the promising teams would be cheaper on the trade market than big-name hunting but could provide you the edge you need in the first round. Think: Torey Krug, Rickard Rakelll, Matias Maccelli, Charlie Coyle. Maybe even Zach Werenski if your budget is a bit higher.

Semifinal Matchup: March 18th - March 31st

Teams we like: This matchup isn’t as clear with 11 clubs skating seven times, and just Minnesota playing fewer than six. That said, Seattle has five home games out of seven and has a handful against non-playoff teams. Vancouver has a six-game homestand with just two playoff-positions teams coming into town. Edmonton could be an option for this match as well.

Teams to avoid: Minnesota with the light schedule is a gimme. But I’d also stay away from Tampa Bay who has a tough road trip ahead of them before welcoming Boston into their home rink upon return.

Options to consider: After what will be nearly 20 games with his new club, is this when Elias Lindholm starts to heat up? Filip Hronek is running off a career season but shouldn't cost as much as bonafide 60-point defenders. What about Jared McCann? He’s been red hot of late, can it continue or does he have another heater waiting for him? Mattias Ekholm is a nice option in deep leagues. He plays a ton, chips in some peripherals, and even a point or two.

Championship Matchup: April 1st - April 14th

Teams we like: There are plenty of teams to choose from in the finals as 21 teams have seven games and another 10 play six. Only Boston plays fewer. As scary as it would be to actually do, the San Jose Sharks might have the friendliest schedule this period. They play six of seven at home and face just one team currently in a playoff spot. LA, Calgary, and St. Louis all offer some positives to look for. Seattle has just two home games out of seven but faces a very easy set of opponents.

Teams to avoid: Other than Boston, watch out for Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Arizona who all have some chewy matches coming this period. Edmonton has two back-to-backs and some challenging opponents waiting for them as well.

Options to consider: Can William Eklund wrap up his unofficial rookie season on a high note? Mikael Granlund perhaps? Anze Kopitar or Trevor Moore represent good bets out of LA and won't carry astronomical tags. What about Pavel Buchnevich? However, the risk of him being moved ahead of the deadline throws risk into the equation. But Jonathan Huberdeau is a real option. His owner has surely lost all patience and would be happy to sell. Hubey also has quietly produced 20 points in his last 20 games.



There is certainly a group of haves and have-nots when looking for teams to load up on for a long playoff run. If you’re a team that just snuck into the postseason, you’ll have to target a more front-loaded approach and hope it works after that first matchup. If you’re a stronger team and aren’t afraid to swing big, then looking at the entire six-week period and targeting players from St Louis, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Edmonton, and Los Angeles could really work well. Those teams will have loads to play for and hold a handful more games on the schedule than Vancouver or Boston who also have their playoff spot locked up.

Do you trade a guy like Brock Boeser for Zach Hyman or Andrei Svechnikov? Can you pry Sidney Crosby out of his owner's hands? Sort through your league rosters and try to find the best fit for you. 

Homework completed. 

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This article is about:
Fantasy Hockey NHL Sebastian Aho Brock Boeser Pavel Buchnevich Charlie Coyle Mattias Ekholm William Eklund Mikael Granlund Jonathan Huberdeau Zach Hyman Anze Kopitar Torey Krug Matias Maccelli Jared McCann Trevor Moore Elias Pettersson Rickard Rakell Zach Werenski
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