For the Week April 5-11
This is the last week of the regular season and the championship week in many fantasy leagues. It's crunch time: the decisions you make or don't make will lead you to the joy of victory or the agony of defeat. Stick with us; we'll help you get there.
Derick Brassard, C, NYR - Given the fact that New York plays four games this week, it's little wonder that one of our first recommendations is from Manhattan, but even without that beneficial schedule, we would suggest a good look at Brassard. He's had a fantastic year with the Blueshirts, setting career highs for assists (41) and points (58). He's also on a hot streak, with five points in the last four games, including three goals, two power-play points, four PIM and a plus-four in that stretch. With a 50-percent ownership rate, it's a coin toss as to whether he's available in your league. If he is, we would suggest dropping a Duck or Panther in favor of this Ranger; it could be the difference between winning the week and losing the season.
Patrik Berglund, C/W, STL - We hoped for a little more out of him this year, but he's been at a consistent pace the last four seasons. He's on track for 30 points -- about 13 goals and 17 assists -- with a minus-three and 30-odd PIM; more importantly for you and for him, he's on a hot streak, netting six points in four games, including four goals in that stretch, a plus-three, four PIM and a power-play point. Not too shabby. This isn't the time of year to nitpick about future potential; he's producing now, and given a number of options, his might be the best to back. Ride the hot hand and don't question it. At an ownership rate of 6 percent, even in deep leagues he's available, and given the lack of options in those leagues, we suggest a strong look.
Nick Bonino, C, VAN - We have opined on the Nick Bonino/Ryan Kesler trade, and every time we chuckle to ourselves how often we heard that Vancouver got robbed. As time would show, it seems that the return of Bonino, Luca Sbisa and a first (Jared McCann) was a fantastic trade for the Canucks -- and we haven't even seen McCann yet. Bonino has put up some serious numbers this year, and grabbing him now can help you win your pool. He has seven points in his last 10 games, and Vancouver has a number of must-win games coming up. The entire team will be pulling hard to close out the year strong to go into the playoffs on a high note. He's also only moderately owned; at 16 percent, most mid-depth pools still have him available to pick up. Give him a look.
Andrew Shaw, C, CHI - Few players in the league have been as hot as Shaw in the last two weeks. Since March 23, he has four goals and three assists for seven points, two PIM and two PPG in seven games. That's not too shabby for anybody, let alone a guy who has an ownership rate of 16 percent. Playing on a team like Chicago, he's unlikely to be a plus-minus detriment, and he has a fair bit of PPTOI, playing on the top unit. Surprisingly, Chicago's power play isn't as lethal as you would expect, so it's not as big a boost as you would think, but as we've said, opportunity is the best predictor of performance. At 14 percent, he's about as owned as Nick Bonino, so he's a good alternative if the former isn't available.
Alexandre Burrows, W, VAN - This time of year, you could be losing PIM but also not want to devote an add or position to a goon to try to catch up; that's where a player like Burrows can really help. He's played well lately, with six points in his last 10 games, but most interestingly, he's also contributed 17 PIMs in that stretch. Burrows has never been one to be afraid to dust things up when called for. Also, if you examine his split stats, he's put in some decent PIM against his upcoming opponents this week, meaning he's probably good for at least six PIM in the next seven days. Add to that the fact he's 6 percent owned and could also pitch in with a few points, and he's a darkhorse for the stretch drive. Consider him when looking for grit in the championship.
Rasmus Ristolainen, D, BUF - We never thought we'd be suggesting a Sabre, but the play of this young Finn has warranted a recommendation for the deep pools. At 5 percent owned, he's largely available -- and probably owned more in keeper leagues than seasonal ones due to his age. In his last 10 games, he has nine points, including four on the power play. He's also found some way to be a plus-three in that stretch; astonishing, considering Buffalo is a pretty bad AHL team on most nights. All things considered, he's probably the best defenseman available in your deep league, and if you're looking for some options, Buffalo plays Carolina on Monday; Buffalo is bad, yes, but Carolina isn't much better, so Ristolainen may have some luck for you then.
Jeff Petry, D, MON - We'll bet that Petry is having a much better time of things in La Belle Province than he did in Oil Country; in his last four games, he has three goals and an assist for four points with a plus-three rating and four PIM. Montreal only plays two games this week, so an add of Petry will have to be late in the week to benefit from their final game against the hapless Leafs, but he may very well be a productive pickup if the Habs look to finish strong. With a 4-percent ownership rate, he's a good backup plan to Ristolainen in those deep leagues where the former may already be taken. He may be an especially good add in those leagues where goals are a premium.
Alex Stalock, G, SJS - He missed the last game against Arizona with an illness, but we think he'll be back between the pipes this week for the Sharks, as they attempt to gauge his value for next season. Incumbent Antti Niemi is a UFA in the offseason, and with the Sharks likely to miss the playoffs, Stalock is getting a good long look. With a 1.58 GAA and a .930 SV% in his last three games, which includes two wins, he'll likely get another start this week, if he's up for it. He's only owned in about 14 percent of leagues, which means he might very well be the best option available for a start if you're in a pinch and in a deeper league. Keep an eye out for who starts, and if you see Stalock confirmed, jump on him early. He has something to prove -- something you can't say much about other available goalies at this time of year.
We'll be back next week for our playoff predictions as we leave our fantasy seasons behind and look forward to the joy of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We hope that we have been able to help you gain some additional insight for your fantasy league this year -- and hope that we've been able to win you some bragging rights.
Teams with a Beneficial Schedule
1. Columbus Blue Jackets - four games this week - New York Rangers, Toronto, Buffalo and New York Islanders
2. Los Angeles Kings - four games this week - Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose
3. New York Rangers - four games this week - Columbus, New Jersey, Ottawa and Washington
4. Winnipeg Jets - four games this week - Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado and Calgary
5. Minnesota Wild - four games this week - Winnipeg, Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis
Teams with a Detrimental Schedule
1. Anaheim Ducks - two games this week - Dallas and Arizona
2. Florida Panthers - two games this week - Boston and New Jersey
3. Montreal Canadiens - two games this week - Detroit and Toronto
4. Tampa Bay Lightning - two games this week - New Jersey and Boston
5. Washington Capitals - two games this week - Boston and New York Rangers