By Neil Parker, RotoWire Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
The upcoming scoring period is another oddly scheduled week in the NHL, and the All-Star break begins Jan. 26, so paying particular attention to matchups and how often your players hit the ice through the end of January could provide a nice boost on the competition.
A couple months ago in this space, Daniel Sprong and Nikolay Goldobin were mentioned as players to keep tabs on because of their AHL success. Now, Sprong is flanking Sidney Crosby, and Goldobin has settled in as the third wheel alongside Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. In competitive and/or deep leagues, leaving no stone unturned can amount to a significant advantage.
Jack Rosolvic was recently promoted to Winnipeg, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Dylan Strome received another tour through the league with Arizona before the season is finished. None of these four youngsters are must-add players, but they’re all definitely of interest in particular settings because of their offensive upside. Sprong and Goldodin are also now in attractive fantasy setups.
Another quick note regarding the schedule and the AHL — with many teams in the midst of their six-day bye, waiver-exempt players around the league are being assigned to the minors to continue playing. In most cases, however, these youngsters should be back in the NHL once their respective teams return to the ice.
Here’s the schedule for the next scoring period, Jan. 15-21:
One game: Flames, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Oilers, Wild
Two games: Sabres, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Panthers, Senators, Lightning, Canucks, Jets
Three games: Coyotes, Avalanche, Predators, Devils, Penguins, Blues, Maple Leafs, Capitals
Four games: Ducks, Bruins, Stars, Kings, Canadiens, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Golden Knights
Five games: Sharks
Make sure to keep tabs on who’s been cut in your leagues, and also remember to check the handful of players previously covered, listed below.
(Yahoo ownership rates as of Jan. 11.)
Nick Schmaltz, CHI (34 percent): A mainstay in this column, Schmaltz has been especially valuable of late with five goals, six assists and four points with the man advantage through his past seven games. He’s been promoted to the No. 1 power-play unit and continues to skate with Patrick Kane at five-on-five. The duo has combined for a rock-solid 3.81 goals per 60 minutes through 567:10 of shared ice time this season.
Ryan Spooner, BOS (3 percent): Another holdover, Spooner has found the scoresheet in consecutive games and has a respectable three goals, six assists and two power-play points through his past 10 contests. The two points with the man advantage represent his total for the year, but after recording 35 power-play points over the previous two seasons, statistical correction while up a man is likely ahead for Spooner.
Mikko Koivu, MIN (25 percent): The veteran got off to a poor start but has now found an offensive groove with a goal, six assists and 17 shots through his past eight games. Additionally, Koivu is locked in with countryman Mikael Granlund in all situations, which provides a nice fantasy floor. Add his power-play time (2:50 per game), and Koivu is a solid supporting piece in most settings.
Vinnie Hinostroza, CHI (9 percent): The Chicago native has paid his dues in the minors and posted an impressive nine goals and 22 points through 23 games with AHL Rockford this season. The scoring has continued with the Blackhawks, as Hinostroza has recorded two tallies, six helpers and 17 shots through his past seven games. He’s currently skating on the top line and No. 2 power-play unit, so the setup is also favorable. However, the uptick in offense might prove to be fleeting.
Yanni Gourde, TB (32 percent): A demotion to the third line hasn’t slowed Gourde down, and while there is plenty of game-to-game inconsistency, he’s currently on pace to cruise past 25 goals and 55 points for the campaign. Those are solid numbers in the majority of formats, and the 26-year-old winger is also helping in the peripheral categories with 23 PIM and a plus-17 rating. Just note that his 19.2 shooting percentage is likely to decline.
Anthony Duclair, CHI (9 percent): While there’s no questioning Duclair’s talent, the 22-year-old winger is now already with his third organization. He is a bit of a wildcard at this stage of the game because it’s unknown where he’ll slot into Chicago’s lineup. Considering his ownership percentages, there’s not a lot of risk in taking a flier on Duclair.
Sami Vatanen, NJD (20 percent): Things are clicking for Vatanen now. He’s recorded a goal, four assists, 17 shots and 12 PIM through his past six contests. Quarterbacking the No. 1 power-play unit will also help him buoy his value moving forward, and this version of the Devils is the best offensive group since Zack Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk lead New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.
Jordan Oesterle, CHI (25 percent): While the scoring bubble is going to burst sooner than later for Oesterle, he can still be a solid fantasy asset with significant negative regression. The 25-year-old defenseman has seen his ice time skyrocket and is currently skating with the No. 1 power-play unit. As long as he’s receiving big minutes, Oesterle should chip in enough offense.
Mike Matheson, FLA (2 percent): The sophomore has quietly collected four goals, 11 points, 35 shots, 16 PIM, 32 blocked shots and a plus-4 rating through his past 20 contests. Matheson is now skating on the No.1 pairing and second power-play unit and projects to remain a solid option to round out a defense corps because of his cross-category profile.
Josh Morrissey, WPG (15 percent): Not only are the Jets a contender, they’ve hardly skipped a beat since star center Mark Scheifele (upper body) was injured. Having players from winning teams can be a sneaky boost when rounding out rosters in deep settings, and Morrissey appears to be finding his form at the highest level. The sophomore has been playing top-pairing minutes of late and has also collected 13 points through his past 21 contests. The 2013 first-round selection has untapped offensive upside and also chips in across the peripheral categories.
Carter Hutton, STL (42 percent): Jake Allen has allowed five goals in consecutive starts, and Hutton boasts an 8-3-1 record, .940 save percentage and 1.84 GAA for the campaign. While it’s unlikely Allen is completely usurped as the No. 1 in St. Louis, expect Hutton to see semi-regular starts for the immediate future and potentially longer. Just keep in mind his track record as a mediocre backup (career .910 save percentage and 2.51 GAA entering this season).
Aaron Dell, SAN (32 percent): Even with six goals allowed in his latest start, Dell boasts an 8-3-2 record, .926 save percentage and 2.27 GAA for the campaign. The Sharks have eight games before the All-Star break, so expect Dell to receive plenty of work over the next two weeks.
Tristan Jarry, PIT (17 percent): The rookie was awful in his latest start against Boston, but he’s pushed Matt Murray to a near timeshare because of the latter’s poor play. If the luxury exists to speculatively stash Jarry, it could pay off in spades. After all, he’s posted a respectable 7-3-2 record, .919 save percentage and 2.46 GAA through 15 contests, and it’s probably safe to say that the Penguins haven’t hit full stride yet this season. Additionally, Matt Murray has battled various injuries throughout his short career.
Players to consider from past columns: Kyle Connor, Nico Hischier, Micheal Ferland, Jesper Bratt, Danton Heinen, Evgenii Dadonov, Josh Anderson, Mathieu Perreault, Pierre-Luc Dubois, David Backes, Joel Armia, Elias Lindholm, Calle Jarnkrok, Erik Johnson, Shea Theodore, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, Samuel Girard, Cam Ward, Antti Raanta, James Reimer, Jeff Glass, Jacob Markstrom, Jonathan Bernier, Philipp Grubauer, Malcolm Subban.