By Neil Parker, RotoWire Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
The All-Star break offers a nice recess for fantasy owners to prepare for the stretch drive.
It’s the opportune time to map out a plan of attack and double-check league settings. In particular, it’s helpful to know the dates of the trade deadline and playoff period, how many transactions or FAAB dollars you have left and where you stand in formats with a games-played limit.
While every league is different, attention to detail will provide a leg up.
But most important, enjoy the breather.
Here’s the schedule for the next scoring period, Jan. 29-Feb. 4:
One game: Oilers
Two games: Coyotes, Rangers
Four games: Hurricanes, Canadiens, Senators, Sharks, Golden Knights
All other teams play three games.
It’s important to keep an eye on who is cut in your leagues because potential upgrades come in all forms. Also, remember to check the players previously covered, listed below.
(Yahoo ownership rates as of Jan. 25).
Bo Horvat, VAN (33 percent): Now two outings removed from an 18-game absence due to a leg injury, Horvat should be gobbled back up if available in all but the shallowest settings. He collected a pair of assists in his most recent outing to improve to 10 goals, 12 assists and a respectable 2.37 points per 60 minutes through 30 contests. Horvat has also slotted right back into a top-line role and is skating with the No. 1 power-play unit.
Andreas Athanasiou, DET (9 percent): Discussed in this space multiple times, including last week, Athanasiou appears to have finally secured a top-six role with power-play time. It’s been long overdue. He’s recorded four goals, six assists and five multi-point showings through his past nine games and owns the offensive upside to be a consistent producer moving forward.
Rick Nash, NYR (43 percent): With six goals, seven points and 21 shots through his past five games, the veteran has found a groove of late. He’s flashed dominance is stretches this season, but it’s especially encouraging to see him cashing in on his opportunities more frequently. Just note that his current 9.6 shooting percentage isn’t significantly out of line with his career 11.2 mark as a Ranger, so his current heater could prove to be fleeting.
Erik Haula, VGK (36 percent): A three-game point streak consisting of a goal and four assists has Haula up to 16 tallies, 18 helpers and a rock-solid 2.73 points per 60 minutes. He’s locked into a top-six role with power-play time, and while his ceiling isn’t high, the 26-year-old Finn boasts a roster-worthy floor.
Anthony Beauvillier, NYI (25 percent): With eight goals through his past seven contests, the sophomore might have secured a top-six spot for the remainder of the season. His 36.4 shooting percentage during the surge is obviously unsustainably high, but the talented playmaker could easily offset the upcoming hit in the goal column with a few more assists.
Travis Konecny, PHI (16 percent): The sophomore has hit stride with five goals, 11 points and 27 shots through his past 12 games, including an active four-game point streak. The uptick in production aligns with Konecny joining Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux on the No. 1 line, so expect the 20-year-old winger to provide solid offensive numbers for the duration of his stay atop the depth chart.
Chris Tierney, SAN (2 percent): The 23-year-old center is having a nice month with four goals, five assists, four power-play points and 25 shots through 11 January games. Tierney has also seen his ice time climb to 17:06 per contest with 1:50 on the man advantage during his scoring surge. It’s unlikely that he’s able to maintain his current scoring pace, but in deep settings, there’s room for a dip in production without it curbing Tierney’s value. Joe Thornton’s knee injury should also open up more offensive opportunities for Tierney.
Hampus Lindholm, ANA (19 percent): The star defenseman’s real-world dominance is beginning to translate into fantasy success more frequently, as Lindholm has collected a goal and five assists through nine January games. He’s locked into a significant role, and the Ducks are finally healthy. Expect him to continue helping in the plus-minus column, too.
Esa Lindell, DAL (19 percent): A sneaky strategy with defensemen is owning the partner of an elite blueliner, and Lindell certainly fits the bill skating alongside John Klingberg. The 23-year-old Finn has been a cross-category asset this season with five goals, 21 points, 98 shots, and a plus-19 rating through 49 games. His offensive production will likely continue to be inconsistent, but at the end of the season, expect his numbers to be solid in the majority of settings.
Brad Hunt, VGK (1 percent): A prolific AHL scorer, Hunt lacks the “ideal NHL size” teams coveted in years past. However, like many Golden Knights, he’s taken his game to a new level in 2017-18. With five points — three on the power play — through his past three games, it could be tough to take Hunt out of the lineup. This is the type of boom-or-bust add that could make a difference in the second half.
Alexander Edler, VAN (22 percent): Scorching hot, Edler has collected a goal, seven helpers, 26 shots and 20 blocked shots through his past seven contests. The veteran is logging huge minutes (23:17 with 2:49 on the power play) and offers a cross-category profile. The obvious risk is that owners adding Edler now have missed his hot stretch and could be stuck with an upcoming run of statistical correction.
Antti Raanta, ARI (22 percent): While Raanta has only collected four wins through his past 14 contests, he boasts a high-end .922 save percentage and 2.39 GAA during that stretch. Victories are likely to remain tough to come by, but landing strong ratios off the waiver wire might be tougher. It’s also worth noting that the highlighted 14-game stretch aligns with his return to health.
Juuse Saros, NAS (11 percent): At this stage of the fantasy season, it can be beneficial to roster a backup with high-end upside. Saros sports a .926 save percentage and 2.35 GAA, and three of his five wins have been shutouts. Saros owns league-winning potential and is a Pekka Rinne injury away from a starter’s workload.
Casey DeSmith, PIT (10 percent): With Tristan Jarry’s demotion to the AHL, DeSmith appears to be the new No. 2 in Pittsburgh. Matt Murray is likely to see the bulk of starts moving forward, so while DeSmith’s value is somewhat capped, the 26-year-old netminder has posted a .935 save percentage and 1.86 GAA through five appearances this season.
Darcy Kuemper, LA (9 percent): With Jonathan Quick opting out of the All-Star game and receiving a one-game suspension, Kuemper projects to start Tuesday in Dallas. It’s obviously a daunting matchup, but a guaranteed start has value, and Kuemper owns a 6-1-3 record, .934 save percentage and 2.07 GAA for the campaign.
Harri Sateri, FLA (1 percent): With Roberto Luongo (lower body) already out, James Reimer’s lower-body injury sustained in Tuesday’s game forced the Panthers to promote Samuel Montembeault from the AHL on Wednesday. It all adds up to Sateri potentially receiving a handful of starts until Reimer or Luongo are healthy. Sateri should be viewed as a desperation add until the severity of Reimer’s injury is known, and even if Finn’s in line for a string of work, he has just three games of NHL experience.
Players to consider from past columns: Evgenii Dadonov, Micheal Ferland, Ondrej Kase, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pavel Buchnevich, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Spooner, Josh Anderson, Mikko Koivu, Mathieu Perreault, David Backes, Joel Armia, Elias Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Shea Theodore, Josh Manson, Mike Matheson, Jeff Petry, Samuel Girard, Colin Miller, Jordan Oesterle, Aaron Dell, Jacob Markstrom, Philipp Grubauer, Alex Stalock, Anton Forsberg, Jeff Glass