Fantasy Hockey

Planning around the NHL schedule; Trade goaltenders like Talbot and Fleury (September 7) – DobberHockey

Each year, I set up a schedule planner for myself to anticipate the games played by each NHL team during the weeks of the fantasy final. In recent years this has been less helpful, with any planning around Covid timings being a complete throw of the dice.

This year, however, we can anticipate (fingers crossed) from the start that the calendar should remain static throughout the year. This means we can plan ahead more than we have been able to lately.

Keep in mind that one-on-one playoff planning isn’t something to do much in the draft. If it becomes the focus, it becomes your downfall. The tradeoff of having a lot of players with good H2H schedules is that those extra games get packed at the end, instead of for most of the season when you’re trying to compete for the playoffs in first place. You can’t win if you’re not there, so that should remain the main focus.

With that in mind, let’s move on to some schedule notes.

Regular season:

-San Jose and Nashville are the only teams to start the year with four games in the fantastic first week, while most teams only play two. This makes players from these teams excellent targets in the final two rounds. Guys like Alex Barabanov, Tanner Jeannot (depending on your league), Mattias Ekholm and Kevin Labanc will make nice flows with these late picks, either to be traded if they start hot and you can handle it, or tossed for the next one. hot piece on the FA stack.

-On the other hand, St. Louis and Winnipeg only play one game until Oct. 16e. Good time to buy “low” on these players, and to see if there are any hanging around the waiver wire.

-The first “week” of the fantasy hockey season (October 7-16) is lit, with only about three-quarters of the total number of games we see in a normal week. There’s a lot of chance for variation here, so maximizing plays played key, as this ensures you hit your minimum plays for goalies.

-Not including the final 10-day week of the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers are the only team with a five-game week, with just two days off between Jan. 16e and January 22n/a.

-In case you are not already staying away from Arizona players in your fantasy leagues, then by mid-November you will surely be ready to get rid of them. From November 14–20 (Week 6), the Coyotes play just one game, the only team after Week 1 to have such a lightweight week.

-During the two-week period around the All-Star Break, where the NHL also gives teams a few extra days off before or after the break, nine teams play four games and seven teams play two. Keep an eye on the schedule (and how many adds your league allows you during that time) and it should be a great time to earn a bunch of extra games if you make some savvy adds.

Elimination weeks:

Depending on how your league organizes the fantasy playoffs or how you need to gain ground in games played by the end of the year, different weeks can be targeted.

-For all games played in week 22-25 (head to head leagues with four playoff weeks including an extended final), the teams to target are: BOS, CAR, COL, NSH, TOR and VAN. They each play 17 games during this period. Meanwhile, the Islanders are to be avoided, as they have 14 games

-For the latest three-week playoff setups (Week 23-25), the best teams to target are Carolina and Detroit, with 14 games each over the three-week span. The New York, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg and Washington Islanders each play just 11.

-For previous three-week playoff setups (Week 22-24), the best team to target is Boston, which means hiding Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy before they return could be great long-term play. Meanwhile, Minnesota, San Jose, Seattle and Vegas each play just nine.

-At some point I might take it a step further and combine the game totals with the number of off-day games per week for each of these teams, but it’s a little too early in the year to aim too hard for the playoffs playoff weeks.


Looking at the schedule, it’s also very notable that Arizona is playing 16 of its first 20 games on the road. Even for a decent team (like the Islanders were last year with their 14-game road trip to start the year), all it takes is to roll a team back and build not just a hole that’s impossible to get out of , but a loser mentality for the rest of the year. As mentioned above, if you weren’t avoiding them already, maybe knock these Coyotes a little daddy off your draft list.

However, there comes a time when things get so low that the only place to go is up high. The Canadiens hit it last year, and it coincided with the coaching swap that took them even higher. In the case of Arizona, I don’t expect a coaching change next year, but I do think the greater concentration of home games in the second half could play a role in better-than-expected results. for them after Christmas.

The team is going to play in a 5,000 seat arena, and I have a feeling they’re going to feed off of the atmosphere that’s going to be created. 5,000 fans in a 20,000 seat arena is very different from a full house, even if the arena is smaller. If you’ve ever seen a sold-out AHL or Junior game, you know the vibe. Especially with other teams coming in and not comfortable with NHL facilities, the Coyotes could have a distinct home advantage that will play into more second-half wins than expected. It might not be enough to make the playoffs, but I don’t think they finish in the bottom four in the conference.


Speaking of playoff teams, if you look at a few to try and sort out your goalie, you might be able to find some great deals in the East. There seems to be a consensus that the Toronto, Florida, Tampa, Carolina, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh and Washington sevens are likely locks, but I’m not convinced yet.

I’ve talked about New Jersey in the previous Ramblings, and I think they’ll make the playoffs next year, with the addition of Vitek Vanecek proving to be a big difference maker.

Between Boston, Columbus, Ottawa and the islanders, the East will certainly not be completely sealed off by Christmas.

I also feel like I spoke ad-nauseum about the Bruins, but as long as they can stay alive for the first month or two without Marchand and McAvoy, they will never be counted. On the other hand, with the additions of Johnny Gaudreau in Columbus, as well as Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux and Cam Talbot in Ottawa, the extra depth in the conference could well bring down the Bruins injured. Aging pens and caps can struggle to keep up. Elvis Merzlikins and Cam Talbot can be great under-the-radar additions this year for a fantastic team looking for 25-30 wins, decent ratios and plenty of saves. A better bet than trying to figure out which Bruins goalie will start on any given day.

On the Isles side, Ilya Sorokin could be one of the best goaltenders to draft this year. His advantage is as high as Igor Shesterkin, and he can start more with Barry Trotz out of the picture, although the team ahead of him is far from a guaranteed playoff roster.


In the West, the best quality-price ratio is probably Marc-André Fleury. He will start more than 60 games on one of the top five teams in the conference and has always put up strong peripherals. There is no competition in replacement Filip Gustafsson, and his age will scare other managers to the point that you can almost guarantee he slips a round further than you would be happy to take him into the drafts.


You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean if you have any questions or comments about fantasy hockey.

See you next Wednesday!