The Week Ahead

30 Picks in the Second Half

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

As we are in the midst of the All-Star break, in this week’s notes I’m going to give you one player per team that I think will have a better second half than first and someone you should target in your pool in both yearly pools and keeper leagues. The percent of leagues that each player is owned will be in brackets.

 

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Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 26-FEBRUARY 1

 

4 Games- Arizona, Montreal, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus,  Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia,  St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

2 Games – Boston, Colorado, Los Angeles, Ottawa, San Jose

 

Arizona plays all four games on the road.

 

Calgary, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Vancouver play three games at home.

 

Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Minnesota and Nashville play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Sergei Bobrovsky suffered a lower body injury on Wednesday and was helped off the ice. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

Note: A tired team is one that has played the day or night before and is going against a team that did not play the previous day or night. The reverse is true for a rested team.

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ San Jose, vs. Chicago

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Chicago (Friday)

 

Notes

Rickard Rakell’s (0%) stats in the first half don’t look great with three goals and 10 assists in 36 games but he does have five points in five games with two goals and two assists coming against the Jets on January 11. He is seeing second line power play time in the last month as well. A former first round pick in 2011, 30th overall, he could have a big second half. Honorable mention: Jakob Silfverberg (12%). The Ducks play three games in four nights so look for Ilya Bryzgalov to play once in place of Frederik Andersen.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ Toronto, @ Ottawa, @ Montreal

 

Rested Team: @ Toronto (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

I know I’m going to get vilified for this selection but I’m going with Mike Smith (55%). He has had a terrible first half, going 7-20-3 with a 3.51 GAA and a .887 save percentage so there is certainly nowhere to go but up. It’s unlikely the Coyotes will give the netminding job to Mike Lee or anyone at the AHL level and I really think he will turn things around in the last 36 games. The Coyotes play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so Lee may make his NHL debut for Smith. The Coyotes goaltending is in shambles as Smith has not played well at all this season.

  

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Colorado

 

Notes

I didn’t think the Bruins would recall David Pastrnak (20%) after the World Junior Hockey Tournament, but they did rather than send him to the AHL and he responded quickly with a pair of two goal games. He has five points in his last six games including the four goals and has been a plus-six as well. He plays as a top-six forward with Milan Lucic and David Krejci and also sees time on the second power play with both.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Friday)

 

Notes

To look at Nikita Zadorov’s (1%) stats in the first half of the season, you see nothing special but the 16th overall pick of the 2013 Draft has a bright future ahead of him. Zadorov is a big, powerful and physical rearguard and is capable of bone rattling hits. He has 78 hits despite being a healthy scratch in 13 games this season. He has only two goals and eight points but the Sabres thought enough of him to keep him rather than allow him to play at the World Junior Tournament. He is also seeing first power play time of late. The Sabres are in Western Canada for all three games this week. Michal Neuvirth should get one start with Jhonas Enroth getting two. 

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, vs. Minnesota, vs. Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Mikael Backlund (7%) is one of the hottest goal scorers heading into the All-Star game as he has five goals in seven games, as well as three assists since returning from abdominal surgery. He was injured early in the season and had only four points in 11 games before going under the knife. He is seeing second line power play time and has been playing on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler which bodes well for the future.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. St. Louis, @ New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: vs. St. Louis (Friday)

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Saturday)

 

Notes

Anton Khudobin (40%) has been red hot of late as he has reeled off five straight wins after starting the season off at 0-8-2. He has knocked his GAA down to 2.32 and his save percentage is up to .916 while starting three of the last four games for the Hurricanes. Do not be surprised if the Hurricanes deal Cam Ward and install Khudobin as the number one netminder in Carolina.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim, @ San Jose

 

Rested Team: @ Anaheim (Friday)

Tired Team: @ San Jose (Saturday)

 

Notes

Andrew Shaw (13%) is the player to watch on the Blackhawks despite only eight goals and 14 points in 44 games this season. He had 20 goals and 39 points last season with a plus-12 rating and 76 penalty minutes. This season he has only eight goals and 14 points but looking a little deeper is required. He is seeing first power play time and despite being on the ice for 14 power play goals, he has only three points. That should change in the second half.  The Blackhawks play all three games in California with three matches in four nights. Expect to see Antti Raanta play once for Corey Crawford in net.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Nick Holden (1%) has three goals and nine points this season but in the last three weeks he has been on the power play point alongside Tyson Barrie as the duo have been on the ice for all three Colorado goals with the man-advantage. He exploded onto the scene in 2013-14 with 10 goals, 25 points and a plus-12 rating in 54 games. Expect a better second half in 2015 as the Avs should be somewhat better than the first half. The Avalanche play a home-and-home series against the Predators, although Nashville has a game in between.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Brandon Dubinsky (61%) is another player who has missed a lot of action due to abdominal surgery. He has had good success in three of the previous four seasons, hitting 50 points twice and getting 20 points in 29 games in the shortened 2012-13 season. He is a big penalty minute forward, hitting the 100 minute mark in three of the last six seasons with 98 minutes last season and 76 in 29 games in 2012-13. He has three goals and 12 points in 19 games this season and is poised for a big second half.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@Montreal, @ Ottawa, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jason Demers (29%) was dealt from the Sharks where he had only three helpers in 20 games after a 34 point season in 2013-14. He has two goals and 10 points in 26 games for the Stars and is seeing plenty of second line power play time. Another blueliner to look at is John Klingberg (11%). The rookie has six goals and 18 points in 32 games but he could hit the proverbial wall later in the season.   

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, vs. New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Justin Abdelkader (32%) has been seeing plenty of time with Henrik Zetterberg on the top line, as the Red Wings have used Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist and Teemu Pulkkinen on the other side. He has played on the top power play line for over a month as well and has 11 goals and 26 points in 40 games with seven points with the man-advantage. He has a couple of goals and five assists in his last seven games. Also keep an eye on Pulkkinen (1%) as he was sent to the minors during the All Star break but should return at the start of the week.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Buffalo, @ Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Derek Roy (2%) had a few nice seasons with the Sabres but has struggled since leaving their three seasons ago as he has bounced around from Vancouver to St. Louis to Nashville before a trade on December 29 moved him to the Oilers. He had a goal and 11 points for the Predators but has three goals and seven points in his last eight games with the Oilers. He is seeing second line power play time and plays with the red-hot Benoit Pouliot during his regular shift. You would think he is a minus-player playing for the Oilers but you would be wrong as he is a plus-two thus far. Honorable mention: Benoit Pouliot (4%).

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Columbus, @ New Jersey

 

Rested Team: @ New Jersey (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Aleksander Barkov (5%) was drafted second overall in the 2013 Draft and was having a nice rookie campaign in 2013-14 until he re-injured his knee playing for Finland at the Olympic Games, ending his season. He returned and got off to a horrible start this season with two goals and four points in his first 22 games but has come on of late with seven points in his last 11 contests. He is a talented center and sees second line power play time at this point of his career but that will change in the near future as the Panthers have struggled to score with the man-advantage in the last two seasons as they are 29th this season after finishing last in 2013-14. If you are in a keeper league, grab him quickly.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, @ Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Justin Williams (46%) is another player who got off to a horrible start this season with a goal and two assists in his first month of the season. But he has turned it on since then with 12 goals and 22 points in 33 games including five goals in his last nine. Williams sees second line power play time and is tied for second on the Kings picking up 10 points with the man-advantage. Lately he has been taking a regular shift with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik and that has to help your fantasy value.  

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Mikael Granlund (10%) has missed the last 13 games with a wrist injury but is slated to return to the Wild’s lineup after the All-Star break. So much has been written about the talented Finn who was taken ninth overall in the 2010 Draft. He had eight goals and 41 points in 63 games last season and even though he struggled this season with four goals and 15 points in 32 games before the injury, the Wild could give him plenty of ice time down the stretch in all situations as they are on the verge of losing contact with the pack for a playoff spot as they are 12th in the West, seven points out of a spot. Honorable mention: Jonas Brodin (4%).

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Dallas, @ New York Rangers, vs. Washington, vs. Arizona

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

David Desharnais (10%) has seven goals and 24 points in 45 games this season. Last year he had 52 points in 79 games but that was after a horrible start in which he had one point in his first 17 games. He sees action alongside up-and-comer Alex Galchenyuk both on the second line and second power play, although the Habs tend to split their two forward lines fairly evenly. Honorable mention: Galchenyuk (48%).  The Canadiens play four games this week including three in four days so look for Dustin Tokarski to get one start instead of Carey Price.

  

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ St. Louis, @ Colorado, @ Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Colorado (Friday)

 

Notes

Seth Jones (18%) came into the NHL with great hope last season after he dropped into the Predators lap when he fell to fourth overall in the Draft. He was okay last season but definitely hit a wall halfway through the season. This year has been different as he got off to a slow start and although he has only three goals and 14 points this season, he has two goals and six points in his last nine games. He is second in power play ice time over the last month on the Preds, ahead of Shea Weber and Roman Josi. He is just going to get better. The Predators play four games this week including three in four so it’s likely that Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec will split the net as usual number one starter Pekka Rinne is still out one-three weeks with a knee injury. The Predators play the Avalanche twice this week.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Florida (Saturday)

 

Notes

This one is a bit of a flier but it looks like Adam Larsson (1%) is about to show why the Devils took him with the fourth overall pick in 2011. Larsson has had a couple of tough seasons of late as he had only a goal and nine points in 63 games over the last two seasons. It was more of the same this season as he was a healthy scratch for eight games early in the season and then he missed 10 contests with the mumps. But lately Larsson has quietly turned things around and he has five assists in his last seven games. The Devils play all three games at home and play three in four nights so Keith Kinkaid could get a start in place of Cory Schneider.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Boston, @ Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Michael Grabner (2%) missed the first two months of the season with a groin injury and a lower body injury also kept him out of nine more games in the last month but he has scored twice in the last three games. The bad news on Grabner is that he gets no power play time (only 22 seconds in 12 games) and he sees most of his action playing on the third line with Brock Nelson and Nikolay Kulemin. But he has scored in the past as he had 34 goals in his rookie season of 2010-11, so he is capable.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. Montreal, vs. Carolina

 

Rested Team: vs. Carolina (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Ryan McDonagh (85%) shouldn’t be on this list but he got off to such a bad start this season, he has nowhere to go but up. McDonagh should be the leading scorer on the Rangers blueline but he has only three goals while Kevin Klein, who gets no power play time (only 4:46 in 43 games) has eight goals and nine assists. He has been surpassed on the first power play by Dan Boyle of late but I see McDonagh having a much better second half of the season.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Arizona

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

There are a couple of players I like in Ottawa but I’m going to go with Mika Zibanejad (10%). Zibanejad had an okay start to his career with 20 points in 42 games two seasons ago and 33 points in 69 games last year but he is ready to take his game to the next level. He is seeing minutes on the top line with Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman and is considered a co-number one power play player with Ryan and Alex Chiasson. Zibanejad has 11 goals and 23 points in 44 games so he is headed for his best NHL season to date but he has two goals and three points in his last six games. Honorable mention: Chiasson (2%).

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Arizona, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Toronto

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Sean Couturier (7%) is a superior defensive center who has the ability to score. Not many 18-year-olds crack an NHL lineup because of their defensive prowess but Couturier did so in 2011-12 and still managed to put up 27 points in 77 games. Last season he had 13 goals, which tied a career best, and 39 points in a full 82 game schedule. While he has only one point in his last 12 games, before that he had five goals and 12 points in 13 games. Look for Couturier, who just turned 22, to get his mojo back and start scoring again. Honorable mention: Matt Read (5%).

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Washington, @ New Jersey, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Beau Bennett’s (3%) biggest difficulty is staying healthy. Just this season he has two lower body and a knee injury after needing off-season wrist surgery. And that’s just in the last nine months. Bennett has been penciled in to play a top-six forward role and that always means time with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin but he has been hurt too often to make it a reality. The good news is that he has played the last 10 games in a row. Bennett has huge upside offensively and should have a great second half; if he remains healthy. The Penguins play four games with three coming in four days so expect to see Thomas Greiss play once in goal for Marc-Andre Fleury.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, @ Carolina, @ Washington

 

Rested Team: @ Washington (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Carolina (Friday)

 

Notes

There are plenty of poolies who have Alex Pietrangelo (97%) on their roster but he is the one Blue who I see having a great second half. He has improved his defensive responsibilities of late as he is a plus-12 in his last 12 games to get back to even. He is seeing second power play time as the Blues have been using Kevin Shattenkirk and four forwards on the first unit. He has six assists in his last seven games as well. St. Louis plays three games in four days so look for Jake Allen to play once for Brian Elliott.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Chicago

 

Rested Team: vs. Chicago (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Tomas Hertl (39%) was the hottest player in the NHL in October, 2013 but a knee injury in December of that year kept him out of the lineup for the remainder of the regular season. He returned for the playoffs and had a couple of goals with three assists in seven games as the Sharks dropped the opening series after taking a 3-0 games lead over the Kings. Hertl has not had a good sophomore season with only eight goals and 17 points in 48 games and they sent him to the minors during the All-Star break but he will return next week. They have been pleased with his play at center in the last few games and he still sees second line power play time so he should snap out of his slump soon. If not, he is a great sleeper pick for next season.

 

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, vs. Detroit, vs. Columbus

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jonathan Drouin (40%) came into this season as one of the early favorites for the Calder Trophy but he has struggled thus far with only two goals and 18 points in his first 37 games. The Lightning are bringing him along slowly but look for Drouin to start seeing more time with Steve Stamkos in the second half of the season. Drouin is an outstanding prospect who was taken third overall in 2013 and there were more than a few scouts who thought he was a better prospect than number one overall pick and his Halifax teammate Nathan MacKinnon.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Arizona, @ Philadelphia

 

Rested team:  None

Tired Team: vs. Arizona (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs are in a huge slump as they have lost 14 of their last 17 games and it seems like everyone could be on the trade block. Morgan Rielly (7%) should be one of the few Maple Leafs who will not be on the trade block as he really hasn’t established his true value and the Leafs will not want to trade him as he could be a star in the making. He has assists in his last two games and has a minus-three rating, not so bad on the porous Toronto squad. If the team continues its downward spiral, Rielly could be bumped to the first power play unit and given plenty of opportunities to show what he can do. The Maple Leafs play three games in four nights and you should expect to see James Reimer once with Jonathan Bernier playing twice between the pipes.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

.vs. Anaheim, vs. Buffalo, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested Team: vs. Buffalo (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Nick Bonino (22%) was dealt from Anaheim to Vancouver for Ryan Kesler in the off-season and while he has 10 goals and 24 points in 45 games, he has been in a horrible slump since the end of November with only three goals and five points in 22 games. I see a turnaround coming for the 26-year-old. He is sixth in power play time with the Canucks but has been on the ice for only two power play goals this season in 83:38 minutes. He has won 344 face offs, second on the team to Henrik Sedin, if you play those categories.  He had 22 goals and 49 points with 20 power play points last season so he is capable of much more. He is seeing third line duty at this point but once his offense returns, look for him to become a top-six forward again.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Montreal, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: vs. St. Louis (Sunday)

 

Notes

Evgeni Kuznetsov (35%) is another player who came into the league full of hype but has disappointed to this point.  He has only one assist in his last 11 games and four goals and 15 points in 44 games this season but the talent is there and the Russian has been moved back to the second line with Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson as his linemates. Kuznetsov was selected in the first round of the 2010 Draft and while it has taken him a longer time to adapt to the NHL than the Capitals thought it would, he is still worth taking a shot at in most pools.

  

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, @ Philadelphia, vs. Dallas

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Zach Bogosian (17%) has been on fire since returning from a lower body injury that kept him out of action for 15 games starting just before Thanksgiving. Bogosian has had three goals and five points in eight games since his return and is finally showing the offense that many pundits predicted for him when he was selected with the third pick of the 2008 Draft by the then Thrashers. He had nine and 10 goal seasons his first two years in the NHL as he made the NHL as an 18-year-old but hasn’t approached those numbers since. He hasn’t seen a lot of time on the power play since his return but that could change after the break. 


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