It’s been a strange year in fantasy to say the least. With a slew of postponements, literally 100s of players placed on the COVID-19 list, and a full week delay, fantasy managers have had to work overtime this year to ensure they have a full lineup.
With the Olympic break officially being used as a makeup period for postponed games, the NHL has released the updated schedule for the rest of the season. Needless to say, there are some incredibly crammed schedules.
With man games played one of the most important factors in fantasy matchups, the new schedule presents fantasy managers with a great opportunity to take advantage of the busy schedule. Let’s take a look at some players to target based on the expected chaos of February.
Daniel Vladar – G – Calgary Flames
We’ve talked about him as a solid streamer option before, but with the new schedule now out there may not be another goaltender who received a larger boost in fantasy than Daniel Vladar. As the team hardest hit by the NHL’s most recent COVID outbreak, the Calgary Flames had 10 total games rescheduled.
With seven of those games coming in February, the Flames have an absolutely packed schedule. The team will play a total of 11 games in the month of February, including three back-to-backs. They also play five more games to close out January, including one back-to-back as well.
In total that presents four nearly guaranteed starts for Vladar over the next month. Add in the fact that starter Jacob Markstrom is notorious for struggling when tired, and Vladar may see a ton of action over the next few weeks as we head into the playoff stretch drive in fantasy. At just 9% owned and sporting a decent 5–3–1 record and .910 save percentage, Vladar is a great add for help in net.
Ahead of tonight’s contest the bookies have predicted a tight game, with Betway Sports pricing both the Flames and Oilers at +130 each to win the game in regulation, with an overtime decision being priced at +330. Odds last updated at 8:30 AM MST on January 22, 2022.
Erik Haula – C – Boston Bruins
Another team with a packed February schedule is the Boston Bruins. They had a total of seven games moved to February, and thus will now play 11 games. They also play five more to close out January. One major beneficiary of that new schedule could be the Bruins new second line centre, Erik Haula.
Haula was recently bumped into the Bruins top-six, lining up at centre between two snipers in Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak, presenting a massive opportunity for the 30-year-old. He’s already been taking full advantage of his new opportunity as he’s produced nine points in his last 10 games dating back to January 2nd. As long as he keeps producing like that, he’s guaranteed a spot in the Bruins top-six.
He may not be a flashy name, but as long as he’s playing between Hall and the elite Pastrnak, he brings some major value to the table. He’s sitting at just 11% owned on Yahoo! and plays a ton over the next month so he’s a great option if you’re in need of some forward help.
Alex Formenton – LW – Ottawa
There has perhaps been no team affected by COVID more than the Senators. So far this year the team has seen 13 games postponed. The Senators had 15 games moved around in the new schedule, and picked up a staggering 10 games in the month of February for a total of 11 on the month. They’ll also play another six over the next ten days to close out January.
Alex Formenton could be a great option to add at forward with the Senators new packed schedule. Formenton had a very slow start to his season with just three points in his first 17 games including a spell on the team’s COVID-19 list back in November, however he’s picked it up considerably in recent weeks.
Since the beginning of December, Formenton has been lights out playing in the Senators’ top-six and on their second power play unit. He’s put up 12 points over his last 13 games dating back to December 2, producing at near a point per game clip for well over a month now. He’s somehow still just 1% owned on Yahoo! and with 17 games over the next five weeks he’s a great option at forward in fantasy.
Ilya Mikheyev – LW – Toronto Maple Leafs
Yet another team majorly impacted by COVID-19 this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs had 11 games moved around in the new schedule, including eight games added to February. In total they’ll now play 11 games in February, as well as four more in January.
Ilya Mikheyev suffered a major injury at the start of the season, however since returning to the Maple Leafs lineup on December 14, he’s been on fire. So far on the year he’s produced six goals and seven points in just eight games. He’s also shooting a ton as he’s put up 26 shots as he’s averaging over three shots per game right now.
He’s currently lining up on the Maple Leafs’ third line, however he’s getting time on the team’s second power play unit as well. His 23% shooting percentage obviously isn’t sustainable; however, as long as he keeps shooting as much as he is now, the goals will continue to come. Only 14% owned on Yahoo!, Mikheyev is a valuable add playing on one of the league’s best teams and with a packed schedule.
The season has been a major headache for fantasy owners thus far, with so many schedule changes and players missing games due to COVID. That said the new packed NHL schedule presents some major opportunities for managers must take advantage of. By targeting players with the most games over the next few weeks, it’ll give you a major advantage in the push for the fantasy playoffs.