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NHL: DADOUN – THE FANTASY WEEK AHEAD (March 18th to 24th) – Detroit in late season collapse, need to turn it around fast – Favourable schedules and players to target

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04: Detroit Red Wings right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates with the puck during an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings on January 4, 2024 at Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire)

For much of the season, it looked like Detroit was going to make the playoffs. As recently as Feb. 27, the Red Wings were 33-20-6 with an eight-point cushion in the fight for a wild-card spot. After dropping seven straight games, though, Detroit finds itself tied with the Islanders for the second wild-card seed, and the Red Wings’ situation is even worse because they’ve played one game more than New York. Meanwhile, Washington is just one point behind the Islanders and Red Wings, putting further pressure on Detroit.

Goaltending has played a big part in Detroit’s collapse. Alex Lyon was having a strong season, posting a 17-8-2 record, 2.68 GAA and .916 save percentage across 27 contests through Feb. 24. However, Lyon has allowed at least three goals in each of his last seven appearances, resulting in an ugly .856 save percentage in that span. However, Ville Husso (lower body) is still unavailable, and James Reimer has a 6-7-2 record, 3.09 GAA and .903 save percentage in 19 contests this campaign, so the Red Wings don’t have a good alternative to pivot to during Lyon’s struggles.

To be fair, it’s not just Lyon. Detroit has managed just 1.71 goals per game during its losing streak. Patrick Kane and Lucas Raymond have each managed just three points over that seven-game span. Alex DeBrincat has no goals and one assist in the same stretch. Those are key forwards for Detroit, so for them all to go cold at the same time is disastrous.

The Red Wings could still rebound and make the postseason, but they need to do it soon. Otherwise, this season will go down as one of the most painful late season collapses for a team in recent memory.

Carolina Hurricanes – TUE @ NYI, THU VS PHI, FRI @ WAS (BTB), SUN VS TOR

The Hurricanes’ playoff spot is all but guaranteed, but Carolina is still chasing the Rangers in the battle for the Metropolitan Division title. They’ll continue that pursuit next week starting with a road game against the Islanders on Tuesday. After that, Carolina will host the Flyers on Thursday, play in Washington on Friday and conclude with a home contest versus the Maple Leafs on Sunday.

The Hurricanes are pretty healthy right now and even have Frederik Andersen back after missing roughly four months due to a blood clotting issue. He’s been fantastic since returning, posting a 3-0-0 record, 1.01 GAA and .955 save percentage across three starts. Carolina has been rotating between him and Pyotr Kochetkov, who has saved 46 of 49 shots (.939 save percentage) over his last two contests, bringing him to 17-12-3 with a 2.35 GAA and a .911 save percentage through 34 appearances this season.

Andersen and Kochetkov are likely to split the workload for the remainder of the season, which doesn’t leave much of a role for Spencer Martin. It wouldn’t be surprising if Martin accepts a brief AHL conditioning stint in a week or two for the sake of staying fresh ahead of the playoffs. Although he’s certainly far from Carolina’s first choice going forward, it’s still helpful to have him as a fallback plan should the Hurricanes run into injury troubles.

Jake Guentzel (upper body) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (personal) have also returned and made their Hurricanes debuts after being acquired from Pittsburgh and Washington, respectively. The duo appears set to play together on the second line, providing the Hurricanes with scoring threats outside of the Andrei Svechnikov-Sebastian Aho-Teuvo Teravainen trio.

Kuznetsov has just seven goals and 18 points in 47 contests this season, but there’s potential here for him to mesh nicely with Guentzel, especially as the two settle into their new roles. If Kuznetsov is available in your fantasy league, he’s not a bad forward to take a chance on.

Colorado Avalanche – TUE @ STL, FRI VS CBJ, SUN VS PIT

The battle for the Central Division title could come down to the wire with Colorado, Dallas and Winnipeg all legitimate contenders for the top spot. The Avalanche can make things easier for themselves in that race by sweeping their relatively light competition next week. They’ll play in St. Louis on Tuesday before hosting the Blue Jackets on Friday and the Penguins on Sunday. None of those adversaries are in a playoff position, though St. Louis and Pittsburgh still have outside shots of squeaking into a wild-card slot.

There has been news recently when it comes to Gabriel Landeskog’s recovery from cartilage transplant surgery on his right knee. As Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports, the 31-year-old might return during the 2024 playoffs, but it’s far from guaranteed. Keep in mind that he’ll be just 10 months into his 12-16 month timetable come May and while the Avalanche aren’t ruling anything out, they also don’t want to rush him back and risk making things worse.

He will surely be on the back of fantasy managers’ minds going into playoff league drafts. When healthy, Landeskog is a top-tier forward and the Avalanche are legitimate Cup contenders, so under normal circumstances, he’d be highly sought after. You should heavily temper your expectations, though. At most, you could take him toward the end of the draft, and even then, only if you’re comfortable with the very real possibility that he ends up not contributing anything.

In the meantime, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are continuing to dominate with 14 and 12 points, respectively, over the Avalanche’s last five games alone. MacKinnon is up to 42 goals and 115 points through 67 games as he pursues both the Art Ross and Hart Trophies.

Casey Mittelstadt has settled into a second-line role and has provided a goal and an assist in three games since being acquired by Buffalo. Obviously, he’s not playing with MacKinnon and Rantanen at even strength, but Mittelstadt doesn’t seem to be with the superstar duo on the power play either, instead going out with the second unit. That meaningfully hinders Mittelstadt’s value going forward.

Dallas Stars – WED VS ARI, FRI VS PIT, SUN @ ARI

As noted above, Dallas is in the battle for the Central Division title. Like the Avalanche, Dallas’ upcoming competition is fairly easy. Dallas will start with home games against the Coyotes and the Penguins on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, before traveling to Arizona for a contest Sunday.

Unlike Colorado, which made a big splash in the Mittelstadt for Bowen Byram trade, Dallas had a relatively quiet trade deadline, though the Stars were able to get some business done before it, acquiring defenseman Chris Tanev from Calgary on Feb. 28. Dallas is also looking to get some reinforcements back soon in Tyler Seguin (lower body) and Evgenii Dadonov (lower body), both of which might return next week.

When Seguin returns, Sam Steel will likely find himself moving out of a top-nine role, but what’s harder to gauge is where Dadonov fits in. After scoring 24 goals and 57 points in 47 AHL contests, Logan Stankoven made his NHL debut Feb. 24 and has gone on to record five goals and eight points in 10 outings. If the 21-year-old can continue to produce, then removing him from his third-line spot would seem counterproductive. However, there is no other obvious candidate outside of Steel (who would get bumped for Seguin’s return) to remove from the top nine, so when everyone is healthy, Dadonov might find himself on the fourth unit.

A fourth line of Dadonov, Steel and Radek Faksa is a level of luxury most teams could only dream of, but that trio likely won’t get enough playing time to have any fantasy value. It does put pressure on Stankoven, though -- if he has a prolonged cold stretch, he could find his minutes drop dramatically given the intense competition in Dallas.

Edmonton Oilers – TUE VS MTL, THU VS BUF, SAT @ TOR, SUN @ OTT (BTB)

Edmonton has had some incredible highs and lows this campaign, but when all is done, it now looks like the Oilers will finish with the second seed in the Pacific Division. However, that’s not guaranteed, so Edmonton needs to continue to get results in the upcoming week. Fortunately for the Oilers, their upcoming competition isn’t the strongest. They’ll host Montreal on Tuesday and Buffalo on Thursday before hitting the road to play in Toronto on Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday. The Maple Leafs are set to make the playoffs, but their other three adversaries have an eye toward the draft lottery.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are unsurprisingly continuing to headline the Oilers’ offense. McDavid has an incredible 25 points (four goals) in his past 13 games while Draisaitl has four tallies and 13 points in his last seven appearances.

Edmonton did try to diversify its offense with the addition of Adam Henrique, but the former Ducks forward has just one assist in four contests with the Oilers. He’s serving primarily on the third line and second power-play unit, so he’s not sharing the ice with Edmonton’s superstars. Unless that changes, Henrique’s fantasy value with the Oilers is likely to be somewhat limited.

This might be a good week for goaltender Calvin Pickard, though. The backup netminder has been rotating with starter Stuart Skinner recently and the results have been positive with Pickard saving 93 of 97 shots (.959 save percentage) over his last three starts. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Oilers continue to give Pickard a decent share of the workload in the short term. It’ll help keep Skinner fresh for the playoffs, and Pickard has earned the increased responsibilities with his 9-4-0 record, 2.27 GAA and .919 save percentage across 14 outings in 2023-24.


The Devils’ playoff hopes aren’t completely gone, but they’re running out of time to close the gap. New Jersey will spend most of the upcoming week at home, playing against the Penguins on Tuesday, the Jets on Thursday and the Senators on Saturday. They’ll finish the week with a road contest against the Islanders.

Timo Meier has done the most lately to keep New Jersey’s postseason dream alive. Although his 19 goals and 36 points through 53 games this season represent a substantial decline from his 40 tallies and 66 points in 78 contests in 2022-23, he’s excelled recently. Meier’s contributed nine goals and 14 points over his past 10 appearances and has found the back of the net in six of his last seven outings.

Of course, the Devils’ main problem this campaign has been defensive, not its scoring. To that end, New Jersey did add goaltenders Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen at the deadline. Kahkonen made his Devils debut Monday, saving 23 of 25 shots against a tough opponent in the Rangers, though New Jersey didn’t provide him with enough support and lost 3-1 anyway. Allen then made his first Devils start Thursday, turning aside 35 of 37 shots en route to a 6-2 victory over Dallas.

That duo is likely to split the workload the rest of the way. It’s worth warning, though, that to say the Devils had poor goaltending would be to tell only half the tale. The defense in front of those netminders hasn’t done its job either. New Jersey has an xGA/60 of 3.22, which is tied for 23rd in the league, so don’t expect Allen or Kahkonen to put up great numbers in the long run.

Tampa Bay Lightning – TUE @ VGK, THU @ SJS, SAT @ LAK, SUN @ ANA (BTB)

Tampa Bay is unlikely to climb into the top three of the Atlantic Division race, but the Lightning are in a strong position to make the playoffs in a wild-card spot. They’ll continue that fight next week while visiting Vegas on Tuesday, San Jose on Thursday, Los Angeles on Saturday and Anaheim on Sunday. The Kings and the Golden Knights are tough opponents, but the Sharks and the Ducks sit in the league’s basement.

Nikita Kucherov has continued his season-long battle with Nathan MacKinnon for the Art Ross and Hart Trophies. Kucherov is behind the Avalanche star in that race, but just barely with 39 goals and 112 points to MacKinnon’s 42 markers and 115 points. Kucherov is riding a nine-game scoring streak in which he’s supplied three goals and 18 points, so he certainly hasn’t let up.

While MacKinnon has Mikko Rantanen as his complementary forward in the battle, Kucherov has Brayden Point. The 28-year-old Lightning forward was especially effective Thursday, providing a hat trick and six points, bringing Point up to 36 tallies and 73 points in 66 appearances in 2023-24.

Victor Hedman has shined recently too with two goals and six points over his last three games. He’s up to 12 goals and 66 points in 64 contests, which is good for third in the defensemen scoring race behind Cale Makar (73 points) and Quinn Hughes (76).

Of course, those are all headline players with Tampa Bay. One contributor who doesn’t get that level of attention is Anthony Duclair. The Lightning acquired him from San Jose on March 7 and the 28-year-old has gotten off to a good start, providing two goals and three points in two contests with the Lightning. That brings him up to 18 goals and 30 points in 58 appearances this year. Tampa Bay has deployed him at times with Steven Stamkos as well as the Point-Kucherov duo, so Duclair could be in line for a strong finish to the campaign.

Toronto Maple Leafs – TUE @ PHI, WED @ WAS, SAT VS EDM, SUN @ CAR

Toronto is pretty much set at this point. They do have an outside shot of competing for the first or second seeds in the Atlantic Division but barring a complete collapse or a stunning hot streak, Toronto will almost certainly finish the campaign in the division’s third position. Still, the Leafs will look to stay sharp next week. They’ll play in Philadelphia on Tuesday and Washington on Wednesday before hosting the Oilers on Saturday. Toronto will then conclude the week with a road game versus the Hurricanes on Sunday.

The big question mark regarding the Maple Leafs is the health of Mitchell Marner. He’s dealing with a high-ankle sprain, which is concerning, but Toronto considers it to be a mild variant. Still, he’s set to miss his third straight game Saturday. Given Toronto doesn’t have a lot left to fight for until the playoffs, there isn’t any compelling reason to have him play at anything under 100 percent, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Toronto exercises an abundance of caution when determining his availability going forward.

As long as Marner is unavailable, who plays alongside Auston Matthews remains somewhat in flux. Calle Jarnkrok and Tyler Bertuzzi were his linemates initially Thursday, but Jarnkrok suffered a hand injury and is considered week-to-week. That creates a potential opening for Pontus Holmberg to play on the first unit, which would give him some short-term fantasy value.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on how Nick Robertson is used. He’s been limited to eight goals and 19 points in 41 contests this season but has averaged just 11:22 of ice time and hasn’t even dressed for Toronto since Feb. 29. However, Robertson does have some offensive upside, and the Leafs’ recent injuries might create a new opportunity for him.

Winnipeg Jets – TUE @ NYR, THU @ NJD, SAT @ NYI, SUN @ WAS (BTB)

As noted above, the Jets are competing with Colorado and Dallas for the top seed in the Central Division. The Jets will continue that pursuit next week while playing on the road against the Rangers on Tuesday, New Jersey on Thursday, the Islanders on Saturday and Washington on Sunday.

Gabriel Vilardi has unfortunately been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen. There’s no timetable for his recovery, and we just have to hope that his recovery will go smoothly for him, and after this, he’ll be able to put it behind him.

When he’s healthy, there’s a fair chance Vilardi will play alongside Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele on the first line. As long as he’s unavailable, though, that spot will likely be occupied by Alex Iafallo, who has done well recently, providing two goals and three points in his past four games, which brings him up to 10 goals and 23 points in 65 contests in 2023-24. Iafallo might be worth taking a chance on while he’s playing on the first unit, but even in that role, you shouldn’t expect too much from him.

In the long run, the Jets will probably get more offensive production out of Tyler Toffoli, who is serving on the second line after being acquired from New Jersey on March 8. He has 26 goals and 44 points in 63 outings this season. Toffoli was held off the scoresheet in his first two games with Winnipeg, but it shouldn’t be too long before he starts to find his way with his new team, especially because he’s seeing time on the first power-play unit.