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Who to Start and Who to Sit in Fantasy Hockey (March 21 Edition)

Just because the NHL trade deadline is upon us doesn't mean you should neglect your fantasy team. Jason Chen is back to prepare you for your matchups this week.
Erik Brannstrom

The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET and already a few big moves have already taken place, with more to come. The salary cap has certainly complicated things, but the most astute managers have been able to navigate it and add pieces even when it seemed implausible. Case in point, the Leafs managed to create enough room to add both Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell from the Kraken by placing a few players on waivers, while the Panthers placed Aaron Ekblad on LTIR to facilitate a trade for Claude Giroux.

We won’t see their debuts until Wednesday for the Leafs and Thursday for the Panthers, though the marquee matchup will be on Sunday when the two teams meet for the first time (!) this season. It’ll be a much-anticipated matchup with both teams featuring reinforcements they’ve acquired at the deadline.

Week 22 features 12 games on Saturday, 11 on Tuesday and 10 on Thursday. Monday and Wednesday remain the quieter nights with four games each, followed by Friday’s five-game slate and then eight games on Sunday.

Legend:
P% = season points percentage
Opp. P% = opponents’ season points percentage
Diff. = difference between P% and Opp. P%
Green is good. Red is bad. All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com.

Week 22

Start

Ottawa Senators

Losing Thomas Chabot is a big blow to their defense, but the Sens continue to be intriguing options down the stretch. Josh Norris scored four goals in four games last week and Erik Brannstrom managed to notch a helper on the power play taking over for Chabot. More importantly, even though they’re ranked 30th on the schedule matrix, note that the Jets’ goaltending has struggled and don’t seem to mind trading scoring chances with their opposition, and their Saturday matchup against the Panthers may not be that tough because they’ll likely be saving Sergei Bobrovsky for their Sunday matchup against the Leafs. Note that Mathieu Joseph, acquired from the Lightning for Nick Paul, might be a sneaky play due to increased minutes and his scoring prowess on the penalty kill.

Winnipeg Jets

Connor Hellebuyck’s streak of allowing at least three goals was extended to 11 games in a 6-4 win against the Hawks on Sunday, but at least his save percentage has (slightly) improved. They’re four points out of the final wild-card spot with one game in hand against the Knights, but they’ve been building quite a lot of momentum with five wins in their past seven games. They’re ranked fifth on the schedule matrix for Week 22 due to relatively easy matchups and play all four of their games at home. However, the big boost has been re-acquiring Mason Appleton from the Kraken, reuniting him with Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry, who is currently in COVID protocol. Last season, it was one of their most consistent and dependable lines, and it’s a surprising turn of events after rumors surfaced the Jets would be sellers at the deadline. With a little more stability in the lineup and Hellebuyck’s (slightly) improving play, the Jets should be a good bet for Week 22.

Sit

Anaheim Ducks

The schedule matrix has the Ducks in the middle of the pack among teams that play three games in Week 22, but in reality, they should be closer to the bottom, having dealt Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Nicolas Deslauriers, and perhaps more to come. On paper, the matchup against the Hawks on Wednesday and the Sharks on Saturday could be wins, but note the Hawks at least received some depth scoring in Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk after dealing Brandon Hagel, and though the Ducks have a 2-0-0 edge against the Sharks during the season, both games required extra time and with a depleted lineup may not be so lucky this time. John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz continue to struggle, and even some of the sneakier plays for the Ducks, such as Adam Henrique on the top line with Troy Terry, Vinni Lettieri playing in the top-six, Sam Steel potentially playing more minutes and the addition of Gerry Mayhew, may not be worth the effort.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils have arguably the worst schedule with two back-to-backs, both of which include travel. In all likelihood, that means Nico Daws will split the starts with Jon Gillies. The opponents aren’t easy, either, with the Rangers, Leafs and Caps, and note that after a promising start, Daws was pulled in two straight games. If the Devils are too busy fishing pucks out of their own net, it might be a good time to fade the Devils’ young stars. Jack Hughes’ line, for example, scored three goals in three games last week but also finished with a minus-11 rating. Damon Severson and Dougie Hamilton, their two most fantasy-relevant defensemen, notched just one assist and combined for a minus-10 rating. 

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