Hutch's Hockey: The Finishing Touch

Hutch's Hockey: The Finishing Touch

This is it for fantasy hockey this season. Not all formats are playing at this stage of the season, so I will refine my advice to those that permit daily transactions. There's only four days of games left, so time is running out to make an impact. 

I'm right in the thick of it in my few championship battles. I've got one where I'm leading by a wide margin. The rest are close, and the same can be said for most of my third-place matchups as well. What makes championship week more interesting is having more time to adjust and react, in this case 11 days instead of the usual seven. 

Those adjustments and reactions will take different looks depending on where your team is at. If you're in a really close competition, you can start dropping players that finish their season Monday or Tuesday to create more games for your teams. This year is unusual in that regard -- most of the time, the NHL likes to have at least one more big day right at the end, but this season will end without one last bonanza of action. 

Instead of just a list of hot players from the last few weeks, it's of the utmost importance that you pick up players that will have games ahead. As such, I'll list a few players to target for each day rather than a general list of who could be helpful. 

Monday

If I had to guess, the goalie to roster Monday will be Calvin Pickard. The Oilers have been rotating their goalies for all of April, and Stuart Skinner played Saturday versus the Canucks. Pickard would be in line to start Monday versus the Sharks, a team that has already secured last place in the league. Pickard is 2-2-1 with 15 goals allowed over his last five games, but he's a goalie I would trust given the situation. 

Sticking with the Oilers to pick on the Sharks, Adam Henrique is the most viable forward to target. He's scored just once over seven games in April, but he could remain in a top-six role if Connor McDavid (lower body) doesn't play. Henrique can also chip in some shots on goal and hits. He's not for everyone, but the Sharks represent a big chance for him to break out of the slump. 

Lucas Raymond is out there in half of Yahoo formats, and that needs to change with the Red Wings closing the campaign with a back-to-back versus the Canadiens. Raymond has four goals and four assists during his four-game point streak. He's been on the top line in that span and also sees power-play time. This is a winger poised to achieve his first 70-point campaign, and yet he's still flying under the radar. 

On defense, Jeff Petry has picked it up for the Red Wings. He's got four points, 21 hits, 10 shots on goal and a plus-7 rating over his last six contests. Petry's value comes from his physical play, though any offense is also a welcome addition at this time of year. Again, a back-to-back against a vulnerable opponent gives him some appeal before you cycle him out for Wednesday's slate. 

Tuesday

There's not many readily available goalie targets for Tuesday, but Laurent Brossoit is the best option. The Jets are nearly guaranteed home ice for the first round of the playoffs, and Tuesday's game against the anemic offense of the Kraken would be a good spot for Brossoit to get a start. Brossoit is better than the average backup with 14-5-2 record, a 2.00 GAA and a .928 save percentage this season. He's been even a little better since the All-Star break (7-2-0, 1.90 GAA, .931 save percentage). It'll be a coaching decision for Rick Bowness to make, but Brossoit is a good speculative addition. 

There's plenty of Bruins who could help you Tuesday against the Senators, but Danton Heinen is the most widely available. He has six points over his last five contests, and with 36 points in 72 games this year, he's been a pleasant surprise in a top-six role. The Bruins still have to compete for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, so there's a low risk of them resting players Tuesday, making Heinen likely to play alongside Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak as he has regularly in recent weeks. 

Jaccob Slavin is a solid defense option for Tuesday, as the Hurricanes will face the Blue Jackets. With a goal and six helpers over his last five games, Slavin's turned up the offense in addition to his usual stellar defense. He's a target for points, plus-minus and blocked shots, and he'll likely be in the lineup as the Hurricanes still have a chance to finish first in the Metropolitan Division. 

I like Anthony Mantha's fit with Vegas, and he should be able to make some noise in a matchup versus the Blackhawks on Tuesday. With nine points over his last 11 outings, Mantha has clicked alongside William Karlsson. The Golden Knights may use Tuesday's game to roll four lines and get into a playoff rhythm against a less-intimidating opponent, which could mean more ice time for Mantha.

Wednesday

The lightest slate of the four remaining days is Wednesday, with four games on. Goaltending options will be thin, but it's worth considering Scott Wedgewood versus the Blues. The Stars have the top seed in the Western Conference currently and could still get the Presidents' Trophy, but only if the Rangers lose Monday. Jake Oettinger has already played four straight games and has only played five in a row twice this year. With little left to gain, it wouldn't be shocking for Wedgewood to start against a Blues team that has nothing left to play for as the top team to miss the playoffs. It's not a perfect matchup, but Wedgewood is 3-3-1 with a 2.51 GAA and a .900 save percentage over 10 games since the All-Star break. 

Wednesday's also the last chance to add Logan Stankoven to your roster. This may be more viable in deeper keeper formats that were slow to react to Stankoven's ascension to the NHL. If the Stars rest players, he's in line for a larger workload against the Blues. He's put up just three assists over his last seven games, but he's also shown a lot of talent despite a third-line role. 

The Islanders could clinch their playoff spot with a win Monday, but they're unlikely to ease up Wednesday versus the Penguins. Kyle Palmieri has been their top performer lately with five goals and four assists over the last eight games. He's done it as a second-line winger all season, earning his first 50-point campaign since 2018-19. He can also add a little physicality with hits and should help if you're chasing shots on goal. 

Thursday

The final day of the season offers some intriguing options in goal. David Rittich would be at the top of that list, as the Kings will face the Blackhawks. Cam Talbot has had more of the workload lately, but Rittich is 4-2-0 with just 10 goals allowed over his last six games. It would make sense for the Kings to rest the veteran Talbot, allowing Rittich one more start to keep both goalies sharp leading into the playoffs. 

I'm also considering Dustin Wolf for the Flames' matchup versus the Sharks. Wolf has won three games in a row, including his first NHL road win versus the Sharks last Tuesday. The Flames have alternated goalies in April, which would line Wolf up for the season finale as well. He's yet to show goalie-of-the-future-level hype with a 3.30 GAA and an .891 save percentage through 16 outings this season, but he's generally handled himself well in the easy matchups. 

The Flames' hottest forward down the stretch has been Andrei Kuzmenko. While it hasn't come under the pressure of a playoff race, he has nine goals and seven assists over his last nine games. He's looked good despite frequent lineup shuffling by head coach Ryan Huska. Kuzmenko is a good source of power-play production and shots, especially given Thursday's favorable matchup versus the Sharks. 

Viktor Arvidsson has been quietly excellent with 12 points over 16 outings this season. He quickly fell off the radar after missing the first four months of the season and then another month shortly after his debut. Arvidsson's been healthy since March 20 and he's seeing top-six minutes. Take a chance on him Thursday versus the Blackhawks in what could be a significantly lopsided game -- it's not often you can add players performing at a 60-point pace at this stage of the season. 

I'd also target the duo of Tomas Hertl and Chandler Stephenson for Vegas' game versus the Ducks on Thursday. Hertl and Stephenson have been interchangeable between center and left wing on the second line since Hertl made his Golden Knights debut. Hertl has three points over four contests with his new team, while Stephenson has racked up 15 points across 19 games since the start of March. Stephenson is more of a playmaking and power-play points option, while Hertl is more favorable for goals, shots and hits. Both can be useful -- make moves for what you need heading into the final day. 

With that, the best of luck to everyone still competing in fantasy hockey this week. I thank everyone who's checked out Hutch's Hockey this season. It's been a crazy, wild, difficult and rewarding year, but I'm proud of this column and where it's at after three years. Keep an eye out in the late summer for all of RotoWire's usual draft-season pieces, and I'll be back for Year 4 in October. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Hutchinson
Shawn has covered sports independently since 2010, and joined RotoWire in 2019. In 2023, he was named FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year. Shawn serves as a contributor for hockey and baseball, and pens the "Hutch's Hockey" column. He also enjoys soccer, rooting for his hometown teams: Sounders FC and Reign FC.
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