NHL Fantasy Freakout: Best risks

It takes a healthy level of recklessness to make bold weekend fantasy hockey moves; here are four risky players with good payoff potential.
Publish date:

Welcome to Friday Fantasy Freak Out, where we look at some of the options for fantasy hockey general managers who are desperate to have a strong weekend.

Weekends can make or break weekly, head-to-head fantasy leagues. No lead is safe, especially with the high number of games that usually occur on Saturdays. You’ll either want to fortify your lead or mount an improbably comeback. The players we believe can help you do either one will be examined here.

It takes a healthy level of recklessness to make bold weekend fantasy moves. You’re not waiting to see how things pan out with a player: You need results immediately. There is often great risk involved with these players, which is why each has been given a recklessness letter grade. The higher the grade, the more your fellow poolies will question your moves if not your sanity. But there’s also a higher potential for reward as well.

Andre Burakovsky, F, Washington Capitals

Key non-rental players to watch at NHL trade deadline

​Playing on a line with NicklasBackstrom, Burakovsky has a two-game point streak entering this weekend’s games against the Minnesota Wild on Friday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Burakovsky is starting to shoot with some consistency but this is still a deep pull here: Burakovsky still doesn’t get a ton of PP time and certainly hasn’t converted much lately.

I like Burakovsky because, much like Pouliot, I like whom he’s playing with. But he still might be another season away from taking that next step to, say, an EvgenyKuznetsov-like level. If you’re a forward-thinking fantasy owner, take a flyer on him this weekend to see how he continues to do playing with one of the league’s best playmakers.

Recklessness grade: C+

Benoit Pouliot, F, Edmonton Oilers

I was asked on Twitter recently, perhaps in jest, about the recklessness level of adding Benoit Pouliot to your fantasy roster. My answer was simple: as long as Pouliot is playing on the same line as Connor McDavid, he’s worth the risk for a few games.

Blackhawks’ deal for Ladd sets tone for approaching deadline

​Pouliot has eight points in his last seven games heading into Friday’s game in Anaheim and Sunday’s matchup at home against New York, which looks good at first. But the Ducks and the Islanders are both in the top 10 in terms of goals against average in the NHL, which means the points won’t come easy. But hey, we’re talking Connor McDavid’s line mate here! Why wouldn’t you want to get in on the excitement? If you need some goals and assists, this is about as much fun as you could have taking a weekend fantasy risk.

Recklessness grade: D+

The SI Extra Newsletter Get the best of Sports Illustrated delivered right to your inbox


Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota Wild

First-round picks could move at NHL trade deadline

​Shots, shots, shots. If you’re close in this category and you want to make a sneaky pick on the back-end to put you over the hump, take a look at Dumba. He’s 2nd on the Minnesota Wild in shots by a defenseman and top 40 overall in that category. Once you start going down the list, you’ll find most of the defenseman ahead of him aren’t available in your league anymore, either.

Sure, his game still quite a way to go in terms of overall improvement but against the Washington Capitals on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Sunday, why not have a look? His five-game power-play point streak in early February shows he’s capable on getting on the board, not just throwing the puck at the net.

Recklessness grade: B+

Al Montoya, G, Florida Panthers

Ilya Kovalchuk hits doghouse in KHL, but NHL return still unlikely

​One reason for the Florida Panthers ascent to the top of the Atlantic Division that doesn’t get discussed enough is the strong play of backup goaltender Al Montoya. His 1.91 GAA and .930 save percentage are nothing to scoff at, especially considering he’s let in just one goal in each of his last two games.

The Panthers are on the road this weekend, in Columbus on Saturday and Minnesota on Sunday. Given that these are both non-playoff teams right now, you have to imagine that Panthers coach Gerrard Gallant will give aging no. 1 keeper Roberto Luongo the night off in one of these back-to-backs. They’re both winnable games and I like Montoya for some late week help in all goalie categories.

Recklessness grade: D-