Frozen Fantasy: Don’t Be Afraid to Change

Frozen Fantasy: Don’t Be Afraid to Change

This article is part of our Frozen Fantasy series.

Seven straight losses. 13 in the last 15. The Oilers are in a death spiral and Ken Holland is still repeating the same broken tune.

Don't be Ken.

Holland has never made a midseason coaching change. Ever. Even in the darkest of days. Sure, that was hard in Hockeytown, but the spotlight of Detroit is dim compared to any Canadian city.

The Oilers' skid isn't on Dave Tippett. But it's clear the players aren't listening. And the team's stars are angry – those weird exchanges with reporters show the fury is right there.

Holland has never canned a coach midseason. Ever. Inaction has already hurt him and the Oil, and may have already fractured the trust of his two biggest stars.

Fantasy managers can learn a lot from this situation. Just because we've done something the same way forever doesn't mean it's the right thing to do today.

Sometimes we suffer because we're afraid to change.

I'm a huge advocate for changing technique if something isn't working. I test different management and roster-building approaches across my many teams and leagues to see what I can learn. Even if something works, I want to see if it's repeatable or if it was just a fluke.

What worked for Holland 20 years ago may not apply today. The game has changed. Moreover, the players have changed. And how long will guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl want to stay in town?

Loyalty is defined differently today than ever before.

Check your

Seven straight losses. 13 in the last 15. The Oilers are in a death spiral and Ken Holland is still repeating the same broken tune.

Don't be Ken.

Holland has never made a midseason coaching change. Ever. Even in the darkest of days. Sure, that was hard in Hockeytown, but the spotlight of Detroit is dim compared to any Canadian city.

The Oilers' skid isn't on Dave Tippett. But it's clear the players aren't listening. And the team's stars are angry – those weird exchanges with reporters show the fury is right there.

Holland has never canned a coach midseason. Ever. Inaction has already hurt him and the Oil, and may have already fractured the trust of his two biggest stars.

Fantasy managers can learn a lot from this situation. Just because we've done something the same way forever doesn't mean it's the right thing to do today.

Sometimes we suffer because we're afraid to change.

I'm a huge advocate for changing technique if something isn't working. I test different management and roster-building approaches across my many teams and leagues to see what I can learn. Even if something works, I want to see if it's repeatable or if it was just a fluke.

What worked for Holland 20 years ago may not apply today. The game has changed. Moreover, the players have changed. And how long will guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl want to stay in town?

Loyalty is defined differently today than ever before.

Check your assumptions. Never rest on your past successes. Change your approach if you need to. Don't be a Holland.

Now, let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.  

Cal Clutterbuck, RW, NY Islanders (3 percent Yahoo!) – Clutterbuck makes this list at least once every season. He used to provide a little more category coverage. But at 34, he's a one-category man and that's hits. If you need 'em, Cal's got 'em. In spades. The Isles have a load of games to make up and Clutterbuck is delivering hits at a pace that could near the top of the NHL by season's end. Grab him if you can afford to have a single-category forward.  

Pavel Francouz, G, Colorado (44 percent Yahoo!) – The bottom line is simple. Darcy Kuemper is good, but more fragile than glass. And there's nothing more terrifying for fantasy managers than to hear their goalie just went down. You don't want to carry too many, but the ones on good times are worth it - especially behind guys that are Fra-Gee-Lay. Francouz has won five straight starts this month alone. I'm stashing him where I can.

Johan Larsson, LW/C, Arizona (7 percent Yahoo!) – Failure to launch – that's Larsson. He's the classic overhyped prospect who just never took off… until now, that is. Maybe his misery is tied to being trapped in Buffalo for so long. This year in the Desert, Larsson's game has finally shown up – he has 15 points in 26 contests. And 10 have come in his last 10, including six goals. Larsson has also delivered category coverage on the cheap to the tune of 75 faceoff wins, 17 shots, 15 hits and 10 blocked shots in those 10. Can your roster use a left winger on a near-50 point pace? Mine sure can.

Scott Laughton, LW/C, Philadelphia (4 percent Yahoo!) – You know a team is bad when even its memes are tired. The Flyers have two 10-game losing streaks already this season and they can't seem to buy a win. But the tough-nosed Laughton has quietly rung up a streak of his own over the last four games heading into action Saturday with four assists, 33 FW and 10 hits. In his last eight (again heading into weekend play), Laughton recorded assists in six,with 61 FW and 15 hits.  He's not a PP guy, but those totals are way under the radar right now.

Anton Lundell, C, Florida (27 percent Yahoo!) – Lundell should be on the Calder list, but that's a tough sell this year because of Trevor Zegras, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. The pivot has immediately performed in a middle-six role and heading into Friday night racked up 12 points - including four goals - in his last 12 games. Lundell is going to be a number one pivot who'll compete for a Selke one day – yep, he's in the class of Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O'Reilly and Jonathan Toews. Sure, he still needs some work at the dot, but the guy is just 20. Lundell is contributing enough right now to help in deep formats and represents a strong dynasty play.

Scott Mayfield, D, NY Islanders (1 percent Yahoo!) – Like Clutterbuck, Mayfield is a one-category wonder – in this case, he's all about blocked shots. He put up 10 in his last four games, including six against the Flyers on Tuesday. Mayfield also has three points - including a rare goal - over his last two prior to Saturday. Grab him for his wannabe goalie efforts, and count offense as a complete bonus.

Mike Matheson, D, Pittsburgh (4 percent Yahoo!) – Get him. Now. Evgeni Malkin's return to the Pens has changed where their games are played, and the D suddenly has a little more time and space to execute. And Matheson is thriving in that situation. He's produced six points on a three-game streak heading into Sunday, and he's delivering category coverage with a plus-6, eight SOG and six hits. Matheson's game will cool, but right now every roster needs the kind of boost he can deliver.

Brock Nelson, C, NY Islanders (16 percent Yahoo!) – Nelson is a deep-league look and nothing more. He delivers a little bit of everything, but in low doses. Which is a little strange for a center – they usually win more faceoffs than Nelson does. Still, he's doing what he does every year and that's score goals. Nelson has three goals in his last three games and is on another Cy Young year with a 13-4 scoring rate from 24 outings. He's already recorded five 20-plis goal seasons and could be heading toward 30-plus this year. And you can still get that on the cheap (for now).

Alex Tuch, LW/RW, Buffalo (27 percent Yahoo!) – Tuch is the forgotten man in fantasy and that's to your benefit. I snapped him up where I could just as he was coming off IR, and he's starting to contribute. He went into Saturday on a three-game streak (two of each) with eight points in as many games. And he delivered two more helpers in a nice win over Philly on Saturday. Tuch is a first-line winger buried in the deep snow of northern New York. Shovel him out for your own gain.

Karel Vejmelka, G, Arizona (17 percent Yahoo!) – I've been watching Vejmelka since he stole that game against the Leafs a week-and-a-half ago – they could have had five or six goals, but he just starred. Since then, he's won two of three. And is 4-2-0 over his last six starts. Vejmelka faces a lot of shots and won't always win. But 2022 is here and the southpaw looks like he's much more comfortable on smaller NHL ice. He's no Roberto Luongo, but remember – Bobby Lou was a fantasy darling on a terrible Florida team when he faced a load of pucks. Bottom line? Don't overlook busy guys on bad teams, especially when goalies are at such a premium.

Back to change.

The Oilers have games to make up this season and the schedule isn't going to be kind. They have 46 in the last 98 days and are likely to be exhausted if they can even get into the postseason.

The jersey tossing has already begun. Holland's impeccable legacy is starting to sour. Remember Mike Babcock? He didn't change.

And he's never been back.

I'm taking a hard look in the mirror to make sure I'm not pulling a Holland with any of my teams. I recommend everyone do the same.

And I hope the Oilers fortunes change. Soon. Fans everywhere deserve that.

Until next week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janet Eagleson
Janet Eagleson is a seven-time Finalist and four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. She is a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, loved the OHL London Knights when they were bad and cheers loudly for the Blackhawks, too. But her top passion? The World Junior Hockey Championships each and every year.
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