Fantasy hockey: Active players to beat an unbalanced schedule

This Quinton Byfield goal is absolutely ridiculous (0:51)

Quinton Byfield shows off his skills as he weaves through the defense to score an unbelievable goal for the Kings. (0:51)

Don't forget, even teams that struggle more than others include valuable fantasy assets. At least a small handful, most of the time. Worth bringing up ahead of the current three-day stretch, as two non-playoff clubs are scheduled to battle two other non-contenders on days when most of the rest of the NHL is off. Specifically, the Buffalo Sabres visit the Montreal Canadiens and Blue Jackets, Wednesday (five games) and Friday (three games) respectively, while those same Jackets face the Ducks, again Wednesday, ahead of their tilt with the Sabres.

Fantasy managers with the flexibility to switch a body or two in and out, day by day, may consider investing in an available asset from either squad. Perhaps Buffalo's Jordan Greenway - overwhelmingly available and contributing in a top-six role - or Columbus's Dmitri Voronkov, who's also essentially there for the snagging. Pardon the jarringly obvious here, but outside of the net, active assets are always more valuable than those idle. Even on teams where the sum of the parts doesn't add up to ideal value. A little streaming creativity could go a long way here.

Other notable match-ups during this end-of-work-week stretch features the Canucks looking to snap their (gasp) three-game losing streak in Seattle on Thursday, while Stars' netminder Jake Oettinger is hoping to climb back on track in Ottawa. I like the odds of both of those scenarios unfolding as wanted. The Flames are seemingly in a bit tough, with two away matches against the Bruins (Thursday) and Oilers (Saturday). Two consecutive losses by Calgary might finally suffice in pushing GM Craig Conroy to call it and commit to selling of moveable assets before the Mar. 8 trade deadline.

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Stock Up

Quinton Byfield, F, Los Angeles Kings: And not just because he scored one of the finest goals of the season against Columbus Tuesday night. Whether he skates on the third line with Pierre-Luc Dubois or within the Kings' top six, this 21-year-old is contributing; most recently to the tune of six goals and six assists in 10 games - a stretch briefly interrupted by illness. Rostered in only 23% of ESPN.com leagues, Byfield should be far more popular.

Bonus note: Keep a view of rookie Kings defender Brandt Clarke, who's contributing on the power play at present.

Philipp Kurashev, F, Chicago Blackhawks: Guess who's figuring it out on a top line and power play with the league's best young forward? In fact, Kurashev started pitching in more points, and skating heavy minutes, even before Connor Bedard returned from a broken jaw. The 24-year-old is riding a six-game point streak with one goal and seven helpers.

Shea Theodore, D, Las Vegas Golden Knights: If by chance the defender remains attainable as a free agent in your own league - as he is in more than 20% of ESPN.com competition - waste no time in securing him immediately. After losing three months to injury, Theodore earned 2.1 fantasy points in standard play in his first game back by way of a power-play assist, shot on goal, and one blocked shot. And he's just warming up.

Ryan Pulock, D, New York Islanders: During his current span of six games following a two-month absence, Pulock has 14 blocked-shots, 15 hits, 11 shots on net, a power-play goal, and one even-strength assist. The Islanders defender merits inclusion in any ESPN.com league that rewards physical play in addition to production. Unlike Vegas's Theodore, he's available in more than 92% of ESPN.com leagues.

Juraj Slafkovsky, F, Montreal Canadiens: Gentle reminder: The young Canadien is serving as a top-10 fantasy forward these days. Yet remains available in more than a quarter of ESPN.com competition.

Stock Down

Ilya Samsonov, G, Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs are sending Joseph Woll to the Marlies, suggesting the netminder - out since early December - could be nearing a return. Which would likely eat into Samsonov's playing time. Plus, Toronto's current No. 1 is poised to face Vegas Thursday after visiting Arizona on Wednesday. Which could serve as a tough start.

Minnesota Wild netminders: After giving up a combined 12 goals to the Canucks and Jets, Filip Gustavsson or Marc-Andre Fleury may not be your top goaltending selection on Friday ... when the Wild visit the Oilers.

Streamer Specials

Martin Jones, G, Toronto Maple Leafs While Scottsdale's own Auston Matthews is gunning to score his 50th in front of the hometown crowd, Phoenix native Matthew Knies has an entire section of family and friends in attendance. Jones was pretty solid in the weekend's comfy 9-2 win over Anaheim, plus you know this Leafs team would love to go 5-0 through Morgan Rielly's entire suspension. Oh, and the Coyotes have lost 10-straight. Add it all up and there's ample reason to stream Toronto's No. 2/soon-to-be-third-stringer on a lightly-scheduled Wednesday.

John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks: There are worse streaming plays than tossing out the Ducks No. 1 versus the Blue Jackets on Wednesday. Especially with Columbus coming off Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Kings. Aside from his poor showing in Toronto over the weekend, Gibson has been fairly solid for Anaheim of late.

Gustav Nyquist, F, Nashville Predators: If only for this week. The top-line winger has six points in his past six games, while the Predators visit the Kings, Sharks, and Ducks in the next four days.