<
>

Fantasy 30: The latest news on every team

The "Tom Wilson in the top six" experiment continues in Washington. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

While you might be an avid fan of a particular NHL team -- and keep up to date on all the news and rumors regarding that franchise -- there are 29 others playing in 2016-17.

As a fantasy owner, it can be a bit daunting to keep tabs on everything.

That's where the Fantasy 30 comes in -- it's a rundown of the most fantasy-relevant updates on every team. Here's what's happening around the NHL this week:

Anaheim Ducks: As discussed in this week's Waiver Watch, goalie Jonathan Bernier is getting the job done while No. 1 John Gibson (lower-body) sits out injured -- as emphasized by Thursday's outstanding 43-save shutout performance in Chicago. While Gibson isn't expected to miss much more time, Bernier merits attention as an immediate roster plug or DFS option in the meanwhile, beginning with Friday's tilt in St. Louis.

Arizona Coyotes: In the final season of his contract, Radim Vrbata might pack it in after this season. How is this relevant to fantasy owners? Whether the 35-year-old decides to call it a career, or play for another deal, he can still be counted on to contribute as an underrated asset. Happy to compete in the desert, the Coyotes' leading scorer has 15 goals and 33 assists and 196 shots on a team lacking in firepower overall. He can be a roster Band-Aid where needed, between now and April.

Boston Bruins: Trade-acquisition Drew Stafford might serve as a valuable short-term commodity in both re-draft and DFS play in the coming days. Bumped to a scoring line with center David Krejci, the 31-year-old winger notched a goal and assist (plus-3) in Wednesday's 6-1 win against the Red Wings. While keeping an eye on how the Bruins' lineup shakes out over the weekend, employ Stafford accordingly.

Buffalo Sabres: With little new information at hand, Kyle Okposo remains week-to-week with hurt ribs. Rookie Justin Bailey appears pegged to replace veteran Brian Gionta on Ryan O'Reilly's right side for Friday's match with the Blue Jackets. Have a glance at how the 21-year-old fares in that role.

Calgary Flames: A couple of fantasy takeaways from the Flames' recent red-hot run:

  • Owned in two-thirds of ESPN leagues, netminder Brian Elliott has won eight of his past nine games (the one loss coming in overtime), while surrendering only six goals in his past five.

  • Dark horse winger Micheal Ferland has four goals to show for his past five contests (plus-8), entrenched on a scoring line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Ferland remains spoken for in just three percent of ESPN leagues.

Carolina Hurricanes: The silver lining provided by sitting outside the playoff bubble often comes in form of allowing young prospects the chance to strut their stuff. Valentin Zykov is one such young forward, who potted a goal in his NHL debut while skating on a scoring line with Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal. While we're not proposing you jump all over this 21-year-old, he's at least worth monitoring in deeper dynasty leagues.

Chicago Blackhawks: If not now, when? On the offhand chance coach Joel Quenneville awards temp backup Jeff Glass his first NHL start Friday -- after Corey Crawford tended net the previous evening against the Ducks -- the AHL/KHL journeyman projects to serve as a way-outside-the-box DFS option. The Blackhawks' offense will feel all the more inspired versus the Red Wings after failing to find the back of the net against Anaheim. However, we won't be surprised if Quenneville instead chooses to roll out his No. 1 again.

Colorado Avalanche: Despite backstopping the worst team in the league, Calvin Pickard deserves a little fantasy attention to round out 2016-17. Auditioning for his job next season -- either with the Avalanche or the new club in Vegas -- the 24-year-old is intent on making the best impression possible. Consistently solid since mid-February, he's been particularly successful of late, allowing just three goals on a total of 53 shots through two victories against, the Hurricanes and Devils. And just last week Pickard stopped all but two of 42 shots from the Senators, his opposition this Saturday.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Wowing management and -- perhaps more to the point -- coach John Tortorella in Columbus, call-up Oliver Bjorkstrand appears in little danger of losing his NHL gig anytime soon. Utilizing that impressive "wrister-snapper" shot of his, the 21-year-old rookie has two goals and an assist in his past couple of games. With a look to the future, consider investing in this dynasty-leagues asset sooner rather than later, but feel free to give him a whirl here and there in DFS as well.

Dallas Stars: Forward Patrick Sharp isn't likely to see this season through to the end. The veteran winger says he plans on shutting it down for season-ending surgery if/when the Stars are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Such a date may not be far off. With three other teams sandwiched between them, the Stars trail the Blues by seven points for the final wild-card spot in the West. And St. Louis has a couple of games in hand on Dallas. Sharp's fantasy owners should start looking for a roster substitute now.

Detroit Red Wings: If possible, pull Anthony Mantha from your fantasy roster Friday. Citing his dissatisfaction with the rookie's recent play, coach Jeff Blashill has decided to give Mantha the night off. "There's opportunities in coaching to have kind of teaching moments to make sure the trajectory of the player is upward as we're going to need him to be," Blashill said. "He's going to be a great player in the league, he's going to be a great player for us still this year, but tonight we're going to give him an opportunity to watch and then he'll get back in there, and when he gets his opportunity I assume he's going to be great." Following this motivating kick in the caboose, ensure Mantha is back active Sunday against the Rangers. Consider the 22-year-old in DFS competition on that day as well.

Edmonton Oilers: If interested in a long-shot asset suited for DFS tournaments, consider Benoit Pouliot versus Pittsburgh this Friday. After missing nearly a month with a finger injury, Pouliot joins a line with former Montreal teammate David Desharnais and Zack Kassian. He's also slotted to skate on the Oilers' second power-play unit. Frustrated after missing a significant chunk during an altogether underwhelming season, the veteran forward will feel inspired to come out strong against Marc-Andre Fleury and the rest of the visiting Penguins.

Florida Panthers: Only a few days ago Reilly Smith was publicly chastised by his head coach, and now the 25-year-old winger is getting the chance to skate on the Panthers' top line. Look for Smith to replace Jonathan Huberdeau on the left side of Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr against the Wild Friday evening. After collecting 25 goals and 25 assists with Florida last season, Smith is struggling to score in 2016-17. We'll see if this new posting helps him rediscover his productive touch.

Los Angeles Kings: We suggested it was only a matter of time in Waiver Watch this week. Following two warmup games with his new squad, Jarome Iginla erupted for two power-play goals -- including the overtime winner -- versus the visiting Predators Thursday. This is why the Kings acquired the 39-year-old ahead of the trade deadline. This is why certain needy fantasy managers should give Iginla -- owned in only seven percent of ESPN leagues -- some thought. Particularly where points with the man advantage are at a premium.

Montreal Canadiens: Feel free to loosely upgrade Alexander Radulov from doubtful to maybe for Sunday's contest in Edmonton. The Canadiens' assists leader hit the ice during practice for the first time Wednesday since his recent shelving. Filling in for Radulov on a scoring line with Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher has failed to earn a single point in three games.

Minnesota Wild: After a decade in the desert, former Coyote Martin Hanzal is having a difficult time adjusting to his new life in Minnesota. Doesn't help that he's missing his wife and two young kids, who bolted for the Czech Republic ahead of the recent upheaval. But a family reunion in Minnesota appears in the works. So fantasy owners who choose to stay patient with the imposing centerman may reap tangible rewards soon enough. To date, Hanzal has three assists in six games with the Wild.

Nashville Predators: Goodness knows the Predators could use a boost this winless March. Expected to make his Predators' debut any day now, hired gun P.A. Parenteau has yet to bounce back from his pre-trade finger injury. Maybe we'll see him Saturday in San Jose. Having watched this Nashville club lose four straight, we might expect to see the former Devil slide straight into the top-six fray, so keep an eye on the line combinations during the next few.

New Jersey Devils: Out for the Devils' current road-trip, Michael Cammalleri (shoulder) won't return to the ice until Tuesday at the earliest. A present-day fantasy figure in only deep re-draft leagues, the sniper-by-nature deserves keeping tabs on nevertheless. Cammalleri has a history of returning from injury with great gusto. For recent evidence, see this season's post-ailment numbers from Nov. 23 onward. Keep him on your DFS radar for when he's back in the active lineup.

New York Islanders: Reportedly banged up after taking a big hit in Thursday's 4-3 overtime win against the Canucks, Ryan Strome appears in danger of sitting out Saturday's contest in St. Louis. Check Strome's status ahead of puck drop. Meanwhile, call-up Josh Ho-Sang remains one to watch as long as he sticks on a scoring line with Brock Nelson.

New York Rangers: With a quick -- if not altogether insightful -- injury update on a handful of his players, coach Alain Vigneault recently labeled forwards Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, and No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist as day-to-day. Reading between the lines, Lundqvist and Nash don't seem seriously hurt, while -- after missing five games with a hip issue -- Grabner also appears a genuine possibility for Sunday's tilt with the Red Wings. But give the Rangers' lineup a good going over before using anyone specifically.

Ottawa Senators: Forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau is on something of a tear. Centering a regular line with Mike Hoffman and Tom Pyatt, the 24-year-old has scored in three straight. DFS players may look into exploiting this minor flurry -- keeping in mind last season's total of 19 goals -- before he settles back down. Additional note: Nursing a finger injury, No. 1 center Kyle Turris isn't expected back until the Senators return home next week.

Philadelphia Flyers: After awarding Michal Neuvirth the start versus the Maple Leafs Thursday (an eventual loss), the Flyers are returning to their contemporary goalie of choice, Steve Mason, on Saturday versus the Bruins. Fact is, Mason has been fairly solid of late, allowing a total of six goals in four straight starts, three of them wins. An impressive comeback from Mason in response to his regular role as observer through the month of February.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The latest injury news out of Pittsburgh: Forward Patric Hornqvist is sidelined an undetermined period with a concussion, while defenseman Kris Letang isn't expected back before next Friday. As it stands, Jake Guentzel has been shifted to fill Hornqvist's spot on the third line -- adjacent to Nick Bonino's hot hand -- while Justin Schultz and newbie Mark Streit remain power-play anchors No. 1 and 2, respectively, in Letang's prolonged absence. Both aforementioned D-men have been contributing up a storm with the man advantage.

San Jose Sharks: It's share-and-share-alike for San Jose's two netminders these days -- a far cry from the standard for most of 2016-17. After appearing in only a dozen games (two in relief) through the end of February, backup Aaron Dell has alternated starts with Martin Jones since the beginning of March. That's for good reason; while Jones has held his own, the first-year netminder has allowed all of four goals in three consecutive victories. Now Dell is loosely projected to alternate with the Sharks' No. 1 in this weekend's set of back-to-backs versus the Predators and Stars. While Jones will undoubtedly continue to carry the heavier load, San Jose's reliable backup (.935 save percentage) shouldn't be marginalized as a fantasy afterthought either. Not with the club looking to give their top banana a bit of rest as the playoffs approach.

St. Louis Blues: With Jake Allen slated to face the Ducks Friday, Carter Hutton might earn Saturday's start against the visiting Islanders. The Blues' backup has been exceptional in limited action since the beginning of February, surrendering one -- one -- goal in three full contests. That adds up to two leftover shutouts. The 31-year-old most certainly merits a twirl in DFS pools when he gets the nod.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Coach Jon Cooper is a little short on experienced centermen at the moment, having lost three to injury during Thursday's 4-1 win over the Wild. Fortunately, Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette are all considered day-to-day with relatively minor -- and eerily similar -- lower-body injuries. But not one of them is expected back Saturday against the Panthers. As such, rookie Brayden Point is slotted in on the top line between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, while six-NHL-game veteran Yanni Gourde is pegged to center a second line with Jonathan Drouin and Alex Killorn. If only in the short term, these two raw surrogates could pay out some seriously rich fantasy dividends.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Whatever caused Tyler Bozak to pass on Thursday's morning skate clearly wasn't that big a deal. Extending his point streak to four games, the 30-year-old centerman scored his own goal before assisting on the game-winner against the Flyers later that evening. Centering an altogether dangerous unit including James van Riemsdyk and Mitch Marner, Bozak has two goals and four helpers in his past quartet of contests, and 45 points on the season (62 games). He's owned in only 28 percent of ESPN leagues. That number is far too low

Vancouver Canucks: With little else of fantasy note going on in Vancouver, we'll point out that Sven Baertschi -- in re-joining top centerman Bo Horvat -- has three goals and an assist in his five games back from a concussion. Worth mentioning, since Baertschi is owned in only 4.5 percent of ESPN leagues. Also, future fantasy asset Nikolay Goldobin might return Saturday after missing Thursday's loss to the Islanders with an illness (not mumps).

Washington Capitals: It appears Tom Wilson has earned another shot at skating in the Capitals' top six. If Friday's configuration holds, Wilson will replace Justin Williams on a line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson opposing the Kings on Saturday. Adjust your lineups accordingly. Wilson has two goals, one assist, 13 PIM, and 36 hits in his past seven contests.

Winnipeg Jets: Drop Toby Enstrom is you haven't done so already. The Jets defenseman has been ruled out indefinitely with a concussion. Pittsburgh's Tom Sestito has been suspended four games for hitting Enstrom from behind.