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Fantasy hockey rankings update: Need to know playoff pickups

Duncan Keith handles the puck. Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The head-to-head playoffs should be getting started or recently underway, depending on your league settings. In rotisserie leagues, you have as few as 12 games remaining from some players on your roster.

When injuries or ineffectiveness strike your roster, you need to know who's available and who's performing. Here are a few names ranking better than 105th on the ESPN Player Rater for the past 30 days, and available in at least 40 percent of leagues.


Duncan Keith, D, Chicago Blackhawks (available in 60 percent of ESPN leagues): The Hawks have been using the 36-year-old Keith on their power play for the first time with any regularity this season - and the results have been great for the both the team and Keith. Chicago has been middle-of-the-pack in power play success for the past month, instead of second-worst for the season (which is still the case, as they have some catching up to do). As for Keith, he's tied for second among defensemen in points and first in power-play points since Feb. 12.

Dustin Brown, W, Los Angeles Kings (60 percent): The hat trick on Saturday was just icing on the cake for what has been a solid month for the 35-year-old Brown. He's top 50 in the league since Feb. 12 for scoring and shots on goal. The Kings have been winning more often than not in the span, and Brown playing with Anze Kopitar - on and off the power play - has been a big part of it.

Patric Hornqvist, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (40 percent): The 33-year-old Hornqvist has been trading off with Jason Zucker as the fourth forward on the Pens power play. And while he's often left out of the top six of late, he does have 10 points and four power-play points since Feb. 12 - which is more than someone like Jonathan Huberdeau or Brayden Point can claim.

Andrew Mangiapane, W, Calgary Flames (85 percent): Mangiapane is a bit late to the party we've been throwing him. He was on the radar for these rankings for several months because of his role in the Flames offense, but wasn't doing anything with it. When I decided it was time to move on, Mangiapane has finally started collecting those points by osmosis from Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund. He has 13 points in his past 13 games, which is the exact same production we've received from Patrick Kane in that timeframe.

Jordan Eberle, W, New York Islanders (60 percent): While he may not be destined to stay there for long given the Islanders current stretch of losing games (2-7-3), Eberle looks comfortable with Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee again. He's filtered in and out of the role all season long. Despite the Isles record of late, Eberle has nine points in nine games and is worthy of a start if he can hold down his role.

Adam Henrique, C, Anaheim Ducks (60 percent): Besides the fact you could use him this week knowing you are getting a goal in hand from the postponed game with the Blues (see the latest Forecaster), Henrique has had some big games in the past month. He's cooled off in March, but Henrique had 12 points in 13 games during the month of February and is embracing his role as the center between the team's best two wingers (Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg).

Forwards on the move

Kevin Fiala, W, Minnesota Wild (up 42 spots to No. 48): Fiala has been rocketing up rankings everywhere, but it never seems to be enough. It was understandable that many fantasy managers had moved on from him in January. He had a horribly slow October, scored decently in November and December, but then had another super slow January. It looked like Fiala was just a hot and cold free-agent pickup to ride when he was streaking. Well, his current streak has now extended well into a second month. Since the start of February, only Leon Draisaitl and Mika Zibanejad have more points; only Zibanejad has more goals; only Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews and Mike Hoffman have more shots; and only Zibanejad has more power-play points. Did we mention Fiala has done this while playing almost five minutes per game fewer than most of these guys?

Tomas Tatar, W, Montreal Canadiens (down 31 spots to No. 100): It's telling that the Habs could only muster one goal in two games since Tatar was injured on March 3. The team is missing their leading scorer, and Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault are going to suffer for it. We don't know much about the injury, but for at least the next week, you should consider alternate arrangements for any Canadiens you typically have in the lineup. Tatar appears to be a major catalyst for the offense.

Defensemen on the move

Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning (down nine spots to No. 35): It's that time of the season when we have to at least start casting a casual eye to the standings when it comes to evaluating injuries. We know the teams are going to do it, so it has to be a part of the conversation. Will Hedman, who has strong understudies still healthy in Mikhail Sergachev and Kevin Shattenkirk, rush back from a lower-body injury with the knowledge that the Lightning appear locked into the No. 2 seed from the Atlantic? Maybe if the Bruins lose all week long and the Bolts win, narrowing the gap. But maybe not if things still look the same a week from now. I'm not ready to cut bait on a player with a minor injury if the team's playoff seeding is locked in, but I'm at least considering alternate arrangements to keep my lineup strong.

Goaltenders on the move

Juuse Saros, G, Nashville Predators (up 26 spots to No. 84): As suggested in this space on Feb. 7, Saros has firmly seized the reins for the Predators and relegated Pekka Rinne to backup duty for the stretch run. Since then, Saros has a 7-4-0 record with a 2.11 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and three shutouts. If you use shutouts as a category, that means he's been the best fantasy goaltender in that span (without shutouts, there's a case for Carter Hart). Saros was available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues back then, but the gap has only closed to 70 percent, so there's still time to take advantage.

Elvis Merzlikins, G, Columbus Blue Jackets (up 22 spots to No. 113): Merzlikins returned from injury to slam the door on the Canucks on Sunday in a 2-1 victory. While Joonas Korpisalo had a couple of weeks to make a case for more starts once both goaltenders were healthy, Korpisalo failed to get any separation by allowing at least three goals in all four of his starts. This should be Merzlikins crease again and, need we remind you that he's had some stretches as one of the more valuable assets in fantasy this season. He needs to be back on rosters again.


New to rankings

Jonathan Quick, Kailer Yamamoto, Jared Spurgeon, Cory Schneider, Morgan Rielly, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pavel Zacha, Jordan Eberle, Vladimir Tarasenko.

Just missed

Brandon Saad, Dougie Hamilton, Tyson Jost, Patrick Marleau, Alex Iafallo, Vince Dunn, Brock Boeser, Peter Mrazek, Jakob Chychrun.

Dropped out

Cam Atkinson, Mike Smith, Sami Vatanen, Blake Coleman, Ethan Bear, Corey Perry, Yanni Gourde, Barrett Hayton, James van Riemsdyk.