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Posted On Friday, 08.22.2014 / 10:30 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Niemi vs. Stalock

The clock is ticking for San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, and Alex Stalock appears ready to pounce on any opportunity that comes his way.

Niemi, who turns 31 next week, is entering a contract year off a second consecutive Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. But unlike the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Niemi put his team in position to take the series (two goals or fewer allowed in six of seven games), the Sharks' latest exit came in the worst fashion imaginable.

The Sharks took a 3-0 series lead against the Kings but failed to close the deal with four straight losses. Los Angeles became the fourth team in NHL history to win a series when facing such a deficit and went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Make no mistake, factors such as defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's injury and the Kings' ability to dictate puck possession and lock down defensively certainly determined the result of the series. That said, much of the blame could be pinned on Niemi.

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy goalie dilemma: Health key for Wild trio

In fantasy football, you're able to draft a team defense. If only fantasy hockey owners had the luxury of consolidating the Minnesota Wild goaltenders.

Darcy Kuemper, Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom have proven they are capable of starting at the NHL level -- when healthy. The Wild cycled through five goalies last season because of injuries, but they had the League's seventh-best team goals-allowed average (2.42). That's a testament to organizational depth.

In reality, few teams are better equipped for the rigors of the upcoming season than Minnesota, but that doesn't necessarily help fantasy owners looking for a clear-cut No. 1. Unless you have rare roster flexibility and a willingness to put all your eggs in one basket by scooping up all three Wild goalies, it's important to be strategic when considering one or two of them in your draft.

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Posted On Friday, 06.27.2014 / 8:45 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Ducks' depth will benefit Kesler

Ryan Kesler is going from a rebuilding project to a playoff team built to win immediately.

The center's fresh start with the Anaheim Ducks should be more than enough to earn back the trust of fantasy owners.

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Posted On Monday, 06.23.2014 / 3:33 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hartnell can hit 'refresh' in Columbus

Neither the Philadelphia Flyers nor the Columbus Blue Jackets took on a salary cap-friendly contract in swapping left wings Scott Hartnell and R.J. Umberger on Monday.

Hartnell and Umberger have five and three years remaining on their respective contracts. Each is 32 years old and has seen a dip in productivity over the past few years. But from a fantasy standpoint, contract terms don't come into play as much.

The big takeaway from this deal is that Hartnell has waived his no-trade clause to join one of the deepest, most promising forward arsenals in the League. His category coverage helped fantasy owners win their leagues during his time in Philly, and the potential is there for him to hit the "refresh" button in Columbus.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.18.2014 / 3:22 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Trending up, down after 2014 playoffs

The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs were as unpredictable as ever, and fantasy owners can expect many developments from around the NHL to impact next year's landscape.

There were elite-level players (Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Henrik Lundqvist, Patrick Kane, P.K. Subban, etc.) who fueled deep playoff runs for their respective teams, as well as breakout stars from the regular season (Nathan MacKinnon, Jamie Benn, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Johansen, Matt Niskanen, etc.) who carried over their strong play to the big stage.

But the players who will stick in the minds of fantasy owners all summer long are the playoff surprises and disappointments. Here are some players who are trending in fantasy, for better or worse, heading into the offseason as a result of their postseason performances.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.22.2014 / 6:47 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Islanders make big upgrade with Halak

The New York Islanders have a fantasy-relevant starting goalie. Let that sink in.

After trading for the rights of pending unrestricted free agent Jaroslav Halak on May 1, the Islanders locked up their new goalie Thursday with a four-year contract. For a team that hasn't had much stability at the position or success on the free-agent front in recent years, the signing is a major step in the right direction.

Halak, a productive fantasy goalie behind a stingy defense during his tenure with the St. Louis Blues, is one of four goalies with a 2.15 goals-against average and .920 save percentage or better over the past three regular seasons combined (minimum 100 outings). Cory Schneider, Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist are the others.

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Posted On Monday, 05.19.2014 / 3:00 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Elliott-Allen tandem in the works

What had the looks of a cloudy goalie situation for the St. Louis Blues just became crystal clear.

Brian Elliott signed a three-year contract to remain with the Blues, meaning he will likely anchor the team's goalie tandem alongside touted prospect Jake Allen in 2014-15.

And as a result of this contract development, it's certain that Ryan Miller, a pending unrestricted free agent, will either have his rights dealt elsewhere or test the market this summer.

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Posted On Friday, 04.11.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Best steals based on ADP, ownership

As the NHL regular season comes to a close, it's appropriate to marvel at how fantasy league champions were crowned after a six-month roller-coaster ride.

Besides avoiding the unpredictable injury bug, championship teams generally draft well in early rounds. But the fantasy playoffs always boil down to depth and consistency, and that's where late-round and waiver-wire gems put teams over the top.

Average draft position in standard Yahoo leagues provides a strong indication of the fantasy expectations surrounding a particular player coming into the season. When comparing ADPs with year-end ownership, it's clear which players have been the biggest fantasy "steals."

Here are the forwards, defensemen and goalies who exceeded expectations this season based on Yahoo ADP and ownership:

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 2:19 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Penguins' Letang back on map

An alarming health concern put the career of Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang on hold, but his promising recovery has him back on the ice and ready to contribute.

The 26-year-old suffered a stroke on Jan. 29 and has been recovering over the past 10 weeks. Letang has practiced with contact for the past few weeks after being cleared by doctors and the team announced he will return Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

From a fantasy standpoint, any owner who held onto Letang during his recovery period is now likely to see him pay dividends down the stretch. If your one-year, head-to-head league does not permit owners from making waiver-wire transactions once eliminated, there's even a chance Letang is available at this time for your championship round (owned in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues).

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Posted On Friday, 04.04.2014 / 3:26 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Avalanche's Barrie could be final piece

Last season, Colorado Avalanche defensemen combined to score five goals. Yes, it was a 48-game campaign, but that NHL-low total was a glaring weakness for a team that finished 29th among 30 teams in the standings.

What a difference a year makes.

This season, through 76 games, the Avalanche are the only NHL team with five defensemen who have six or more goals apiece. Bounce-back offensive seasons from Erik Johnson (eight goals) and Jan Hejda (six) as well as the additions of Nick Holden (nine) and Andre Benoit (seven) have made a huge difference, but the unit's improvement can be traced to the emergence of Tyson Barrie.

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Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares