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Posted On Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 3:45 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Rangers' Stepan suddenly a 'must-own'

Derek Stepan
Center - NYR
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 25
SOG: 67 | +/-: 12
A month ago, New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan was a shot in the dark from a fantasy standpoint.

How things have changed.

After registering nine points in his first 18 games this season, Stepan has had points in 11 of his next 14 -- totaling 16 during that stretch. On Tuesday, the damage was done at the expense of the division rival Philadelphia Flyers, as the 22-year-old reeled off the first four-point game (1G, 3A, plus-3) of his three-year National Hockey League career.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 12:40 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Can't deny Bergeron's consistency

It's no surprise that Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has had another season of top-notch category coverage for fantasy owners.

Bergeron is one of only five NHL players in 2012-13 with at least a plus-15 rating, 25-plus points and 85-plus shots on goal, putting him in the elite company of Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jonathan Toews. Bergeron has posted a positive rating in 17 of his 31 games this season, tied for the second-most in the NHL behind only Pascal Dupuis (19).

Patrice Bergeron
Center - BOS
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 27
SOG: 85 | +/-: 21
It's not surprising -- based on recent and career production -- to see the 27-year-old produce at such a high rate in major offensive categories. What's shocking is that so many owners passed on his services in drafts this season.

Bergeron, selected on average with the 114th overall pick in Yahoo! leagues, has the highest combined rating (plus-77) of any forward in the League spanning the last three seasons. Monday was the latest example of his diverse fantasy game, as he tallied a goal, two PIMs and three shots on goal in a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Plain and simple, Bergeron is an elite two-way forward in his prime that hasn't seen a single-season pointless drought of more than three games since the 2010-11 campaign.

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Posted On Monday, 03.25.2013 / 3:00 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Schroeder aids injury-depleted Canucks

When the stretch run of the fantasy hockey season rolls around, waiver-wire pickups can simply mean the difference between your squad staying in playoff contention or being eliminated altogether.

Jordan Schroeder
Center - VAN
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 9
SOG: 25 | +/-: 0
Available players in promising situations that touch on more than one fantasy category should always be given thoughtful consideration -- especially if they remain under the radar despite a hot streak. For those reasons, Vancouver Canucks center Jordan Schroeder deserves to be on your team's radar in deep leagues.

The Canucks top-line center, Henrik Sedin, has put forth another top-tier fantasy campaign with consistent production (29 points, plus-16 in 32 games), but Vancouver's laundry list of injuries has dismantled its deep arsenal at the center position. David Booth is out for the season with an ankle injury and goal-scorer Ryan Kesler -- mired by multiple injuries over the last two seasons -- only played seven games before being sidelined again due to a fractured bone in his foot.

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Posted On Friday, 03.22.2013 / 12:40 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Setoguchi among League's best of late

Everything is falling into place for the Minnesota Wild these days, as the club is reaping the benefits of its bold activity over the past two offseasons.

Fantasy owners are well aware of what the team accomplished last summer, signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to long-term contracts. That tandem has impressed through 29 games this season, combining for 20 power-play points. Parise has 23 points and is tied for fifth in the NHL in shots on goal (110), while Suter is second among all defensemen in points (24) and tied for sixth among all skaters in assists (22).

But another key component of the Wild's success has gone virtually unnoticed until this week. Devin Setoguchi, who Minnesota acquired from the San Jose Sharks when it hosted the 2011 NHL Draft, is raising eyebrows across the NHL again -- gaining fantasy relevance as a result.

Over the last 10 days, Setoguchi has been the League's hottest forward, accumulating six goals, 17 shots on goal and a plus-6 during that five-game span. When his point-production tear was in its early stages exactly two weeks ago, his ownership only stood at seven percent in Yahoo! leagues. As of Friday morning, that number is up to 30 percent.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 11:45 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Sharks' rookie Irwin picking up steam

The San Jose Sharks, after a 7-0-0 start, have only won five times in their last 21 games. But despite their recent struggles, a bright spot has emerged in rookie defenseman Matt Irwin.

Matt Irwin
Defense - SJS
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 8
SOG: 44 | +/-: -6
Irwin is riding a four-game point streak -- the longest of his career -- and has totaled four goals and two assists over his last six games. With the fantasy defenseman waiver-wire pool being especially thin these days, the 25-year-old defenseman's recent stretch of production has made him a commodity in deep leagues -- especially since Brent Burns moved from defenseman to wing on a line with Logan Couture and Joe Thornton.

The 6-foot-2 defenseman is operating on the team's top pairing with veteran Dan Boyle and is learning on the fly as the Sharks try to navigate through their struggles. Owned in only two percent of Yahoo! leagues, Irwin was instrumental in the Sharks' third period onslaught Monday after falling behind 4-1 to the Anaheim Ducks on the road.

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Posted On Friday, 03.08.2013 / 11:15 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Replacing tri-eligible forward Sharp

The Chicago Blackhawks' point streak lives on for yet another day, but fantasy owners of Patrick Sharp suddenly have a problem on their hands.

Sharp left Wednesday's game against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period after sustaining an upper-body injury when he was hit into the boards by Ryan O'Byrne. The No. 28 forward in NHL.com's most recent rankings, Sharp is the only player League-wide with tri-eligibility (LW/C/RW) in Yahoo fantasy leagues.

Patrick Sharp
Left Wing - CHI
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 18
SOG: 78 | +/-: 7

For that reason alone, it's impossible to replace the position flexibility he brings to the table. Sharp is also in the top 20 League-wide in shots on goal (78) with a plus-7 rating and 18 points (7 PPP) in 24 games. But despite injuries continuing to pile up on fantasy rosters around the world, owners must continue to keep a pulse on the waiver wire to stay afloat until Sharp returns.

On Friday, a report indicated that Sharp has a shoulder separation that could potentially keep him out of the lineup anywhere from three weeks to a month.

If you own Sharp in fantasy leagues, be sure to monitor his status over the coming days to see if he's placed on injured reserve. If that's the route Chicago takes, store him there and consider short-term replacements. For now, here's a trending player at each of the three forward positions to eye in the coming days.

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Posted On Friday, 03.01.2013 / 4:57 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: O'Reilly can be difference-maker

With contract negotiations now in his rearview mirror, forward Ryan O'Reilly can be a key piece to the puzzle for fantasy owners around the world.

The Colorado Avalanche matched a two-year offer sheet to the forward tendered by the Calgary Flames on Thursday, meaning the team's leading scorer from a season ago is back in the fold and could return as early as Sunday.

Most fantasy owners who drafted O'Reilly (center eligible in Yahoo leagues) could not afford to store him on their benches for the first five-plus weeks of the regular season, so it's important for all owners to consider what this 22-year-old can bring to the table from a fantasy standpoint.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Dillon among top rookie defensemen

With so many first-year players thriving from a fantasy standpoint this season, it's easy for Brenden Dillon's name to get lost in the shuffle.

Brenden Dillon
Defense - DAL
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 6
SOG: 37 | +/-: 5
But if you're in a deep league looking for a defenseman who provides category coverage to fill a roster spot, there are not many better options than the Dallas Stars rookie.

An undrafted prospect who was signed by the Stars in March of 2011, Dillon has emerged as a full-time defenseman for Dallas. The 22-year-old picked up his second multi-point game of the season Tuesday, posting two helpers in the Stars' overtime triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dillon was credited with the secondary assist on Loui Eriksson's overtime winner, displaying tremendous poise in the offensive zone to set up the game-winning sequence.

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Posted On Monday, 02.25.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Sources of power on waiver wire

To say the injury bug has ravaged fantasy rosters around the world in recent weeks would be an understatement.

High-profile fantasy forwards (i.e. Evgeni Malkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Rick Nash) have been placed on injured reserve by their respective teams in recent days, meaning many owners are on the lookout for help in a number of offensive categories. Most notably, there's a high demand for power-play productivity from available waiver wire assets.

It goes without saying that it will be difficult to replace the fantasy impact of a player like Malkin, who leads the NHL with 14 PPP this season, but the players below could at least keep your team afloat with consistent production with the man advantage -- as well as in other stat categories.

Troy Brouwer (RW, Washington Capitals)

Troy Brouwer
Right Wing - WSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 12
SOG: 38 | +/-: -5
Brouwer has seen a heightened power-play role following the offseason departure of Alexander Semin, and the results have been better than anyone expected.

After only seeing 2:08 per game with the man advantage last season, the 27-year-old has seen nearly four minutes of power-play ice time per game through 17 games. He has already reeled off eight power-play points (T-18th in NHL) this season, nearly doubling his output a season ago (5 PPP in 82 games).

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Posted On Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 12:30 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Penguins' Sutter viable replacement

Brandon Sutter has had his share of ups and downs in his first season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Wednesday could prove to be the start of his next point-production surge.

Sutter (owned in only 6 percent of Yahoo! leagues) scored the game-tying goal late in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers to snap his four-game pointless streak. That slump was preceded by a five-game point streak from Feb. 2-9. Prior to that stretch, Sutter had only one assist to show for himself over his first seven games of the season.

Brandon Sutter
Center - PIT
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 7
SOG: 31 | +/-: 4
Judging by the peaks and valleys he's experienced so far in 2012-13, Sutter, 24, is not quite a center you can lean on for consistent point production. That being said, he still holds value in deep leagues -- especially as a temporary injury replacement on your roster.

If your lineup has been affected by recent injuries to center-eligible assets (Jeff Skinner, Brandon Dubinsky, etc.), Sutter is a short-term option worth pursuing. He had season-highs in shots on goal (5) and rating (plus-2) in Wednesday's loss to the Flyers, centering the Penguins' third line with Tyler Kennedy and rookie Beau Bennett since he was recalled last week.

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NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
Intricacies of NHL schedule important
30 in 30 fantasy hockey preview index
Pete Jensen's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Matt Cubeta's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Matt Sitkoff's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Goalie battles: SJS | ANA | STL | MIN | CAR

OFFSEASON FANTASY RANKINGS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. alex Ovechkin

CUBETA & JENSEN'S COMPLETE RANKINGS