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Posted On Tuesday, 09.04.2012 / 4:11 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: Landeskog's stock continues to rise

Gabriel Landeskog was named the youngest captain in NHL history Tuesday -- yet another reason why he deserves to be on your fantasy team's radar.

The reigning Calder Trophy winner was tabbed the leader for the Colorado Avalanche after excelling in all six offensive categories (22 G, 30 A, plus-20, 51 PIM, 12 PPP, 270 SOG) during his stellar rookie campaign. NHL.com's team of fantasy experts ranked Landeskog as the No. 54 overall fantasy player in its latest set of overall rankings released earlier Tuesday.

Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog
Left Wing - COL
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 52
SOG: 270 | +/-: 20
Landeskog's finish to the 2011-12 season saw him emerge with near point-per-game production, as he tallied 13 goals and 17 assists over his last 34 games. The 19-year-old phenom showed tremendous chemistry with late-season linemates Steve Downie and Ryan O'Reilly, posting a plus-20 rating for a non-playoff team in the process. He was owned in 59 percent of Yahoo! leagues at season's end -- a number that is bound to rise after upcoming drafts take place.

Taking into account his PIM production and ever-expanding role for the Avs' power-play unit, Landeskog already warrants keeper consideration in such leagues and should be on every team's draft watch list from the third to fifth rounds -- depending on league size and format.

To see where Landeskog ranks among the game's best fantasy assets, check out NHL.com's top-175 overall rankings.

Follow Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen on Twitter: @NHLJensen; Join the conversation: @NHLFantasy

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Posted On Friday, 03.30.2012 / 1:15 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: Isles second line warrants a look



While the New York Islanders' secondary scoring spike over the past few games is likely "too little, too late" for the team's playoff hopes, it could be just what the doctor ordered for any fantasy team in the midst of a championship run.

Every point is crucial this time of year as the vast majority of fantasy leagues have reached their final playoff round, so the play of Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo should not be overlooked. The Isles' current secondary line -- comprised of three forwards owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues -- has kicked it into high gear over the last week and a half.

Josh Bailey
Center - NYI
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 31
SOG: 99 | +/-: -8
New York remains mathematically alive in the playoff race entering Friday's action after sweeping a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins -- who endured a major setback in their pursuit of the East's top seed. Despite facing Marc-Andre Fleury twice this week, the Isles managed to post 10 goals in two games en route to a pair of 5-3 wins over their Atlantic Division foes.

Bailey (LW - 2 percent) put forth a 5-point game in Thursday's win over the Pens and has accumulated 3 goals, 9 assists and a plus-8 rating over his last six games. The ninth pick in the 2008 NHL Draft is only 22 years old and has looked confident moving the puck over the past few games. His linemate, Nielsen (C - 5 percent), has centered the secondary unit for most of the season, but has recently seen a major spike in his production as well with 4 goals and 5 helpers over the six-game stretch.

Flanking Nielsen on the right wing is Okposo (RW - 9 percent), who has taken his goal-scoring to new heights with 5 goals over his last four games, adding an assist in Tuesday's road win in the Steel City. The story for Okposo, 23, has been his ability to reach the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career despite failing to register a goal in his first 15 games this season. Okposo has accomplished that feat by scoring 14 goals since the turn of the calendar year.

Kyle Okposo
Right Wing - NYI
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 41
SOG: 143 | +/-: -14
The inconsistency of these three players is still a glaring concern in the long-term, as the Islanders have sought a lift from their depth lines all season long -- to the point where the team's top line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and PA Parenteau has accounted for 42.6 percent of the team's goal-scoring. But as the team finally seems to be reaping the benefits of its young core players late in the season, fantasy owners would be wise to take notice.

Over the last two games, though, the team's primary unit has gone pointless -- despite the team sweeping a home-and-home with the star-studded Pens. The secondary unit has shouldered the load and has been extremely promising from a fantasy standpoint. For any injury-plagued or underperforming fantasy roster during championship week, any of these three offensive players could provide a boost.

The Islanders have a pair of home games this weekend against the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, and still have five remaining regular season contests overall. Therefore, time is of the essence for fantasy owners to catch on to this potentially rewarding trend.

To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact PJensen@NHL.com.
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 1:12 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: Foligno emerges for hometown Sabres

It's a small world after all, as the Buffalo Sabres have received the jolt they've been longing for all season from a product of their own city.

Rookie winger Marcus Foligno, a Buffalo native, was recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in Rochester on March 9 and has quickly emerged as a catalyst for the Sabres in the offensive zone. In five games since the call-up, the 20-year-old has mustered a five-game point streak with 5 goals, 2 assists, a plus-6 rating and 8 SOG. Hits have also been abundant for Foligno, as he has totaled 15 in only six games this season.

Foligno burst onto the scene when he went head-to-head with his brother, Nick, in his first game since the call-up in Ottawa on March 10. It all started with a great individual effort and a lucky bounce for the game-tying goal in an eventual shootout win for Buffalo. Ever since, it's been a dream ride for the young forward -- not to mention for the few fantasy owners who have caught onto this growing commodity.

Marcus Foligno
Left Wing - BUF
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 7
SOG: 9 | +/-: 5
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound forward is only owned in 2 percent of Yahoo! leagues to date, but if his magical run continues, that number will certainly skyrocket. The former fourth-round selection by Buffalo in 2009 has sparked the Sabres' offense, which ranks 23rd in the NHL in goals-per-game (2.47).

His second multi-goal game in three contests came in Monday's 7-3 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as he tallied two goals on as many shots. Foligno's ice time has been on an incline since being recalled, and he is finding a home on the Sabres' secondary line with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, as evidenced by his power-play goal Tuesday.

To put Foligno's surge into perspective, the Sabres have seen a similar one from a rookie forward this season, as Luke Adam got off to a torrid start with 4 goals and 7 assists in his first 11 games. Adam cooled off from there, though, and was assigned to Rochester in February in the midst of a 20-game goalless drought.

Whether or not Foligno's game comes back down to earth in the near future, he has been a sensational story from a fantasy standpoint in his first week and a half of extensive NHL action. Any playoff contending team in a fantasy league should give Foligno a serious look, especially with more meaningful hockey to come for the Sabres -- who stand only two points behind the Washington Capitals for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
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Posted On Friday, 03.16.2012 / 12:36 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: Ekman-Larsson, Wolski pick up steam

There's no question that the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes have opened eyes around the hockey world by remaining in the thick of their respective division races through mid-March.

But even more surprising may be the fact that two emerging assets from those teams, Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Florida's Wojtek Wolski, are widely available on the waiver wire for the stretch run of the fantasy season.

Let's start with Ekman-Larsson (11 G, 18 A, minus-2, 26 PIM, 8 PPP, 126 SOG, 128 hits), who has played in all 72 games for the Coyotes this season and is currently tied with Alex Pietrangelo for the fifth-highest goal output among NHL defensemen. The Swedish-born blueliner scored a goal in his third consecutive game Thursday in Calgary, and has added 2 assists, a plus-2 rating and 11 SOG during his current three-game points streak.

What's more, Ekman-Larsson is only owned in 15 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Considering the 20-year-old has been a solid point-producer all season long and has totaled 100-plus hits and 100-plus shots for the Coyotes' secondary defensive pairing, it's important to note he's there for the taking in most leagues to provide a lift on the blue line.

Wolski, meanwhile, has come out of nowhere to blossom as of late since being shipped from the New York Rangers to Florida on Feb. 25. The 26-year-old battled through some injury issues this season in the Big Apple, but has been a sparkplug for the Cats as they pursue a division crown and potentially even the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Owned in only 2 percent of leagues, this Polish-born winger has accumulated eight points (3 G, 5 A) in 11 games since moving to the Sunshine State.

His most impressive stretch has come during his current four-game points streak, as Wolski has thrived on Florida's top line in the absence of Kris Versteeg with 1 goal, 4 assists, a plus-3 rating and 6 SOG in that span. He notched a goal and had a plus-2 rating skating alongside Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss in the Panthers' 6-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday, lifting his value from a fantasy standpoint.

Each of these skaters could ultimately be diamonds in the rough for fantasy squads if their hot streaks continue, so it's important to monitor their performances over the next few days and potentially add the one that best fits your team.
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 4:22 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: Bryzgalov due for strong finish?

This season hasn't been a bed of roses for Ilya Bryzgalov, but a quality stretch run could change the fantasy perception of the veteran netminder.

With two separate losing streaks of more than four games this season, along with his team's struggles against the East-leading New York Rangers through five meetings, Bryzgalov has failed to produce the return expected by his fantasy owners, who nabbed him in the second round of their drafts on average. That being said, his current stretch of strong play is beginning to turn the tide for him, which is good news for the Flyers considering Bryzgalov is in just the first of nine seasons in Philly.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Goalie - PHI
RECORD: 24-13-6
GAA: 2.72 | SVP: 0.901
Bryzgalov (owned in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues) is coming off one of his most complete performances of the season, a 34-save shutout of the Washington Capitals on Sunday at the Verizon Center. Over his last six outings, Bryzgalov has put forth a 4-2-0 mark, allowing two goals or less in three of those six starts.

But despite his recent production hike, the 31-year-old still only stands as the 23rd-best fantasy netminder in this week's NHL.com goaltending rankings for a reason. His goals-against average and save percentage are simply sub-par, which is why he's ranked behind even Brian Elliott and Evgeni Nabokov -- who have played in 15 and 11 less games, respectively, than Bryzgalov this season.

So here's the quandary: Because Brzgalov (24-13-6, 2.72, .901, 3 SO) is not a keeper in most leagues, he is expendable in the event that you are able to improve your roster either in the short- or long-term. But as the fantasy trade deadline and playoffs loom in most leagues, can you logically part ways with a starting netminder who has the support of an offense that sports a League-best average of 3.25 goals-per-game?

It's no secret that Bryzgalov has taken the patience of his fantasy owners to the brink this season, but if you've stuck with him this far, you owe it to yourself to ride out his current stretch of strong play. As he gets set for his ninth consecutive start for the Flyers Tuesday against the injury-depleted Detroit Red Wings, another opportunity presents itself for Bryzgalov to continue the turnaround.

And after all, a goaltender that is frequently starting for a playoff contending team should be valued from a fantasy perspective.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:10 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: MacDonald making a case for time

As the Detroit Red Wings look to make history Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, goaltender Joey MacDonald will try to keep the ball rolling from a personal standpoint.

The 32-year-old netminder has posted a 3-1-1 record and is unbeaten at home this season as the Wings seek their 21st consecutive win at Joe Louis Arena -- which would set a new League record. MacDonald is expected to get the nod again over Ty Conklin, who had served as Detroit's backup all season long to Jimmy Howard prior to his injury.

Howard, who still leads the NHL with 32 wins, could be back in the crease as soon as this weekend after suffering a broken finger on Feb. 2 against the Vancouver Canucks. But despite this news, it's still hard to ignore MacDonald's stock in the Motor City -- which is rising by the day.

Joey MacDonald is making a case for more playing time with a three-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo: Getty Images)
MacDonald has allowed two goals or less in three of his four starts since being recalled from the Wings' AHL affiliate earlier this month, while posting a 1.87 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. When Howard returns to the lineup, he obviously warrants the bulk of the playing time. But with the twists and turns that come over the course of the NHL season, it is highly unlikely that MacDonald's performance in big spots over the last few games will be forgotten. Regardless of whether or not MacDonald will be reassigned when Howard returns, he has kept the Wings' streak going and made quite the impression on his teammates, coaching staff and the rest of the hockey world.

In the meantime, MacDonald is only owned in 18 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, so he remains a valuable commodity with games on tap for Detroit against Dallas, Nashville and San Jose to round out the fantasy week. If Howard decides not to rush back into the lineup or if he takes some time to get back to game speed, MacDonald could stick around after outperforming Conklin by a landslide since the call-up.

This journeyman goaltender has stepped into the fire during a historic win streak, absorbed the pressure and delivered results. For those reasons, as long as he's on the roster at the NHL level, he can be relied upon from a fantasy perspective.
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 12:15 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Jokinen scorching hot for Flames

Hesitate and you might just miss out on one of the hottest players in the NHL, as Calgary Flames' forward Olli Jokinen is having a stretch to remember.

Who would've thought?

Before his recent offensive explosion, Jokinen went 15 games without registering a goal. But he's turned it on as of late.

The 33-year-old is in the midst of a five-game point streak. He also has points in seven of his past eight games. In that span, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound center has five goals and is coming off a hat trick, four-point performance against the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night.

He added the fifth goal on Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Jokinen was originally ranked 229th in standard Yahoo! leagues, but has improved his ranking to 31st overall. The former first-round pick has 17 goals, 29 assists and 46 points on 157 shots. In addition, he has 40 PIMs and six power play goals.

With the way the Flame is burning up the League, he could be a fantasy player to watch down the stretch.

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 1:43 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Gagner Opens eyes With record night

Oh, what a night!

That's what fantasy owners must be thinking after the show Sam Gagner put on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Edmonton Oilers forward scored four goals - yes, four - and added four assists - yes, four - to book-end an eight-point outing against one of the Western Conference's more elite clubs.

To go along with the offensive explosion, Gagner skated away with a plus-6 rating and threw another six shots on the cage.

Sam Gagner
Center - EDM
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 30
SOG: 86 | +/-: 2
Not many outings will top this record-tying game for the crafty forward, but he is in the midst of a productive stretch. In the past four games, the 22-year-old has 10 points and 10 shots. This small segment of production came after a drought to forget for the former first-round pick of the Oilers.

Coming into the game againt the Blackhawks, Gagner hadn't scored a goal in 11 games and prior to the stretch of points in three of four games, he hadn't collected a point in six games.

Whether or not the 5-foot-11 forward's monster performance will prove to be a springboard to bigger and better things in the second half of the season remains to be seen. But regardless of the totals during the season, any player capable of putting up an eight-point effort is worthy of fantasy consideration.

Currently owned in 7 percent of standard Yahoo! leagues, Gagner - a dual-eligibility player - could be had and could be a sleeper as the season progresses.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 2:42 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Samuelsson returning to form

If your fantasy squad is in the thick of a playoff push and in need of a spark on the wing, Mikael Samuelsson is knocking on your door.

Mikael Samuelsson
Right Wing - FLA
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 13
SOG: 51 | +/-: 1
The Swedish-born forward reeled off two goals on Wednesday as the Florida Panthers held off the Washington Capitals to move into first place in the Southeast Division. With three goals and an assist in his last five games, Samuelsson is finally healthy and producing for a team that appears to be in the postseason hunt with just over two months to go in the regular season.

During a time when injuries are decimating fantasy teams around the world, this 35-year-old is skating on the second line for the Panthers and making a sizable impact after an injury-plagued first half of his own. With Kris Versteeg out with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday, Samuelsson (5 goals, 8 assists, plus-1, 10 PIM, 5 PPP, 51 SOG) notched a power-play goal and will be a sure-fire contributor moving forward as the Panthers continue to play meaningful hockey.

Samuelsson was in the midst of a six-game goalless drought from Jan. 9 to Jan. 21, but has responded nicely and has compiled four goals and six assists overall in 16 games since being traded to Florida. With Samuelsson owned in only seven percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is certainly worth taking a chance on. His 30-goal, 53-point season in 2009-10 is evidence that he has the capability of producing points at a high level.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 1:25 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Purcell proving to be consistent contributor for Bolts

Teddy Purcell won't soon be confused with Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis or Vincent Lecavalier, but he's certainly making a name for himself of late.

The 26-yaer-old Tampa Bay Lightning winger is coming off a two-goal night against the Dallas Stars Friday night, a game which also saw Purcell skate away with seven shots and a plus-1 rating.

Teddy Purcell
Right Wing - TBL
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 26
SOG: 74 | +/-: 1
While that kind of evening might not become the norm for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound forward, it has been representative of his recent play.

In the past five games, Purcell has combined for five points, including two multi-point outings. During that same span, he has managed to tickle the twine on three occasions. For someone who sees roughly 15 minutes per night, those stats look that much more impressive.

On the season, the former Los Angeles King has himself 11 goals, 15 assists and 26 points to go along with 74 shots and 16 PIMs. Last year, albeit on a seemingly more dangerous Bolts squad, Purcell finished with 17 goals, 51 points and just under 200 shots. Again, numbers that certainly are nothing to sneeze at.

Owned in 16 percent of standard Yahoo! leagues, the crafty winger may be in play in deep leagues. If you need a steady-as-he-goes performer on your fantasy squad, Purcell could fill that role nicely and, if you're lucky, exceed expectations.
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