Posted On Friday, 04.04.2014 / 3:26 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - 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.

Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 12:18 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Loktionov builds trust with new team

We've seen Andrei Loktionov scratch at the surface of fantasy ownership before, but inconsistency always doomed his chances of sticking with highly skilled linemates for extended periods of time.

But since being traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Carolina Hurricanes, Loktionov has earned his stripes one day at a time, leading to regular ice time in a more prominent role and, most importantly, production.

The 23-year-old has six points and 12 shots on goal over his past five games and is seeing more ice time with the Hurricanes (13:51 per game) than with the Devils (12:18). His eight points (three goals, five assists) in 14 games for Carolina trails only Ales Hemsky (12), Thomas Vanek (11), Marian Gaborik (10), David Legwand (10), Ryan Callahan (10), Lee Stempniak (9) and Matt Moulson (9) for the most points since March 5 among players traded on NHL Trade Deadline day.

Posted On Monday, 03.31.2014 / 6:26 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Duchene injury tough to overcome

The road to a fantasy championship just got that much more difficult for owners of Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene.

The 23-year-old Duchene, who has a career-high 70 points, plus-8 rating and 217 shots on goal this season, is expected to miss about four weeks with a sprained MCL. It's an injury that will severely alter the depth of the Stanley Cup Playoff-bound Avalanche and offensive production for fantasy owners around the globe.

With recent injuries to Duchene and PA Parenteau, Colorado has shifted Calder Trophy favorite Nathan MacKinnon from right wing to center and onto a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn. Paul Stastny looks to remain the team's second line center alongside Gabriel Landeskog but has John Mitchell -- for now -- lining up on his right.

Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 1:59 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Category MVPs win championships

When the fantasy playoffs roll around, production across the board is magnified. One category point, more or less, could make the difference between moving on and being sent home.

Time and time again, category coverage wins head-to-head fantasy leagues, and this season provides the latest reminder. Watching some of the game's proven multi-category producers peak at the right time and others burst onto the scene over the course of a full season gives owners all the more confidence in them moving forward. Whether they are fueling your championship run or proving to be a thorn in your team's side as opponents, these assets should not be forgotten come draft day next season.

Here are the most valuable six- and seven-tool assets around the NHL to prioritize in drafts next season depending on your league format.

Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 3:32 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Top-line stint revitalizes Ducks' Selanne

It would not be surprising if Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne decides to retire at the conclusion of the 2013-14 NHL season.

But whether or not that ends up being the case, a recent lineup development is setting the 43-year-old up for a strong finish to his season -- and possibly his career.

In a move that is revitalizing the short-term fantasy stock of the "Finnish Flash," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has been playing the veteran on the left side of the NHL's top point pair, center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry. Boudreau made the switch against the Colorado Avalanche on March 14, and Selanne has since answered the call admirably on the team's top flock.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.25.2014 / 2:43 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Rangers' McDonagh reaches elite level

It's safe to say New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh is maximizing his offensive production in year one under coach Alain Vigneault.

The 24-year-old has reached the top-15 fantasy realm at his position and continues to flourish as the Rangers' featured power-play defenseman.

And he's just getting warmed up.

Posted On Friday, 03.21.2014 / 2:21 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Recent call-ups deserve attention

When premier forwards around the NHL (Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk, Vladimir Tarasenko, etc.) are sidelined with injuries, dreams of a fantasy championship tend to hang in the balance.

In keeper leagues, that makes for some difficult decisions. But in one-year, head-to-head leagues, it's important to act quickly.

Luckily, in recent weeks and months, call-ups around the NHL have come to the rescue to make those decisions a bit easier. These are fresh, young options that could inject some life into an ailing roster. Based on where they fall in their team's lineup and what they have accomplished so far in 2013-14, they must be considered down the stretch -- even if their ownership appears low based on your league size.

Posted On Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 11:45 AM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Back-to-backs benefit Bruins' Johnson

To this point in the season, Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins has been the most valuable fantasy goalie. His goals-against-average (2.07) and save percentage (.929) are tops in the League among goalies with 50-plus appearances. He also leads the NHL with six shutouts.

But come fantasy playoff time, every goalie start is crucial and back-to-back sets need to be taken into account. "Handcuffing" a quality backup is always a worthwhile tactic to guarantee appearances and prevent your team from disaster if the injury bug strikes.

For those reasons, fantasy owners in deep leagues should take a look at the Bruins' remaining schedule and realize how valuable the team's No. 2 goalie, Chad Johnson, could prove to be.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 2:55 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Palat closing in on MacKinnon

Ondrej Palat's rookie season with the Tampa Bay Lightning has had its share of trials and tribulations.

But Palat hasn't been deterred by what has gone on around him. His season has been defined by results.

Riding a five-game point streak, Palat is the NHL's hottest point producer over the past 10 days (four goals, five assists). His 46 points in 68 games trail only Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche (52 points in 68 games) in the rookie scoring race. Palat, 22, had his 13th multi-point game Monday against the Vancouver Canucks, pulling him ahead of MacKinnon (12) for the rookie lead.

Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 3:56 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Neal, Kesler injuries loom large

Two top-tier fantasy forwards will be sidelined for an extended period of time. Back to the waiver wire we go, fantasy owners.

Ryan Kesler (C/RW in Yahoo leagues) leads NHL forwards in ice time per game (22:08) and will be missed by the Vancouver Canucks over the next few weeks as he recovers from a knee injury.

James Neal (LW/RW), who serves as Evgeni Malkin's sidekick at even strength and on the power play, is out indefinitely with a concussion.

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