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Posted On Friday, 01.13.2012 / 2:58 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Trade should spark Cammy, Bourque

Mike Cammalleri and Rene Bourque have yet to emerge as true fantasy difference-makers for their respective clubs this season. Thursday's trade provides each with a change of scenery that could ultimately turn over a new leaf.

Cammalleri (9 G, 13 A, minus-6, 10 PIM, 6 PPP, 111 SOG) had only three goals in his last 17 games for the Montreal Canadiens before being shipped to the Calgary Flames after playing in the first two periods of the Habs' loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Bourque (13 G, 3 A, minus-3, 41 PIM, 5 PPP, 91 SOG), who is nearing the end of his
Michael Cammalleri
Left Wing - CGY
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 22
SOG: 111 | +/-: -6
five-game suspension for elbowing Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals on Jan. 3, has averaged three minutes of power-play time per game this season, but has struggled mightily on the man advantage.

This trade comes at a make-or-break juncture of the campaign for both squads. A return to Calgary is a breath of fresh air for Cammalleri (owned in 62 percent of Yahoo! leagues), who notched career-highs in goals (39) and points (82) for the Flames during the 2008-09 season. Despite missing a total of 32 games due to injury over the last two seasons and seeing his numbers dip through 38 games this season, Cammy was a proven playoff point-producer in Montreal and could be an asset for the Flames -- who find themselves only three points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

Bourque (owned in 38 percent of leagues), on the other hand, brings size, physicality and goal-scoring to Montreal's lineup and is on pace to challenge for a career-high in goals this season. While the 30-year-old forward has only compiled 5 PPP through 38 games and has been one-dimensional from a point-production standpoint with only three assists, he brings experience and goal-scoring potential to a lineup in desperate need of an offensive spark. Montreal is seven points out of the final playoff spot in the East.
Rene Bourque
Left Wing - MTL
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 16
SOG: 91 | +/-: -3

It's been a bumpy ride for Bourque, Cammalleri and their respective teams this season, but each should be an intriguing fantasy story in his new home. Bourque has posted 27 goals and 50-plus points in each of his last two seasons, while Cammalleri is a two-time 80-point scorer. Both are expected to be utilized in new roles with their new teams to cater to their strengths, which is promising news for fantasy owners.

While Cammalleri is likely nowhere to be found on the free-agent wire in most leagues, now is an opportune time to grab Bourque if he's available. Although Bourque faces a tremendous challenge in turning around the League's second-worst power-play unit, his tenacity, along with his knack for finding the back of the net, could provide a new element to the Habs' offensive initiative.

And as far as Cammy, his return to Calgary warrants more patience moving forward from his fantasy owners.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:10 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Kovy lighting the lamp for Devils

Whether he's on your fantasy team or not, it's likely that you've run into the dominant play of New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk.

That's because he's done nothing but dazzle of late.

Kovalchuk is riding a four-game point and goal scoring streak.

What's more, he has collected two points in each of his past four outings. In that same span, the Russian star has thrown at least six shots toward the cage.

In short: he's been brilliant.

But his stellar play has been there for much of the season. Through 38 games, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger has 17 goals to go along with 21 assists and ranks eighth in the NHL with 159 shots.

With players like Zach Parise and youngster Adam Henrique around to complement his dynamic play--not to mention other more than capable players like Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora--Kovalchuk could see his game elevate to even a higher level for most of the second half of the season.

As the Devils continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings, keep an eye out for No.-17 and his impact in your fantasy leagues.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 3:08 PM

By Matt Cubeta -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: It's time to pick up Ryan Ellis

Ryan Ellis was drafted in four percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues coming into the 2011-12 season at an average draft position of 162nd overall -- among the players taken right around him were Daniel Alfredsson, Marc Staal, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Carle. If you were one of the few people that selected him, your friends probably questioned the pick; they probably even questioned who Ryan Ellis was.

While you probably thought your pick of Ellis was a sneaky sleeper pick, you were surely devastated when the Predators decided to have the young defenseman start the season in the AHL. In fact, it seems you were all so devastated that nearly everyone ended up sending Ellis back to the waiver pool in their fantasy leagues (and rightfully so -- it's hard to sacrifice a roster spot for a player that's not even playing in the NHL).

The time has come for you to go back into the waiver wire pool and get Ellis on your team immediately. He's available in 94 percent of leagues, but that number is going to rise extremely fast based on his recent play.

Ryan Ellis
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 10 | +/-: 2
Ellis made his Nashville debut on Dec. 26 against the Red Wings -- he was held pointless with a minus-one rating, two penalty minutes and three shots on goal while receiving 18:13 of ice time. Ellis struggled out of the gate with no points in his first four NHL games, but in his last two, he started to show his true talent.

On Jan. 7, Ellis recorded his first NHL points with a goal and an assist (both on the power play) and then followed that performance up with a power play goal, an even-strength assist, a plus-two rating and two shots on goal against the Avalanche on Tuesday.

Ellis is currently seeing more then three minutes of power play ice time per game, where he is known to be most lethal, and it wouldn't shock us if he ended up scoring over 10 goals from this point on. Prior to his call-up, Ellis had posted four goals and 17 points in 26 games for Nashville's AHL affiliate, but his OHL season from last year shows what you need to know about his offensive potential: 24 goals, 101 points, 61 PIMs, plus-24 in 58 contests.

The 11th pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, Ellis could end up being one of the top point-producing defenseman in the NHL for years to come, and now is your chance to pounce on him in the free-agent pool. He's certainly worth stashing on your bench at the very least, but you'd be wise to find a spot for him in your starting lineup, as he seems to be proving his call-up will be a permanent situation for the Predators. There is an outside chance Nashville decides to send him down, but based on his recent play, we tend to think he's here's to stay.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 2:07 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: League's top rookie on the shelf

All has been well for Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011-12.

Now, things are put on hold, as the NHL's top scoring rookie is expected to be out of the lineup three to four weeks with a separated left shoulder.

He could miss at least 11 games.

Nugent-Hopkins' absense spells bad news bears for fantasy owners, who have benefited from his surprising stellar first season.

Through 38 games, the 18-year-old has collected 13 goals, 22 assists, 35 points and 80 shots on goal. He has also managed to be an even player on a struggling Oilers squad.

Despite the great show Nugent-Hopkins has put on most nights, he has struggled of late, at least in the goal-scoring category. Prior to the injury, he went 10 games without a goal and collected only five points in that span.

While his injury is a setback for fantasy owners, it could be a blessing in disguise of sorts. Obviously, the advice is to keep the talented youngster, but set yourselves up with a solid across-the-board performer in his absense and hope that he recovers fully from his injury and returns with a vengeance as the second half of the season approaches.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 2:21 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Wheeler emerges as distributor for Jets

The wheels keep turning in the right direction for the Winnipeg Jets, and Blake Wheeler's consistency is a major reason why.

Blake Wheeler
Right Wing - WPG
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 27
SOG: 79 | +/-: 11
Wheeler extended his point streak to four games by assisting on Evander Kane's overtime winner as Winnipeg blanked the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Thursday night at a raucous MTS Centre. With Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little again out of the lineup for the Jets, Little continues to shine as a distributor alongside Kane on Winnipeg's top line. The 25-year-old notched his team-high 22nd assist of the season and also leads the club with a plus-11 rating.

At the forefront of Claude Noel's offensive system, Wheeler is certainly emerging as a breakout fantasy asset. While he is far off the goal-scoring pace of his career-best rookie campaign (21 goals), Wheeler is among the League leaders in helpers and quietly one of the most impactful players in Winnipeg's lineup. Wheeler (owned in 24 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) has played in all 37 games for the Jets and even touches on categories such as hits (52), power-play points (5) and shots on goal (79).

With the Jets suddenly in the thick of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference as December comes to a close, Wheeler may not be available much longer in deep fantasy leagues. Thus, the time is now to catch on to Manitoba's hottest fantasy hockey commodity.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:34 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Stewart back on track in St. Louis

The Chris Stewart of the previous two seasons and the one from this year have been two entirely different players.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected 28 goals. This year? He was on pace for 12.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected at least 53 point. This year? He was on pace for 29.

Then Monday night happened and the 6-foot-2, 232-pound right wing collected a pair of goals en route to an impressive 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Included in those two goals was a power play tally. He also ended the night with seven shots thrown on the cage.

In short, the 24-year-old showed flashes of the 25-plus goal-scoring threat he's been in prior campaigns. In fact, the flash started two games ago when Stewart scored a goal and threw another seven shots on net. It's that kind of night in, night out effort that's been missing from Stewart for the better part of the season. For players who've shown they can score consistently at the NHL level, often times it takes just the slightest hot streak before consistent productivity occurs.

Still, even with his strong play of late, on the whole, Stewart has been a disappointment for fantasy owners, so caution should be taken when thinking about adding him to your squads. However, it's equally as important to consider taking a risk on a player who has proven to be successful in consecutive seasons and has show that he may be on his way for number three.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:19 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Stewart showing scoring touch

The Chris Stewart of the previous two seasons and the one from this year have been two entirely different players.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected 28 goals. This year? He was on pace for 12.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected at least 53 point. This year? He was on pace for 29.

Then Monday night happened and the 6-foot-2, 232-pound right wing collected a pair of goals en route to an impressive 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Included in those two goals was a power play tally. He also ended the night with seven shots thrown on the cage.

In short, the 24-year-old showed flashes of the 25-plus goal-scoring threat he's been in prior campaigns. In fact, the flash started two games ago when Stewart scored a goal and threw another seven shots on net. It's that kind of night in, night out effort that's been missing from Stewart for the better part of the season. For players who've shown they can score consistently at the NHL level, often times it takes just the slightest hot streak before consistent productivity occurs.

Still, even with his strong play of late, on the whole, Stewart has been a disappointment for fantasy owners, so caution should be taken when thinking about adding him to your squads.

However, it's equally as important to consider taking a risk on a player who has proven to be successful in consecutive seasons and has show that he may be on his way for number three. 
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:45 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: B's second-liners paying dividends



While Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron may operate on the second line of the defending champion Boston Bruins, there's nothing secondary about their production as of late.

Marchand (15 G, 14 A, plus-25, 58 PIM, 3 PPP, 78 SOG) and Bergeron (7 G, 21 A, plus-21, 12 PIM, 7 PPP, 86 SOG) were a two-man wrecking crew on Friday night, combining for eight points and a plus-7 rating in the Bruins' 8-0 rout of the
Patrice Bergeron
Center - BOS
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 28
SOG: 86 | +/-: 21
Southeast division-leading Florida Panthers. Marchand notched a shorthanded goal and ultimately his first career hat trick, while Bergeron tallied two points on the power-play and three overall to keep the Bruins rolling into the holiday break.

With Boston sporting a 20-2-1 mark in its last 23 games, the team's secondary unit continues to make an impact in a number of different areas on a regular basis. Both Marchand and Bergeron are among the League's top-10 in plus-minus and rank second and third, respectively, on the team in points. On Wednesday, Bergeron (3:00 PP ice time per game) and Marchand (2:36) even produced on special teams.

Marchand (owned in 76 percent of leagues) and Bergeron (67 percent), despite their place in the League's deepest lineup, are proving to be premier all-around options with the Bruins surging over the last two months.
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:27 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Carter finally breaks out for Jackets


Despite another late lead gone to waste for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jeff Carter delivered the club's most promising individual effort of the season.

Carter notched a first period hat trick in Tuesday's 6-5 road loss to the Nashville Predators.  With a streak of three-straight 30-plus goal, 60-plus point campaigns on the line, the 26-year-old forward has finally reassured panicking fantasy owners by scoring seven goals in his last seven games.

Jeff Carter
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 16
SOG: 78 | +/-: -9
While Carter is playing for a team that is currently last in the League standings, he picked up steam as a power-play threat against the Predators. Carter has averaged 3:54 of power-play ice time this season, and finally broke through with a pair of goals on the man advantage on Thursday.

Operating on Columbus' top line with Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal, Carter has seen his team's struggles take a toll on his fantasy showing through 23 games this season. His minus-9 rating is evidence of that.  But despite missing time due to injury this season, Carter is beginning to show chemistry with Nash, who assisted on two of his three goals on Thursday.

Carter (owned in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues) appears to be turning the corner after a slow start in Columbus, so the time has finally come for his fantasy owners to ride the wave of success.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:58 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Time is now to act on Giroux

Reports state that Claude Giroux could return to the Philadelphia Flyers' lineup on Wednesday. For his fantasy owners, this should be enough of a cue to take action.

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 39
SOG: 81 | +/-: 7
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Giroux has made "positive strides," which is a reason in itself for fantasy owners to remove him from Injured Reserve immediately and make room on their rosters. When dealing with Giroux (concussion) who is tied for the League lead in points, despite missing his team's last four games, the reward outweighs the risk.

Even if Giroux does not end up playing Wednesday against the Dallas Stars, it's simply a more logical move to have him in your lineup. Wednesday is only a six-game night, so your team doesn't have to worry about losing production from elsewhere as you would by benching a healthy player on a 13-game night. If you elect to leave one of the game's most potent point-producers in the IR slot of your lineup, you could potentially miss out on an impactful performance.  A recent example was Taylor Hall's two-goal night upon his return from injury on Dec. 15 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Plus, taking a casual approach and waiting another day or two could cost your team precious goals or assists during a shortened fantasy week. Since there are no NHL games scheduled for Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, any points that Giroux provides could go a long way in helping you win your matchup this week.

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