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Fantasy All-Access: Keepers to keep an eye on

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 12:15 PM
Matt Sitkoff  - NHL.com Contributor

We have hit the final week of the regular season and some of our readers are preparing for their league's championship. For the others, don't worry, we will look at some of top prospects' keeper value going into next season, because how someone finishes can help you decide if they are worth building your team around.

For those fighting for bragging rights with your friends all summer and that engraving of your name on the league trophy, here are some schedule facts that you need to know when setting your lineup this week. Teams with four games scheduled this week are the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes and Ottawa Senators. Don't forget the Senators have that make-up game with the Boston Bruins on Sunday, making owning one of their players extra important.

The Columbus Blue Jackets only have two games scheduled this week.

The Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders are done their season on Friday, so leave roster moves available to drop top players of those teams to pick up extra players for Saturday and Sunday usage in your league. If you own any Winnipeg Jets, they are done their season first on Thursday, so you can use them early but these players can open slots for your team later in the week.

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Cory Conacher (owned in 36 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- As mentioned in the opening, a Senators player is a must-have this week. Erik Karlsson, if available, would be a good person to have, or even the recently healthy Milan Michalek, but the best and most available to own is the very first person we highlighted in the Prospect Watch this season. The rookie line of Conacher, Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad is clicking right now, combining for a goal in the past three games. The rookie has four goals in the 11 games played against the four opponents he is facing this week (PIT, @WSH, PHI, @BOS).

Grant Clitsome (owned in 3 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- With Tobias Enstrom being listed as week-to-week and now Zach Bogosian day-to-day with an upper-body injury, the 28-year-old defenseman finds himself in a position to more of an offensive role. Clitsome already leads all Jets d-men in plus-minus with a plus-10 and has five points in his past six games. The Jets are on the road against the Sabres and Capitals before finishing at home on Thursday vs. the Canadiens. Clitsome is only three points away from his career-high and we expect him to reach that this week.

Viktor Stalberg (owned in 21 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Even though the Blackhawks could clinch the Presidents' Trophy as early as Monday, they still are one of five teams that have four games scheduled this week (@VAN, @EDM, CGY, @STL) and whose players have added fantasy value as a result. The 27-year-old has points in six of the past nine games with three goals and three assists, a plus-5 and 17 shots on goal. If you are in a league that counts shots as a category, Stalberg is actually fourth on the team with 104 this season.

KEEPER WATCH

Derek Stepan -- We all know the offensive impact that Rick Nash had on the Rangers this season, but under the radar has been the offensive growth of the 22-year-old Stepan. The center has been dependable, playing in every Rangers game the last three seasons, and has the offensive numbers to back up being kept with 136 career points and a plus-44. Although he was only drafted in 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues, those who picked him up will benefit for years to come.

Justin Schultz -- The 22-year-old came as advertised and should be at the top of the short list of defensemen to be kept with P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson. He leads all rookie defensemen in scoring, and more impressively is in the top 10 of all d-men in power-play points. Being a 22-year-old rookie will help him adjust to not having the dreaded sophomore slump and at an average selection in the 11th round in Yahoo! leagues, he's a great steal for a keeper.

Corey Crawford -- The Blackhawks goaltender has put himself in a great position to be one of the better keepers in net this season. After back-to-back 30-win seasons, there were still questions about the 28-year-old and he answered them all in leading the Blackhawks to the top of the NHL standings while ranking in the top 10 in both save percentage and goals-against average. The Blackhawks' core is all young and should continue to grow together, which means this Crawford should continue his rise. This bodes well for owners that drafted him 135th overall on average in Yahoo! leagues.

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