Every Monday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey contributor Matt Sitkoff will provide you with fantasy hockey advice in his weekly piece: "Fantasy All-Access." From the waiver wire watch to roster trends and prospect rumblings, Sitkoff is here to help you all season long.
Some of the top fantasy players have continued to struggle past the quarter mark, but that just means you can target them and buy low on a superstar that could lead you to a fantasy championship.
Claude Giroux has not scored a goal in seven straight games, his longest streak since he went without a goal in 12 straight from Jan. 5 to Feb. 2 last season. There's no doubt Giroux, whose average draft position in Yahoo! Leagues was fifth overall, has struggled without his linemates from last season, but a key to buying low on him is that one of his wingers, Scott Hartnell, has been skating and could return soon.
Another top-line center struggling to find the back of the net is Henrik Sedin. Sedin, whose average draft position was 16.7 in Yahoo! Leagues, scored his first goal of the season Sunday and has only 24 shots on goal, infuriating his owners. One thing to consider, however, is typically the most productive month of his career is March, when he's scored 34 goals and 142 points in 159 career games.
With the recent news that Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is likely done for the season, in this week's waiver wire watch I will give you three defense options to pick up to lighten the load created by this big loss.
WAIVER WIRE WATCHZach Bogosian (owned in 19 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- Offseason wrist surgery kept the 6-foot-3 defenseman out of the Jets' first 12 games this season, but he is now healed and back in the lineup. The No. 3 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft broke out last season with 30 points in 65 games and this week, with the uncertain health of Tobias Enstrom, Bogosian is a must add. The Jets start a five-game road trip (@BUF, @CAR, @PHI, @NJD, @NYR) and Bogosian was thrown right into the fire, playing 49:15 minutes in his first two games with 4:04 on the power play and 2:15 on the penalty kill.
Paul Martin (owned in 17 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- Martin is quickly becoming a must add in all fantasy leagues. The 31-year-old is having a great start to the season and playing in all situations for the Penguins. He leads the team in defenseman minutes played (410:05), and is second on the team in defenseman power-play minutes (44:15) and shorthanded minutes (59:55). The Penguins have only three games this week (PHI, FLA, TBL), but expect Martin to contribute.
Tyson Barrie (owned in 0 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- Every week on Twitter, fantasy owners send us messages looking for a deep-pool option. This week we give you a d-man that could get a push due to the injury to Erik Johnson. The 21-year-old has played over 23 minutes in the Avalanche's last three games and has three points in those games after being a healthy scratch for seven games this season. The Avs have four games this week (NSH, STL, @LA, @ANA) and the former third-round pick (No. 64) in 2009, who had 27 points in 36 games in the AHL, should see a jump in points with the extended ice time.
ROSTER TRENDSSchedule can make the difference -- When trying to decide on waiver-wire pickups or even if it is time to drop a player that has not been producing, the ultimate factor that should play into that decision is the schedule. If you have what we call a fringe player, one who you had high hopes for but is on the fringe of not being a fantasy impact player, and see on the waiver wire a player with a favorable schedule this week that could be a difference maker in your matchup, you should make a move. This week's favorable schedule belongs to the Islanders, who have five games, and Brad Boyes (nine points in last nine games) could be a huge asset to your team.
Third goalie is a charm -- With the Flyers' Brian Boucher and the Flames' Joey MacDonald starting games this weekend we have now seen 66 different starting goalies in the NHL this season. Eight teams have played a third goalie, with seven of them coming from the Western Conference. All of these stats are making it more difficult for fantasy owners to find a good goalie combination. The two latest additions on the third wheel of goalies are MacDonald and the Blues' Jake Allen. Both should be owned in all leagues, and our best advice is to rotate a third goalie spot with the flavor of the week because we might see another third goalie stand out with Chris Nilstrop being called up by Dallas due to Kari Lehtonen's injury.
Reilly Smith -- Thirty-six rookies have scored their first NHL goal this season, including the Stars' Reilly Smith on Feb. 15. The third-round pick (No. 69) in the 2009 NHL Draft left Miami University after three successful seasons (122 points in 121 career games played) last year and immediately played in three games with Dallas. The 21-year-old started his first professional season with 25 points in 37 games with the Texas Stars of the AHL, and after a brief demotion back to the AHL was recalled when Ray Whitney was placed on IR. Now the rookie is getting a spot in Dallas' top six and has goals in back-to-back games. If he sticks on a line with Loui Eriksson and Derek Roy, Smith could have a big fantasy impact.