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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Saad, Wennberg in groove

Tuesday, 01.05.2016 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen provides in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top-100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen is your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

So much more was expected of the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. Instead, they have the fewest points in the NHL standings (33), their defense has been a liability, their starting (Sergei Bobrovsky) and backup (Curtis McElhinney) goalies are injured, and franchise center Ryan Johansen has been under the microscope since coach John Tortorella was hired.

But there is at least one bright spot: Brandon Saad, one of my preseason fantasy breakout picks, is in line for the best regular season of his career (82-game pace: 60 points, 10 power-play goals, 238 shots on goal) and has established chemistry with a young center who's flying under the radar.

Alexander Wennberg, a 21-year-old Swede who has been playing alongside Saad at even strength in recent weeks, has shaken off his quiet, injury-plagued start with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) and 21 SOG in 13 games since Dec. 5. Wennberg has three multi-point outings in that span, thanks to an elevated power-play role (four PPP), averaging 2:15 per game in those situations (second among Blue Jackets forwards in past month).

Five Questions: Hynes getting a lot out of Devils

Tuesday, 01.05.2016 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes:

NEWARK, N.J. -- The key word that New Jersey Devils forward Bobby Farnham uses to describe first-year NHL coach John Hynes is preparation.

Farnham remembers being impressed with Hynes' ability to prepare and get the most out of his team when he played for him with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. Nothing has changed since Farnham arrived in New Jersey on Oct. 26, after the Devils claimed him off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hynes, Farnham said, is the same coach in the NHL as he was in the AHL, and the reason why the Devils are exceeding expectations this season are the same reasons why Hynes won at least 40 games and reached the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of his five seasons in Wilkes-Barre. projects rosters for 2016 NHL All-Star Game

Tuesday, 01.05.2016 / 3:00 AM / 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend

The full rosters for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game will be revealed by the NHL on Wednesday.

But is a bit ahead of the game, enlisting four experts -- Mike Morreale (Metropolitan), Arpon Basu (Atlantic Division), Dan Rosen (Central Division) and Kevin Woodley (Pacific Division) -- to put together their version of the 11-man roster for each division.

Each division's roster will have six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. One player from each division was voted onto the team by the fans and will serve as that team's captain. The other 40 players will be selected by the League's Hockey Operations Department. Each All-Star team will have at least one player from every team in its division.

The game, to be played Sunday, Jan. 31, will be a 3-on-3 tournament pitting the four divisions against one another in a winner-take-all format. The Atlantic Division will face the Metropolitan Division in one semifinal and the Central Division will face the Pacific Division in the other semifinal. The winners play in the championship game.

AHL Notebook: Torchetti guides Iowa in tough times

Tuesday, 01.05.2016 / 3:00 AM / AHL Update

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

A debate surrounding player development in the American Hockey League long has centered on the role that winning plays in preparing young players for an NHL future.

Different organizations have applied various approaches, with some opting to rely heavily on a young roster even if it means the win-loss column may suffer. Putting top prospects in key roles to learn through trial and error is at the heart of that philosophy. Other organizations believe a strong core of AHL veterans can produce a winning environment and the chance to experience a deep run through the Calder Cup playoffs that is optimal for up-and-coming talent.

Losing also can play a role. It can build up or break down young players, and how the prospects inside the Iowa Wild dressing room handle this season will go a long way toward determining their NHL futures.

Iowa has experienced nearly non-stop frustration through 36 games. Last in the AHL with 21 points, the 8-23-2-3 Wild have endured a 13-game losing streak lasting close to five weeks, a 12-game home losing streak that stretched nearly two months and 16 one-goal losses. They play in the Central Division, perhaps the toughest in the AHL, and have had to deal with a stream of recalls to the parent Minnesota Wild.

NHL-leading Stars dealing with first dose of adversity

Monday, 01.04.2016 / 8:35 PM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Dallas Stars reached the halfway point of the season atop the NHL standings, but also dealing with a small dose of what's mostly eluded them: adversity.

It's been an impressive season in Dallas. The Stars' 28-9-4 record is the second-best in their history after 41 games, behind only the 1998-99 team (27-7-7) that won the Stanley Cup. Barring a Texas-sized collapse, the Stars will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in eight seasons and should stand a good chance of escaping the Western Conference First Round for the first time since 2007-08.

However, Dallas enters its game Tuesday against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, MSG+) at Madison Square Garden challenged physically and mentally. The Stars are 2-2-2 in their past six games, and their 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday, one night after a 3-2 overtime defeat at the New Jersey Devils, marked the first time this season they've lost consecutive games.

Five things learned from World Junior semifinals

Monday, 01.04.2016 / 5:20 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Ilya Samsonov, the first goaltender chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft, made 26 saves to help Russia defeat the United States 2-1 on Monday in the semifinal round of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.

The win marked the third straight year the United States has had its gold-medal hopes shattered by Russia. Russia defeated the United States in the quarterfinal round of the WJC the previous two years, 5-3 in 2014 and 3-2 in 2015.

The WJC gold-medal game on Tuesday at Hartwall Arena will feature Finland against Russia (1 p.m. ET; NHLN). The bronze-medal game will pit the United States against Sweden (9 a.m. ET; NHLN). Finland won 2-1 against Sweden in the other semifinal Monday at Hartwall Arena.

Goals by Panthers' Jagr just as thrilling in Spanish

Monday, 01.04.2016 / 3:51 PM / NHL Insider

Jaromir Jagr's goals are exciting in any language.

The Florida Panthers' 43-year-old forward scored his 734th and 735th NHL goals in the Panthers' 2-1 win Sunday against the Minnesota Wild, and Arley Londoño of the Panthers Radio Network captured it perfectly for 1210 ESPN Deportes.

Taking a page from the book of legendary soccer announcer Andres Cantor, Londoño let out a loud and extended "Goal!" call after Jagr scored 27 seconds into the game.

Fantasy All-Access: Barkov, Komarov undervalued

Sean McCullen - Staff Writer

Every Monday, staff writer Sean McCullen identifies potential waiver-wire pickups and points out lineup moves and schedule impacts for fantasy hockey.

I resolve to be better in 2016.

I definitely led some of you astray with a few of my recommendations in Waiver-Wire Watch in 2015. Mea culpa. To clear my conscience, I'd like to point out my three worst suggestions.

At the top of that list is San Jose Sharks forward Melker Karlsson, who has one goal, no assists and a minus-6 rating in 15 games since he was included in Waiver-Wire Watch on Nov. 23. My bad.

Quick has Kings resembling familiar playoff model

Monday, 01.04.2016 / 8:57 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The Los Angeles Kings are rolling four lines and getting sensational goaltending from Jonathan Quick.

They're essentially playing like the Kings we've become accustomed to watching in the spring. Yet we're only a few days into 2016.

The Kings (25-11-2), who sit atop the Pacific Division, go for their sixth straight win when they face the Colorado Avalanche (18-18-3) at Pepsi Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012, has a 1.40 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and one shutout during the win streak. And they've played this well without forward Jeff Carter, who sustained an upper-body injury Dec. 26. Carter was leading the Kings with 28 points in 34 games.

''We're just a determined team here," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told The Orange County Register. ''We want to win every single game. We want to be first place in our division and first place in the conference too. It feels good winning. When you come to the rink on a winning streak everything is just so much more fun."

Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla still is pursuing his 600th NHL goal; Monday will provide him his fourth chance to do so. Iginla has two goals in the past 15 games.

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Panthers' Jagr finds humor in All-Star selection

Sunday, 01.03.2016 / 11:15 PM / 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend

Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr continues to have a sense of humor about his selection by the fans to serve as one of four captains at the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

"I asked the fans don't vote for me; they didn't listen,'' Jagr said, smiling, on Sunday after scoring twice in the Panthers' ninth straight win, a 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild at BB&T Center. “I think they don't like me much. They want to see me dead."

From Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, fans around the world were able to cast their votes at and via a mobile ballot for one player from each of the four divisions, with the top vote-getter for each division earning an All-Star berth as division captain.

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