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Fantasy buzz: Top-line changes boost Islanders, Capitals

Eberle, Bailey of New York, Smith-Pelly of Washington make impact in new roles

by James Harding / NHL.com Fantasy Correspondent

All season long, NHL.com's fantasy hockey staff will have you covered with daily lineup news, production trends and injury notes from around the League. We will identify how these developments affect fantasy owners in year-long (Yahoo) and daily (DraftKings) formats.

 
5 p.m.
Boeser non-participant at Canucks practice

Vancouver Canucks stud rookie Brock Boeser did not practice with Sunday ahead of their game against the Dallas Stars at home Monday, and is considered day-to-day. Boeser appears to have sustained the lower-body injury Thursday against the Washington Capitals, which forced him to leave practice Friday. Not having Boeser (23 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) would be a huge blow to the surprisingly upstart Canucks, because the rookie forward leads them with seven assists and nine points. 

He has been skating on the first line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. Boeser is coming off his best game of the season against the Capitals when he had three assists in a 6-2 win. Sam Gagner (3 percent owned in Yahoo), who had an assist against the Capitals, skated in Boeser's normal spot on the Canucks first line in practice. Fantasy owners will want to monitor this going forward but, if Boeser can't go, Gagner would be a solid value option for Monday DFS contests.

Video: VAN@OTT: Boeser punches in a PPG from the slot

 

Theodore could be called up for Vegas

The Vegas Golden Knights made several roster moves over the last couple of days that have opened up the necessary space to call up defenseman Shea Theodore from Chicago of the American Hockey League. The Golden Knights waived defenders Jason Garrison and Griffin Reinhart. 

Theodore is currently tied for sixth in the AHL in scoring with 11 points, scoring five goals and six assists with 35 shots on goal through eight games this season. Fantasy owners and DFS players have been waiting for Theodore to get his chance with the Golden Knights this season, as evidenced by his 15 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues despite being in the AHL all season. Should he be called up, Theodore would immediately be the best offensive option for the Golden Knights on defense, especially on the power play. 

 

Low ownership studs of the week

Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a big week for the Ottawa Senators, centering the team's second line with Kyle Turris out with an illness. Skating on a line with Mike Hoffman and Tom Pyatt, Pageau (5 percent owned in Yahoo) had five points and in three games this week against the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils. With Bobby Ryan still injured, Pageau could remain with a prominent role in the Senators top-six once Turris is healthy soon.

Pavel Buchnevich had a big week for the New York Rangers despite the Rangers struggles. Buchnevich (5 percent owned), who is dual-eligible LW/RW on Yahoo, scored in each game this week. He had an assist against the San Jose Sharks Monday and then followed that up with two goals against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday and a goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. His eight points are tied for third-most on the Rangers this season, and he could find himself back on the first line with Mika Zibanejad if his solid play continues.

Nick Leddy started the season slowly for the New York Islanders, but has shown signs of turning it around. Leddy (41 percent owned) is coming off an NHL career-high 46 points last season, but had only one point through his first seven games of the year. He has four points with 13 shots on goal in his past four games, finishing the week strong with a multipoint game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and a power-play assist Saturday against the Nashville Predators. 

Video: NYI@MIN: Leddy strikes on a fluttering chance

 
High ownership duds of the week

It was a tough week for Duncan Keith and the Chicago Blackhawks. Keith (99 percent owned) was held scoreless in all three of the Blackhawks games, all losses. He entered the week with a four-game point streak and favorable matchups against the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche, but the all-star defender was held in check. He got good category coverage with eight blocked shots and nine shots on goal, keeping him relevant in DFS contests and leagues that count each as a category, but fantasy owners should be weary of Keith.

William Nylander was held in check in three games this week for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The second-year forward, owned in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues, started the season on fire with nine points in his first eight games. Fantasy owners should expect Nylander to turn it around soon, and he had 16 shots on goal this week and is still skating on a line with Auston Matthews in the Maple Leafs' dynamic offense.

After opening his season with a four-point game against the Kings, Patrice Bergeron has gone cold quickly for the Boston Bruins. Bergeron (92 percent owned) has been held scoreless in his last three games with 11 shots on goal. He is skating on the Bruins first line with Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork. A slow start is something that Bergeron owners are accustomed to, after the center missed the first half of October last season and only had 12 points through the end of December. Fantasy owners should be cautious with Bergeron, especially before playing him in DFS format contests.

 
1 p.m.
DraftKings top position, value picks

CENTERS

Spend up for: Evgeny Kuznetsov, WSH ($6,700) -- Kuznetsov scored his first three goals of the season in the past two games. He began the season on a hot streak with Washington Capitals linemate Alex Ovechkin and has continued that performance with 15 points in 11 games. Kuznetsov will face the Calgary Flames, who are allowing 2.9 goals against per game this season.

Value pick: Antoine Vermette, ANA ($4,000) -- Vermette has played well lately for the Anaheim Ducks and looks to continue that against the Carolina Hurricanes. He's skating on the second line between Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano and has four points and seven shots on goal in his past five games. He didn't score against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, but has a solid matchup against the Hurricanes, who are allowing almost three goals against per game this season.

Video: PHI@ANA: Vermette goes to one knee to beat Elliott

WINGS

Spend up for: Phil Kessel, PIT ($6,800) -- Kessel has opened the season very strong for the Pittsburgh Penguins, averaging a point-per game through his first 12 games. He has been especially hot in his past 10 games scoring 11 points, with five power-play points and 43 shots on goal. Kessel enters the road game against the Winnipeg Jets with a three-game point streak, including in overtime against the Jets at home Thursday, in a game where he also had nine shots on goal. In seven road games this season, Kessel has eight points and 26 shots on goal.

Video: WPG@PIT: Kessel buries OT winner for 300th NHL goal

Value pick: Josh Jooris, CAR ($2,900) -- Jooris played 16:55 against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the most ice time he's had all season. He's playing a bottom-six role for the Carolina Hurricanes but has taken the opportunities to produce with three points and nine shot on goal in his past three games. He saw some playing time on the Hurricanes second line Friday with Victor Rask and Brock McGinn and could continue to see an expanded role if his solid play continues. He'll be a great value player to target against the Ducks.

DEFENSEMEN
 
Spend up for: John Carlson, WSH ($5,200) --
Carlson is fully healthy this season and is giving the Capitals the production from the defense that they needs. Carlson has seven assists and three power-play assists on the season and all have come in his past 10 games. He has not been afraid to shoot the puck with 38 shots on goal and 4.2 DraftKings points per game in that span. Carlson has assists in back-to-back games and is getting great category coverage with 11 blocked shots in his past five games. Consider him a top option.

Value pick: Brandon Montour, ANA ($4,200) -- Montour has been a fantasy beast for the Anaheim Ducks over his past six games. The Ducks young defenseman took an expanded role early in the season with injuries along the Anaheim blueline and ran with the opportunity. Montour has six points, three goals and three assists, with four special teams points in that six-game span. He had a multi-point game against the Lightning on Saturday, with both points coming on the power play.

Video: ANA@TBL: Montour rockets one past Budaj for PPG

GOALTENDER

Mike Smith, CGY ($7,800) -- Despite a tough matchup against the Capitals, Smith is a solid option on a thin night for top goaltenders. He has performed well so far this season allowing two goals or fewer in six of his 10 starts. He has allowed more than two goals against in a start only once in his past five appearances and has a very respectable .927 save percentage on the season, which ranks ninth in the NHL among goalies who have a minimum of five starts. The Capitals are on the second night of a back-to-back after playing the Edmonton Oilers Saturday.

Value pick: Ryan Miller, VAN ($7,100) -- Miller was activated Saturday off injured reserve before Anaheim's game against Tampa Bay. John Gibson got the start, which means it should be Miller who draws in against the Hurricanes. He should get more offensive support that he had the past three seasons in Vancouver.

 

10 a.m.
Top-six moves pay off for Islanders, Capitals

It had been a rocky start to the season for New York Islanders forward Jordan Eberle. Though he had six assists New York's first 10 games, Eberle was held without a goal on his first 24 shots and had been dropped in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues during the past few days. But Eberle broke out in a big way Saturday against the Nashville Predators. Eberle (72 percent owned in Yahoo) opened the scoring for the Islanders with his first goal of the season, a power-play goal, and added another later in the game. He also had an assist on one of John Tavares' three goals.

Video: NYI@NSH: Eberle pots first goal as an Islander

Eberle had been dropped to the second line and replaced on Tavares' line by Josh Bailey. Eberle did see a bit of time back with Tavares later in the game, but Bailey (18 percent owned) played on the right wing with Tavares and left wing Anders Lee for the majority of the game and looked good. Bailey, dual-eligible LW/RW on Yahoo, had a power-play assist and one shot on goal. He should have been on fantasy radars before Saturday, but his assist pushed his point streak to six games. Now that he's playing with Tavares and on the first power play unit he's a must-target in all categories.

Devante Smith-Pelly made his presence known on the Washington Capitals' top line immediately against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Smith-Pelly (1 percent owned in Yahoo) scored his first goal of the season after being moved up to the first line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. He also had three shots on goal. Smith-Pelly will have solid fantasy value, especially in DFS, as long as he remains on the top line. Fantasy owners in season-long formats should monitor his play.

 
Blue Jackets lose Atkinson to injury

The Columbus Blue Jackets suffered a potentially serious loss when forward Cam Atkinson, last season's leading scorer for the team, left in the third period against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday with what appeared to be a lower-body injury.

Atkinson (89 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) was off to a bit of a slow start with five points (four goals, one assist) in his first 10 games, after an NHL career-high 62 points last season. He looked like he was heating up with points in back-to-back games against the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets before the injury against the Blues.

Rookie forward Pierre-Luc Dubois (2 percent owned in Yahoo) skated in Atkinson's spot on a line with Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky. The Blue Jackets don't practice Sunday and host the Boston Bruins on Monday, so Atkinson owners should expect an update on his status by then. Some RWs who are available in leagues who should be considered if Atkinson is injured include: Pavel Buchnevich of the New York Rangers (5 percent owned); Jesper Bratt of the New Jersey Devils (21 percent owned); Derek Dorsett of the Vancouver Canucks (34 percent owned); and David Perron of the Vegas Golden Knights (22 percent owned).

 

Montour, Pulock have big games on power play

Two young defensemen had big nights on the power play Saturday, with Brandon Montour of the Anaheim Ducks and Ryan Pulock of the Islanders finishing with multipoint games.

Montour scored his first power-play goal of the season, had a power-play assist and finished with four shots on goal in a 4-1 win at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Montour (38 percent owned) plays the point on the Ducks' first power play unit. He has three power-play points and seven points (four goals, three assists) this season; all seven points have come in his past six games. The Ducks play on second of back-to-back games Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes; at $4,200 on DraftKings, Montour is a great value play on defense.

Video: ANA@TBL: Montour rockets one past Budaj for PPG

Ryan Pulock got back into the lineup for the Islanders against the Nashville Predators, skating on the third defensive pair and playing the point on the second power-play unit. Pulock (1 percent owned in Yahoo) assisted on Eberle's first-period power-play goal, then scored his first goal of the season in the second period during another power play. Pulock will be a great value target in DFS going forward, but season-long fantasy owners should be wary of Pulock not consistently being in the lineup.

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