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Fantasy buzz: Smith could return soon for Flames

Rittich to play Friday, but starter practices in full; Hutton day to day for Blues; Pageau worth monitoring for Senators

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

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.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Schedule cheat sheet | Projected lineups

 

Smith out again Friday, but may be nearing return for Flames

Goaltender Mike Smith will miss his 13th-straight game because of a lower-body injury when the Calgary Flames visit the Ottawa Senators on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN5, SNW, NHL.TV), but it's encouraging from a fantasy standpoint that Smith is practicing in full.

Smith (82 percent owned, 87th in Yahoo), who was injured against the New York Islanders on Feb. 11, is tied with Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings for fifth in save percentage (.921) among goaltenders with at least 45 appearances. The 35-year-old has won more than one-half of his decisions (23 of 45) and should be considered a fringe top-10 fantasy goalie once he returns. The Flames begin a three-game homestand against the Islanders on Sunday.

David Rittich (9 percent) and Jon Gillies (7 percent) have shared the workload in Smith absence, but neither has been consistent enough to stream in fantasy; Gillies is 2-2-1 with a .916 SV% in six appearances, and Rittich is 2-4-1 with an .877 SV% in seven starts. Rittich ($8,000 in DraftKings) will start Friday but is not worth spending up for against Ottawa, who's on the second of a back-to-back but averaging 3.2 goals per game at home compared to 2.2 on the road.

 

Hutton day to day for Blues with neck injury

St. Louis Blues goaltender Carter Hutton did not play against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday because of a neck injury and is day to day. Hutton was initially expected to start the game, but Jake Allen got the late call and stopped 34 of 35 shots faced in a 2-0 loss.

Hutton (60 percent owned, 20th in Yahoo) has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises League-wide, but the injury gives Allen (85 percent, 332nd) a potential bounce-back window down the stretch. Allen's season-long ownership remains high, but he's been dropped in shallow leagues in the midst of a 2-14-0 stretch with an .897 save percentage.

Outside replacement options for Hutton: Tristan Jarry, PIT (35 percent, 161st); Kari Lehtonen, DAL (29 percent, 115th in Yahoo; starting Friday), James Reimer, FLA (18 percent)

 

Pageau worth monitoring given prime usage for Senators

Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau is returning fantasy value lately in an expanded role and may be worth streaming in deep season-long or DFS formats against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

Pageau (C, 4 percent owned in Yahoo) is playing in a top-six role with wings Mark Stone (RW, 100th in Yahoo) and Bobby Ryan (LW/RW, 16 percent) and on the first power-play unit with Stone, forwards Mike Hoffman, Matt Duchene and elite defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Taking advantage of an expanded role after the Senators traded Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 23, Pageau is averaging 20:50 and has two goals, 17 SOG and three blocked shots over his past four games. Season-long fantasy owners may also want to consider Pageau because Ottawa is tied for the second-most games (eight) over the final two weeks of the regular season.

From a DFS standpoint, Pageau ($3,500 in DraftKings) is still extremely affordable and worth rostering after eight shots on goal (4.0 DraftKings points) against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. He's easily stackable with Stone ($6,200), who's better than a point-per-game player on the season (62 points in 57 games).

 

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