NHL.com has identified the top five call-ups of 2019-20 from a fantasy hockey perspective at the pause in the season. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.
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NOTES: The below players played multiple American Hockey League games in 2019-20 and were recalled by their respective teams after the start of the season. Rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who played two AHL games this season separated by weeks (Nov. 8, 26) and was on the Columbus Blue Jackets' opening night roster, was excluded from this list.
1. Igor Shesterkin, G, New York Rangers -- The rookie quickly became one of the most valuable fantasy goalies after being recalled by the Rangers from Hartford of the AHL on Jan. 6. The 24-year-old is 10-2-0 with a .932 save percentage in 12 NHL games despite missing time because of a rib injury sustained in a car accident Feb. 23. Shesterkin's save percentage is second behind Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers (.938) among NHL goalies to play at least 12 games. Since Shesterkin's debut Jan. 7, the Rangers have the fifth-best points percentage in the NHL (.638; 18-10-1), and the rookie has emerged as a keeper gem and the long-term starter ahead of teammates Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev.
Video: SJS@NYR: Shesterkin robs Kane shorthanded with glove
2. Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Edmonton Oilers -- Recalled by the Oilers from Bakersfield of the AHL on Dec. 29, Yamamoto arguably has been the best midseason fantasy pickup. He scored a goal in his season debut, against the Rangers on Dec. 31, and has become a fixture in Edmonton's top six with 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 27 games. The 21-year-old is also plus-17 (eighth in NHL) and has 24 even-strength points (16th) during that stretch. Yamamoto's emergence on a line with NHL scoring leader Leon Draisaitl (110 points) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has enabled Draisaitl to maintain his elite play on a separate unit from center Connor McDavid.
Video: EDM@CHI: Draisaitl feeds Yamamoto for goal
3. Denis Gurianov, LW/RW, Dallas Stars -- The 22-year-old forward, who was on Dallas' opening night roster, was reassigned to Texas, where he scored three goals in two AHL games, and then summoned to the NHL on Oct. 15. Despite inconsistent lineup placement and an in-season coaching change for the Stars from Jim Montgomery to Rick Bowness, Gurianov leads Dallas with 20 goals in 64 games -- more than early-round fantasy targets Jamie Benn (19) and Tyler Seguin (17). Gurianov is tied for second among NHL rookies in goals behind Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik (30) and has covered categories with a plus-5, seven power-play goals (tied for second on the Stars) and 12 power-play points.
Video: DAL@STL: Gurianov forces turnover and beats Allen
4. Chris Driedger, G, Florida Panthers -- The Panthers signed top free agent goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, in the offseason, but Driedger has been much more efficient when he's gotten playing time. The 25-year-old, recalled from Springfield of the AHL on Nov. 25, is 7-2-1 with one shutout in 12 games and leads the NHL in goals-against average (2.05) and save percentage (.938) among goalies to play at least 10 games. Driedger's peripherals are far better than Bobrovsky's (3.23 GAA, .900 save percentage in 50 games), and Driedger thrived during Bobrovsky's absence because of a lower-body injury, going 2-0-1 with a .955 save percentage in the final three games before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Video: FLA@STL: Driedger stretches to deny Steen
5. Calvin Petersen, G, Los Angeles Kings -- On Feb. 5, the Kings traded backup goalie Jack Campbell to the Toronto Maple Leafs and recalled the 25-year-old Petersen from Ontario of the AHL. Petersen quickly became a viable depth fantasy goalie, going 5-3-0 with a 2.64 GAA and .922 percentage in eight games. Petersen and Jonathan Quick, who has gone 5-2-1 with a 1.84 GAA, a .941 save percentage and one shutout during the same span, helped the Kings win seven straight games leading up to the pause, with Petersen accounting for four of the seven victories. Petersen, along with Shesterkin, Yamamoto and Driedger, were selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic.
Video: PIT@LAK: Petersen preserves win for Kings
Honorable mention: Filip Zadina, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings
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