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Blues forwards, Pastrnak among hot fantasy topics

by Matt Cubeta / NHL.com

Here's a look at five of the hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.

1. Is the buy-low window gone for some Blues forwards?

The St. Louis Blues players this question refers to are T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny. And yes, that window of opportunity is long gone. If you're trying to acquire any of them via trade, you'll have to pay a premium for them. It still might be worth it, but they won't be on the cheap any longer.

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

The 2014-15 NHL season is in full swing, so NHL.com has you covered with weekly fantasy hockey positional rankings, real-time spin updates and waiver wire advice.

Coming into the season fantasy owners had to spend a pretty decent draft pick to land any of these players. Backes (drafted on average with the 50th pick), Steen (75th) and Oshie (82nd) each were drafted before the end of the eighth round. Stastny was selected on average with the 129th pick, late in the 11th round. They all got off to slow starts this season, leaving many fantasy owners in doubt about how best to utilize them. Should they drop them? Trade them? Bench them? Hopefully you stuck with each of them, because as of now all four are ranked as top-30 forwards in Yahoo fantasy leagues during the past 30 days (No. 5 Steen, No. 6 Backes, No. 14 Oshie, No. 27 Stastny).

They likely won't all remain top-30 players for the rest of the season, but it's safe to say they've returned to their expected, high-producing ways.

2. Pastrnak is worth an add

Boston Bruins rookie forward David Pastrnak has four goals in four games since returning from the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. He also has 14 shots on goal during that time and has received at least 15 minutes of ice time in each of those games, including decent power-play time. The biggest reason I think he's worth adding in fantasy leagues right now is because of the line Pastrnak is skating on.

According to dobberhockey.com, in the past four games 48 percent of Pastrnak's even-strength shifts have come on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, while 27 percent have come with Krejci and Brad Marchand. One thing has remained consistent in his four games: He's been alongside fellow Czech Republic native Krejci in nearly all situations, including on the power play.

The 18-year-old Pastrnak is owned in 18 percent of leagues, and with his future with the Bruins solidified for the rest of the season, he's definitely worth adding while he's on a line with Krejci.

3. Finding a legitimate goalie on waivers

In the past week or so we've seen Pekka Rinne, Jimmy Howard and Steve Mason all go down with injuries. Fantasy owners likely are trying to find replacements. But how can they when so few reliable goalies are available on waivers.

You really can't replace legitimate every-day starting goalies like the three mentioned above, especially in deep leagues. But the best thing to do is to try and pick up a back-up goalie that gets the nod against a weaker opponent. The quality of competition matters in fantasy hockey, as Evan Sporer pointed out on Thursday.

Devan Dubnyk
Devan Dubnyk
Goalie - MIN
RECORD: 10-5-2
GAA: 2.58 | SVP: .919
There is one potential starting goalie out there on waivers, and that's Minnesota Wild newcomer Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk made his Wild debut Thursday with an 18-save shutout against the Buffalo Sabres. Since being traded to the Wild by the Arizona Coyotes, Dubnyk's ownership has risen to 29 percent in Yahoo leagues. With Darcy Kuemper on injured reserve and Niklas Backstrom having all sorts of problems, I expect Dubnyk to get significant playing time and he could end up providing top-20 goalie value the rest of the way.

4. Winnipeg's dynamic duo

Defense partners Toby Enstrom (available in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues) and Zach Bogosian (92 percent) slowly are becoming fantasy relevant. They are among the most added defensemen in Yahoo leagues over the past two days thanks to their recent play. Enstrom has four assists and a plus-3 rating in his past four games, while Bogosian has two goals, one assist and a plus-7 rating during that same time.

Many followers on Twitter have asked whether they should pick up either player in fantasy leagues, and my advice is to go for it while they're hot. I wouldn't drop a proven player for either one, but if you have the roster flexibility it's worthwhile to try one or both until they cool off. Enstrom and Bogosian have shown glimpses of fantasy relevancy in past seasons so there is potential for them to provide decent value during the second half of the season.

5. Hats off

In the 1988-89 season the Pittsburgh Penguins' Mario Lemieux had nine hat tricks and finished the season with 85 goals. Those nine hat tricks are the most in a single season in NHL history; the 85 goals are the fourth-most in a single season.

The Anaheim Ducks have played 44 games this season and Ducks forward Corey Perry has three hat tricks. However, Perry has accomplished this feat while playing in 29 games. If Perry were to have played all 82 games, that would put him on pace for 8.48 hat tricks for the season. Only Lemieux and Brett Hull (eight in 1991-92) have had at least eight hat tricks in a single season.

Of course, expecting Perry to post hat tricks at the same rate he's done so this season isn't realistic, but it's still fun to see just how impressive his three hat tricks in so few games have been. He's the only player in the NHL this season with three hat tricks, and overall he has 18 goals in 29 games. He's an elite fantasy player and you should enjoy the ride if you've got him on your team.

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