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Fantasy All-Access: Best October performances

by Matt Sitkoff / NHL.com

The first month of the fantasy season has come and gone, so now is a perfect time to give out some awards to the standout players of October.

The "Category Hog" award goes to Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry, the top-rated player who led the NHL with 10 October goals, was a plus-9, had 25 penalty minutes, four power-play points and had 37 shots on goal.

The "Glad I Drafted That Guy In The Late Rounds" award goes to Vancouver Canucks right wing Radim Vrbata, who was selected on average in the 14th round in Yahoo leagues. He was the 20th-ranked player for the first month with 11 points in 10 games.

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

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

The "Waiver Wire Pickup" award goes to Calgary Flames defenseman TJ Brodie, who was only drafted in four percent of Yahoo leagues. He was the 40th-ranked player in October, finishing tied for second in defense scoring with nine points.

Finally, the award for "Best Fantasy Line" goes to the Los Angeles Kings "That 70s line" of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. They had a combined 35 points in October, which was 54.69 percent of the Kings offense for the month.

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings (owned in 40 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The return of "Magic Man" Pavel Datsyuk was magic to the stick of Abdelkader, who has six points in his last 5 games played. The 6-foot-2 left wing is already halfway to his career high of 10 goals, scored each of the past two seasons. The Red Wings have four games scheduled this week (@OTT, @NYR, NJD, TBL) and Abdelkader, who is also playing with Henrik Zetterberg, is a must-have this week and going forward.

Dan Girardi, New York Rangers (owned in 10 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- With the long-term injury to captain Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers will need to find a way to fill the 23:33 of time on ice (2:48 on the power play and 3:18 shorthanded) he has played this season. In steps Girardi, 30, who already leads the team playing 25:19 per game, though it was inflated when he played 34:50 on Saturday after McDonagh and Kevin Klein went down against the Winnipeg Jets. The Rangers have a busy week with four games scheduled (STL, DET, @TOR, EDM) and Girardi does carry a 0.31 points-per-game average in his career. That number is better than the 0.24 of Marc Staal, who also will be a hot waiver wire commodity.

Robin Lehner
Goalie - OTT
RECORD: 3-1-1
GAA: 2.54 | SVP: .927
Robin Lehner, Ottawa Senators (owned in 46 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- We already wrote about the first half of the Senators tandem, but the other half has also been playing well this season. Lehner is 3-1-1 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in his first five starts. The Senators have four games scheduled with a back-to-back to end the week (DET, MIN, WPG, TOR). Look for Lehner to start two of those games, and with all four at home the goalie should improve his career 2.90 GAA at Scotiabank Place.

ROSTER TRENDS

The injured return -- This weekend we saw four big fantasy players come back from injury in Kings forwards Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan and Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. This week we should see the season debut of Rangers top-line center Derek Stepan. He's missed their first 10 games with a fractured fibula and is only owned in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues, so pick him up and activate him this week. On a smaller scale the Columbus Blue Jackets finally get some good roster news as forward Boone Jenner (broken hand) should also make his season debut this week. Only owned in four percent of Yahoo leagues, he is coming off a season that saw him score 16 goals. Also, keep an eye on Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri (sprained ankle) who could be returning soon from his injury.

Michael Raffl
Left Wing - PHI
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 7
SOG: 28 | +/-: 0
Line chemistry creating new fantasy stars -- Forward Daniel Winnik scored a career-high 30 points last season with the Ducks. Now with the Toronto Maple Leafs and playing on a line with Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, he has six points in his past five games and should be owned in all formats. Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl had nine goals and 22 points in his rookie season, but this season is tied for the team lead with six goals playing alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Valtteri Filppula was signed by the Lightning to be the second-line center behind Steven Stamkos, but lately has been creating great chemistry on the same line. They have combined for seven team goals where each player had a point, making Filppula a must-own in fantasy leagues.

PROSPECT RUMBLINGS

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames -- "Johnny Hockey" is starting to heat up for the Flames. After being held scoreless in his first six games this season, the rookie has two goals, both game-winners, and six assists in his past seven games. The 5-foot-9 left wing has also seen his ice time increase to about 16 minutes in his past four games. The 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner will be in the conversation for the Calder Trophy this season and should be on everyone's fantasy radar and definitely owned in more than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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