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Fantasy All-Access: Buy low on MacKinnon, Rask

by Matt Sitkoff

By the end of this week, 29 of the 30 NHL teams will have played 10 games, making it a perfect time to look around your fantasy league and find some buy-low candidates to trade.

On average, forward Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche was drafted in the third round in Yahoo leagues, but he has no goals and four assists in nine games. This start might have owners thinking sophomore slump, but don't forget he had seven points in his first 11 games last season, yet finished the season with 56 points in his next 71. The talented center could be had for a low price.


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

Goaltender Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is off to a slow start with a .897 save percentage and is now playing without his biggest weapon, defenseman Zdeno Chara, for the next 4-6 weeks. Email, text or tweet the owner of this talented goalie in your league and watch how they will be eager to trade him for a Darcy Kuemper or Frederik Andersen. They're solid goalie options, but don't forget Rask's best months in his career are December (1.85 goals-against average) and March (20 career wins).


Devante Smith-Pelly, Anaheim Ducks (owned in 12 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The 22-year-old has the fantasy golden spot playing on the wing of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and has responded with two points in his past three games. The 6-foot, 220-pound wing came onto the scene last season when he led the Ducks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with five goals and looks primed to start this season the way the last one finished. The Ducks have four games this week, all on the road (@CHI, @STL, @DAL, @COL), and Smith-Pelly had seven points in his 14 road games last season.

Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild (owned in 11 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Wild defense is off to a smoking hot start (1.00 goals against per game), and Spurgeon leads them in points from the back line with five. The 24-year-old averages 0.34 points per game. He is also coming off a season where he scored a career-high 26 points and tied his career-high with five goals in 67 games. Minnesota has four games scheduled this week (@NYR, @BOS, SJS, DAL) and the two early games on Monday and Tuesday could give your team an initial advantage.

Antti Raanta
RECORD: 1-2-0
GAA: 2.03 | SVP: .933
Antti Raanta, Chicago Blackhawks (owned in 27 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Corey Crawford has an upper-body injury and his backup Raanta has not looked out of place with a .926 save percentage in his first four starts of the season. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville continues to say Crawford's setback is a short-term situation. However, remembering Raanta was 8-1-3 when Crawford missed time last December, we recommend fantasy owners pick him up. The Blackhawks have four games scheduled this week (ANA, @OTT, @TOR, WPG), including a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, so even if Crawford returns you can expect Raanta to start two or three games.


The end is always the best -- Want a trend to help you win a fantasy week? Of the 55 back-to-backs scheduled this season, 17 of them have occurred on Saturdays and Sundays (30.9 percent). Pay attention to who has that golden Saturday-Sunday schedule, since those players could give you the added boost you need to win that week. This week those teams are the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets.

Dennis Wideman
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 6
SOG: 16 | +/-: 1
Flames scoring defense -- We all knew Mark Giordano, drafted on average in the ninth round, and T.J. Brodie, owned in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues, were going to be a force this season, but the Calgary Flames defense as a whole is starting to make some noise. They have combined for an NHL-high nine goals and 26 points. The breakdown for the defensive scoring is Giordano and Brodie pacing the team with seven points, and the second pairing of Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell each with six points.


Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings -- To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 games in any preceding season. Pearson played in 25 games last season, just meeting the qualifications to be considered a rookie. Luckily for the 30th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, they do not add his 25 career playoff games and Stanley Cup championship. The 22-year-old is off to a hot start with nine points in eight games, and has continued the playoff lure of "That '70s Line" with Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter. One of my fantasy sleepers to start the season is already on his way to becoming a mainstay on fantasy teams and needs to be owned in more than 56 percent of Yahoo leagues.


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