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Fantasy All-Access: Gearing up for Olympic break

by Matt Sitkoff

The NHL takes a break starting this weekend to allow some of your fantasy players to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Some big-time point producers will be staying home but have been helping fantasy teams since not being named to their country's respective Olympic teams.

New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo has nine goals and 18 points since being left off the U.S. roster on Jan. 1. Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux has five goals and 14 points since being left off Canada's roster on Jan. 7, while Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis has eight goals and 15 points. His teammate, defenseman Victor Hedman, has 11 assists and 14 points since not being named to Sweden's roster and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson has nine points since being left off the U.S. team. New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider has allowed more than two goals once in 10 starts since not being named as the third U.S. goalie.

In the final week leading up to the NHL's hiatus for Sochi, keep an eye on snubbed players who have been on a tear and those with a busy schedule prior to the time off. (Photo: Getty Images, Len Redkoles/NHLI)


Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils (owned in 51 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Two greybeard Czech Olympians are tearing up the score sheet as Elias and Jaromir Jagr, along with their center Travis Zajac, have combined for 20 points in the last five games. The top two all-time Czech scoring leaders have great chemistry with 12 goals this season in which each player had a point. The Devils have three games this week (COL, EDM, @WSH) and expect this red-hot top line to keep producing.

Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (owned in 24 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The expectations were high for the 23-year-old defenseman but a concussion sidelined him for 10 games in October. Healthy again, Josi is now playing up to his potential and helping fantasy teams in many areas. The Swiss Olympian has now set new career highs in both goals (seven) and points (24) in 46 games. He is back playing with Shea Weber in both 5-on-5 and power play situations and thriving. The Predators have only two games this week (@MIN, ANA), but expect Josi to continue to produce before and after his participation in the Olympics.

Ben Scrivens, Edmonton Oilers (owned in 42 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Professor made 59 saves against the San Jose Sharks last week, the most by a goalie in a shutout in the expansion era, and followed that up with 37 saves against the red-hot Boston Bruins in a loss. If you are looking for wins from a goalie then Scrivens might not be your man, but remember saves (616 this season) and goals-against average (2.03) are categories where the 27-year-old will help your team. The Oilers have three games this week (@BUF, @NYR, @NJD) and even with both Oilers goalies having Eastern Conference experience, expect Scrivens to start two of these games over the struggling Ilya Bryzgalov.


Busy before the break -- As we mentioned before, the Olympic break is fast approaching, but not before some teams have a busy last week. The Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks all play four times this week, so activate players on those teams. For the Avalanche, defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Jamie McGinn are players on hot streaks and not widely owned. In Ottawa, with one back-to-back goalie Robin Lehner could be a good play as well as wing Milan Michalek. Lastly, in Vancouver, where they also get coach John Tortorella back on Monday, defenseman Alexander Edler and forward Zack Kassian could really help your team this week.

Balance attack -- Players from the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks have been helping fantasy teams all season long, but here at All-Access we’ll break down some balanced scoring attacks to keep in mind when making up your team. The Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are the only teams with multiple 50-point performers and Chicago leads the league with six players with 40-plus points. The Blues have a League-high nine players with 30-plus points and are tied with the Blackhawks with 12 players with 20-plus points. Lastly, the Blackhawks are the only team with three players with 20-plus goals and the Winnipeg Jets have nine players with 10-plus goals, most in the NHL.


Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets -- The ninth pick of the 2012 NHL Draft first got the attention of the fantasy world when he was named the best defenseman of the 2013 World Junior Championship with nine points for the gold medal-winning U.S. team. Trouba's rookie season started slowly and he missed 17 games due to a scary neck injury, but has blossomed since returning and Paul Maurice taking over as Winnipeg coach. The 19-year-old has 19 points in his past 28 games and is plus-14 during that stretch. Since Maurice has taken over, the 6-foot-2 defenseman has three goals and five assists while playing over 20 minutes in every game. Keep an eye on this rising offensive defenseman; as his confidence grows, so should his ownership.

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