Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel, with 25 points, leads all United States-born players in scoring, but he's not the only American making waves in fantasy hockey.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, born in Spokane, Wash., has 23 points in 24 games; not bad for a player drafted, on average, in the 16th round in Yahoo fantasy leagues.
FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS
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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller, a native of East Lansing, Mich., is having a renaissance this season. He leads American-born goalies with 15 wins, which is a steal for anyone who took him in the fourth round of Yahoo leagues.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (owned in 9 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Playing on a line with Steven Stamkos, the third-year forward has points in seven straight games; he has five goals, three assists, 16 shots on goal and is a plus-4 in that span. Last season he had career-highs of 17 goals and 41 points, and he has a career average of 0.53 points per game. The Lightning have four games scheduled this week (at the New York Rangers, a home and home with the Buffalo Sabres, home for the Columbus Blue Jackets). With three games against teams that entered the week ranked near the bottom of goals-against per game, now is a perfect time to pick up Killorn.
Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings (owned in 6 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- With 100 NHL games played, DeKeyser has 34 points, 131 shots on goal, seven power-play points, and a plus-16 rating while playing more than 21 minutes per game. In his past eight games he has one goal, five assists, 15 shots on goal, six hits and five blocked shots. This was after having four assists in his first 16 games this season. Detroit has four games this week (Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, Rangers, at Carolina Hurricanes) and we expect the 6-foot-3 defender to continue his hot play.
Al Montoya, Florida Panthers (owned in 4 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Roberto Luongo missed time due to an injury last week, which could give Montoya some more playing time this week. The 29-year-old won his previous two starts, giving up two goals in each game. The Panthers have back-to-back games Monday at the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tuesday at the Detroit Red Wings, and also have home games this week against the Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres. That makes Montoya a perfect option.
Veterans return --
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 1 GAMES
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 8 | +/-: 2
Two veterans returning to the lineup after long absences are making their presence felt. The Red Wings' Stephen Weiss
played only one game before last week. But in his return from a groin injury and a conditioning stint in the American Hockey League, he has five points in his four games back, playing mostly on a line with Pavel Datsyuk
The Nashville Predators' Mike Fisher missed the first 21 games this season due to an Achilles tendon injury sustained during offseason training. A six-time 20-goal scorer, Fisher had two shots on goal in his first two games back. The Predators hope he can pick up where he left off last season, when he had 13 points in his final 12 games.
Both of the returning veterans should be owned in all formats.
Home cooking -- Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars leads the league with 20 home points this season, which is surprising considering Dallas is 4-5-5 this season at home.
Some other fantasy players who have been more dangerous at home this season are the Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak, who has 16 of his 22 points at home; and the Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty, who has 16 of his 19 points in Montreal. Pay attention to the splits and schedule and gain an edge when a player is playing at home.
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 1 GAMES
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 11
SOG: 37 | +/-: 0
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers -- The top pick of the 2014 NHL Draft has had a successful start to his career. He leads all rookie defensemen in assists (nine) and points (11) and is second in shots on goal (37) while playing 21:51 per game. His best stretch was in the first seven games of November when he had eight points, including a season-long four-game point streak. He is on pace for 42 points; since 2009 two rookie defenseman scored more than that: Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres had 48 points in 2009-10 and Kevin Shattenkirk had 43 points with the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues in 2010-11. An expectation of 30-32 points is more realistic but worth owning in all fantasy formats; currently he's owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues.