Every Monday NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.
Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen was named the MVP of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, but what does that mean for his fantasy value for the rest of the season?
The last MVP in his home arena was Alexei Kovalev with the Montreal Canadiens in 2009. The rest of the 2008-09 season the Canadiens winger had 14 goals and 18 assists in 32 games. In 2011 Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp was MVP and followed that performance with eight goals and 17 assists in 25 games. The last All-Star Game played in Ottawa in 2012, the MVP was the New York Rangers' Marian Gaborik, who 16 goals and 21 assists in 35 games.
As history shows us, expect Johansen to use the momentum to propel him to a hot second half.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders (owned in 5 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- One of the golden fantasy spots on the Islanders' top line next to John Tavares is currently being held by Bailey. The 25-year-old has 14 points in his past 18 games after starting the season with seven points in his first 16 games. The ninth pick of the 2008 NHL Draft is coming off a season that saw him total a career-high 38 points last season. He's a must-own in all fantasy formats, especially with Tavares' go-to guy Kyle Okposo sidelined for 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury.
Jason Demers, Dallas Stars (owned in 29 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The 26-year-old is finally starting to hit his offensive stride in Dallas. Acquired by the Stars in November, he had four points, six penalty minutes and 16 shots on goal in his first eight games in Dallas. In his past 13 games he has six points, but the other extended categories is where you will find his true value. In those 13 games he is a plus-5 with 17 shots on goal, 27 penalty minutes, 20 hits and 14 blocked shots while playing 19:04 per game. A fantasy defenseman's value can be found in the amount of categories they hit rather than the points they get; Demers is becoming a fantasy category hog.
Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit Red Wings (owned in 3 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Jimmy Howard injury concerns are a big storyline heading into the second half of the season. Petr Mrazek has played well since Howard last played Jan. 10, with a 4-1-0 record, a 2.63 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Close to returning back from an injury is Gustavsson, the original backup to Howard, who has not played since November because of a dislocated shoulder. The 30-year-old has a career 2.98 GAA and .903 save percentage since coming to Detroit for the 2012-13 season and is a worthwhile addition because of the uncertainty surrounding Howard's health.
Back-to-backs remaining -- One of the most important trends to watch for the remainder of the season is how many back-to-back games are scheduled for a certain team. This information can give you an idea of which backup goalie to pick up or which starting goalie you should target in a trade for your fantasy playoff run. The Pittsburgh Penguins are tied with the Blue Jackets for the most back-to-back games left with nine. The Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings are tied for the fewest back-to-back games left with three. Other teams to target with high amounts of back-to-back scheduled starts are the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Washington Capitals with eight.
Balanced scoring -- Another important thing to watch is teams that are getting scoring from more than the top line. These teams with scoring depth provide deep fantasy options for you and show that despite the ice time being heavily favored to top scorers the depth players are contributing. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the only team in the NHL with three players with three players with at least 40 points and are joined by the St. Louis Blues as having the most players with at least 30 points (six each). The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks lead the NHL with 10 players with at least 20 points, while the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals lead the NHL with 16 players with at least 10 points. The Winnipeg Jets have the most players with at least 10 goals with seven players.
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs -- The highly regarded prospect made his North American professional debut Jan. 23 with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. The eighth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft was held off the score sheet in two games against the Hamilton Bulldogs (Monteral Canadiens affiliate), but this likely is the start of a successful pro career in Toronto. Nylander made the move after he had eight goals and 20 points in 21 games for Modo in the Swedish Hockey League this season. He also led Swedne with 10 points during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Keep an eye on the development of the Maple Leafs' top prospect; he could a chance in the NHL if the Maple Leafs fall farther out of contention for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.