Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver-wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.
The Los Angeles Kings visit the White House on Monday to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons in 2014. But entering the week the Kings are on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, three points behind the Calgary Flames for the second Western Conference wild-card spot. But the Kings always save their best for the end.
Some players to keep an eye on that traditionally turn up their play as the season goes on are center Anze Kopitar and defenseman Alec Martinez (18 percent owned in Yahoo leagues). Kopitar led the Kings in points in games played after Feb. 1 in 2013-14 (27 points in 26 games) and 2011-12 (32 points in 32 games). Martinez had a combined 25 points in games after Feb. 1 in the Kings' championship seasons.
Target these players in trades and you can expect their production to increase as the season moves on.
Patrick Maroon, Anaheim Ducks (14 percent owned) -- The Ducks went 8-3-0 in January and leading the charge was Maroon, who had with four goals, six assists, 31 shots on goal, nine penalty minutes, 26 hits and a plus-7 in 11 games while averaging 15:57 of ice time per game. Playing on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the 6-foot-2, 231 pound power forward ended the month on a six-game point streak. The Ducks start February with four games this week, home against Carolina Hurricanes and then road games at the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lighting. Three games against Eastern Conference teams is good for Maroon, who has 18 points in 37 career games against Eastern Conference teams.
Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets (5 percent owned) -- The second pick of the 2012 NHL Draft returned to the ice Saturday after missing 36 games because of a knee injury and had an assist in his first game. Despite the injury risk the talent is there; Murray had 21 points in 66 games last season, the most ever for a Blue Jackets rookie defenseman. The Blue Jackets play three games this week, home against Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues, and at the Ottawa Senators. We expect the talented defenseman to make up for lost time.
Robin Lehner, Ottawa Senators (33 percent owned) -- Craig Anderson is out with a hand injury, which means Lehner is slated to be the No. 1 goaltender for the Senators. Lehner has struggled the past two seasons, with goals-against averages above 3.00 in each season, but he has a career .914 save percentage. The Senators have three games this week, at the New Jersey Devils and home against the Washington Capitals and Blue Jackets. In seven career games against the Devils and Blue Jackets, Lehner is 4-2-1; he's never faced the Capitals.
LW/C/RW - STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 2
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 15
SOG: 64 | +/-: 0
Filling in for injured players -- Injuries are a part of fantasy hockey, but it is finding those hidden gems from teams looking to replace injured stars that can provide the best fantasy value. The New York Islanders lost top-line forward Kyle Okposo and taking his spot alongside John Tavares and Josh Bailey has been Mikhail Grabovski (17 percent), who had two goals in seven games in January. The Colorado Avalanche lost All-Star defenseman Erik Johnson; filling in for him is Nick Holden (1 percent), who has played more than 19 minutes per game in the Avalanche's two games since the All-Star break ended. Another team trying to fill a spot on defense is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Matthew Carle is out while recovering from abdominal surgery; in his place Andrej Sustr (fewer than 1 percent) has filled in with two assists in three games since the break ended.
Back-to-back stats -- One of the most important trends to pay attention to is how your goaltender performs when put into the net in back-to-back starts. So far this season goalies that start on consecutive nights are 22-29-11 with a 3.07 GAA and .900 save percentage in the second start of back-to-back starts. The Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks are the only teams to not start a goalie in back-to-back situations. The Ducks' Frederik Andersen and the Devils' Cory Schneider lead the NHL with five starts on back-to-back nights; both are 3-2-0 in the second game.
LW - STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 2
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 22
SOG: 46 | +/-: 0
Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend experience was a great one for Drouin (41 percent) as he was crowned the fastest skater. He's used that momentum to start the second half with points in all three Lightning games since the All-Star break ended. Drouin's 20 assists are fourth among NHL rookies he is seeing time on the power play. The sky is the limit for this talented player and now is the time to add Drouin in all fantasy formats.