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Fantasy All-Access: McGinn, Atkinson worth adding

by Sean McCullen

Every Monday, staff writer Sean McCullen identifies potential waiver-wire pickups and points out lineup moves and schedule impacts for fantasy hockey.

The Pittsburgh Penguins fired coach Mike Johnston on Saturday after a disappointing start to their season. Johnston is the second NHL coach fired in 2015-16, joining Todd Richards, formerly of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Sidney Crosby owners undoubtedly hope new coach Mike Sullivan will help Sid return to form (he has six goals and 13 assists in 28 games).

Unfortunately, you can't fire your coach to try to spark something with your fantasy team; you're the coach, general manager and owner, so you'll have to live with your poor decisions and underperforming players, and plow on through the rest of the season.

If you find yourself on the outside of your league's playoff structure after Week 9, don't despair; there's still plenty of time to turn things around. Who knows, maybe one of your players will go on a Patrick Kane-esque scoring streak to lift your team from irrelevant to playoff-bound.

Although I can't promise any of the players in the Waiver-Wire Watch this week will even come close to Kane's 26-game point streak, each of them could help put an end to a losing streak.


Jamie McGinn, LW/RW, Buffalo Sabres (3 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) -- McGinn has eight points (three goals) in the past eight games and moved up to Buffalo's top line with Ryan O'Reilly and rookie Sam Reinhart three games ago. The 27-year-old, who scored an NHL career-high 20 goals in 2011-12, quietly has averaged nearly half a point per game in his first season with the Sabres (six goals, eight assists in 30 games). His dual eligibility in Yahoo leagues and three power-play goals make him more attractive than some other options on this list, so long as he remains with O'Reilly, who is on a seven-game point streak.

Jason Pominville, RW, Minnesota Wild (23 percent owned) -- Pominville was moved up to the Wild's top power-play unit in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. Minnesota has struggled with the man-advantage (1-for-21 in its past eight games), so there's no guarantee the move will get Pominville going -- he has three goals in 28 games after scoring 18 last season and 30 in 2013-14 -- but it can't hurt.

Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (29 percent owned) -- Atkinson was on this list Nov. 30, when he had six goals on 66 shots on goal and was 29 percent owned. After scoring three times in three games last week, Atkinson has nine goals on 78 SOG, but he's again 29 percent owned. Coach John Tortorella likes Atkinson, and he'll like him even more if he keeps scoring, as will fantasy owners.

Mikkel Boedker, LW/RW, Arizona Coyotes (21 percent owned) -- Boedker, who scored each Arizona goal in a 2-1 overtime win against the Wild on Friday, has 11 goals and 11 assists in 30 games. If your league uses plus/minus, Boedker could hurt you; he is minus-11.

Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (22 percent owned) -- After a slow start to his second NHL season, including stretches of six and four games without a point, Teravainen has four points in the past five games. His improved play has earned him a spot on Chicago's top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.


-- Tomas Hertl (C/LW, 17 percent owned) once again gets a chance to impress among the San Jose Sharks' top-six forward group with Logan Couture out indefinitely following surgery Thursday to repair an arterial bleed in his right thigh. Only this time Hertl's skating in the middle between Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau on the top line. Center Joe Thornton has been struggling of late (one goal, no assists, minus-4 rating in his past six games), so coach Peter DeBoer dropped him, as well as Melker Karlsson, down to the second line with Tommy Wingels on Saturday against the Wild.

-- Losers of four straight entering Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens shook up their lines, putting Paul Byron on the top line with leading goal-scorer Max Pacioretty and center Tomas Plekanec. Alex Galchenyuk, who had been in the middle on Pacioretty's line the previous two games after David Desharnais was used there for two games, centered the second line with Lars Eller and Dale Weise.

-- Rookie forward Dylan Larkin is getting time on the Detroit Red Wings' top power-play unit. Each of his 11 goals have come at even strength, but he was on the ice for 2:28 of Detroit's 4:00 of power-play time Friday against the New Jersey Devils.

-- Jakub Voracek is not only shifting lines but also position in the Philadelphia Flyers' latest attempt to spark the struggling wing. He moved from right wing to left wing on a line with Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier at practice Sunday. Voracek has taken a major step back after his breakout season alongside Claude Giroux in 2014-15, recently playing in a depth-line role for the Flyers.


-- Fourteen teams will play four games this week (Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Devils, Penguins, Sabres, Sharks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals). The Canucks, Flames and Sharks will play all four on the road.

The Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets each have two games, and the rest of the League will play three.

-- The Bruins and Penguins will play a home-and-home beginning Wednesday in Boston and concluding Friday in Pittsburgh. That bodes well for owners of Evgeni Malkin, who had three goals and one assist in two games against Boston last season.


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