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Fantasy All-Access: New faces in new places thrive

by Matt Sitkoff

Every Monday during the season, fantasy hockey contributor Matt Sitkoff will provide you with fantasy hockey advice in his weekly segment: "Fantasy All-Acces." From the waiver wire watch to roster trends and prospect rumblings, Sitkoff is here to help you all season long.

We have 19 games down and 701 left to go in our fantasy hockey season and hopefully you are off to a good start. If not, then let us here at NHL Fantasy guide you back on track.

The first weekend of NHL hockey, we saw some new faces in new places have early success. In fact, there were 18 goals by players playing with new teams or rookies playing in their first weekend of action, and with that the hashtag #NewFacesinNewPlacesGoalCount was born.

Jaromir Jagr, who posted two goals and two assists in Saturday's opening day win over Phoenix, is expected to be a fantasy difference-maker yet again in 2012-13. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars had two of the biggest impacts from their offseason additions. Florida saw instant chemistry from Jonathan Huberdeau (19 years, 7 months) and Alex Kovalev (39 years, 10 months old) as they combined for six points in their first game together. Fantasy owners are hoping they have instant chemistry like Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr had last season.

Speaking of the 40-year-old Jagr, he also had a dazzling debut with the Stars on Saturday, recording two goals and two assists, and will still be a factor in fantasy once again this season.


Vladimir Tarasenko (owned in 18 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- Talk about a great NHL debut for the 22-year-old Russian, who had two goals against the defensive challenged Red Wings. The 21-year-old opened the scoring with a dynamic breakaway goal that turned out to be the game winner. He added a power-play goal in the second and was tied for the team lead with 3:06 TOI on the power play and five shots on goal. The Blues have five games in the next seven days (@NSH, @CHI, NSH, @DAL, MIN), so with that in mind, consider joining the 10,455 that added Tarasenko this weekend in Yahoo! Leagues -- he is a must-add in all formats.

Stephane Robidas (owned in 6 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- Lost in all the talk of the 40-year-olds turning back the clock in Dallas, it has been the play of Robidas that should turn heads of fantasy owners. The 35-year-old has 91 career power-play points and had two power-play points in his first two games this season. The Stars' power play has been given a huge boost with the play of Jagr and Ray Whitney, and Robidas will be a big beneficiary of that. The Stars have two favorable matchups this week, at Detroit and home vs. Chicago, but finish with a tough matchup vs. the Blues.

Jose Theodore (owned in 41 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- With all the rumors of Roberto Luongo coming to Florida, and the temptation to see what the organization has in uber-prospect Jacob Markstrom, all Theordore does is win, and that is what matters for a fantasy goalie. The 36-year-old has averaged 25.4 wins in his last five seasons. The Panthers have four games this week (@OTT, @MTL, OTT, PHI) with only one back-to-back, so look for two or three more wins from the former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner.



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Four Forwards Power Play -- A growing roster trend we noticed this weekend was more and more teams employing four forwards on their top unit, and in the Capitals' case both power play units. This is a great trend for fantasy owners for multiple reasons, as not only will you have increased opportunities for your fantasy forwards to rack up power-play points, but in reverse you could have more shorthanded points for your players that kill penalties vs. this alignment.

Filling In Nicely -- Big-name players left teams this offseason, creating some holes on teams. Roman Josi, filling the role of Ryan Suter in Nashville, played a team high 27:30 and could play his way into being a fantasy sleeper with four games on tap this week (STL, @MIN, @STL, @ANH). Brayden Schenn, another fantasy sleeper, held his own playing on the top line in Philadelphia and also has four games this week (@NJ, NYR, @FLA, @TBL) to continue to show he is worth being owned in more than 18 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Back Up Plan -- In the 19 games played this first weekend of hockey, 38 goalies saw action. This could be the roster trend going forward as the three goalies (Ilya Bryzgalov, Henrik Lundqvist and Mike Smith) that started in back-to-back games gave up four or more goals in the second game. This week, like many in the 2012-13 season, 19 of the 30 teams play back-to-backs. Do not underestimate the value of a backup goalie this year in fantasy, as we have seen in Vancouver the starter can quickly become the backup and vice versa.


Cory Conacher -- The Lightning have a knack of finding smallish, speedy undrafted college wingers and have discovered a good one in rookie Cory Conacher. The 5-foot-8, 176-pound reigning AHL MVP had an eventful NHL debut. The 23-year-old took a huge open ice hit from Alex Ovechkin, had a power-play assists and his first NHL goal. This week the Lightning have four games (@NYI, @CAR, OTT, PHI) and Conacher, who had 114 career AHL points in 118 games played and is Canisus College's all-time leader in points (147), goals (62) and game-winners (12), could continue the trend upward.


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