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Fantasy All-Access: Start eyeing Devils on waiver wire

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.

Fantasy owners apparently have not taken notice of the New Jersey Devils, who have won six of their past seven games, including a 3-2 shootout win against the John Tavares-less New York Islanders on Saturday.

Goalie Cory Schneider has been good (6-2-1, 2.17 goals-against average, .919 save percentage), as expected, but he's not the only reason behind New Jersey's recent success.

Since their 0-3-1 start under first-year coach John Hynes, the Devils have been scoring goals. Yes, the New Jersey Devils. They have 20 non-shootout goals in their past seven games; that 2.86 per-game average would be 10th in the NHL for the season. Veteran forward Mike Cammalleri (C/LW, owned in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues), a known fantasy commodity for the past decade, has three goals and a Devils-high 11 points.

But it's one of Cammalleri's linemates who caught my attention for this week's Waiver-Wire Watch, which focuses on players owned in 20 percent or less of Yahoo leagues.


Lee Stempniak, LW/RW, New Jersey Devils (8 percent owned) -- After he had 15 goals and 13 assists for the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets last season, Stempniak spent the nearly the entire summer hoping to catch on somewhere in the NHL for 2015-16. The Devils invited him to training camp on a professional tryout offer, and he signed a one-year contract Oct. 3. Now, the 32-year-old forward is playing on the Devils' top line with Cammalleri and Adam Henrique. He's averaging 19:29 of ice time per game, including 2:39 on the power play, and is deserving of consideration in deeper fantasy formats. Stempniak has eight points in 11 games and offers solid category coverage with two goals, six assists, a plus-3 rating, 25 shots on a goal and 19 hits. Devils second-line center Travis Zajac (8 percent owned) also is worth a look; he has four goals and seven points in 10 games.

Leon Draisaitl
Center - EDM
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 7 | +/-: 3
Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers (13 percent owned) -- Draisaitl, 20, started the season with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League but has had a big impact in his first two games since being recalled. Playing wing on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, the No. 3 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft has three goals, two assists, a plus-3 rating and two power-play points.

Pascal Dupuis, LW/RW, Pittsburgh Penguins (7 percent owned) -- Dupuis, who missed the final 66 games of 2014-15 because of blood clots and the first six this season because of a lower-body injury, has landed on Sidney Crosby's line. He has one goal and 11 shots on goal in his first five games. Though Crosby is off to a slow start (one goal, four assists in 11 games), it's only a matter of time before he gets going. Once he does, you'll want his linemates on your fantasy roster, including 36-year-old Dupuis.

Cody Franson, D, Buffalo Sabres (16 percent owned) -- The young Sabres are playing better recently, and that means their defensemen's numbers should improve, particularly plus/minus ratings. After a slow start to his first season with the Sabres, Franson has three assists in his past five games and had perhaps his best performance in a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday with one assist, two shots on goal and a plus-2 in 20:47 of ice time.

Vincent Trocheck, C/RW, Florida Panthers (20 percent owned) -- Trocheck has three goals in his past five games, including two in a three-point performance against the Colorado Avalanche last Tuesday. After he had seven goals and 15 assists in 50 games last season, the 22-year-old has four goals, five assists and five power-play points in 11 games this season.


Sam Bennett
Center - CGY
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 5
SOG: 12 | +/-: -1
- After all the success Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler had together last season, the Calgary Flames' slow start forced coach Bob Hartley to split them up. Joe Colborne has been playing left wing next to Monahan and opposite Hudler, and Gaudreau has been on the second line with rookie center Sam Bennett and right wing Michael Frolik. Gaudreau, Bennett and Frolik have combined for 10 points in three games since the switch.

- There's no guarantee Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek will play on the same line when the Flyers continue their five-game road trip Monday at the Vancouver Canucks. Coach Dave Hakstol has split the two up at times to try to spark some offense, but with the Flyers having scored five goals during a three-game losing streak (0-2-1), and with Voracek without a goal through 10 games, it might be time for a longer separation. Look for Wayne Simmonds to move up to Giroux's line.

- Before Tavares missed two weekend games because of flu-like symptoms, Islanders coach Jack Capuano spent the previous three games mixing and matching forwards on the top line. Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, Josh Bailey and Nikolay Kulemin all got even-strength ice time with Tavares. The take from Islanders insiders is that Capuano likes Bailey with Tavares.


Road warriors: The Flyers and Dallas Stars are two of seven teams that will play four games this week, but they're the only two that will play all four on the road. The others to play four games this week: the Canucks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators each will play two games. The rest of the League will play three.

Welcome to SoCal: The Anaheim Ducks are off to a surprisingly bad start, and that includes forward Corey Perry, whose average draft position was 13.0 in Yahoo leagues. Perry has no goals and three assists in 11 games. Perhaps home games this week against the banged-up Panthers (top-line center Aleksander Barkov and right wing Jaromir Jagr have been out), and the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets (2-10-0; 3.83 goals-against per game, 29th in NHL) will make him and the Ducks mighty again.

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