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Fantasy All-Access: Surprise starts around League

by Matt Sitkoff / NHL.com

The Colorado Avalanche were the surprise team last season. They rose triumphant in the Central Division behind an MVP season by goaltender Semyon Varlamov and the coaching of Jack Adams winner Patrick Roy. Flash forward to this season and in six games they have already started three different goalies thanks to injuries, averaging only 1.50 goals per game and being outscored 5-2 in the third period.

All-Access is here to tell you to pull your hand off the panic button and realize this season is a marathon, not a sprint. Reigning Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon does have three points in the first six games and Varlamov could be returning by the end of the week from his groin injury. The Avalanche won’t be the team to beat in the Central this season, but that doesn’t mean their players can't be assets to your fantasy team.

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

The 2014-15 NHL season is underway, so NHL.com has you covered with weekly fantasy hockey positional rankings, real-time spin updates and waiver wire advice.

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Andrew Shaw, Chicago Blackhawks (owned in 28 percent of Yahoo Leagues) – This preseason winner of the coveted second-line center position, flanked by Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, has been an early contributor for the Blackhawks. Shaw has two goals and one assist in the first four games. Coming off a season that saw him score a career-high 20 goals, the 23-year-old has seen his ice time increase from 15:51 to 18:47 per game. He has also won 50 percent (20 of 40) of his faceoffs, giving him added value in a league that incorporates that statistic. Chicago has a busy week with four games scheduled (PHI, @NSH, @STL, OTT) and back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, giving your team a nice push at the end of the week.

Trevor Daley, Dallas Stars (owned in 9 percent of Yahoo Leagues) – The Stars trio of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza has lived up to their fantasy hype, but not to be overlooked is Daley, 31, with three goals and five points. The veteran defenseman, who has a career 0.29 points-per-game average in 693 games, is already on pace to shatter his career highs in points (27 in 2010-11) and goals (nine in 2013-14). Dallas has three games scheduled this week (VAN, @NJD, @NYI) and Daley has 10 points against those opponents. He is a must-add in all fantasy formats.

Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators (owned in 61 percent of Yahoo Leagues) – The Senators have won four of their first five games mainly because of strong play in their net. Anderson, 33, has stopped 92 of the 98 shots he has faced this season (.939 save percentage). His counterpart, Robin Lehner, has also been good stopping 76 of 80 shots (.950 save percentage). We still think the Senators net will be a time share and owning both is the best strategy, but with three games scheduled this week (TOR, NJD @ CHI), and one back-to-back, look for the veteran to get two starts and continue his hot start.

ROSTER TRENDS

AHL update -- Usually we give you one minor league update in our prospect report here at the All-Access, but this weekend there were two very important fantasy assets who played. Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin played two games for the Syracuse Crunch, scoring the game-winning goal in the first game and adding two assists in the second while being a plus-4. He was recalled Sunday and could make his NHL debut soon. Anaheim Ducks rookie goalie John Gibson played two games for the Norfolk Admirals, getting a 32-save victory in the first game and giving up four goals on 27 shots in his second, good for a .902 save percentage in two games. These players are back on the fantasy map and should continue to be owned in all formats.

Braden Holtby
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 2-0-1
GAA: 1.85 | SVP: .932
Surprise, surprise -- Two teams are turning fantasy attention toward them with their surprise start under new coaches. The Washington Capitals, under Barry Trotz, have gotten a point from 17 of the 20 players to dress for them and Braden Holtby is well on his way to a bounce-back season with a 1.85 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in his first four starts. Meanwhile, new Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette has made Filip Forsberg a must-own and put Mike Ribeiro back into fantasy relevance while Pekka Rinne has been dominant in stopping 92 of 97 shots in his first four games this season.

PROSPECT RUMBLINGS

Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils -- The second-round pick (No. 60) in the 2012 NHL Draft is making an immediate impact with three goals in his first five NHL games. He has moved ahead of Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and Adam Larsson, while playing the second-most minutes (15:53) on the man advantage for the Devils. The 20-year old did have 61 points in 64 games last season for Kelowna in the Western Hockey League, so the offensive game is there. Keep an eye on this prospect as his ownership will rise as his play continues to get better.

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