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Fantasy All-Access: Injured players to target

Jake Allen, Connor McDavid among targets for stretch run

by Sean McCullen @McBrooklyn77 / NHL.com Staff Writer

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

With 10 weeks left in the NHL regular season, the time for experimental roster-tinkering in fantasy hockey is over -- which certainly isn't to say Waiver-Wire Watch won't remain a useful tool for those of you who may find yourself with an injury problem but can't swing a trade to stop the bleeding.

It's time to go get the players who can win you a title, and your wish list might include a handful of players who have missed time -- some of them, a significant amount of time -- before the All-Star break because of injury.

It's not a bad strategy, the hope being you can convince a prospective trade partner to sell low on high-reward targets such as Jake Allen, Connor McDavid, Jaden Schwartz, Henrik Sedin or James van Riemsdyk.

Here are pluses and minuses for each of the five players:

Jake Allen, G, St. Louis Blues (84 percent owned in Yahoo leagues)

Plus: The fact that it remains unknown when Allen will return to action from a knee injury may help you get him in a trade for a very good price. He went 8-5-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 15 games (12 starts) after Feb. 1 last season, so he has a track record of stellar play during a Stanley Cup Playoff push. The 26-year-old, at 18-10-3 with a 2.17 GAA, a .924 save percentage and five shutouts, was in the running for the Vezina Trophy before he was injured.

Minus: Coach Ken Hitchcock, in an attempt to keep Allen fresh for the playoffs, might play him in a platoon with Brian Elliott. Before his injury, Allen had started 32 of 44 Blues games.

Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers (91 percent owned)

Plus: McDavid hasn't played since fracturing his left clavicle when he crashed into the end boards against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 3, but his talent was evident in the first 13 games of his NHL career, when the then 18-year-old rookie had five goals and seven assists. He should be back in the Edmonton lineup this week.

Minus: The Oilers play four games over the final two weeks of the season, when fantasy playoffs are in the semifinal or championship round.

Jaden Schwartz, LW, St. Louis Blues (51 percent owned)

Plus: Unlike his teammate Allen, Schwartz is expected back shortly after the NHL All-Star break, possibly as soon as Tuesday at the Nashville Predators. At 51 percent owned, you may even be able to add him off waivers in your league, but act quickly. Schwartz, who has not played since Oct. 20 after breaking his left ankle at practice, was second on the Blues in goals (11) and tied for third in assists (14) after Feb. 1 last season, and he could be reunited with one of the most explosive players in the NHL, right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.

Minus: Schwartz will return to a St. Louis lineup that is 22nd in the NHL in scoring (2.42 goals per game) after it was sixth (2.91) in 2014-15.

Henrik Sedin, C, Vancouver Canucks (86 percent owned)

Plus: Sedin, who missed four games leading up to the All-Star break because of an upper-body injury, is tied for 13th in the NHL with 28 assists. He finished the 2014-15 season strong; he had nine goals and 24 assists in 34 games after Feb. 1.

Minus: Sedin will return to a Vancouver lineup that is 24th in the NHL in scoring (2.36 goals per game), which hasn't necessarily been his fault, but some of the blame for the Canucks' struggles on the power play (16.8 percent, 24th) can be pinned on the veteran center. The 35-year-old hasn't scored a goal in his past 15 games.

Video: NJD@VAN: H. Sedin cashes in on Schneider's miscue

James van Riemsdyk, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs (72 percent owned)

Plus: In 40 games, van Riemsdyk had 14 goals, 15 assists and a plus-3 rating playing alongside Tyler Bozak and opposite PA Parenteau on a line that was very productive for the young Maple Leafs. JVR hasn't played since Jan. 9 because of a fractured left foot, but he'll have plenty of opportunity to help your team in a big way come the fantasy playoffs; Toronto plays eight games over the final two weeks of the NHL regular-season, more than any team in the League.

Minus: Toronto has struggled mightily since van Riemsdyk was injured, going 1-5-2 with 10 goals in the eight games.

SCHEDULE NOTES

-- The following list indicates how many back-to-back sets each team will play the rest of the regular season:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Boston Bruins - 4
Buffalo Sabres - 6
Detroit Red Wings - 7
Florida Panthers - 5
Montreal Canadiens - 5
Ottawa Senators - 5
Tampa Bay Lightning - 6
Toronto Maple Leafs - 3

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

Carolina Hurricanes - 4
Columbus Blue Jackets - 5
New Jersey Devils - 7
New York Islanders - 7
New York Rangers - 6
Philadelphia Flyers - 9
Pittsburgh Penguins - 7
Washington Capitals - 6

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago Blackhawks - 1
Colorado Avalanche - 3
Dallas Stars - 3
Minnesota Wild - 5
Nashville Predators - 5
St. Louis Blues - 3
Winnipeg Jets - 2

PACIFIC DIVISION

Anaheim Ducks - 5
Arizona Coyotes - 6
Calgary Flames - 5
Edmonton Oilers - 3
Los Angeles Kings - 4
San Jose Sharks - 5
Vancouver Canucks - 6

This list is important when deciding which goalie to put in your lineup, or even which ones to target in trades, down the stretch. According to leftwinglock.com, four of the NHL's 30 teams have started the same goalie in each game of a back-to-back set in 50 percent or more of such situations: the Avalanche (57.1 percent), Coyotes (66.7), Blue Jackets (53.8) and Kings (50.0). The Bruins and Red Wings have not started the same goalie in each end of a back-to-back all season.

Waiver-Wire Watch and Line Changes will return in the Feb. 8 All-Access.

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