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Fantasy All-Access: Schwartz in prime spot

Blues forward leads waiver wire options this week

by Sean McCullen @McBrooklyn77 / NHL.com Staff Writer

Jaden Schwartz certainly wasn't rusty in his return to the St. Louis Blues lineup Friday after missing 49 games because of an ankle injury. The left wing scored a goal in the first period of the 5-3 win at the Florida Panthers, then assisted on Vladimir Tarasenko's second-period goal. 

Schwartz didn't score on his one shot on goal Sunday in a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but don't let that deter you.

Many fantasy owners dropped Schwartz (owned in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues) when they learned of the severity of his fractured ankle in October, and rightfully so. Even in leagues with injured reserve, it was difficult to justify keeping Schwartz after the Blues said he would miss at least three months. 

Some of you jumped on the chance to add Schwartz off waivers when you saw reports before the All-Star break he was back at practice and likely to return in a week or two, and that move could pay off in a big way. 

Coach Ken Hitchcock has reunited the "STL Line," with Schwartz and Tarasenko flanking Jori Lehtera. The three were on the ice together for 34 goals in 2014-15, second in the NHL to the Tampa Bay Lightning's "Triplets" line (Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov), which had 47, according to leftwinglock.com. 

It goes without saying Schwartz, who had a career-high 63 points (28 goals) in 75 games last season, should be added if he's still available in your fantasy league. 

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WAIVER-WIRE WATCH

Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers (44 percent owned) - Barkov has missed four games with an upper-body injury, but could return as soon as Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 20-year-old has 16 goals, 19 assists and a plus-13 rating in 43 games centering the top line for the Panthers, who are ninth in the NHL in goals per game (2.78). 

Calle Jarnkrok, C, Nashville Predators (1 percent owned) - The 24-year-old has four goals and an assist in the past four-plus games at left wing on the top line with center Ryan Johansen and right wing James Neal. He scored twice in a 5-0 win at the Panthers on Saturday. Jarnkrok is the latest forward coach Peter Laviolette has tried with Johansen and Neal, joining Colin Wilson, Kevin Fiala, Filip Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, since Johansen was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 6. Johansen has a track record of helping players significantly boost their scoring; Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno had 31 goals in 2014-15 playing with Johansen and has not scored since Johansen was traded. Jarnkrok is not worth adding yet even in the deepest leagues, but keep an eye on him this week. 

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, Winnipeg Jets (17 percent owned) - The rookie has five goals and five assists in his past 10 games after a disappointing start that saw him score eight times in his first 45 games. It's helped that he's played the past seven games on a line with either center Bryan Little and right wing Blake Wheeler or center Mark Scheifele and Wheeler. 

Jake Gardiner, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (4 percent owned) - Gardiner is getting time on Toronto's first power-play unit since Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. That may not mean much, with the Maple Leafs last in the NHL with the man-advantage (14.6 percent), but Gardiner did score a goal in each of the first two games and had two assists in the third since the Phaneuf trade. He also played a season-high 25:40 on 31 shifts in the first game, meaning he's likely to get more opportunities to put up numbers.

Video: TOR@CGY: Gardiner rifles it past Hiller to cut lead

Ondrej Pavelec, G, Winnipeg Jets (52 percent owned) - Pavelec returned from a nearly three-month absence because of a knee injury Saturday and made 21 saves in a 2-1 shootout win at the Edmonton Oilers. Although he was not very good in his 15 games (5-6-1, 2.82 goals-against average, .906 save percentage) before the injury, Pavelec proved last season he can be reliable in fantasy down the stretch; he had three shutouts in his final three starts to help the Jets qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the franchise relocated from Atlanta. 

LINE CHANGES 

-- Marcus Johansson (C/LW/RW, 39 percent owned) returned from a four-game absence because of an upper-body injury Tuesday, but is no longer on the Washington Capitals' second line. Instead of playing left wing next to Evgeny Kuznetsov and opposite Justin Williams, he's centering Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. Although he scored a goal and had two assists in his first game back, a 5-3 win against the Predators, this change isn't likely to benefit Johansson owners for the long term. 

-- With Barkov out, Nick Bjugstad (C, 26 percent owned) has been playing between Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr on the Panthers' top line. Though he's probably not worth adding on waivers at this point with Barkov's return seemingly imminent, you could do worse than using him as a fill-in for an injured player if he's already on your roster. 

-- Sven Andrighetto (RW, owned in fewer than 1 percent) has replaced Dale Weise on the Montreal Canadiens' No. 1 power-play unit and on a line with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. Andrighetto had two even-strength goals in a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday in his first game after being moved up in the lineup.

Video: MTL@BUF: Andrighetto steals puck, scores second goal

-- Phaneuf (D, 77 percent owned) has been playing one point opposite Erik Karlsson on the Senators' top power-play unit since being acquired from the Maple Leafs. Cody Ceci has been his partner at even strength. Phaneuf has three assists in three games with Ottawa. 

SCHEDULE NOTES 

-- The Lightning, Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks each play four games this week. The Blue Jackets are the only team with two games on its schedule for the week. Each of the remaining 20 NHL teams plays three games. 

-- The Ducks return home from a seven-game trip when they host the Flames on Sunday. 

-- For the second consecutive week, there are no home-and-home sets in the NHL.

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