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Fantasy waiver wire: Goaltenders surprising

Cam Ward of Hurricanes, Chad Johnson of Flames emerging as viable starters

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

This season, we've seen plenty of goalies off to surprising starts. One of the most notable resurgences so far has been Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward (33 percent owned in Yahoo leagues), who extended his winning streak to four games after a 3-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

Ward, 32, is 6-4-3 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 13 starts. After going 1-3-1 and allowing 18 goals in five starts in October, Ward is 4-1-2 with a .941 SV% and has allowed two or fewer goals in six of seven starts in November. The veteran has started eight of the Hurricanes' past 10 games, and with backup Eddie Lack struggling (1-2-1, 3.78 GAA, .856 SV%), Ward likely will start 50-plus games for the third consecutive season.

Video: WPG@CAR: Ward makes a nice pad stop on a deflection

The Calgary Flames traded for Brian Elliott during the offseason in hopes he could be the missing piece of the puzzle that gets them back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead, Elliott has been the furthest thing from that, going 3-8-0 with a 3.36 GAA and .882 SV% in his first 11 starts. As a result, Chad Johnson (14 percent owned) has started four straight for Calgary. He's 3-1-0 and has allowed six goals in that span and it would appear he's overtaken Elliott for the starting job. Elliott, who led the NHL in save percentage (.930) with the St. Louis Blues last season, could easily bounce back, but he'll need to regain the confidence of coach Glen Gulutzan. Until that happens, expect Johnson to get the majority of the starts.

Video: CGY@DET: Johnson denies Glendening with his pad

Many had pegged Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (38 percent owned) as a potential sleeper, but a lower-body injury early in the season derailed those hopes temporarily. Smith returned on Nov. 16 against the Flames, allowing two goals on 24 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss. But on Saturday, the veteran made 43 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks. Smith should see the bulk of the starts for Arizona moving forward and is worth adding in almost all formats.

 

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Teuvo Teravainen, LW/RW, CAR (17 percent owned)

Hurricanes coach Bill Peters has had a tough time finding where Teravainen fits into the lineup, but it's clear after last week that he belongs in the top six. Teravainen has three goals, four assists and is plus-5 with 16 shots on goal in his past five games. He skated at left wing on the second line with center Victor Rask and right wing Elias Lindholm on Sunday, playing 6:01 on the power play (18:13 of ice time). Teravainen is shooting the puck more, which clearly has given him some confidence and he should continue to rack up points with the Hurricanes playing well. 

Video: MTL@CAR: Teravainen puts 'Canes ahead with deflection

 

Vladislav Namestnikov, C/LW, TBL (14 percent owned)

It's impossible to replace Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who is expected to miss four months after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. But Namestnikov got a big promotion to centering the first line, playing with Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. He had two assists, one after Stamkos left in a 4-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings last Tuesday, and also had an assist in 10:31 of ice time in a 3-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Namestnikov is skating on the first power-play unit and already has five PPP this season. He's worth a look in deeper leagues.

 

Sam Gagner, C/RW, CBJ (7 percent owned)

You would think the leading goal scorer on the second-ranked offense in the NHL would be owned in more than six percent of leagues. Well, that's Gagner, who has been a key part of the Columbus Blue Jackets surge lately. He's tied with captain Nick Foligno with seven goals and has been extremely productive playing mostly in a bottom six role. Gagner, averaging 13:36 of ice time per game, is considered a power-play specialist, fourth on Columbus in PP ice time per game (2:26). The Blue Jackets power play is first in the NHL (31.8 percent) and as long as it keeps producing, so should Gagner. 

Video: NYR@CBJ: Gagner intercepts a pass, beats Lundqvist

 

Nic Dowd, C, LAK (2 percent owned)

Another young player who has established himself via a key injury, Dowd has been centering the Los Angeles Kings second line with captain Anze Kopitar sidelined with an upper-body injury. Prior to a 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, Dowd had a three-game point streak (three assists) and he's currently fifth on the Kings in points with 10 in 18 games. He's been working on the second PP unit and has a goal and two assists on the man-advantage. There's a chance Dowd will see his role diminish once Kopitar returns, but he's done enough to warrant consideration in deep formats and could even be a nice stash in a keeper league.

 

Julius Honka, D, DAL (1 percent owned)

The Dallas Stars recalled Honka and defenseman Esa Lindell from Texas of the American Hockey League on Sunday, and Honka is expected to make his NHL debut Monday against the Minnesota Wild in place of the injured Johnny Oduya. Dallas fans have been anticipating Honka's debut considering the Finnish defenseman is arguably their most promising prospect. He was sixth at his position with 44 points (11 goals, 33 assists) in the American Hockey League last season and had three goals and nine assists in 16 games before being recalled. Honka is a skilled offensive player, so there's a chance he gets a look on the power play. If he performs well enough in the absence of Oduya, Honka could force his way into the Stars' top four and would be an absolute steal off the wire.

 

Others to consider: Andrew Shaw, C/RW, MTL (18 percent); Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN (11 percent); Mike Fisher, C, NSH (10 percent); Elias Lindholm, C/RW, CAR (4 percent); Mikko Rantanen, RW, COL (4 percent)

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