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Fantasy waiver wire: Blues have goalie competition

Backup Carter Hutton stealing starts from struggling Jake Allen

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Many believed the St. Louis Blues had a future No. 1 goalie in Jake Allen. Those beliefs can still exist, but, at this point in the season, there's a bit of controversy.

Allen has started two of the past five games for St. Louis, getting pulled after allowing three goals in each. In December, Allen had an .892 save percentage in 11 games, and has allowed at least three goals five of his past six appearances. Getting the boost in his place is Carter Hutton (12 percent owned in Yahoo).

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock made the bold move to start Hutton in back-to-back road games this weekend, and it paid off largely. Hutton had a 4-0 shutout win (23 saves) against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and allowed one goal on 23 shots faced in a 2-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Together with Hutton's relief outings earlier in the week, he's stopped 82 of 86 shots faced in his past four games.

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If you have Allen in any fantasy format, Hutton needs to be added as a handcuff. Chances are Allen will eventually bounce back and look more like the goaltender that had a 2.35 goals-against average and .920 SV% last season. But if the struggles continue, it's clear Hitchcock isn't afraid to roll Hutton out there for more than a game at a time. Hutton and Allen could also form a time-share the rest of the way, which would make the once backup a viable add in most 12- and 14-team leagues.

Video: STL@ANA: Hutton swallows up deflection in front

Speaking of goalie controversies, the Philadelphia Flyers are back in that conversation. Starting Steve Mason in 25 of 27 games while Michal Neuvirth (28 percent owned) was injured clearly wasn't an effective strategy by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. But fortunately for fantasy owners, it has opened the door for Neuvirth, who we know is more than capable of stealing the job after last season.

Mason was pulled after allowing five goals on 17 shots faced in a 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday. The Flyers now have a five-day break before playing back-to-back sets this weekend (home vs. New Jersey Devils on Saturday, at New York Islanders on Sunday) and next week (at New York Rangers on Jan. 25, vs. Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 26). Neuvirth will at least get two of those starts and could force himself into more playing time in the future.

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WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Andrew Shaw, C/RW, MTL (27 percent owned)

Shaw, who returned from a concussion Saturday against the New York Rangers, was ejected from the game for a hit on Jesper Fast. Prior to leaving, Shaw was back on the Canadiens' top power-play unit and was skating at even-strength on the third line with red-hot center Phillip Danault (6 percent owned). He had 22 PIMs against New York and has 80 in 30 games this season to go along with 15 points. Shaw is quietly among the top 100 overall assets in standard leagues (88th).

 

Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis, D, NSH (each 20 percent owned)

P.K. Subban is expected to return to the Nashville Predators lineup soon, but he isn't their only defenseman on the mend. The Predators placed Roman Josi on injured reserve Friday, elevating Ekholm and Ellis in the lineup. Each is skating on the top power-play unit and leading the Predators in average ice time per game in January; Ekholm is first at 25:21 and Ellis behind him at 24:53. Each has three points in the seven-game span and sports a plus rating this season.

 

Jordan Staal, C/LW, CAR (17 percent owned)

Staal is tied for the Carolina Hurricanes lead with nine points in seven games this month. His peripherals during that stretch include a plus-4, four PIMs and 20 SOG. Those numbers are respectable given the role Staal plays for the Hurricanes, who have the second best offense in the NHL (27 goals in seven games) since the turn of the calendar year. If Carolina can keep cashing in on its possession dominance, Staal is worth adding in deeper formats. Also keep an eye on Staal's teammate Brock McGinn (LW/RW, less than 1 percent owned), who's the other Hurricanes player with nine points in January.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Staal puts 'Canes ahead with deflection goal

 

Tyler Bozak, C, TOR (10 percent owned)

Bozak's name has popped up in past waiver wire watch articles but his ownership percentage remains low. The Maple Leafs have won eight of their past 10 games, scoring 40 goals in the span. Bozak missed the first two games of that stretch, but has since totaled four goals, five assists, six PPP and 19 SOG in the past eight games. Bozak has great linemates in James van Riemsdyk and rookie Mitchell Marner, plus he skates on the second power-play unit, which has been more effective than the first for Toronto.

 

Mikkel Boedker, LW/RW, SJS (7 percent owned)

Boedker's fall from fantasy grace came with a lot of scrutiny after many believed he would thrive on the San Jose Sharks. Perhaps he was just a late bloomer, because his past four games since being scratched have been impressive. Boedker has four goals, one assist and is plus-3 with 11 SOG in that stretch. He's worked his way back up to the Sharks' second line with center Logan Couture and rookie Kevin Labanc, plus he's getting work on the second power-play unit. Boedker has finished with at least 14 goals in each of the past three seasons. He has six goals in 42 games, so a big second half could be in store.

 

Other candidates: Andrej Sekera, D, EDM (21 percent); Mike Fisher, C, NSH (19 percent); Michael Frolik, C/RW, CGY (18 percent); Tanner Pearson, LW, LAK (16 percent); Curtis McElhinney, G, TOR (3 percent)

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