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Fantasy Spin: Huberdeau heats up; Larsson gets time

by David Satriano /

The Florida Panthers have surprised some with their play this season, in the mix for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs halfway through the season. That's also made for some fantasy surprises.

Fantasy Spin has mentioned forwards Scott Upshall and Nick Bjugstad, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad. But one player who hasn't been discussed in depth is forward Jonathan Huberdeau (33 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, C, LW).

Huberdeau had 31 points in 48 games in 2012-13, winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. Last season, in 69 games, he had nine goals and 28 points, a big dip in scoring.

He then started slowly this season (two points in 11 games), but he's been productive since, with 20 points in 25 games, and five in his past two.

More good news: Huberdeau has 37 penalty minutes, on pace for more than 70, and is plus-2. He was minus-15 in 2012-13 and minus-5 last season. He also has five points on the power play.

-- The New York Islanders tried forward Mikhail Grabovski on the top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, but it didn't last long in a 3-2 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils. Grabovski (7 percent owned, C, LW, RW) left the game in second period with a lower-body injury after playing 8:38.

Grabovski is a three-time 20 goal-scorer whose numbers are down this season (six goals, 14 points in 37 games). Playing with Tavares and Okposo would have helped.

Josh Bailey (1 percent owned) replaced Grabovski and scored a goal, his seventh of the season to go with seven assists in 29 games.

-- Since the New Jersey Devils made a coaching change Dec. 26, defenseman Adam Larsson (1 percent owned) has seen a big increase in minutes.

Larsson was never a favorite of former coach Peter DeBoer and has gotten more ice time from co-coaches Scott Stevens and Adam Oates. Larsson averaged 16:36 in 18 games under DeBoer, and has averaged more than five minutes more per game in the eight games since (21:41).

A healthy scratch at times, Larsson has seven points this season, three in his past four games.

-- Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen scored two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and has a goal in five straight games. He has a nine-game point streak (six goals, five assists).

-- Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund (3 percent owned, C) had a goal an assist for the second straight game since returning from an abdominal injury.

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