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Fantasy Spin: Plekanec emerges as dependable option

by Eric Goodman / NHL.com

Sometimes, all an experienced player requires are a few upstart young players skating on his line to start feeling like a kid again.

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The Montreal Canadiens are off to their first 3-0-0 start since 2005-06 thanks in part to the strong play of veteran center Tomas Plekanec (Yahoo ownership: 40 percent) between second-year forward Alex Galchenyuk and rookie Jiri Sekac. The second line has combined for five of Montreal's 10 goals, with Plekanec scoring four goals and assisting Galchenyuk on the game-tying goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, erasing a 3-0 deficit and ending in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Canadiens.

Plekanec, 31, offers fantasy owners a consistently healthy and dependable scoring option with averages of 22 goals and 80 games played since 2006-07. If you are an owner that prefers to keep a single roster spot to bring in hot players from the waiver wire, then grabbing Plekanec, one of the early fantasy suprises, is a strong choice for this coming week. In addition to his solid start, Plekanec benefits from upcoming games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. He has put up respectable career numbers against each team, including two goals and three assists in six total games against the Avalanche.

A Raymond of light

The Calgary Flames are not favored to make much noise in the Western Conference but that does not mean they are void of players worth taking a chance on for your fantasy team. Left wing Mason Raymond (Yahoo ownership: 12 percent) spent the past two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively, but has since settled in nicely with Calgary, away from the spotlight of the larger cities where he once played. Though his hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday are his only goals of the season, taking a flyer on Raymond this early in the season could end up paying dividends down the line.

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Raymond, 29, has been clicking with center Joe Colborne (Yahoo ownership: 2 percent); the pair, combined, have contributed at least a point on four of the Flames' eight goals this season. The good thing about having skaters in fantasy hockey is that you don't have to own players on winning teams to be successful. Raymond and Colborne are a perfect example of this.

I Duclair him worthy

Catching lightning in a bottle can mean the difference between a championship season and settling for a consolation prize. The key with grabbing rookies like New York Rangers forward Anthony Duclair (Yahoo ownership: 4 percent) is to try to watch a few of their games to see what they are capable of doing. Although the Rangers were largely outplayed in a 5-2 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Duclair was one of the few bright spots, assisting on each Rangers goal and showing a strong sense of hustle that comes from a 19-year old trying to prove he belongs in the NHL.

If your entire fantasy roster isn't filled with absolute superstars, then cutting a borderline fantasy-worthy veteran in favor of a player who scored 99 points (50 goals, 49 assists) with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season is advisable.

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