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Fantasy Spin: Red Wings' Datsyuk returns to lineup

by Eric Goodman

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk will make his season debut Tuesday at the Montreal Canadiens after missing four weeks with a separated shoulder. Fantasy owners know their lineups will get a boost from the slick-skating Russian, who is averaging just under a point per game over 12 seasons in the NHL, but how Datsyuk's teammates statistics will be affected is something to keep an eye on.

Datsyuk practiced at left wing Tuesday with Henrik Zetterberg at center, though Datsyuk said they could switch at times during the game.


While the dynamic duo of Datsyuk and Zetterberg are set to reunite, forward Justin Abdelkader (Yahoo ownership: 6 percent) is the lucky player chosen by Babcock to fill in as the third member of the top line for Johan Franzen, who was placed on short-term injured reserve Monday with leg spasms. Since owners will only have Datsyuk and Zetterberg if they chose them in their drafts, Abdelkader should be the prime pick off the waiver wire this week.

Looking beyond the top tier in Detroit, center Riley Sheahan (Yahoo ownership: 1 percent) and left wing Tomas Tatar (Yahoo ownership: 20 percent) are worth taking flyers on as they will be paired with offensively potent right wing Gustav Nyquist, who is coming off a 2013-14 season where he scored 48 points (28 goals, 20 assists) in 57 games.

The chain reaction of Datsyuk's return could greatly affect fantasy teams as anyone owning other Red Wings who participate on the power play should very likely see their numbers improve in that category. Detroit is 2-for-21 with the man advantage this season, but Datsyuk brings a total of 14 power-play points over the past two seasons, in which he played 45 and 47 games, respectively, because of extended time missed to a knee injury and concussion in 2013-14 and the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

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