Don't look now, but a familiar face has a chance to save the Winnipeg Jets' season.
Ondrej Pavelec (22 percent owned in Yahoo) is back up with the Jets after spending the first half of the season with Manitoba of the American Hockey League. The veteran goalie, who has spent his entire NHL career (373 games) with the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise, has brought much-needed stability to Winnipeg's crease.
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Winnipeg's time-share tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson wasn't getting the job done, so the Jets turned back to Pavelec, who has won two straight starts since being recalled. Sure, Pavelec has allowed six goals during his two-game stint, but he's also made 64 saves. If the Jets decide to keep Pavelec around, which seems likely, he's going to split starts with either Hellebuyck or Hutchinson. For now, the Jets are carrying three goalies.
It wasn't long ago that Pavelec was an effective fantasy goalie. He has mediocre career peripherals (2.86 goals-against average, .907 save percentage), but went 22-16-8 with a 2.28 GAA, .920 SV% and five shutouts in 2014-15.
Winnipeg has six remaining sets of back-to-backs, and Pavelec could be key for the Jets in their pursuit of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. They are currently three points behind the Calgary Flames for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with the same number of games played (49).
Video: STL@WPG: Pavelec stones Bortuzzo, Lehtera in traffic
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, WSH (21 percent owned)
Many pegged this Washington Capitals forward as a potential breakout candidate this season. After 15 points in his first 38 games, Burakovsky has seven points and is plus-6 during a five-game point streak. A lot of his production has to do with the Capitals' playing plenty of lopsided games, scoring 38 goals in their past seven games. But Burakovsky is starting to click with Brett Connolly (LW/RW, less than 1 percent owned) and Lars Eller (C, 1 percent owned) on Washington's third line. Burakovsky won't provide much in terms of peripheral category coverage (10 penalty minutes, 71 shots on goal), but he's seeing some time with the man-advantage and should continue to be a plus-player and rack up points.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, EDM (21 percent owned)
Don't look now, but the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft is starting to turn it on for the Edmonton Oilers. The center is averaging 17:57 of ice time per game, his lowest total since his rookie season (17:36), which has cut into his production. But that average has gone up to 19:19 over the past four games, and Nugent-Hopkins is taking advantage. He has two goals, two assists and 14 SOG during that stretch, and has six points and 21 SOG in his past seven games. Nugent-Hopkins is second on the Oilers in SOG (136) behind Connor McDavid (147), so a bit of puck luck could lead to a second-half surge.
Video: ARI@EDM: Nugent-Hopkins joins rush, wrists puck home
Nathan Beaulieu, D, MTL (19 percent owned)
With Andrei Markov still out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup because of a groin injury, Beaulieu has seen an increased role. Since Dec. 17, Beaulieu is third on Montreal in average time on ice per game (23:29) and has a goal, nine assists and 38 SOG in 18 games. He's manning the second point with Shea Weber on the power play, where he has eight points this season. It's unclear when Markov will return, and Beaulieu is on pace for 31 points, which would be a career high for the 24-year-old. Beaulieu could take off with the Canadiens' schedule getting soft at the end of January and into February.
Brandon Dubinsky, C, CBJ (14 percent owned)
You would think a top-six forward for the Blue Jackets would have more than 19 points. Unfortunately Columbus' offensive display this season hasn't translated to production for Dubinsky, though he's beginning to show signs of life. He has two goals, two assists, 11 SOG and 14 PIMs in his past five games. Dubinsky may not score a ton, but that could obviously come around, plus he provides a nice boost in PIMs and is plus-7. Dubinsky is worth targeting in deep, 14-team formats in which PIMs or hits (128) is a category.
Radim Vrbata, RW, ARI (10 percent owned)
Haven't we been over this before? Vrbata has been the Arizona Coyotes' most consistent forward and is riding another hot streak. His ownership percentage has plummeted, which is odd considering he has nine points in his past six games and a whopping five straight games with at least four SOG. He's among the top 150 players in Yahoo, according to their performance-based rankings, and is on pace for nearly 60 points. The only knock on Vrbata is his plus/minus (minus-15), but he's virtually a must-own player if you can swallow that pill.
Video: TBL@ARI: Vrbata squeaks wrist shot past Bishop in 1st
Bryan Rust, RW, PIT (4 percent owned)
Rust has two goals, five assists and is plus-5 with eight SOG in his past four games, including a three-point performance in a 5-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Sunday. The most appealing reason to add Rust is he's on a line with Sidney Crosby and doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Playing with Crosby has led to inflated numbers for not only Rust, but fellow linemate Conor Sheary (LW/RW, 41 percent owned), whom you may also be able to snag in lighter formats.
Other candidates: Ryan Ellis, D, NSH (25 percent); Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM (18 percent); Anders Lee, LW, NYI (16 percent); Tyler Bozak, C, TOR (14 percent); Jared Coreau, G, DET (12 percent)