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Unlikely goaltenders providing plenty of fantasy value

by Bill Dean /
As the NHL and its teams prepare for the stretch run, trade talk begins to really fly as the Feb. 28 deadline fast approaches. Teams look to shore up their rosters, whether they need more scoring, better defense or a more trusted hand in net. The same goes for fantasy owners, as their postseason comes much sooner than the NHL version.

One player that could come available prior to Monday is New Jersey Devils netminder Johan Hedberg. Martin Brodeur has not had the season fantasy owners or the Devils themselves had expected. With his knee injury and Hedberg's strong play, Brodeur has found himself on the bench since he was deemed healthy. Since Feb. 8, Hedberg is 7-0 with two shutouts, a 0.98 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. The Devils are on an eight-game win streak and likely will continue to ride Hedberg as long as he continues to produce.

In Columbus, the goal has been a turnstile but looks as if it might be settling just in time for a playoff run. Steve Mason was brilliant as a rookie in 2008-09, but last season was just the opposite. Going into this season it was believed Mason would turn it around and lead the Blue Jackets to the playoffs once again. However, this season started like the last one ended Mason lost his starting job to veteran Mathieu Garon. Since the All-Star break, though, Mason has been outstanding, going 6-2-0 with a 2.09 GAA and .932 save percentage in eight games. The Jackets hope he can continue his run as they work to make the playoffs.

One of the trades that shook up their respective teams is the swap of goalies in Ottawa and Colorado, as the Avalanche dealt Craig Anderson to the Senators for Brian Elliott. Anderson immediately paid dividends for the Sens in his first two games, producing two wins and allowing only one goal on 71 shots. Remember that Anderson had 38 wins for the Avs last season and this trade could rejuvenate him. Elliott has played one game for the Avs, allowing five goals on 31 shots Wednesday against the Oilers. He helped lead the Senators to the playoffs in 2009-10 with 29 wins, a 2.57 GAA and .909 save percentage. He wasn't playing as well this season, so like Anderson, he could benefit from being dealt.

Another goalie worth mentioning is the Ducks' Ray Emery. After having major hip surgery that sidelined him for more than a year, Emery is looking to make a comeback in Anaheim. With Jonas Hiller out with what could be vertigo, the Ducks will look at Emery and newcomer Dan Ellis, brought over in a trade from Tampa Bay for backup Curtis McElhinney, to provide solid play in net. In three games with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, Emery was 2-1 with a 2.62 GAA and .925 save percentage.

Top Pick-Ups (owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues)

1. Brad Marchand, C, Bruins (24 percent) -- Marchand has been a welcome addition to the Bruins forward group this season. The rookie center has stepped up to fill Marc Savard's shoes and recently has found himself on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. The trio has led the Bruins' offense on many nights. Marchand has 3 goals in his last two games and 19 on the season. His biggest contribution for fantasy owners might be his plus-24 rating, third in the League. Add the young center and reap the rewards.

2. Matt Moulson, LW, Islanders (32 percent) -- There must be something in the water in Long Island. Moulson and linemate John Tavares have been on fire for the surging Islanders. Moulson leads the team with 27 goals and in his last four games he's scored six times on 17 shots. On the season he has 42 points, 12 points on the power play and 180 shots. Get those Isles while they're hot.

3. Radim Vrbata, RW, Coyotes (20 percent) -- Vrbata was very instrumental for the Coyotes during their recent eight-game win streak. He had 4 goals, 4 assists, 4 points on the power play and 35 shots during the streak. He leads Phoenix with 189 shots and gets ample time on the power play (13 points). You won't be disappointed with him on the wing.

4. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Blues (44 percent) -- With the subtraction of top defensemen Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson via trade, Pietrangelo has had to carry the load for the Blues. He leads the team in time on ice since the trades and finds himself playing now in all situations, including as the lead man on the power play. In the last six games, he has 9 points, 12 shots and is a plus-2. For the season, he has 34 points, 114 shots and is a plus-12. Add the young defenseman and enjoy the ride.

5. Brian Boucher, G, Flyers (44 percent) -- Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky have split time this season, but it's likely to be Boucher who carries the team down the stretch. He has been in the playoffs before and knows what it takes to win. With a 15-6-2 record, a 2.26 GAA and .922 save percentage, Boucher has had a solid season. He has been on a hot streak of late with four straight wins and a 1.73 GAA. Ride the veteran to the playoffs.

Offensive Schedule Strength
RANK TEAM 2/28 3/1 3/2 3/3 3/4 3/5 3/6
1 @LAK Off @ANA @SJS Off @PHX Off
2 @MIN Off vs. CGY Off vs. CAR @TOR Off
3 Off vs. NYI Off vs. STL Off Off @FLA
4 Off Off @NJD @BOS Off vs. MTL Off
5 Off Off Off vs. TOR Off vs. BUF @NYR
6 Off vs. CBJ Off vs. NSH Off @LAK @ANA
7 Off Off vs. DET Off vs. DAL Off vs. VAN
8 Off @OTT Off vs. TBL Off vs. PIT Off
9 Off vs. COL Off vs. DET Off vs. DAL Off
10 Off vs. BUF Off vs. MIN @OTT Off vs. PHI
11 Off @EDM Off @VAN Off Off @CGY
12 Off vs. FLA Off vs. BUF @CHI Off Off
13 Off @ATL Off @FLA Off @TBL Off
14 Off vs. MTL Off vs. OTT Off vs. FLA Off
15 Off Off @TOR Off @NJD @BOS Off
16 Off @SJS Off Off Off vs. EDM Off
17 Off @STL @CHI Off vs. CBJ Off vs. NSH
18 Off @PHX Off Off @ANA @SJS Off
19 Off @VAN Off @EDM @CGY Off Off
20 vs. DET Off Off vs. PHX Off vs. VAN Off
21 Off vs. CGY Off @WAS Off @NYI Off
22 vs. CHI Off @NYI @NYR Off Off vs. BUF
23 Off Off vs. TBL Off vs. PIT Off @NYI
24 Off vs. DAL Off @LAK Off vs. DET Off
25 Off @NYR Off @CAR Off @PHI @MIN
26 Off vs. BOS Off @ATL vs. NYR Off Off
27 Off vs. NSH Off vs. CBJ Off @COL Off
28 Off Off vs. PIT @PHI Off vs. CHI Off
29 Off @CAR Off vs. MTL Off @ATL vs. WAS
30 Off @WAS vs. MIN Off Off vs. STL vs. NJD

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