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Posted - 02/27/2015 :  11:59:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
March is the month that tries fantasy hockey owners’ souls. The season is winding down, the stakes are high, and just about every lineup move has repercussions. So it’s comforting for poolies to know the following four players should be available on waiver wires far and wide if their (admittedly somewhat modest) services are needed. Each and every one of them has been playing well as of late, and the cost to acquire them is pretty low. Take a shot on them. Who knows? It may pay off…

Zack Kassian, RW, Vancouver (Available in 93 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Is Kassian a well-rounded, versatile player? No. A viable top-six forward on an above-average NHL team? Maybe. A useful short-term fantasy asset? Definitely. The former Buffalo Sabre and 2009 first-round selection has evolved into a solid goal-scoring power forward, and his fantasy value has taken a significant turn for the better as of late. In addition to seeing action on the same line as the Sedins, Kassian has joined Henrik, Daniel and their former (for now) linemate Radim Vrbata on Vancouver’s top power-play unit. Kassian’s lack of ice time and limited skill set curb his potential some, but he will be a useful lineup option in deep leagues and a usable injury replacement in shallow formats as long as maintains his current role.

Mikael Granlund, C, Minnesota (Available in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues) –Remember this? It’s difficult not to dream on Granlund’s potential for fantasy greatness. He’s so, so skilled. It’s just a matter of opportunity and time for the 23-year-old Finn. Granlund did score 41 points in 63 games a year ago, but his production lacks the kind of consistency fantasy owners look for from a trusted fantasy asset. That being said, if an injury strikes one of his fellow Minnesota Wild forwards, Granlund seems poised for an uptick in production. As far as speculative adds go, Granlund offers much more upside than many other players available on the waiver wire right now.

Milan Michalek, LW/RW, Ottawa (Available in 87 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Consistently inconsistent over the course of his 10 full seasons in the NHL, Michalek was a 60-point player during the 2011-12 campaign and a minus-25 player a year ago. His true talent level lies somewhere in between, and fantasy owners should recognize his abilities as a capable goal-scorer and (low-upside) fantasy option. As Dobber outlined in his Ramblings from a little more than a week ago, Michalek has benefitted from injuries to teammates and more advantageous ice time over the course of the last month or so. Take a chance on Michalek while the going is good. Just recognize his fantasy fortunes could change at any moment.

Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus (Available in 88 percent of Yahoo leagues) – He’ll never be confused with prolific shot-attempter Alex Ovechkin, but Atkinson does lead the Blue Jackets in shots on goal for the season. The diminutive winger also could notch his second straight 20-goal campaign, especially if he retains his current role as a member of Columbus’s top power-play unit. The 2008 sixth-rounder doesn’t elicit much excitement from the fantasy community, but Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards is putting him in position to succeed offensively. If it’s ever going to happen for the soon-to-be 26-year-old Atkinson, the time is now.

Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey (Available in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues) – If one types “Adam Larsson” into Google, the popular search engine is quick to offer the phrase “Adam Larsson bust” as a suggestion. This says a lot about the New Jersey Devils defenseman’s career thus far. Prior to the 2014-15 campaign, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft had managed a mere 24 points in 128 career games with the Devils. It’s not enough to say Larsson was a less-than-ideal fantasy blueliner. He was useless. Then came this season, one which the ballyhooed prospect-turned-potential bust has registered 17 points in 43 games. In addition, Larsson is consistently seeing more than 20 minutes of ice time per game. He has the pedigree. He’s seeing regular ice time. Now let’s see if Larsson can turn it into consistent production. At the very least, he’s worth a long look.

Now let’s take a look ahead at some teams to lean on or avoid in the coming week or so:

Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming week)

Ottawa – They may be a middling and unexceptional squad, but the Sens play A TON of games over the course of the next week to 10 days. Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan and Co. will see the ice eight times between Wednesday, Feb. 25 and Tuesday, March 10 (14 days).

Nashville –The Predators have been exceptional during the month of February (only three losses). Blessed with a Calder Trophy frontrunner in Filip Forsberg and a franchise netminder in Pekka Rinne, Nashville’s success should carry over into March. It doesn’t hurt that the team will see action in five games between Monday, March 2 and Monday, March 9.

Boston – It’s been an up-and-down season for the Bruins, but fans and fantasy owners can’t argue with the squad’s schedule during the early days of March. Four of the team’s first five games are at home. Let’s not focus on who the team is playing. Let’s focus on the fact that the squads will face off in Boston. It’s just too bad the team will be without veteran center David Krjeci for the next month or more.

Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed for the immediate future)

Winnipeg – I want to talk about the fact that this team will rue the day it gave up on my second-favorite player (after Mikko Koivu and ahead of Oliver Ekman-Larsson) , but instead I’ll say the Jets play only three games between Wednesday, February 25 and Wednesday, March 4.

Edmonton –This team doesn’t offer much to excite fantasy owners. Three goalies (Ben Scrivens, Viktor Fasth and Richard Bachman) have been between the pipes for the Oilers so far this season, and none have a save percentage over .900. The squad’s best player, former No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall, hasn’t played in more than three weeks due to a leg injury. Also, Edmonton only plays three games between Saturday, Feb. 28 and Friday, March 6. Hey, at least… ahem… two of them are at home.

Carolina – This team is very much in contention for one of the top two picks in the upcoming NHl Entry Draft, so expect the Hurricanes to make a concerted effort to get there. Simply stated, this team is kind of a mess.

Written by Mike Schmidt of www.dobberhockey.com

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