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Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals have been elite-level fantasy staples throughout the past decade. Suddenly, they have company in wholesale nhl jerseys their own town.
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Ovechkin is second in the NHL in goals (27) and leads the League in shots on goal (222), while Backstrom is one of six players with a point per game or better this season (others: Patrick Kane Jerseys, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Erik Karlsson, Johnny Gaudreau Jerseys). No one should be surprised to see Ovechkin and Backstrom where they are in the fantasy rankings, but rarely have the Capitals had a second line as powerful as their current trio of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky.
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Kuznetsov, one of my preseason breakout picks, has 44 points (T-7th) and a plus-23 (2nd) in 45 games, and is tied for fifth in the NHL in multipoint games (13). After an early-season stint with Ovechkin in Backstrom’s injury absence, he’s been playing with Williams the rest of the way — making the former Los Angeles Kings wing one of the biggest fantasy steals of the season (Yahoo average draft position: 169.2). Williams has 31 points in 45 games with 115 SOG and a plus-14. He had a hat trick Sunday, his seventh multipoint game and second three-point game of the season.
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Games like that have become a regular occurrence from this potent second line, catapulting the Capitals to the top of the NHL standings. Any time Ovechkin has an off night or is shut down (very rare), opponents are still susceptible to allowing a goal or two from the Kuznetsov-Williams line, giving Washington an added dimension and making them more dangerous than past seasons.
Kuznetsov and Williams are hot commodities in fantasy and only attainable by throwing high-end assets at your trade partner, but you can still find Burakovsky (LW, two percent owned) in the vast majority of Yahoo leagues. Marcus Johansson played with Kuznetsov and Williams prior to his suspension earlier this month, but he’s now on the third line and first power-play unit, while Burakovsky has seized his second-line opportunity. Burakovsky, 20, has two-assist outings in three of his past four games and should be scooped up in deep formats before his ownership skyrockets.
Joe Thornton, C, San Jose Sharks
Since Dec. 15, the only player League-wide with more points than Thornton (19 in 15 games) is Kane (23 in 17 games). Sharks coach Peter DeBoer kept the once-slumping veteran alongside Joe Pavelski on the top line, and “Jumbo Joe” has turned his season around, taking Tomas Hertl (C/LW, 24 percent owned) along for the ride.
Tomas Hertl Center – SJS GOALS: 8 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 22 SOG: 111 | +/-: 2 Hertl, who thrived with Thornton and Brent Burns during his eye-opening rookie season (2013-14) prior to injury, has four goals, three assists, a plus-8 and 22 SOG in his past six games and is one of the hottest fantasy waiver wire options on the market. San Jose is rolling three strong lines with Logan Couture back in the mix, and Thornton is shooting the puck more of late with five goals on 31 SOG (16.1 percent) during his hot stretch.
Thornton has shot 14.0 percent in his career (1,329 games) and Pavelski has shot 16.6 percent since 2013-14 (best in NHL among players with minimum 190 games in span), so fantasy owners should know that this stretch is not just a flash in the pan.
Kyle Turris, C, Ottawa Senators
Kyle Turris Center – OTT GOALS: 13 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 30 SOG: 114 | +/-: -11 Turris started the season with 26 points in his first 32 games, but only has points in three of his next 14 games (no goals, four assists) with a minus-12 in that stretch. Bobby Ryan has been moved off his line to play with Mika Zibanejad, and Turris just lost Mike Hoffman to injury Monday. His other frequent linemate, Mark Stone, has also struggled with four goals and one assist in his past 15 games, and is negatively impacted by Hoffman’s injury.
While Turris and Stone are still worth being patient with in deep leagues, you have to begin looking at the forward options out there in shallow leagues. Turris should eventually turn it around considering he plays more than 20 minutes per game and averages 3:18 on the power play, but this is not a good sign for an already inconsistent Senators offense.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Kevin Fiala, LW, Nashville Predators
Kevin Fiala Left Wing – NSH GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1 SOG: 8 | +/-: 0 Fiala, two percent owned, is 19 years old and has been effective through his first two games of the season. The 2014 first-round pick landed on a line with Ryan Johansen, who has seven points in five games since joining the Predators, and James Neal, giving the rookie tremendous upside as long as he’s in this spot. Nashville’s second line is comprised of Filip Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro and Calle Jarnkrok. Fiala has one goal and eight SOG in two games and should be added to everyone’s watch list to see if he can sustain that shot volume and stick with Johansen.
— Recently traded forwards David Perron and Carl Hagelin have latched onto top-six spots with their new teams, as expected. Perron played his first game for the Anaheim Ducks mostly alongside Ryan Kesler Jerseys and Jakob Silfverberg Jerseys, while Hagelin has spent most of his ice time through two games with the Pittsburgh Penguins alongside Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Perron (16 percent) had one goal on three SOG in his Anaheim debut, while Hagelin has one assist and seven SOG in two games since joining Pittsburgh.
— Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin (upper body) is expected to be out until after the All-Star break, while Boston Bruins center David Krejci Jerseys (upper body) and New Jersey Devils wing Mike Cammalleri (hand) practiced Monday. Cammalleri will return to the lineup Tuesday. Here is my fantasy spin on the implications of these injury updates.
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