Fantasy All-Access: Blue Jackets’ Atkinson heats up

Every Monday, contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated this week and some players have been playing practical jokes on owners all season with streaks of hot and cold play.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen is the only NHL player with two point streaks of 10-plus games and has 29 points in those 23 games (1.26 points per game). He has 37 points in the other 52 games played this season (0.71 points per game).

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel started the season on fire with 18 goals in his first 38 games (0.47 goals per game) and only has six goals in his past 38 games (0.16 goals per game) since Jan. 1.

Fantasy owners are hoping the last month of the season is a successful one for these productive players.

Cam Atkinson
, Columbus Blue Jackets (owned in 15 percent of Yahoo Leagues) — The Blue Jackets have scored 27 goals during a six-game win streak, which has made them a great place to find fantasy gems. One of those finds is Atkinson, who has five goals, four assists, 15 shots on goal and a plus-7 rating while playing over 16 minutes a game during the winning streak. Playing on a line with Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner, the 25-year-old has reached 20 goals for the second straight season and is one goal and three points away from his career highs set last season. The Blue Jackets play all three of their games at home this week, where Atkinson has nine goals and 15 points this season.

Yannick Weber, Vancouver Canucks (owned in 8 percent of Yahoo Leagues) — A healthy scratch for parts of this season, the 26-year-old has been red-hot of late. The defenseman has already surpassed his career highs for goals (nine) and points (19) this season and currently is playing on the Canucks top power-play unit. Weber is playing his best during the fantasy playoffs with three goals, two power-play goals, two assists, eight shots on goal and 15 hits while playing almost 20 minutes in his past five games, making him a must-own in all formats.

James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs (owned in 11 percent of Yahoo Leagues) — The Maple Leafs are struggling to win games these days, but that doesn’t mean their goalie cannot bring some fantasy value to an owner looking to win a championship. Toronto has four games scheduled this week, two back-to-back sets, which mean Reimer should be good for two starts. His first start could be against the Buffalo Sabres, while his second could be against the Ottawa Senators, a team he is 11-3-1 against in his career.

April bloom — The last month of the regular season usually has the fewest games played, but that doesn’t mean players can’t be successful. Over the past four seasons Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has paced the NHL with 38 April points. He is followed by Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux and New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis, who each have 33 April points since 2011. Keep an eye on recently healthy Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall, who has 28 April points in the past two seasons.

Jets new players — Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s acquisitions are paying immediate dividends and helping many fantasy teams in their championship push. Defenseman Tyler Myers and Jay Harrison and forwards Drew Stafford, Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak have combined for 15 goals and 31 assists in their 95 combined games with the Jets. Those numbers are good for 0.48 points per game with Winnipeg while they combined for only 82 points (0.37 points per game) with their previous teams.

Vincent Trocheck, Florida Panthers — Florida’s third-round pick (No. 64) in the 2011 NHL Draft has been up and down this season between the American Hockey League and NHL, but is now up for good after the injury to forward Nick Bjugstad. The 21-year-old is playing on a line with Brandon Pirri, a 20-goal scorer, and Jimmy Hayes, who has 18 goals, ideal complements for the playmaking center. Since his most recent call up on Feb. 22, Trocheck has five assists, 21 shots on goal and 34 hits while averaging over 14 minutes in those 15 games.

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