Fantasy All-Access: Atkinson, Rask worth watching

Every Monday, NHL.com staff writer Sean McCullen identifies potential waiver-wire pickups and points out lineup moves and schedule impacts for fantasy hockey.

No American-born NHL player has had a point streak as long as the 19-game run Patrick Kane will bring into the Chicago Blackhawks‘ game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

He set the record Saturday with a first-period goal against the Los Angeles Kings, passing Eddie Olczyk (Toronto Maple Leafs, 1989-90) and Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins, 2008-09), who each had an 18-game streak. Kane also had an assist in the second period.

Kane has 11 goals and 20 assists during his streak, which began Oct. 17, and he is the runaway most valuable player of fantasy hockey so far.

Although the players included in this week’s Waiver-Wire Watch likely won’t produce at Kane’s level, each has been on an impressive recent run and is worth considering as a fill-in for an injured or slumping player.

WAIVER-WIRE WATCH

Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (29 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) — Atkinson has a point in six of his past eight games. He’s been productive skating on the third line with center Brandon Dubinsky and left wing Matt Calvert, and has two power-play points while averaging 2:14 of ice time per game with the man-advantage. The 26-year-old has six goals and nine assists in 24 games; 10 of his 15 points have come in 10 games at Nationwide Arena. His 66 shots on goal are tied for 31st among NHL forwards.

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Philadelphia Flyers (15 percent owned) — The rookie defenseman scored in overtime last Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes and again Friday against the Nashville Predators. He has a point in three of his past four games and five points in eight games since being recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League to replace an injured Mark Streit. Each of his three goals has come on the power play; he also has one power-play assist and is averaging 3:14 per game with the man-advantage.

Victor Rask, C, Carolina Hurricanes (7 percent owned) — Rask scored two goals and one assist in his past four games. The 22-year-old has seven goals, seven assists and 50 shots on goal in 23 games in his second NHL season. He has been centering the top line with left wing Eric Staal and right wing Elias Lindholm, and is averaging 3:00 per game on the power play.

Patrik Elias, C/LW, New Jersey Devils (2 percent owned) — The 39-year-old had one goal and one assist in three games last week after returning from a knee injury that had cost him the first 19 games of the season. He’s on the third line with Jacob Josefson and Stefan Matteau but has averaged 3:51 per game on the power play.

LINE CHANGES

Teddy Purcell (8 percent owned) was at right wing on the Edmonton Oilers‘ top line with center Leon Draisaitl and left wing Taylor Hall on Saturday at the Pittsburgh Penguins. With forwards Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid each out because of injuries, coach Todd McLellan will be juggling his lines to find the right combinations. Purcell, who had the secondary assist on Draisaitl’s first-period goal, has four goals and nine assists in 24 games; he might be worth keeping an eye on. Right wing Jordan Eberle, who had been skating on the top line, was with center Mark Letestu and left wing Lauri Korpikoski to begin the game before finishing with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and left wing Benoit Pouliot.

Jonathan Toews‘ latest linemates are Andrew Shaw and Ryan Garbutt. It’s impossible to call Toews’ group the Blackhawks’ top line at this point, and Toews’ fantasy value will be impacted if coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t put a more skilled player on one of his wings.

— After saying Nov. 21 that he would not make any drastic lineup changes despite the Flyers being shut out in two straight games and four of seven, coach Dave Hakstol removed struggling right wing Jakub Voracek from the first line and put him on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde. Voracek has four points in four games since being moved, but each came on the power play.

Kevin Hayes replaced center Derek Stepan, who is out indefinitely because of broken ribs, on the New York Rangers‘ second line between Chris Kreider and Emerson Etem on Saturday in a 3-0 home loss against the Flyers. Stepan was injured Friday on a hit by Boston Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.

Devante Smith-Pelly (5 percent owned) has two goals and three shots on goal in three games since replacing injured right wing Brendan Gallagher on the Montreal Canadiens‘ top line with center Tomas Plekanec and left wing Max Pacioretty. With Gallagher expected to miss at least another five weeks, Smith-Pelly might be worth adding at some point.

— Rookie Frank Vatrano (1 percent owned), who has two goals and one assist in his first eight NHL games, skated at right wing on the Bruins’ top line, with center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Brad Marchand, on Friday against the Rangers.

SCHEDULE NOTES

— It’s a busy week ahead in the NHL, with 12 teams each playing four games (Devils, Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks).

The Calgary Flames and Washington Capitals each play twice; the rest of the League has three games.

— The Ducks will play all four of their games at home. That bodes well for Corey Perry owners; six of his seven goals through 24 games have come in 12 games at Honda Center.

The Coyotes, Avalanche and Panthers each will be on the road for their four games. Arizona rookie forward Anthony Duclair and Colorado center Matt Duchene each has been much better in road games; 11 of Duclair’s 14 points have come away from Gila River Arena, and 15 of Duchene’s 22 have come away from Pepsi Center.

Article source: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=790303

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