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This week’s fantasy hockey article includes Dallas’ captain getting up, a couple of former teammates at stake, a few players to be acquired, Montreal losing another netballer, a cold winger on the island and a falling goalkeeper in Steel City.
First Liners (Risers)
Jamie Benn, C, DAL
The Dallas captain has picked up his game to help keep the Stars in the playoffs. Sunday was Benn’s fifth game in a row with an assist, and the first time he scored a goal in that stretch. Since Feb. 23, Benn has scored six goals and 16 assists in 23 games, giving the 32-year-old striker 18 goals, 45 points, 167 shots on net, 132 hits and 76 PIM through 72 games. His total numbers show how cold Benn was before this stretch, but he has stepped up when needed.
Josh Norris, C, OTT
Norris continues to be tough in Canada’s capital. His goal and assist on Sunday moves the 22-year-old pivot’s numbers in his last 17 excursions to 13 markers and eight apples. The 19th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Norris has 48 points (21 on power play), 150 shots online, 70 hits and a minus-8 rating in 56 games, a noticeable step up from the 35-point campaign he had. in the same number of matches last year. Ottawa are starting to build a solid team with the current young players and pipeline, with Norris stuck in the middle of this rise.
Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR
There is hot, red-hot and then there is Panarin. The Russian winger has five more point performances in his last seven games, a total of four goals and nine assists over that stretch. Those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Panarin has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 10 games since March 22 and 52 points (11 goals, 41 assists) in 35 games since January 15. With nine games left, Panarin has 21 goals and 67 assists, seven points shy of the career-high 95 points he posted his first year as a Ranger two seasons ago.
Pavel Buchnevich, RW, STL
Buchnevich is back in action after a mild downturn and a three-match absence. In his last 13 games, the 26-year-old winger has turned on the light six times while adding eight assists. In his first year as blue after his offseason trade from Rangers, Buchnevich has scored 25 goals, while adding 35 assists – career-high each – in 63 games. He has thrived in Arch City skating on the front line both in equal strength and on men’s advantage.
Jared Spurgeon, D, MTL
Spurgeon extended his scoring streak to seven and scored his first goal along with an assist in that stretch on Sunday. The reliable blueliner has seven goals and 29 assists, leaving Spurgeon just four points from reaching 40 for the second time in his 12-year career. Spurgeon, who has played his entire career in Minnesota, plays on the first pair in all situations with a plus-27 this season.
Noah Hanifin D, CGY
Hanifin’s magic season went to another level on Sunday when he got four assists. These four helpers are a career high for Hanifin, who has had three assists in a match three times. With the four apples, Hanifin is up on 32 assists and 39 points this season, both career highs. Add 159 shots on goal, a plus-25 rating, 21:07 ice time a game, 52 hits and 75 blocked shots, and Hanifin contributes across the board in almost every league format.
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Darcy Kuemper, G, COL
Switched from Philipp Grubauer to Kuemper has certainly yielded dividends for Avalanche. The whole story will not be written before the playoffs, but at least for the regular season, the prey could not have gone much better. Kuemper has won consecutive matches and is up 34-9-3 with a 2.37 GAA and a .926 save percentage through 50 appearances. His fine season has helped Avalanche win first place in the Western Conference.
Others include Bo Horvat, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Robert Thomas, Matt Duchene, Mikael Backlund, Nico Hischier, Jack Eichel, Matt Beniers (signing ELC with Seattle), Adrian Kempe, Cole Caufield, Nikolaj Ehlers, Chris Kreider, Timo Meier, Jason Robertson, Kirill Kaprizov, Ivan Barbashev, Elias Lindholm, Jake DeBrusk, Kyle Connor, Andrei Svechnikov, Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart, Cody Ceci, Justin Faulk, Zach Werenski, Roman Josi, Evan Bouchard, Charlie McAvoy, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ville Husso, Jake Oettinger, Juuse Saros and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Players to add
Jakub Vrana, LW, DET (23 percent listed)
Vrana lands on the side of the general ledger mainly because of the time he missed with an injury. After coming from Washington to Detroit by the 2021 trade deadline, Vrana saw his ice age jump from 14:22 to 17:16 after the prey, scoring 11 points in as many games with his new team. A shoulder injury sustained this preseason and put the winger out of the game until March 8th. Since returning, the 26-year-old winger has made 10 goals and four assists in 16 games and filled a top-six role with Winged Wheel.
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Spencer Knight, G, FLA (56 percent listed)
Yes I know Sergei Bobrovsky is still in Florida. I am aware that he is 8-0-0 in his last 10 decisions. But behind the eight wins is a worrying 3.08 goal against the average (GAA) and 0.892 save percentage. On the other hand, Knight has won four consecutive decisions and six of his last seven, posting a 2.18 GAA and .915 save percentage in that stretch. Will coach Andrew Brunette go with the neophyte or veteran when the off-season begins? Check if Knight is still available in your league.
Fitness room (injuries)
Jake Allen, C, MTL
Allen, who returned on March 15 after missing three months with a lower body injury, sustained another lower body injury on Saturday. With Carey Price (knee) still working his way back, Allen had appeared in 11 of Montreal’s last 12 games, going 4-4-2 with a 3.61 GAA and .911 save percentage. It is unclear if he will return this season. With Price and Allen on the sidelines, Sam Montembeault entered the starting role Monday against the Jets and possibly on.
Others include Jack Hughes (sprained MCL, suffered April 3, out of season)Cape Kakko (wrist, missed 31 games, returned to action Saturday)Mark Stone (back, has only played in 45 of 73 games this season, playtime decision Tuesday)Drew Doughty (Wrist, out since March 7, missing the last 16 games, underwent surgery on Monday, misses the rest of the regular season) and Mackenzie Blackwood (heel, missed last 34 matches, participated in morning skating on Tuesday).
Fourth Liners / Press Boxers (Fallers)
Oliver Bjorkstrand, C, CLM
Bjorkstrand, which centers the Blue Jackets’ first powerplay unit, has a career season in terms of goals and points. But he limps down the stretch with no points and a minus-seven rating for his last six games. Bjorkstrand has 24 goals and 26 assists in 71 games, the second season in a row he has increased his points production. A worrying number is that even though Columbus is 34-33-6, Bjorkstrand is an unsightly minus-33 rating.
Anthony Beauvillier, RW, NYI
The Islanders have remained on the edge of the playoffs despite poor assistance from Beauvillier. He is goalless in six moves and has only 11 goals and 21 assists with a rating of minus-9 in 68 games. Beauvillier, who in the first round was selected as the 28th overall in 2017, has only overshadowed 20 goals in a season once, and it was in 2017-18 where he had 21. His name was mentioned in trade rumors in the low season, but the islands decided to stick with the winger. A separation can be beneficial to both parties.
Jonas Brodin, D, MIN
Brodin has 27 points – one backlog from his career high – with 108 shots on net, 108 blocked shots and a plus-five rating in 62 games. These numbers reflect a solid fourth or fifth defender in most leagues, but he also appears to have hit a wall. Brodin has only achieved four assists in his last 16 games, though that does not distract from his fine overall campaign. But to expect him to reverse his latest trend and step into a scoring role, given what we’ve seen – especially lately – would be a stretch.
Tristan Jarry, G, PIT
Jarry limps down the stretch. His loss on Sunday extended Jarry’s win-free streak to five consecutive starts and six of his last seven. Over that stretch, he has posted a staggering 3.55 GAA and .894 save percentage. Overall, Jarry still has a 33-18-6 record along with a 2.41 GAA and .919 save percentage. Pittsburgh is still in third place in the Metro, though Washington is only four points behind the Penguins with a few games in hand. Regaining the form of Jarry would greatly help the Penguins secure this spot.
Others include Ryan Getzlaf, Martin Necas, Joel Kiviranta, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Bertuzzi, Duncan Keith, Thatcher Demko and John Gibson.