This week's installment addresses a mixed bag of veterans who are being neglected in most leagues. As well we break down some goaltending options for fantasy general managers who may have been bitten by the injury bug.
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Also, there is still plenty of time to join a Yahoo! Hockey Pool.
David Clarkson (TOR) - RW - Owned in 38% of Yahoo! leagues
Clarkson returned from his mandatory 10-game suspension to start the year in Friday's 5-2 loss to Columbus. He registered four shots, two penalty minutes, one hit and a minus-1 rating in his Leafs debut. Coach Randy Carlyle thought Clarkson looked "rusty" in the contest, which is to expected, since practicing and playing in games are completely different animals. Still, he did have his chance and appeared to be working well with fellow Toronto newcomer Dave Bolland. He also saw some action on the second power-play unit. When he gets back up to game speed, Clarkson is projected to play in the team's top-six group. He should contribute around 45 points, 100-plus penalty minutes and between 150-200 shots this season, which would make him valuable in most fantasy leagues. Clarkson can provide an extra boost in formats that reward hits as well. Don't hesitate to pick him up now if he's still available.
Lee Stempniak (CAL) - LW, RW - Owned in 18% of Yahoo! leagues
Stempniak was one of Calgary's best players during the lockout-shortened season and he's picked up where he left off this year. Entering Saturday night's match-up, he has picked up a point in five straight games. In fact, Stempniak has been held off the scoresheet just one time in his first 10 games of the 2013-14 campaign. That kind of pace won't be sustainable for the 30-year-old winger, but his team-leading 35 shots and his average playing time (18:21 per contest) suggests that he'll have plenty of opportunities to remain productive throughout the year.
Brandon Dubinsky (CLM) - C, LW - Owned in 27% of Yahoo! leagues
Dubinsky missed 19 games last year due to injury, but he still recorded 20 points and 76 penalty minutes in 29 appearances. He is a two-time 20 goal scorer and a player who has surpassed 100 penalty minutes three times in his career. He plays in all situations for the Blue Jackets and leads their forward group with 20:05 of average ice time per match. Dubinsky has two goals and two assists in his last two games to give him seven points in 10 outings. He also sits second on the team with 27 hits. His ability to help in several categories should make him a more popular player in fantasy hockey.
Marcus Johansson (WAS) - C, LW - Owned in 21% of Yahoo! leagues
Part of my trepidation in recommending Johansson in the past was his entrenched eligibility as a center, but the good folks at Yahoo! finally gave him LW status. That should help out fantasy owners by giving them more flexibility to play around with their roster positions. Johansson has displayed plenty of chemistry with Washington's offensive stars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He has collected 10 assists in 10 games, which could justify a place on your bench immediately. It's a tad concerning that he has only has taken 10 shots this year, but that number will hopefully pick up as his confidence builds.
Marek Zidlicky (NJ) - D - Owned in 41% of Yahoo! leagues
Zidlicky was a superb offensive defenseman back in his days with the Nashville Predators and early into his tenure with the Minnesota Wild, but his play during his previous three seasons hasn't been of the same quality. The 2013-14 campaign has been much better for him so far. He has eight helpers in 10 games and he's been credited with 19 hits and nine blocked shots. Zidlicky has contributed three assists on the power play and he has one helper shorthanded as well. He will continue to log heavy minutes this season, which could lead to an unfavorable plus-minus rating, but he looks like he can be penciled in for around 40 points and over 100 shots this year.
Kyle Turris (OTT) - C - Owned in 56% of Yahoo! leagues
Turris led the Senators with 12 goals and 29 points in 48 games in the lockout-shortened season. He filled in admirably for injured center Jason Spezza that year and with Spezza's return in 2013-14, Turris has comfortably slotted onto Ottawa's second line between newcomers Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur. He has showcased plenty of chemistry with both of his wingers and their combination has provided the team with depth scoring. Turris has generated one goal and seven assists in 10 games this season. He's likely to easily surpass his previous career high of 29 points and should end up with approximately 50-60 points. Grab him if he's sitting on the waiver wire.
Steve Mason (PHI) - G - Owned in 39% of Yahoo! leagues
Mason has been surprisingly solid for the struggling Philadelphia Flyers this season. His 2-5-0 record is more a reflection of his team's woes than his play, as he has posted excellent peripherals so far. Mason owns a .930 save percentage and a 2.17 goals-against average. Contrary to what many hockey pundits predicted, Ray Emery hasn't presented much of a threat to steal starts and Mason's play hasn't left the door open either. The wins should come once the Flyers' top players start playing the way they were expected to, so adding Mason to your bench now as a depth option could be a great investment down the road.
Carter Hutton (NSH) - G - Owned in 26% of Yahoo! leagues
Several astute fantasy owners have already picked up Nashville's backup goaltender after Pekka Rinne's hip infection was announced. The Predators' top goalie is expected to miss at least a month due to the ailment. Hutton and minor-league call up Magnus Hellberg are projected to share the crease until Rinne is able to return. Hutton has stopped 93 of the 97 shots he's faced in three appearances, while posting a 2-0-0 record with a .956 save percentage and a 1.37 GAA. Hellberg played well in the minors last year and has done a good job this season as well, so he's likely to get a look at some point during his recall. Hutton's early success should give him a slight edge for now and he might be worth rolling the dice on as a short-term solution.
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