By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
If you’ve been regularly following the NHL, you’ll know how quickly momentum can change.
A trio of Metropolitan Division teams — Pittsburgh, Columbus, and the Islanders — endured slow starts but have roared to the top. And in the Pacific, it was believed early on that Vegas was regressing to normalcy and San Jose maybe made a mistake acquiring Erik Karlsson.
Both situations have been quickly rectified.
Injuries have hurt Anaheim’s attack all season, but a couple main providers have either recently returned or will be back soon. The staff switch in Philadelphia hasn’t seemed to work, with the club having lost eight in a row. And after a high-flying start to the year, Ottawa is now taking residency near the NHL cellar.
In fantasy, the same type of scenarios can occur. Stop paying attention for a couple days or perform the wrong substitution/transaction and your team could lose ground. But the right pickups in the right situations can shoot you up the standings.
Perhaps one of these players will be able to help with the latter…
(Yahoo ownership rates/stats as of Jan. 10)
Tomas Tatar, MON (56 percent)
After three respectable campaigns, Tatar dipped last year with a combined 36 points over 90 total games for Detroit and Vegas. Fortunately, he was provided a fresh start in September after being acquired by the Habs as part of the Max Pacioretty deal. The Slovak winger has repaid Montreal’s trust with 14 goals and 19 assists through 44 contests. Combine that with a place in the top six and the first power play, and it’s clear Tatar should be owned in more leagues.
Joonas Donskoi, SJ (12 percent)
2015-16 marked Donskoi’s North American introduction, and he served as a key role player in the Sharks’ march to the Final. Further progression was expected, but the Finn has never approached his awesome numbers from his native country. To start this season, Donskoi reeled off eight points from 11 appearances. A subsequent two-month cold spell knocked him down to the fourth unit, but he’s jumped back into relevance since Christmas with an eye-popping seven goals in his last seven while skating with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane.
Justin Williams, CAR (12 percent)
Despite advancement well into his 30s, Williams has been able to maintain a respectable scoring resume. He averaged 47 points over the previous five seasons and is projected to match those stats with 24 through 42 matches. The 2014 Conn Smythe winner and three-time Cup champ may currently find himself on the third line during even strength, but appears with young stars Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen on the power play — where he’s potted five of his 10 goals.
Jakob Silfverberg, ANH (13 percent)
Although Silfverberg has flashed a few flickers of flair the last seven years, he’s seemed a step slower on the smaller surface since coming over from Sweden. And even though the 28-year old is projected to produce his worst offensive NHL effort with only 18 points to date, the coaches have continued to delegate enough commitment in all areas to make him a strong prospect for improvement.
Conor Garland, ARI (1 percent)
Many discounted Garland on account of his smaller stature, most notably when he was selected 123rd overall in the 2015 Draft following a 129-point QMJHL campaign. While he went scoreless through his first seven games, he’s started to prove the doubters wrong with seven points over the last eight. Garland’s ice time may be normal for bottom-six material, but his case is strengthened by the fact he’s averaged almost three shots a night and is spending time on the Coyotes’ first power play.
Jack Roslovic, WPG (2 percent)
Roslovic enjoyed a successful stint with the U.S. National Development Program and went on to earn positive reviews during his rookie year. But the soon-to-be 22-year old has been stuck skating minor minutes for most of the season, leading to only nine points. But thanks to the loss of Nikolaj Ehlers, Roslovic is set to improve after jumping up to join Patrik Laine on the Jets’ second line. He’s only registered an assist and three shots in the two appearances since the promotion, but the hard work and extra minutes should eventually find their way onto the scoresheet.
Jesper Bratt, NJ (2 percent)
Like Roslovic, Bratt represents another example of someone who impressed in Year 1 and has the chance to duplicate that glory by taking advantage of a teammate’s injury. The difference in this case is that Bratt began the first month of this season on the sidelines and has gone on to mainly fulfill his promise. No one can truly replace Taylor Hall, but the 2016 sixth-rounder has gone on to notch 16 points in 28 matches while filling the MVP’s first-line slot.
Colton Sissons, NSH (15 percent)
We complete our trio of fantasy opportunists in Music City, where the absence of Kyle Turris has left the door open for someone to fill the Preds’ No. 2 center position. Nick Bonino and Calle Jarnkrok have each gotten a crack at the gig, but Sissons’ body of work this season — 19 points, 58 shots, plus-22 over 38 outings — has provided him with the chance to cement a place in the upper-half of Nashville’s depth chart.
Mikhail Sergachev, TB (49 percent)
The young Russian proved he was worth Montreal’s ninth pick in 2016 with an excellent freshman feat of 40 points, but tailed off with only 15 in the final half and then managed a paltry five in 17 playoff games. After some awful efforts in October and November, Sergachev saw his minutes — including a large chunk of his man-advantage duty — significantly dwindle. A night in the press box must have acted as a wake-up call, as he’s tallied a goal and three assists from the most recent four contests.
Marcus Pettersson, PIT (1 percent)
Pettersson had never contributed much offensively at any level but served as a reliable defender thanks in part to his tall frame. After six assists in his first 27 games with the Ducks, he’s gone on to post the same amount since the Penguins acquired him — with all of them occurring in the last seven. And while Pittsburgh’s second power play may pale in comparison to their premier unit, Pettersson’s introduction within that group can only enhance his fantasy value.
Filip Hronek, DET (0 percent)
Based on his output from a full and two partial AHL stints — and the growing list of Detroit’s blue-line injuries — Hronek proved he deserved a chance to earn a spot in the bigs. With Mike Green and Trevor Daley sidelined, the Czech phenom has only recorded four points in 13 contests since returning from Grand Rapids. But Hronek’s strong overall play during that stretch has earned him additional minutes, and he’s responded by notching two assists last Friday and a goal on Sunday.
Christian Wolanin, OTT (0 percent)
Wolanin went under the radar after a teenage tour in the USHL and was subsequently selected by the Sens at No. 107 in 2015. But after three superb seasons at UND — including the final year where he led the team in points — the 23-year old proved his skills are miles ahead of the previous generation. Wolanin quickly outgrew the minors and moved to Ottawa, where he’s potted a goal and dished two helpers in six appearances. As he was benched Wednesday, you should probably wait at least until he returns to the lineup before adding him to yours.
Darcy Kuemper, ARI (16 percent)
After setting the fantasy world on fire, Adin Hill has cooled off with a 3.28 GAA and .890 over his last seven starts. The veteran Kuemper has only posted two victories in nine appearances during the same stretch, but his 2.67/.914 clip has put him in first chair — and those figures shrink to 2.34/.925 over the last five, which includes a shutout Sunday. Based on Arizona’s daunting upcoming schedule, Kuemper should be called upon more to provide a source of experience and stability.
Jordan Binnington, STL (5 percent)
One could surely blame the Blues’ anemic attack in addition to the troubles of Jake Allen for their struggles, but it’s ultimately the goalie’s responsibility to display confidence and stop the puck on a regular basis. So when another netminder steps in and pitches a shutout — even if it’s against the slumping Flyers — it’s worth noting. With St. Louis continuing to struggle and Allen looking shaky again, Binnington has the chance to grab the top job if he can replicate that performance or even string together a couple consecutive decent outings.
Players to consider from past columns: Tyler Johnson, Alex Galchenyuk, Nico Hischier, Brandon Pirri, Mikael Backlund, James van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Gustav Nyquist, Ondrej Kase, Jake DeBrusk, Dustin Brown, Mika Zibanejad, David Perron, David Krejci, Kevin Fiala, Charlie Coyle, Ondrej Palat, Brady Tkachuk, J.T. Compher, Craig Smith, Sam Reinhart, Bobby Ryan, Andrei Svechnikov, Brock Nelson, Alex Tuch, Sven Baertschi, Dylan Strome, Kevin Labanc, Andreas Athanasiou, Kevin Hayes, Darnell Nurse, Nate Schmidt, Alexander Edler, Erik Gustafsson, Miro Heiskanen, Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Jared Spurgeon, Jakob Chychrun, Ryan Pulock, Neal Pionk, Will Butcher, Brandon Montour, Hampus Lindholm, David Rittich, Jacob Markstrom, Carter Hart, Curtis McElhinney, Robin Lehner
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