Corey Abbott

Waiver Wired

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Marcus Johansson on the rise

Saturday, March 19, 2011


With the NHL regular season almost in the books some teams are getting surprise contributions from players who have gotten bigger roles on their clubs. These players should be targeted by prospective fantasy owners, as they could help your squads in the final few weeks of the year.

Dion Phaneuf - D - Toronto Maple Leafs

Phaneuf was fantasy gold on the blueline in his first three NHL seasons, but he has regressed significantly since registering 60 points in 2007-08. After being traded to Toronto, he produced a mere 10 points with two goals in 26 appearances. He has not been scoring much this campaign either and a deep cut to his leg in early November didn't help matters. However, the Leafs' captain has been a different player with his team battling for a playoff spot. He has racked up 11 points in his past 12 games and is playing with confidence again in the attacking zone. His overall point totals won't be earth-shattering when it's all said and done and he may never be the same player he was in his early days with Calgary, but there is reason to believe he is regaining his offensive swagger. This should help him contribute for the remainder of the year and possibly next season as well.

Tyler Ennis - LW - Buffalo Sabres

The rookie winger has had his ups and downs this season, but for the most part he has come as advertised. He is creative with the puck and can generate offense when he gets to play with Buffalo's more talented players. With the Sabres battling for a playoff spot in the East, he has been afforded an increased role on the team as a top-six forward and has flourished of late as a result. Ennis has recorded four goals and four assists in nine games so far in March and he is currently playing on a line with Brad Boyes and Drew Stafford. The 21-year-old winger is fourth in scoring among first-year players, with 43 points in 70 games. Look for him to continue his hot streak for the rest of the season and keep him on your radar for 2011-12.

Marcus Johansson - C - Washington Capitals

Injuries to headline centers Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Arnott opened the doors for Johansson to skate alongside Alex Ovechkin in Washington. He tallied two goals and five points in five games after Backstrom got hurt. When Backstrom returned to action for Friday night's 3-0 win over New Jersey, Johansson remained with the Great Eight for the majority of the contest. He finished the game with a plus three rating in 15:18 minutes of ice time. Even if Backstrom regains his spot next to Ovechkin, the 20-year-old pivot should remain in the top-six forward group with the likes of Alexander Semin, Marco Sturm and Brooks Laich until Arnott can get back from an undisclosed ailment. Johansson has a great deal of value as a short-term pickup right now.

Rene Bourque - RW - Calgary Flames

Bourque entered the 2010-11 campaign with a lot of promise, but those expectations have been largely dashed because of his inconsistent play. He has developed a reputation as a streaky scorer this season, but his 24 goals and 46 points prove that he can still be a quality fantasy player. With the Flames battling injury concerns, Bourque has found himself playing with Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen on the second line. In his past two outings, he has one goal and three assists so he might be starting another offensive spree. He still has appeal as a depth fantasy forward and with 10 points in nine games in March, he might developing an offensive rhythm that has eluded him so far this year.

Matt D'Agostini - RW - St. Louis Blues

D'Agostini has been a hit with the Blues since being moved to the top line with offensive catalysts Andy McDonald and David Backes. He will enter Saturday night's action riding a four-game point streak that has seen him put up four goals and three helpers. D'Agostini has a career-high 17 goals and 36 points this campaign, so he should only be an option for your team if he can remain on the first unit. That being said, he is worth taking a flier on at this time.

Rick DiPietro - G - New York Islanders

The injury-prone Islander netminder is slated to play Saturday night's match against Florida. It will mark his first start since being sidelined with facial fractures following a fight with Pittsburgh netminder Brent Johnson on Feb. 2. You can take this recommendation with a grain of salt because at this point it's an optimistic hunch at best. New York has been playing much better hockey since the All-Star break and with Al Montoya playing well between the pipes, DiPietro should be motivated to prove he can still be a valuable cog in the organization's future. I wouldn't advocate grabbing him immediately, but I would certainly keep an eye on his first couple of contests to see how he performs.

Quick Pick:

Mike Duco - LW - Florida Panthers

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound spark plug is back with the Panthers after playing 55 games with Rochester in the AHL this season. He amassed 116 penalty minutes and 28 points in the minors before getting recalled. In two games with Florida, he has two fighting majors for 10 minutes in the sin bin. Duco skated in 10 games at the NHL level last year and he concluded that stint with a whopping 50 penalty minutes. If he can stay with the Panthers for the remainder of the 2010-11 campaign, your penalty minute categories should get a boost from his acquisition.






Corey Abbott is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him Twitter @CoreAbbott.
Email :Corey Abbott


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