Have a happy and a healthy New Year, everyone! And good luck in all your fantasy pools.
James Reimer is owned in 40% of Yahoo leagues after he was sitting at 27% a week ago when he appeared on Waiver Wired. Pierre-Luc Dubois jumped from 23% to 33% and Erik Haula is still available in 63% of Yahoo leagues.
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Now, let’s go into this week’s offerings:
David Backes (BOS) - C, RW - Owned in 37% of Yahoo leagues
Boston has been getting some depth scoring during their recent surge and Backes has been leading the charge. He has accounted for five goals and six assists in the last seven games. Backes has posted two points in each of the past four contests. If he is taken then Danton Heinen (owned in 33% of Yahoo leagues) is another good option. He plays alongside Backes and Riley Nash. A more under-the-radar consideration is Ryan Spooner, who produced eight points in nine December appearances. He is owned in just 2% of Yahoo leagues. The Bruins play four times this coming week.
Cam Ward (CAR) - G - Owned in 29% of Yahoo leagues
Ward has won each of his last six starts, while Scott Darling has one victory in his last eight appearances (1-5-2). Ward has allowed two goals or less in five contests during his personal win streak. He went 7-0-1 in December with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. The veteran netminder can provide short-term help in the crease or serve as a depth option.
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Thomas Vanek (VAN) - LW, RW - Owned in 19% of Yahoo leagues
Vanek has had problems staying consistent this season, but his potential to explode offensively has been showcased on a couple of occasions over the last two weeks. He earned three goals and one assist on Dec. 19 and had two goals and three helpers on Dec 28. Vanek has been clicking with rookie sensation Brock Boeser and Sam Gagner, which gives him some added value at this time.
Kyle Connor (WPG) - LW - Owned in 15% of Yahoo leagues
Connor went through some struggles after he was recommended on Waiver Wired a few weeks ago. He shuffled between lines a bit, but kept his shot totals high and now he appears to be back on track. Connor has two goals and two assists over a three-game point streak. He has been skating with Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine on Winnipeg’s top line. Connor also plays on the top power-play unit. He is worthy of a pickup again.
Sami Vatanen (NJD) - D - Owned in 12% of Yahoo leagues
Vatanen started slowly with New Jersey after he was acquired from Anaheim, but he has heated up lately. He has one goal and two assists during a three-game point streak and all four of his points with the Devils have come in the past six outings. Vatanen has also amassed 28 shots and 23 blocks in 14 games with New Jersey.
Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM) - RW - Owned in 11% of Yahoo leagues
Skating alongside Connor McDavid gives credibility to practically anyone as a fantasy option, but Puljujarvi is a highly-rated prospect who has gained some confidence this season as a top-six forward. Puljujarvi has six goals on 38 shots and three assists in 12 games this month. He spent most of Friday’s game alongside McDavid, but scored a goal and an assist after he moved to a combination with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Puljujarvi logged a season-high 20:24 of ice time in the contest.
Nick Schmaltz (CHI) - C, LW - Owned in 11% of Yahoo leagues
Schmaltz has one goal and three assists in two games following the holiday break. That includes two points (one goal, one assist) on the power play. Schmaltz has also compiled three markers and eight points in the past eight matches. He is still playing alongside Chicago point leader Patrick Kane.
Nick Bjugstad (FLA) - C, RW - Owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues
Bjugstad has been productive with four goals and five assists in his last 13 contests. He has been skating alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on the Panthers’ top line. Bjugstad hasn’t gone more than two games without a point since early November.
Jeff Glass (CHI) - G - Owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues
Glass shined in his NHL debut when he stopped 42 of 45 shots in a 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers. The 32-year-old journeyman will start again on Sunday night at Calgary. The Blackhawks don’t have number one goalie Corey Crawford due to an upper-body injury and Anton Forsberg only has one victory this season. The door is open for Glass to get more action and possibly even start regularly, while Crawford is sidelined, if he can continue to impress.
Calle Jarnkrok (NSH) - C, LW - Owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues
Jarnkrok shifted to the wing on Saturday from his usual spot in the middle. He played alongside Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson on the top line because of an injury to Filip Forsberg. He logged a season-high 20:00 of ice time and picked up two assists, including one on the power play. Jarnkrok had been playing well before the promotion with seven goals and three helpers in his previous 13 outings. He is barely owned in most leagues and has the potential to become a popular addition.