Most fantasy leagues will be beginning their playoffs shortly, so latching onto players on hot streaks and taking advantage of increased roles is more important now than it's ever been. Making tough roster decisions will be at the forefront for any GMs looking to shake up or shore up their roster and it's a good time to start taking fliers on players in categories where you may be weak.
Now onto this week's picks:
James Reimer (TOR) - G - Owned in 45% of Yahoo! leagues
Thursday's game in Los Angeles was supposed to be about Jonathan Bernier's return, but Reimer stole the show when he stepped into the game in relief. Bernier was forced to exit the crease after one period of work because of a lower-body injury and Reimer turned aside all 31 shots he faced to help the Leafs earn a 3-2 victory. He played with the kind of confidence that has been lacking in most of his last few appearances. Reimer has displayed flashes of the form he had a year ago and the Leafs will need him to step up while Bernier is sidelined. He is Toronto's starter for the time being and should be picked up if he's available.
Al Montoya (WPG) - G - Owned in 6% of Yahoo! leagues
A popular topic of discussion in Winnipeg has been to compare the goaltending statistics of Ondrej Pavelec and Al Montoya this season, especially when the Jets were struggling to pick up wins. Montoya's 2.20 goals-against average and .924 save percentage are far superior to Pavelec's 2.97 GAA and .902 save percentage, even though he has seen far less action between the pipes. Montoya will be thrust into the spotlight now that Pavelec is dealing with a lower-body ailment. He is slated to start Winnipeg's next two games at the very least, so snatch him up now.
Frans Nielsen (NYI) - C - Owned in 34% of Yahoo! leagues
Nielsen's career year offensively has fallen under the radar. He has amassed 22 goals and 49 points in 67 games this season, but he hasn't attracted much attention in most fantasy circles. With John Tavares sidelined for the remainder of the year, he has stepped into the top center spot on the Islanders and he has been heating up of late. He has produced four goals and two assists in his past five contests. He could be worth running with for the rest of the year.
Lee Stempniak (PIT) - LW, RW - Owned in 17% of Yahoo! leagues
Stempniak has been riding shotgun with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after being acquired from Calgary at the trade deadline. He has produced three assists and five shots in five outings with his new team. Stempniak has a shooter's mentality so if learns how to play with Crosby then he should start getting more chances. He's in an enviable position, playing alongside the NHL's leading scorer, and if he can take advantage of it then he'll be a strong asset to your fantasy squad.
Vladimir Sobotka (STL) - C - Owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues
Sobotka's season totals of eight goals and 28 assists in 48 games don't exactly jump off the page, even though he is one goal away from setting a new personal best and he's one point away from matching his previous career high. Still, he has been a valuable player for St. Louis this season. His versatility and workmanlike style has ingratiated him to coach Ken Hitchcock and he's being rewarded with a pair of talented linemates in T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko. The trio clicked in Thursday's 6-2 win over Edmonton and Sobotka ended up with a goal and two assists. He's worth monitoring to see if his offense can reach another level as the Blues' second-line center.
Drew Stafford (BUF) - RW - Owned in 5% of Yahoo! leagues
Stafford isn't a stranger to producing points in bunches and he's enjoying a hot streak as Buffalo's disappointing season nears its conclusion. He recorded three goals and added one assist during a four-game point streak to give him 29 points in 59 games this campaign. The 2013-14 season hasn't been one to remember for Stafford, but he's trying to finish the year on a high note. He has notched nine goals and seven helpers in his past 17 contests.
Tyson Barrie (COL) - D - Owned in 35% of Yahoo! leagues
Barrie has benefited from an offensive surge during the second half of the 2013-14 campaign. He has compiled four goals and 12 assists in his past 17 matches. He leads the Avalanche in average ice time on the power play with 2:53 per game, but he's accounted for just eight points in that capacity this season. If he can break through with the man advantage then he'll add greater value to his already improving game in Colorado's remaining 15 matches.
Matthew Nieto (SJS) - LW - Owned in 1% of Yahoo! leagues
The 21-year-old rookie has generated 10 goals and 21 points in 54 games this season, with six tallies and two assists coming in his last 10 contests. Nieto has strung together a four-game scoring streak after being placed on the team's second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Despite bouncing between some different linemates this year, Nieto has displayed some chemistry with Marleau and with Couture back in the fold the combination could be one to keep an eye on down the stretch.