The end of the regular season is almost upon us. If your playoffs haven't started yet in fantasy hockey, they will be starting this week. Hopefully you do not have too many Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils or Winnipeg Jets, as they're on tap for just two games in the upcoming week.
We saw a decent amount of player movement at the NHL Trade Deadline this past week, and there are a few guys who moved to new zip codes (or postal codes) who can be impact players. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop heads up the list, as he is a must-have for fantasy owners in his new home.
Elias remains must-start material
The Bruins got their man. Well, they lost out on right wing Jarome Iginla, who chose the Pittsburgh Penguins instead. But then they added right wing Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars. In his first game, Thursday, he scored the game-winning goal against New Jersey, as a shot deflected off his skate and into the back of the net. Jagr was crashing the net hard all night, distracting the goaltender, and showed good leadership on an already talented team. He looks like a good fit, and remains a must-start in all fantasy leagues. Center Patrice Bergeron (concussion) is nicked up and should be reserved in the upcoming week.
Must start: Zdeno Chara, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask
The Sabres dealt right wing Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild within the past week. It wasn't particularly pleasing for the players, and the guys actually on the ice aren't recognizable except to the most die-hard of fans. Left wing Thomas Vanek (upper body) remains sidelined due to an upper body injury, although he is nearing a return.
Must start: Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson
The Flames dealt their heart and soul, Iginla, to the Boston ... err, Pittsburgh Penguins last week, and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was also shuttled to the St. Louis Blues. What's left is goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who refused to be moved; the team's leading scorer, left wing Alex Tanguay; center Mike Cammalleri; and then a bunch of other guys. Fantasy options are slim in Calgary.
Must start: Mike Cammalleri, Alex Tanguay, Dennis Wideman (hits/blocked shots leagues)
It has been a tale of two seasons for the Hurricanes this season, as they were strong early in the season, and awful down the stretch. The injury to goaltender Cam Ward (knee) did not help, and it appears if and when he can return, the team will likely be out of the mix for the playoffs. If you're looking for a little grit and some offense, consider center Tuomo Ruutu, who is back from a long-term groin injury.
Must start: Alexander Semin, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jiri Tlusty
Right wing P.A. Parenteau has picked up two goals and six assists over his past seven games. He and center Matt Duchene continue to toss the team lead in points back and forth. Right wing David Jones (knee) is skating with the team, and nearing a return. Keep him reserved until he can prove his health in one full game. Center Paul Stastny (knee) is also nearing a return.
Must start: Matt Duchene, Jan Hejda (hits/blocked shots leagues), P.A. Parenteau, Greg Zanon (hits/blocked shots leagues)
St. Louis Blues
Right wing Chris Stewart still tops the team in scoring, and he leads by six points over any other player, but he is scoreless in five straight games with a minsu-1 rating and just five shots on goal (SOG). As quickly as he emerged as a must-start fantasy option, he has tailed off and is now no longer a must-start. Center T.J. Oshie (upper body) is out with an upper body ailment and is on Injured Reserve, as is goaltender Jaroslav Halak (lower body).
Must start: Brian Elliott, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vladimir Tarasenko
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning raised eyebrows by trading right wing Cory Conacher to the Ottawa Senators for goaltender Ben Bishop. However, the move paid instant dividends when Bishop turned in a shutout in his first start for the team Thursday at Carolina. He is worth using as a No. 2 fantasy netminder down the stretch since he figures to see regular playing time.
Must start: Ben Bishop, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos
The Panthers are on tap for just two games, so bench their few typically must-start fantasy options in cumulative-heavy formats. In rotisserie leagues, rookie center Jonathan Huberdeau remains a must-start, and center Shawn Matthias has emerged as a strong fantasy option down the stretch.
Must start: Jonathan Huberdeau, Shawn Matthias
New Jersey Devils
The good news is that goaltender Martin Brodeur is back from a long-term injury, but the bad news is that the team is on the brink of not making the postseason. The Devils added forward Steve Sullivan, as he rejoins the team which selected him 233rd overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He has just five goals and 12 points in 33 games this season, but could be a top-six forward with New Jersey, so add him in deeper pools if he gets off to a good start in his second tour with the organization.
Must start: Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias
The Jets have plenty of firepower on the offensive end and would be a tough out for anyone in the postseason. They have to make it there first. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has really struggled lately, going scoreless in five straight with a minus-8 rating during the difficult span. With two games in the upcoming week, and the cold streak, he should be on your fantasy bench. Left wings Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane, as well as right wing Blake Wheeler, are the only real must-starts.
Must start: Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler