2012 Fantasy Hockey Playoffs: Our NHL Hot Picks for Week 23 May Help Your Roster

Chris Wassel@TheProgramBTRContributor IMarch 20, 2012

2012 Fantasy Hockey Playoffs: Our NHL Hot Picks for Week 23 May Help Your Roster

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    This is the time of year that tries the soul and acumen of every fantasy hockey owner. While Sidney Crosby (five assists in two games) begins to find his stride, there are some hot picks that may be a little more down into the waiver wire for the next seven days.

    Last week we took a look at players that may help you for the first round of your fantasy playoffs, and now we delve into this week's picks as the days count down to the end.

    Who will make the cut and who will not? That becomes the big question.

    As always, we aim to bring you the hottest of the picks while keeping an eye on how "under the radar" these players may be. Then at the end, we want you to make your picks in the comments section.

    It is time to get down to business and unveil our "hottest picks".

Carl Hagelin

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    Quietly, Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers is making people notice that he is more than just about speed, he actually has a rather nice touch with the puck.

    In the last two weeks, Hagelin's ice time went up as he was paired with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. Surprisingly, this was a pairing used way back in training camp before Hagelin was switched out. The reality is it never had that chance to develop, but now it does.

    People forget that he has 14 goals, 21 assists and is a plus-23 on the season in only 52 games. His ice time has gone up by several minutes a night lately and has six points in five games.

    With a low but increasing ownership rate (23-25 percent in fantasy leagues), it is time to buy in on Hagelin before everyone else does.

Chad LaRose

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    There is no dispute that Chad LaRose has talent, but two fundamental questions present themselves here.

    One, can LaRose stay healthy? And two, can he produce consistently?

    The answers to both questions are not very clear. This one is tough to figure out because he can look like a guy who is poised to break out and then almost retreats into a non-entity.

    Of course there is the health issue too.  LaRose has been injured several times this season but can put together outstanding efforts like last night that make one wonder. Ten shot efforts may not mean much, but the Carolina forward has six points (four goals) in his last seven games with 31 shots in that span.

    He is only owned in less than 10 percent of fantasy leagues which makes him a nice third or fourth option to acquire.

Marcel Goc

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    When the time comes to look back at the fantasy hockey season, there are always a few names that fly out of nowhere.

    Marcel Goc has become one of those players, with five goals in his last 10 games and seven points overall. Also, if you add the 26 shots in that span, the first question comes out, is this an aberration?

    The second question is will this continue?

    Currently Goc is averaging a point every other game but is up to 0.7 points per game in this stretch. Also, the Florida Panther forward is firmly seeing Top Six ice time and significant power play time.

    That makes him a must start in fantasy leagues, and while the ownership is in single digits, it is the optimal time for fantasy owners to either take a look or take the plunge.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

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    Oliver Ekman-Larsson has played in 72 games this year for the Phoenix Coyotes and has 29 points with eight of them coming on the power play. Ekman-Larsson has five points in his last three games and 11 shots in that span.

    As his role has evolved in Phoenix, the assertion that he is a top pairing defenseman is gaining more steam. When one plays nearly 25 minutes a night over a two week duration, the point becomes crystal clear.

    With Phoenix in an absolute dogfight for a playoff berth in the Western Conference, they will need Ekman-Larsson more than ever.

    Can he perform in the clutch?

    There just seems to be that prevalent sense that he can. If you do not have him, then go pick him up now before it is too late.

Jamie McBain

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    As Carolina plays spoiler, a player like Jamie McBain is one to keep an eye on, not only this week but going forward heading even into the 2012-13 NHL season.

    Granted, McBain only has 25 points in 65 games, but here is a guy who plays it clean (only two PIMS) and yet hard. He also has a solid ability to block shots without getting hurt which is important in deeper format fantasy leagues.

    Here is a 24-year-old who is only in his third season. There is a progression as McBain has four power play goals for the Hurricanes and should come close to topping the 30 point mark again.

    In keeper leagues the choice is obvious, but for the next few weeks, McBain has potential to catch on one more hot streak. It is worth the risk at a less than 20 percent ownership rate.

Devan Dubnyk

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    The gloom and doom in Edmonton does have some glimmers of hope and Devan Dubnyk is one of them. Yes, his GAA and save percentage is right around average for goaltenders, but his last three starts have been productive. That is vital to fantasy owners.

    His last four starts have been solid for Edmonton, with three wins and a shutout along the way. Edmonton is well out of the playoff race, but Dubnyk and the Oilers could catch some teams lightly.

    Dubnyk is again owned in less than 20 percent of all fantasy leagues which makes him an attractive third goalie option for beleaguered fantasy owners looking for a solution amongst all the injuries and inconsistent play.

    At the very least he is worth the risk of a waiver wire acquisition in your fantasy leagues.