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Hockey is a team game, and while the object of the game is to score goals, as fantasy owners we can’t forget about the category of assists. With this being the season of giving, a time to be unselfish and pass good cheers to all. So in this week Fantasy Focus let’s look at some players on the waiver wire that can help out with the category of assists.
Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens Center:
The Montreal center has six assist in his last four games, and now 26 on the season, and leads the team with 32 points. He has now relegated Scott Gomez to second line center and been playing with goal scorers Mike Cammalleri and Adrei Kostitsyn. The best part for fantasy owners about this 27-year-old Czech is he is playing tons of time on both the power play and shorthanded. While he is yet to contribute to those categories (only one power play point), he is now given the opportunity to and with Andrei Markov returning soon, look for the Canadiens power play to producer.
Even with the point per game production Plekanec is only owned in about 70 percent of leagues, and even with all the assist talk don’t forget this is a player who has averaged 23 goals the last three seasons.
Jack Johnson, Kings Defenseman:
While Drew Doughty gets all the headlines in Los Angeles, and for good reason, the former third overall pick is quietly starting to produce enough to be discussed as being owned on a fantasy team. The 6-0 defensive defenseman has chipped in with six helpers in his last seven games, while seeing an increase in playing time both five-on-five and on the man advantage.
While his controversial entrance into the league and injury plagued first two seasons have owners skeptical of his current streak, I look for it to continue. The 22-year-old Johnson will be one of the cornerstone defenseman for the Americans in this year’s Olympics and feels like he has to prove his worth on the squad. Also with his increase time he has a chance to lower his awful minus-11 rating which scares off many fantasy owners.
Patrice Bergeron, Bruins Center:
Injuries have caused fantasy owners to forget about this talented Bruins center, but once again he should be team’s maps. The 6'2" center has five assists in his last five games, and 16 on the season with four of them coming on the man advantage. He currently leads the Bruins with 24 points playing in all 31 games. Bergeron, although injured, finished with 31 assists last season and 13 power play assists, yet is still only owned in about 50 percent of leagues.
With Marc Savard being injured earlier in the season the 24-year-old has flourished with the increased playing time, so much that it will be hard for Claude Julien not to continue to give this talented forward more minutes including on the power play. I would look for this continue for Bergeron but be mindful that injuries have shorten his last two seasons, but if healthy this guy should be owned in 100 percent of leagues.
Pickup of the Week: Chris Stewart, Avalanche Winger:
The move to the top line has done wonders for the former first round pick, he alongside left wing Wojtek Wolski, center Paul Stastny have totaled 11 goals and 20 assists in the past eight games. The 6'2" winger himself has 15 points in last 16 games, with five power play points and 26 penalty minutes.
Much was expected from the 22-year-old this season, after last year shuffling between Colorado and Lake Erie he chipped in 11 goals in 53 games as a rookie. This year did not start off kindly to the 22-year-old forward being named a healthy scratch for the first four games and demoted to the minors. Now he is given his chance to shine and has proven his worth as the 18th overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Stewart is still only owned in under 20 percent of leagues and that should change by the time next week as his stock continues to rise playing on the top line of a surging Avalanche team.