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Fantasy Hockey: Players to Watch (Week of April 23)

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Goalies

Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights

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Even though there are conflicting reports about Robin Lehner’s injury status – is there any team that looks more dysfunctional than the Knights right now? – it’s abundantly clear that Lehner cannot be a reliable No. 1 option right now. Fantasy managers who were patient and stuck with Thompson are now going to see the dividends since he will be their starter going forward. He’s come a long way as an undrafted free agent signing who worked his way up from Canada’s U Sports to the ECHL, AHL and now the NHL, and while his season numbers – 9-5-0/.920/2.56 – are very solid , it’s still a lot to ask and the team in front of him looks vulnerable than ever. Thompson should be a mid to upper tier goalie the rest of the fantasy season.

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Scott Wedgwood, Dallas Stars

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Wedgewood lost his first game in regulation as a Star on Wednesday against the Oilers, though it was still an excellent performance with 45 saves. Jake Oettinger turned in a solid performance against the Flames in their following game, but he has also lost two games in a row, which means Wedgewood will likely draw Saturday’s start. Then, it’s a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday before the season finale on Friday, which means Wedgewood will factor into at least one more game before the end of the season. The goalie situation has been tough to read, but after splitting the back-to-back, who starts Friday their finale could be their Game 1 starter for the playoffs (assuming they make it). Keep an eye on the Stars’ situation and a quick finger to pick up Wedgewood should he draw multiple starts.

Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues

If the playoffs started today, Ville Husso is probably their guy, but with four straight wins, Binnington’s worked his way back into the conversation. Solving a Rubik’s cube is easier than figuring out Binnington’s hot and cold streaks, but the he’s been fantastic and it’s been a fixed rotation for nearly the entire month. It helps the Blues are on a roll and could be the most feared opponent in the first round, and Binnington is back on the fantasy radar. Fantasy managers should note that based on the Blues’ current rotation, he will draw Anaheim on Sunday and then Vegas for the regular-season finale, while Husso will draw Arizona and Colorado. There’s no question Husso will draw the tougher starts, which makes Binnington – as unlikely it may have been a month ago – the better fantasy proposition.

Rookies

Matty Beniers, C, Seattle Kraken

Beniers is flashing a ton of offensive upside as a point-per-game player through five games as the Kraken’s top center. He’s known more for his two-way play than his offense, though that’s what they said about Sean Couturier before, and he managed back-to-back 76-point seasons. Beniers is doing this in spite of the unexciting wingers he gets to play with, and he’s a great option for the rest of the season. He’s also playing his way into keeper status as a high-upside, potential franchise center on a bad team, which means he should get plenty of ice time and offensive opportunities. The risk lies in asking a 19-year-old to maintain his current pace over a full season playing against very tough matchups every night.

Vasily Podkolzin, LW/RW, Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks roster has been riddled with injuries, and Podkolzin has taken advantage of his opportunities. Playing in a consistent top-six role for the first time all season, the Russian power winger has scored eight points in nine games in April and averaging over 16 minutes per game, nearly double the 8:59 he was getting in his first month of the season. Playing with JT Miller obviously helps, but it also helps that he’s getting a net-front role on the power play that has been clicking with Elias Pettersson’s recent surge. The Canucks have fought valiantly even though their playoff chances have gone from microscopic to essentially zero, which could mean more ice time for their younger players.

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Source: thehockeynews.com

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