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We're into the later stages of the fantasy playoffs. Don't get too comfortable. Plenty of hard work remains.
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(Yahoo! rostered rates/stats as of April 22)
Sam Reinhart, BUF (43 percent rostered)
Since Don Granato took over as Buffalo's bench boss, the team has improved on offense. A proactive approach has been implemented and players like Reinhart are taking advantage. It's not like the second overall pick from 2014 was struggling before; it's just there are more scoring chances now. Since March 27, Reinhart has notched 10 points and 29 shots while averaging more than 19 minutes per game, including three on the power play. The Sabres will have some tough nights, but adding a lead contributor from a dynamic attack sounds like a wise fantasy decision.
Sam Bennett, FLA (40 percent)
Based on what Bennett has done in Florida, his talent was definitely wasted in Calgary. He never hit more than 36 points in any previous season and already has five in three games with his new club. Over that same stretch, Bennett has also posted nine shots, 14 hits, 17 PIM, 19 faceoff wins, and a plus-7. He currently centers Jonathan Huberdeau and Anthony Duclair on the second line while operating on the second man-advantage. Even if Bennett happens to slip off that trio, the Panthers are so deep up front that anywhere in the top-nine is a good place to be.
Jeff Carter, PIT (24 percent)
As if the Pens needed more Cup-winning experience, they get Carter from the Kings. With Evgeni Malkin missing since mid-March, Carter will offer stability as a proven No. 2 center (no offense, Jared McCann). The 36-year-old has picked up a goal and assist from his opening four to go with 11 shots, six blocks and 29 faceoff wins. And even when Malkin returns, Carter can play either as a third pivot or top-half winger.
Matt Duchene, NSH (21 percent)
While Duchene was out 22 games with a lower-body injury, the Preds found their groove with a balanced attack. As they didn't want to mess up their flow down the middle, the Colorado draftee has been placed on the right side. A goal, six shots, and five hits across three appearances don't seem like anything exciting, but a one-time major producer like Duchene is bound to improve regardless of where he is within the lineup.
Nick Bonino, MIN (17 percent)
Bonino went unnoticed most of the year, though he's come on lately by recording roughly half his total points with eight from the most recent five matchups. He hasn't claimed a prominent man-advantage position since 2016-17 but is averaging more than three minutes, including two PPPs, in the last week. The Wild have been flying high on offense and roll out four imposing even-strength units, so Bonino should be able to maintain some form of production for the remainder of the campaign.
Lars Eller, WAS (4 percent)
For someone who's never performed as a top-level scorer, Eller is enjoying one of his best point-per-game paces with 21 in 34 games. And in the last six, he's totaled two goals, five assists, 11 shots, and 48 faceoff wins. That's a pretty spectacular haul for any forward, let alone a team's third center. What's even more impressive is the fact Eller is doing this on a 14-minute average. Imagine what he could do if provided similar enhanced ice time as in previous seasons.
Yegor Sharangovich, NJ (4 percent)
There wasn't a lot of fanfare for Sharangovich heading into the season until he posted 25 points in 34 KHL outings before being recalled in time for the NHL season. The 141st selection of 2018 couldn't initially duplicate his overseas numbers with only three from the first 14. But since then, Sharangovich has looked ready for fantasy with nine goals, 10 assists, and 76 shots on steady ice time while building a solid partnership with Jack Hughes.
Alex Barre-Boulet, TB (0 percent)
Barre-Boulet destroyed the QMJHL over four years and overpowered AHL opponents for another two. He was already up to eight goals and four helpers in 10 with Syracuse when the Bolts promoted him. The undrafted rookie hasn't netted any points during his four big-league appearances, though he's lined up with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat on both the power play and 5-on-5. With Steven Stamkos done long-term and Nikita Kucherov not likely to return soon, Barre-Boulet should be given enough of a look.
Tyler Myers, VAN (29 percent)
While the Canucks were gone for 25 days, some poolies divested their player shares. Myers was more than 40 percent covered before the team shut down thanks to delivering plenty of hits and blocks along with a decent amount of points and shots. In the two games since Vancouver returned, the 6-foot-8 blueliner has accumulated 10 blocks, six shots, three hits, and an assist. Myers also receives plenty of responsibility as shown in the 30:08 (!) he skated Sunday night.
Brandon Montour, FLA (7 percent)
Since Aaron Ekblad was sidelined, the Panthers have been looking for a reliable offensive producer behind Keith Yandle. Gustav Forsling started in that role, but his stats have tailed off. Montour looked good before arriving in Florida last week with four goals in his final seven games with Buffalo. He's only registered a single tally through his first four in the Sunshine State but offers a chance to improve on the scoring totals with secondary man-advantage duty and a history of performing well in that situation.
Erik Brannstrom, OTT (1 percent)
The Sens recently dealt three defenders, which has allowed others to earn improved roles. One of the beneficiaries is Brannstrom, the former Vegas first-rounder and elite prospect. He's really only been able to show his skills in the AHL with 32 points in 40 games, though it appears he's being groomed for more in Ottawa and has posted three assists from the last five while quarterbacking the second power-play unit.
Will Butcher, NJ (0 percent)
Butcher followed up his 2017 Hobey Baker Award with 44 points, including 23 PPPs, in Jersey and a place on the NHL All-Rookie Team. The stats decreased the next two seasons and the current campaign looked to be a disaster after a series of DNPs. But with the absences of P.K. Subban and Ty Smith, Butcher was thrown into the fire Tuesday and went off for three helpers (ALL IN THE THIRD PERIOD!) and four shots. For now, he'll continue on the Devils' top power play. But when the other two come back, one would expect Butcher to be knocked down the depth chart.
Devan Dubnyk, COL (38 percent)
Dubnyk was acquired just before the trade deadline as an experienced backup who could help lighten Philipp Grubauer's load. When Grubauer was put on the protocol list last week, that opened the door for Dubnyk to lead the way. The veteran started with a win against the Blues, but his momentum was immediately halted when the Avs' next three games were postponed. They're set to take the ice in St. Louis on Thursday and Saturday with Dubnyk projected to be in net for both.
Dustin Tokarski, BUF (7 percent)
It's amazing when you realize Tokarski made his NHL debut with Tampa in 2010 and has mainly spent the last decade in the minors. He signed with the Sabres after starring with the Pens' AHL affiliate in 2019-20, but only found his way to the taxi squad. Tokarski was eventually needed in late March when Carter Hutton went down and did decently in three appearances. When Linus Ullmark once again succumbed to injury, Tokarski earned the No. 1 spot by default and has produced an impressive 2.23 GAA and .938 save percentage over five outings. With Buffalo not going anywhere this season, expect Tokarski to receive most of the run and stop a lot of shots.
(Players to consider from past columns: Jared McCann, Jordan Staal, Roope Hintz, Colin Blackwell, Vincent Trocheck, Chandler Stephenson, Viktor Arvidsson, Jack Hughes, Clayton Keller, Martin Necas, Jason Robertson, Alex Tuch, Tim Stutzle, Casey Mittelstadt, Josh Norris, Calle Jarnkrok, Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith, Kirby Dach, Josh Morrissey, Filip Hronek, Alex Goligoski, Nick Leddy, Ryan Ellis, Mike Reilly, K'Andre Miller, Jared Spurgeon, Jake Allen, Jake Oettinger, Kevin Lankinen, Juuse Saros, Alex Nedeljkovic, Cam Talbot, Kaapo Kahkonen)