As the calendar flips to March and the trading deadline has come and gone, teams are bolstering their lineups to make a push for the playoffs. This week, some unrecognizable names take top flight in the buys column, while a single player finds himself on the snorers list.
Richard Panik – RW (CHI)
Everyone knows the Chicago Blackhawks have an explosive offense, but if asked to name a player on the squad that would do the most damage, no one would say right-winger Richard Panik, who is perhaps the hottest Blackhawk to date. The last eight games have been very kind to Panik, as he has recorded five goals and six assists in that time frame. Just as impressive, Panik has tallied 15 points in his last 14 games, after picking up 18 points in his team’s first 48 games. Some of Panik’s other numbers have been off the charts as well, as depicted by his +5 rating three games ago against Minnesota and his 15 shots in the prior four contests. Panik’s move to the team’s top line playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews has paid dividends for his own game and the team’s – winners of nine of ten and second in the Western Conference. Find a way to get Panik into your lineup.
Oscar Klefbom – D (EDM)
If you are in need of a nice defeseman who has risen up the rankings this week, your search ends at Edmonton Oilers own Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom has seemingly emerged out of nowhere, but his nightly performances will have fantasy players thinking otherwise. In his third full year with the club, Klefbom has set career-highs with his 11 goals, 28 points, +7 plus/minus rating, 161 shots and is two assists shy of a career-high in that category. Since February 14th, Klefbom has racked up eight points in just eight games. As a member of the team’s first line, Klefbom has not only contributed with lots of production, but his ice time has been over 22 minutes a game because of it. With a long eight-game homestand upcoming for the Oilers, it should be just what the doctor ordered for Klefbom to continue putting up good numbers in front of the home fans. The man is on fire right now and needs to be rewarded for it, so make a move and grab him while you still can.
Tanner Pearson – LW (LAK)
Lately, left-winger of the Los Angeles Kings Tanner Pearson has picked up the slack for his team and on a personal level, has backed up his good year last season with an even better one this season. Through 61 games, Pearson has accumulated 21 goals and 39 points – both career-best marks for him – and he has a decent chance to reach 50 points in a season for the first time in his short career. Though his team lost last night in Calgary, he was able to get on the scoreboard once again. Pearson has had a nice little streak of six goals and seven assists in his last nine games, but he has also had an impressive run of consecutive pointless games just once since January 24th. Also of important note is the six goals he collected in January, so he has really turned it around the last few months after somewhat of a slow start through December. Five of his previous nine had Pearson firing four or more shots on net and he’s registered a couple of power play goals and four game-winning goals which are always important stats in the fantasy world. See what you can do to have Pearson producing for you.
Brian Elliot – G (CAL)
After a sluggish start to the season that made the Calgary Flames rethink their decision to trade for him in the offseason, goalie Brian Elliot has demonstrated his capabilities the past few weeks. The overall numbers don’t look sensational for Elliot, but he has come on strong of late, winning five of six and posting a .929 save percentage and 1.99 GAA during that stretch. Over his last six games, he has conceded two goals or fewer five times and he is starting to look like the Brian Elliot of old who had many terrific seasons with St. Louis. In his last game against Los Angeles last night, Elliot continued his winning ways and gave up one goal on 29 shots. With 16 wins on the season, Elliot should reach the 20-win plateau for the third straight season which isn’t bad considering he will have played 46 games or less in each of those three seasons. Perhaps Elliot and company are clicking at the right time – his Flames team owns the first Wild Card spot – so don’t hesitate to grab him by whatever means necessary.
Cam Ward – G (CAR)
If the Carolina Hurricanes want to make the playoffs, they will need to heavily rely on goalkeeper Cam Ward and at this moment, he simply cannot be trusted. After a nice streak of wins that put Carolina in the mix for the Wild Card, Ward has simply been dreadful. The overall numbers look bleak at best, with Ward sporting a 21-19-8 record, a 2.64 GAA and a .905 save percentage. The last five games for Ward have all resulted in losses, yielding at least three goals in three of those games. A further look at the stats reveal Ward has lost nine of twelve and has let the puck slip by him a colossal 41 times over that frame. Not completely all his fault as the defense hasn’t stepped up, but Ward has to be sharper. The early years for Ward were some of his best and they now seem like an afterthought as he has not reached 30 wins in a season since 2011-12 and probably will not reach it this season either. The saves are not exactly piling up either, with back-to-back sub-25 save performances before last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Florida. Not a player to have faith in these days, Ward has no fantasy value moving forward.