Special to Yahoo Sports
The whirlwind of trades has concluded, so NHL players can relax for the next few months knowing they won't be moved to another team. Unfortunately, that feeling will be counteracted by the tension that comes with fighting for playoff positioning and knowing that, if you don't give 110%, there's a chance your ice time could be affected.
Fantasy situations have changed as a result of all the deals. This week's selections include a couple of examples of those benefiting from enhanced roles:
(Rostered rates as of Mar. 10)
Mikael Backlund, CGY (Yahoo: 43%)
Backlund went on a seven-week run during January and February where he posted 22 points, 78 shots, 27 hits and a plus-13. Of course, he's now being featured after going scoreless in his last six games, though he's managed to fire 24 pucks on net over that stretch while winning at least seven faceoffs in each of the last 12 contests. Backlund has also seen his minutes rise and continues to play a major role on both special-teams units, where he's combined for four goals and four assists.
Ivan Barbashev, VGK (Yahoo: 41%)
Before being shipped out by the Blues, Barbashev had seen his responsibilities increase and managed four goals, five assists, 23 shots and 35 hits over the final month. Since arriving in Vegas, he's already up to five points from six contests to go with 11 shots, 17 hits and seven blocks. Barbashev also lucked out by immediately being placed on Jack Eichel's wing (and opposite Jonathan Marchessault) at even-strength and joins a second power play offering plenty of talent and experience.
Anthony Duclair, FLA (Yahoo: 22%)
After missing the first 60 matchups following offseason surgery, Duclair made his debut on Feb. 24 and has seamlessly slid back into the lineup, already contributing three points, 16 shots and seven hits. He's so far been involved within the middle-six and a stint on the backup man-advantage, though both placements could improve down the line. Take note that Duclair was absent from Thursday's practice and may not be available Friday, but whatever ailment he has isn't considered serious.
Erik Haula, NJ (Yahoo: 16%)
The Devils are one of this season's feel-good stories after suffering for so many years. They're flying high in the standings and are getting it done with depth. Haula represents Jersey's third center and has recently been paired with Ondrej Palat, with the duo combining for all three tallies against the Leafs on Tuesday. That followed a two-assist effort in Arizona. Haula also averages two shots per night and gets in enough time on the power play and penalty kill to help your squad.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, CAR (Yahoo: 9%)
Kotkaniemi was maybe hoping for a more consistent second campaign in Carolina, but I'm guessing those five points Sunday — including four PPPs — balances everything out. He's probably played on every line throughout the course of the season, though a sizable chunk of his minutes has come on the second group. That's where Kotkaniemi can be found again, this time with Teuvo Teravainen and Martin Necas. He's not always going to score in bunches, but he can produce enough in other categories.
Jaden Schwartz, SEA (Yahoo: 5%)
Schwartz has mainly been healthy this season and started red-hot with five goals and five assists across 10 games. A rough patch would follow before another upturn led straight to a brief undisclosed injury. And after three zeros to begin the latest comeback, Schwartz has gone off for 11 points and 36 shots. As the Kraken are regularly lighting the lamp again, anyone within their top nine should be worthy of fantasy recognition.
Jack Roslovic, CLS (Yahoo: 4%)
Roslovic carries a similar recent profile to Schwartz, though he's been more proficient when it comes to secondary stats. There's just this stigma associated with the Blue Jackets and their generally anemic attack (and let's not even talk about their D) that turns off poolies. But, seriously, can you find a forward besides Roslovic available in 96 percent of leagues who's recorded 16 points, 35 shots, 16 hits and 18 blocks since mid-January?
Andreas Athanasiou, CHI (Yahoo: 4%)
Tyler Johnson was brought up last week as the peak of current Chicago talent up front, and all he's done since is lay three goose eggs while his team went out and potted nine goals. Over that same span, Athanasiou has dished four assists, including one on the power play against the club he spent his first four-and-a-half NHL years with. There's a reason the Blackhawks rank last in goals, so don't get your hopes up too high on AA, but if you're searching for someone to squeeze into that final roster spot, Athanasiou can work as a temporary fix.
John Klingberg, MIN (Yahoo: 42%)
It's safe to say Klingberg didn't thrive in Anaheim after being signed last summer, so the move to Minnesota could be the spark that gets him going again offensively. He hasn't notched any points in three games with his new club, though he was immediately installed as the quarterback of the lead power play. Klingberg has proven his worth while up a man throughout his career and should keep that going with all the talent the Wild boast up front (minus Kirill Kaprizov for the next few weeks).
Rasmus Sandin, WAS (Yahoo: 42%)
Speaking of trades helping to boost one's fantasy profile, Sandin is loving the switch to the Caps and has posted a goal, four assists and eight hits from his first three outings while averaging over 25 minutes. He's already leading the power play point alongside Alex Ovechkin, where he's contributed a pair of PPAs. With Dmitry Orlov and Erik Gustafsson gone and John Carlson still at least a couple weeks away from returning, expect Sandin to be a steady source of scoring.
Victor Soderstrom, ARI (Yahoo: 0%)
The next two recommendations are more speculative and cover those who have recently received power-play time. First up is Soderstrom, who's getting more of a look following the departures of Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere. The former first-rounder performed decently in the minors for three years and looks to be part of the young Coyotes' blueline core that also includes Juuso Valimaki and Janis Moser. While Soderstrom hasn't yet counted on the man-advantage, he picked up an assist in three straight contests before being blanked on Thursday.
Christian Wolanin, VAN (Yahoo: 0%)
At 27, Wolanin is on his fourth NHL franchise and has totaled 79 games. As the Canucks accumulated a few casualties on the back line, he was recalled from the AHL last month — where he reeled off 55 points in 49 matchups — and was placed on the second power play, where he's already struck for a PPA. As Oliver Ekman-Larsson and new acquisition Filip Hronek are projected back within the next few weeks, Wolanin's advanced positioning — or even place in the lineup — could be significantly affected.
Akira Schmid, NJ (Yahoo: 12%)
Keeping pucks out of the net hasn't really been Jersey's strength in recent years, though the addition of Vitek Vanecek and a couple key defenders has strengthened the club to where they now boast a top-10 D. Mackenzie Blackwood is out again, leaving Schmid to handle backup duties. The 22-year-old has responded with a 1.99 GAA and .925 save percentage through 13 appearances. Vanecek will continue to operate as the lead netminder, but he's struggled of late, carrying a 4.26/.821 line from his last five outings. That has allowed Schmid to receive more starts, including Thursday's shootout win over Washington.
Lukas Dostal, ANH (Yahoo: 1%)
The Ducks have allowed over four goals per game and could become the first team in the 21st century to finish a season with that dubious honor. John Gibson has been trying his hardest to lower that mark after three 50-plus save performances, though his heroics can only go so far. Dostal is considered one of the NHL's top goalie prospects and is projected as Anaheim's eventual No. 1, having fared well in parts of three AHL campaigns. He's back in the bigs and has started twice over the last two weeks. With the Ducks sitting near the bottom of the standings, why not provide Dostal with a larger workload to see if he can handle it?
Players to consider from past columns: Martin Necas, David Krejci, Dylan Cozens, Matty Beniers, Robert Thomas, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jeff Skinner, Andrei Kuzmenko, Dylan Strome, Nick Schmaltz, Logan Couture, Kevin Hayes, Dawson Mercer, Mason McTavish, Lucas Raymond, Brock Boeser, Filip Chytil, Bryan Rust, Owen Tippett, Jared McCann, J.T. Compher, Conor Sheary, Anthony Beauvillier, Seth Jarvis, Boone Jenner, Cole Perfetti, Scott Laughton, Brandon Hagel, Gabriel Vilardi, Phillip Danault, Sam Steel, Jordan Eberle, Evan Rodrigues, Ryan Strome, Robby Fabbri, William Karlsson, Tom Wilson, Viktor Arvidsson, Eeli Tolvanen, Anton Lundell, Ondrej Palat, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Nick Paul, Tyler Bertuzzi, Kirill Marchenko, Seth Jones, Brandon Montour, Cam Fowler, Evan Bouchard, Dmitry Orlov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Ristolainen, Vince Dunn, Bowen Byram, Juuso Valimaki, Calen Addison, Adam Larsson, Jeff Petry, Samuel Girard, K'Andre Miller, Sean Durzi, Sebastian Aho, Mike Matheson, Janis Moser, Vitek Vanecek, Martin Jones, Karel Vejmelka, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Stuart Skinner, Pheonix Copley, Semyon Varlamov, Mads Sogaard, Philipp Grubauer, Joonas Korpisalo