There are a number of marquee names who were either struggling early or were injured but are now returning who have very-low owned percentages in Yahoo! leagues for players of their caliber. Here are five forwards and three defensemen who are worth a look in your league.
Jordan Staal – 42% owned – (C/LW – CAR) – After an absolutely dreadful start to the season where Staal found himself with just three points (1G / 2A) in his first 14 games, he has turned things around recently. He has managed to score five goals and add eight assists in his last 20 games and now sits with 19 points (8G / 11A) in 41 games. Staal has averaged 19:08 TOI this season and has been featured on the second power-play unit all season. He is a former four time 20+ goal scorer and was on-pace for 53 points last season. Do not let the ugly 0.46 points-per-game deter you from adding one of the leagues best two-way forwards. He is not an elite option by any means, but he is a steady player who will provide you with depth at both centre and left-wing.
Ryan Callahan – 40% owned – (RW – NYR) – Callahan will return to the Rangers lineup on Friday after missing the last nine games with a second degree MCL sprain. This was the second time this season that he has missed multiple weeks with an injury, he also broke his thumb in the middle of October. In the 24 games that he has played in, Callahan has seven goals and six assists (13 points). Callahan is a hard-working, 28-year-old forward who has averaged 23 goals and 21 assists in his last four full seasons, but he has also missed 34 games over that span. When he is healthy and in the lineup, he is a solid RW fantasy option.
Nathan Horton – 30 % owned – (RW – CBJ) – Horton made his Blue Jackets debut on Thursday after missing the first 40 games recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Horton skated 14:47 and scored the games opening goal, which turned out to be the game-winner. It was a good debut for Columbus’ prized offseason signing. Like Callahan, the one knock on Horton has been his inability to stay healthy. He is an established NHL scorer, having recorded at least 20 goals in six of his first nine seasons. Now in Columbus, Horton will be the go-to-guy, especially with Marian Gaborik sidelined for the next two months. Should he stay healthy, it is safe to assume Horton can post 13-20 goals and a healthy dose of assists in the remaining 41 games.
Tyler Bozak – 28% owned – (C – TOR) – Bozak has missed a total of 23 games this season. He missed 11 games in November with a hamstring injury and then just returned two games ago after a 12-game absence due to a strained oblique. Since returning he has scored a goal and three assists and has a total of 15 points (5G / 10 A) in the 18 games he has suited up for. He is averaging 21:00 minutes a night playing with an elite sniper in Phil Kessel and and young power-forward having the best year of his NHL career in James van Riemsdyk. His career high in goals (18) and assists (29) are not off the charts numbers, but he appears poised to beat those numbers despite missing almost one-third of the season.
Mike Fisher – 7% owned – (C – NSH) – At the ripe age of 33, Fisher continues to be a steady scoring force. He is a five time 20-goal scorer and is on pace to have one of the better years of his career. He has been on a tear as of late, scoring three goals and five assists with a plus-5 rating in his last three games. He has tallied 10 goals and 11 helpers in 34 games, that puts him on pace for 22 goals and 24 assists (46 points). The names above him are better overall options, but if you are in a deeper league he could be the only one available. He plays 20 minutes on most nights and is a forward that the Predators lean-on heavily.
Marek Zidlicky – 47% owned – (D – NJ) – Zidlicky is a 36-year-old veteran who is in his 10th NHL season and second full season with the Devils. He might be past his prime as an NHL defenseman, but he is still a serviceable fantasy asset. He started the season off hot, registering one goal and eight assists in his first 11 games, but then drastically cooled off. In his next 24 games he had just six points (2G / 4A), but has recently rediscovered his scoring touch with four points in his last five games. He plays 20-plus minutes a night and is a staple on the Devils’ power-play, he could easily post 20-25 points from this point forward.
Andrew MacDonald – 10% owned – (D – NYI) – MacDonald is a 27-year-old, former sixth round pick who has come out of nowhere this season. He has 19 points (3G / 16A) in 42 games, ranks 7th in the NHL in TOI averaging 25:58 per game and leads the all players in blocked shots with 143 (29 more than 2nd). He is doing everything for the Islanders, but can certainly contribute to your fantasy team as well. He has recorded five assists in his last three games and is on pace to shatter his previous career high of 27 points with 37.
Jacob Trouba – 7% owned – (D – WPG) – Trouba was a highly-touted prospect coming out of the University of Michigan when the Jets selected him 9th overall in 2012. He missed over one month with a neck injury this season but since returning has recorded 10 points (2G / 8A) in his last 15 games. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a 19-year-old who is logging more than 21-minutes a night. He has seen consistent power-play time and is currently paired with Tobias Enstrom, another good offensive defenseman, expect his current production to continue.