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Something we've feared could happen again is happening again: Waves of players entering COVID protocol ultimately leading to depleted rosters or game postponements.
The real-life toll is tremendous and should be taken seriously. Its effect on fantasy is unfortunate and completely out of anyone's control. In weekly formats where the free-agent deadline usually closes Mondays, you can only do the best with what you've got. For daily pickups, the waiver wire will be essential to keep the absences to a minimum.
And to those who've avoided any fantasy roster losses, I'll be contacting you for upcoming lottery numbers.
With individual and team statuses changing by the hour, make sure to check RotoWire for updates and in-depth material.
There's a chance at least one candidate listed below will be out by the time you read this, but all of them represent suitable additions.
(Rostered rates/stats as of Dec. 16.)
Anders Lee, NYI (Yahoo: 38%)
The Isles still can't consistently score and that's turned off a lot of poolies from adding their assets. Lee was once a 70-to-80-percent player based on top billing and across-the-board contributions. Responsibilities haven't necessarily decreased this season, but he isn't producing as expected. In fact, Lee hasn't registered an assist in 19 games. Eight goals, including four in the last four, are boosting his cause along with a healthy helping of shots and hits. They'll be starting a stretch of eight straight in the state Thursday, so maybe Lee and others can string together some solid home performances.
Travis Konecny, PHI (Yahoo: 31%)
I was really tempted to include Cam Atkinson (46 percent) as the Flyers' representative, but he's too obvious after four points Tuesday and is generally lacking in the non-offensive departments. While others are flocking to Atkinson, you can sneak in Konecny at a discounted rate. The latter struggled for most of November but has begun to turn it around with five helpers — with three on the power play — 10 shots, eight PIM and seven hits in five games.
Charlie Coyle, BOS (Yahoo: 14%)
Coyle's enjoying his busiest season in terms of ice time and that's translated to seven goals and seven assists. Those totals could be in for a boost with Patrice Bergeron landing on the COVID list, which would temporarily move up the Boston-area native as the Bruins' No. 1 center. There's admittedly less scoring potential without Bergeron and Brad Marchand, though Coyle won't complain about the added opportunities and faceoffs.
Jordan Greenway, MIN (Yahoo: 13%)
Whenever I think to feature Greenway, he either goes cold or misses a few games. He's still streaky and doesn't receive major minutes, though a pairing with Joel Eriksson Ek on the Wild's first line has yielded six points, 11 shots, 20 hits and a plus-7 since Nov. 30. For someone 6-foot-6 with soft hands, you'd expect Greenway to be more involved in front of the net on the man-advantage, yet they've opted to cram two big bodies (along with Marcus Foligno) on the second unit.
I'm not a coach, but how about moving one to the lead group?
Max Domi, CLS (Yahoo: 10%)
Domi has suffered a few health setbacks since arriving from Montreal, which has, unfortunately, hurt his fantasy profile. The talent is undeniable; after all, he recorded 72 points in 2018-19. And it only took Domi until his second game after returning to display his skills with a goal and two assists. A few zeroes since, though, he's back on the hunt over the last week-and-a-bit with six points from five. Domi might not be logging peak ice time, but he's in a top-six role with the chance to stay should he maintain his recent excellence.
Connor Brown, OTT (Yahoo: 8%)
No one could've predicted the Sens putting up eight goals in Florida on Tuesday, but there they were teasing the Atlantic Division powerhouse with six unanswered to end the game. At the forefront of the onslaught were most of the usual suspects, but lurking right behind with a trio of assists was Brown. That gives him 12 this season, only two short of his total from last year. Perhaps Brown's biggest secret is he skates more than 20 minutes per outing — including two-plus on each special-teams unit.
Anton Lundell, FLA (Yahoo: 5%)
Lundell was already moving up in the world as a result of Aleksander Barkov's absence, but that position may be enhanced with the news Sam Bennett has been added to the COVID protocols. The recently turned 20-year-old hasn't wasted any time since being drafted 12th overall in 2020, with back-to-back two-point efforts to kick off December while accumulating 18 shots, eight blocks and 46 faceoff wins through seven appearances.
Tanner Pearson, VAN (Yahoo: 4%)
The Canucks were thought to be amid another widespread player shortage, though it was announced no new cases were reported so they're scheduled — as of Thursday morning — to play Thursday night in San Jose. If Pearson is available, he qualifies as a decent add with a place on the first power play and even-strength experience with J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser. The 21 shots, 12 hits and seven blocks on 17:19 across the last seven contests should further persuade you to fit him somewhere on your roster.
Jared Spurgeon, MIN (Yahoo: 54%)
I'm technically breaking the over-50-percent rule with Spurgeon, but that's only because I feel he should be way more covered. He obviously slipped down to this level having recently missed eight games, though he's already back to his old responsibilities and racked up three assists Sunday. You're not going to find another blueliner this available who quarterbacks the first power play on one of the league's most dynamic attacks (the Wild rank second in average goals).
Erik Johnson, COL (Yahoo: 38%)
It's amazing when you realize Johnson has been with the Avs for more than 11 seasons considering he was mainly invisible the last half-decade. But thanks to injuries to Devon Toews and Bowen Byram, the first pick from 2006 has returned to offensive relevance. With Colorado scoring in bunches, Johnson notched a goal and three helpers in a three-game stretch. In his last six games, he's racked up 12 shots, a plus-6, 13 hits and 10 blocks in more than 19 minutes a night. The secondary man-advantage spot won't last, though Johnson's value can mainly be found in his secondary stats.
Nicolas Hague, VGK (Yahoo: 22%)
Now in his third year with Vegas, Hague is finally tapping into the offensive upside he displayed in juniors. Twelve points isn't a huge haul, but what's more important is he's doing this in a top-four role alongside Alex Pietrangelo. Hague has also been key in many categories since mid-November with 40 shots, 20 PIM, a plus-11, 26 blocks and 13 hits. With the Golden Knights back at full strength up front, they will produce a lot of goals and Hague is bound to be in the mix.
Damon Severson, NJ (Yahoo: 3%)
The Devils have been a defensive mess, allowing 34 goals in their last eight games. That didn't prevent Severson from potting a pair of pucks and firing 20 shots on net across the same period. He also wasn't a liability in the plus-minus department (zero) compared to Dougie Hamilton and Ty Smith (at a combined minus-15). Although that stat might not be a great indicator, Severson is at least reliable for supplying a nice chunk of blocks and a serviceable amount of points as part of Jersey's backup man-advantage.
Charlie Lindgren, STL (Yahoo: 17%)
Lindgren was called up at the beginning of the month after Jordan Binnington entered the health and safety protocols. And when Ville Husso went down last Sunday with a lower-body issue, the former Hab stepped in and picked up the win. Lindgren compiled an impressive AHL run this season and has continued that with the Blues by going 4-0 with a 1.29 GAA and .956 save percentage. Those stats are bound to regress and either Binnington or Husso should be back in the next week, but you have to figure Lindgren fits in somewhere following an impressive debut.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, BUF (Yahoo: 7%)
Like Lindgren, Luukkonen has taken advantage of multiple goalie injuries in Buffalo to post some ridiculously good numbers through four appearances (1.98, .939), including a tough-luck loss versus Washington and an outstanding road victory in Winnipeg where he stopped 34 of 36 shots. The Sabres' only other active netminder is newcomer Malcolm Subban and he's only played 50 minutes. With the club not going anywhere (again) this year and two middling veterans (Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski) representing their original starters, Luukkonen is bound to pick up a lot of starts throughout the campaign.
(Players to consider from past columns: Nazem Kadri, Joel Eriksson Ek, Brandon Saad, Jared McCann, Lucas Raymond, Nico Hischier, Ryan Johansen, Trevor Zegras, Nino Niederreiter, Mats Zuccarello, Tim Stutzle, Viktor Arvidsson, Andreas Johnsson, Evan Rodrigues, Boone Jenner, Troy Terry, Matt Duchene, Jesper Bratt, Ondrej Kase, Anthony Cirelli, Dawson Mercer, Sonny Milano, Jamie Drysdale, Moritz Seider, Shayne Gostisbehere, Scott Perunovich, Jake Bean, Evan Bouchard, Vince Dunn, Mikko Koskinen, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jake Oettinger, James Reimer, Anton Forsberg)