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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
More sleepers for the stretch run


With less than four weeks left in the regular season, we're into that last turn before the final sprint to the finish. Whether you're leading the fantasy pack or fighting to remain in contention, the waiver wire could be your very best friend. In this week's version of Open Ice, Sean Allen does a thorough job of highlighting some potentially valuable assets that may still be free for the taking in your league. Consider this a footnote to his fabulous resource; here's a few others to chew over:

T.J. Oshie is considered more of a future fantasy asset than anything else, but the youngster could still give your roster an appreciated boost in the here and now. The 22-year-old Washington native has five points in his past four games, including two power-play assists in St. Louis' 5-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday. Oshie skated nearly four and a half minutes with the man advantage during that contest, alongside the likes of Brad Boyes, Andy McDonald, Keith Tkachuk and the red-hot David Backes. No wonder he's producing. And Oshie is only spoken for in 2 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

It hasn't been the best of seasons for Maxim Afinogenov. After registering a paltry five points in all of November and December (combined), a groin injury knocked him out for six weeks starting in the new year. Then, understandably unimpressed, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff designated him as a healthy scratch for an additional couple of weeks. That's got to sting. But those gloomy days are over for the Sabres winger now; since returning to action on March 4, Afinogenov has four points in five games, is a pleasant plus-4 and skates on Buffalo's second power-play unit. Owned in less than half of all ESPN.com leagues, there's a solid chance he's available in yours. There's no denying the guy's talented and he's worth utilizing when productive.

Extending a franchise-high win streak to six games on Monday night, Atlanta is the hottest team in the NHL at the moment. Netting 23 goals during this run, everyone on the Thrashers' roster is seemingly getting in on the scoring action and Zach Bogosian is no exception. The defenseman has a point per game in his past four contests, including a power-play goal and assist. Virtually unowned in ESPN leagues (under 3 percent), Bogosian could provide a timely band-aid if you're hurting on your own fantasy blue line.

Ice Chips

Ilya Kovalchuk missed his second straight contest, and yet was not missed much in Monday's 5-1 thrashing of the Capitals. The Atlanta captain is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but could be back in action on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. ... Remove Sean Bergenheim from your lineup; the Islander will miss the next couple of weeks, at least, with a strained groin. ... Ryan Miller intends to be back in net for the Sabres before the end of the regular season. Buffalo's starting goalie has skated on his own recently, and says the injured left ankle is getting better. Filling in, Patrick Lalime has played nine straight, but Mikael Tellqvist is expected to start in net against Ottawa on Tuesday. ... Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz had his first three-point game (two goals, one assist) of the season Sunday when the Penguins beat Boston 6-4. ... Chris Osgood seemed back to his old self this past weekend, backstopping the Wings to a 5-2 win over St. Louis, then helping his team blank Columbus 4-0. ... On the subject of shutouts, Evgeni Nabokov earned his sixth of the season when the Sharks edged Anaheim 1-0. Allowing a single goal in two consecutive starts in as many days, San Jose's No.1 seems no worse for wear -- whatsoever -- since returning on the weekend from a seven-game absence with an upper-body injury.