There is a common rule when it comes to fantasy hockey.
If a player is in a situation where they have the opportunity to play alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, they are automatically fantasy relevant.
Another pretty darn good player is winger James Neal, who has benefited from playing on the team’s second line alongside Malkin. He is a bonafide sniper, and has established himself as a top-10 fantasy right winger. However, after suffering an upper-body injury, Neal may be sidelined for an extended period of time. The Penguins are calling Neal’s injury a week-to-week issue, which is certainly alarming for fantasy owners. However, if they act fast, they can stop the bleeding at least a little bit by hitting their league’s waiver wire.
Obviously someone has to step in for Neal, and that someone is going to be put into a very good situation to produce right away. While young talent Beau Bennett was an ideal choice to join the second line, he was recently sent down, which means all systems go for 30-year old Jussi Jokinen. During Saturday’s practice, Jokinen was seen practicing on the Penguins top power-play unit, and if he can land that spot, look out. Playing alongside Crosby, Malkin and Kris Letang on the man advantage results in almost guaranteed fantasy production. Prior to the start of this season, 256 of Crosby’s career points have come when he has been on the man advantage, and is averaging at least 1.26 points per contest in every year of his career thus far. Sure, stats are my friend and all, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that playing alongside the best player in hockey bodes well for immediate fantasy success. Over the last three seasons, Neal has scored the third-most power play goals (27), so the opportunity is clearly there for Jokinen, despite not nearly being the sniper that Neal is. Meanwhile, Malkin has scored the third-most overall points during that same span (143), so Jokinen is clearly going to be playing with guys who put up serious numbers. Owned in just 22 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Jokinen is a guy that needs to be basically universally owned based off of opportunity.
Run, don’t walk, to the waiver wire and grab this guy, no matter how good you may think your team is.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.