This article is part of our FantasyAces NHL series.
Two of the eight games on Tuesday's schedule grab my attention for very different reasons.
The biggest spotlight will be on Steven Stamkos as he makes another visit to Toronto, where speculation is rampant that he will be joining the Leafs as a free agent this summer. On the ice, the Lightning are poised for an extended playoff run; as they continue in a three-way race for first place in the Atlantic Division, they can't afford to stumble here.
The best game of the night should be in San Jose, where the surging Bruins meet the Sharks in a battle of two teams making determined bids for their respective division titles in the hopes of avoiding a difficult first-round playoff matchup. Both teams are in fine form and getting excellent production from their top players as they prepare to collide.
Here are my recommendations for games on March 15, 2016:
C: Tyler Johnson, TAM at TOR ($5,000 ): While the focus will be on the Stamkos line, as it always is when Tampa visits Toronto, Johnson is poised to do what he always seems to do against the Leafs – find the scoresheet. He has only 33 points in 56 games, but has been much more productive over his last 20, collecting 17 points.
C: Mikko Koivu, MIN vs. OTT ($4,800): Koivu is entrenched as the Wild's top playmaking center, and he gets a great chance to pad his stats Tuesday against the team that gives up the most shots and goals in the league. These factors make his price a bargain.
W: Vincent Trocheck, FLA at MON ($4,850): Although he's listed as a winger here, he's actually playing center on the Panthers' second line. He and his mates catch a Montreal team that is not only suspect in goal, but weakened by some injuries along the blue line. The disciplined Panthers should capitalize, and Trocheck will be in the middle of many opportunities in this one. He's averaging well over 20 minutes per game and has collected six points in his last four games.
W: Kris Versteeg, LA at DAL ($4,600): Versteeg was moved up to the first line over the past weekend and responded with a goal, an assist and a plus-3 in his new role. This snapped a lengthy funk and now has him pointed in the right direction. He gets a good chance to extend that traction against a Dallas team that plays a wide-open style and is willing to trade chances.
W: Alex Killorn, TAM at TOR ($4,550): Killorn has been blanked in his last four starts despite logging more than 17 first-line minutes and a regular shift on the power play, matching a level of futility he's only done once in the new year. Otherwise, he's been a consistent scorer who is threatening career highs. He has good career numbers against the Leafs and has a great chance to get back in the groove Tuesday.
W: Carl Hagelin, PIT vs. NYI ($4,400): After a slow start and then a trade to the Pens, Hagelin has found success and comfort with a second-line role in his new home. He has six points in his last seven starts, his hottest stretch of this season. Hagelin is also averaging three shots on goal over his last seven games.
D: Matt Niskanen, WAS vs. CAR ($4,600): With John Carlson still on the shelf, Niskanen continues to log extra playing time, particularly as the power-play quarterback, where he has picked up 15 of his 29 points this season. Given the company he keeps, this is all coming to you for a relatively low price Tuesday.
D: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJ vs. BOS ($4,500): Although he's overshadowed by Brent Burns in terms of the offense he provides, it should be noted that Pickles is enjoying his most productive campaign. In fact, over the last three months, he's only once gone more than two straight games without a point. He's averaging two full minutes of power-play time per game as part of his 23-plus per night, mostly behind one of the Sharks' potent scoring lines.
G: Braden Holtby, WAS vs. CAR ($7,600): When you have to look down the list to the seventh spot to find the league's winningest goalie facing a non-playoff squad at home, you plug him into your lineup immediately. Such is the case with Holtby against the Hurricanes.