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Special to Yahoo Sports

We’re in the home stretch. Last chance to take the title.

Last week, we touched on the notion that motivated players will hypothetically produce better fantasy results. And with the regular season ending on Apr. 18, it’s also key to find those on more active teams. To help you in this process, each entry below will show how many remaining games that player’s club has going into Friday with all upcoming opponents. That doesn’t mean someone on one of the lesser-involved teams should be avoided.

At the same time, this is your last chance to build in head-to-head and fill roto game quotas. So loading up and streaming represent your best options. But be smart about it. Map out the rest of the way by position to identify any possible deficiencies — and then correct them.

Hope you’ve learned a couple of things reading this column over the season or at least made a few decent additions from those who appeared here. Enjoy the rest of the regular season and playoffs!

(Rostered rates as of Apr. 12)

Forwards

Andrei Kuzmenko, CGY (Yahoo: 50%, Games Remaining: 4 – @ANH, vs. ARI, @VAN, vs. SJ):

It would be great if Kuzmenko’s stats weren’t so erratic, though people tend to forget that when the hot streaks take over. And wouldn’t you know, he’s on this column because of one. After going scoreless over six games, Kuzmenko has exploded for 11 points — including six on the power play — from his last seven alongside 17 shots. He’s found his place on the top line and PP. And with the Flames facing three vulnerable teams (and a crumbling Vancouver D), Kuzmenko is primed to pile on the offensive production.

Tomas Hertl, VGK (Yahoo: 44%, Games Remaining: 4 – vs. MIN, vs. COL, vs. CHI, vs. ANH):

There’s an inherent risk in acquiring a player recovering from knee surgery, as there’s no way to know how he’ll manage when — or even if — he returns this season. Vegas rolled the dice at the NHL Trade Deadline to add Hertl, but it may pay off big if a deep playoff run materializes. He’s trying to get back to speed after being sidelined for 26 contests, and he’s done an admirable job in the first two with an assist, 10 hits and 17 faceoff wins while averaging 18:25. The Golden Knights are in danger of losing their hold on a postseason berth, yet they’ll probably squeak in thanks to playing at home for the remainder of the schedule. As long as Hertl doesn’t suffer any setbacks, he should be good for enough contributions.

David Perron, DET (Yahoo: 34%, Games Remaining: 3 – @TOR, vs. MON, @MON):

As someone who lives in the area, I’m rooting for Detroit to make the playoffs. The Yzerplan may be slightly ahead of schedule, though losses from seven of the last nine appearances — and 15 of 20 — may result in an early end. Prospects were also generally positive for Perron, save for a couple dry spells. He’s also bounced around the depth chart, yet does his best in the top-six and first man-advantage. If we go back to Mar. 26, Perron has posted seven points — with four on the PP — 20 shots and 15 hits. Pretty solid for a soon-to-be 36-year-old. The Red Wings may not advance, but Perron will give it his all to help get the team over the line.

Juraj Slafkovsky, MON (Yahoo: 32%, Games Remaining: 3 – @OTT, @DET, vs. DET):

I almost never feature a player three times in the same season, though I’m going to make an exception with Slafkovsky since he HASN’T STOPPED SCORING the last month, with six goals and 11 assists. And if offense isn’t your thing, he’s also racked up 42 shots and 32 hits across the same period. That may not be enough to convince a large portion of the nearly 70% of Yahoo leagues in which Slafkovsky is still available, so let’s talk about the 19 minutes a night. Or his hat-trick Tuesday. And neither the Sens nor the Red Wings have been that great of late. Go get Slafkovsky before you end up regretting it.

Dylan Guenther, ARI (Yahoo: 11%, Games Remaining: 3 – @EDM, @CGY, vs. EDM):

On Wednesday, Guenther did what pretty much any other person does on their birthday by scoring a goal while adding three assists. If you haven’t been following him or the Coyotes, there may be the assumption this particular effort was an anomaly. And that would be wrong as Guenther’s managed 19 points from 20 games supplemented by a whopping 62 shots, 17 blocks and 16 hits. He gains fantasy strength having regularly participated on Arizona’s lead power play, where he’s accumulated 11 PPPs. Guenther is also starting to build a rapport with fellow youngster Logan Cooley, most notably on Wednesday’s OT winner. This duo may not wreak havoc over the next three opponents, but they’ll be doing it for many years to come.

Leo Carlsson, ANH (Yahoo: 7%, Games Remaining: 3 – vs. CGY, @LA, @VGK):

There’s a reason Carlsson was selected second overall last summer, yet it’s been difficult to detect this season having suffered injuries and a few early preplanned scratches. But in between those setbacks, he’s displayed brief glimpses of genius. Of course, that’s not enough to garner elevated fantasy coverage. Carlsson is doing his best to get poolies excited about him for 2024-25 with three goals, an assist and nine shots in four contests. He’s also currently centering Anaheim’s top trio while switching between man-advantage units and logging 18-plus minutes overall. Even though the Ducks continue to struggle, Carlsson and others will try to spoil it for their opponents as they’ve already done this month against Calgary and L.A.

Shane Wright, SEA (Yahoo: 5%, Games Remaining: 4 – @DAL, @STL, @WPG, @MIN):

Remember the 2022 draft when Wright shockingly slipped to fourth? Or most of the last two years where he didn’t seem to fit in with the Kraken? Well, Wright may just be trying to undo all that negativity in a couple weeks if he can close out what he’s already achieved this month. He was clearly too advanced for the AHL as he notched a combined 49 points across 64 appearances. Wright found the back of the net immediately after getting the latest call-up, struck for two more and an assist four days later, and capped it off with another marker Tuesday. It looks like easing him in turned out to be the right decision, though we’ll require a larger sample size to validate that theory.

Luke Evangelista, NSH (Yahoo: 2%, Games Remaining: 3 – @CHI, vs. CBJ, @PIT):

Consistently directing a bunch on pucks on net is a great tool to have, yet it’s an area often overlooked in fantasy. That is, until later in the season when you want to gain ground or pull away in that category. Evangelista probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind for shot production, so you may be surprised to discover he’s gone off for 67 over 24 matchups — including 10 last time out. He’s also recently moved up to the No. 1 PP group boasting Filip Forsberg, Gustav Nyquist, Ryan O’Reilly and Roman Josi. The Preds have already clinched a postseason spot and can’t advance in placement, so they might as well provide an up-and-comer like Evangelista with increased responsibilities.

Defensemen

Hampus Lindholm, BOS (Yahoo: 42%, Games Remaining: 3 – @PIT, @WAS, vs. OTT):

Despite the Bruins’ continued dominance, they haven’t clinched the Atlantic Division, with the Panthers only a point behind. While a few players have recently received brief breaks, there’s the need to prepare for the playoffs after losses from four of nine games. Lindholm hadn’t been particularly active before missing two weeks with a lower-body injury. He returned on Mar. 7 and went on to record seven points, 27 shots and 23 blocks on 21:50 a night. Lindholm has even seen a boost on the power play the last three contests, though nothing has come there, yet. As he’s used to logging major minutes throughout his career, that’ll probably hold the rest of the way considering he only recently came back.

Ryan Pulock, NYI (Yahoo: 14%, Games Remaining: 3 – @NYR, @NJ, vs. PIT):

Pulock reappeared on the radar in early February when he potted a PPG alongside decent contributions in a couple departments. It wasn’t until the end of the month when he started to consistently produce, which has resulted in two goals, eight assists — three of those PPAs — 38 shots, 32 hits and 56 blocks. The Isles are busy fighting off a few teams for the third place in the Metropolitan (and potentially, the second Wild Card), so maximum effort is required from their final three outings. That means Pulock will keep being provided shifts in all situations and the opportunity to rack up stats.

Josh Brown, ARI (Yahoo: 2%, Games Remaining: 3 – @EDM, @CGY, vs. EDM):

Scoring helps in fantasy, though there are times when all you’re looking for is some grit. And Brown specializes on that front, having totaled 75 PIM, 106 hits and 80 blocks in limited ice time. Things have picked up the last 10 appearances, as he’s averaged 17:31 while laying out 45 opponents. The two goals — including the one on Wednesday — and assist during that stretch look nice, but Brown’s primary attraction is the hits he’s been heavily supplying of late.

Henry Thrun, SJ (Yahoo: 0%, Games Remaining: 3 – vs. MIN, @EDM, @CGY):

A successful three-year run at Harvard earned Thrun a contract with San Jose in March 2023, and he notched two assists in his debut at the end of that month. He was projected to operate as a prominent performer for the current campaign, yet was demoted two games in after registering a helper in each. Thrun returned during December and didn’t find the scoresheet until a goal on Jan. 9 and would resume a trend of low output following a trip to the IR. All of this doesn’t make for the best endorsement, but there have been recent glimmers of hope. Like the 23:39 over the last four with five points and eight blocks, with almost five of those minutes and a goal and assist coming while up a man. The Sharks don’t have anything to lose throwing Thrun out there to see if he’s capable of doing more next season.

Goaltenders

Calvin Pickard, EDM (Yahoo: 23%, Games Remaining: 5 – vs. ARI, vs. VAN, vs. SJ, @ARI, @COL):

Yes, you read that number right. The Oilers are set to play five games in seven days, including a pair of back-to-backs. Edmonton will be pushing for the top spot in the Pacific, with a meeting at home against the Canucks possibly deciding the division. Stuart Skinner has been great all season, though his workload has been purposely decreased of late with the playoffs approaching. Pickard has received the extra activity while posting a 2.18 GAA and .922 save percentage since the beginning of March. And with those multiple matchups on consecutive days, he’ll start at least two of the remaining five — with Friday versus Arizona the first test — behind one of the league’s most lethal attacks (even if Connor McDavid isn’t in the lineup).

Jesper Wallstedt, MIN (Yahoo: 12%, Games Remaining: 4 – @VGK, @SJ, @LA, vs. SEA):

The Wild’s playoff hopes were officially extinguished Tuesday when they lost in Colorado. During their previous outing on Sunday, Wallstedt stopped all 24 shots to earn his first NHL win and shutout. While that performance came against the lowly Blackhawks, there had to be a larger plan to promote the 2021 first-rounder other than only giving him one appearance. Filip Gustavsson is still in the mix, and Marc-Andre Fleury has been tabbed to start Friday in Vegas, yet Wallstedt should be provided at least one more outing — with that Saturday meeting against the Sharks representing the obvious opportunity. 

Players to consider from past columns: Seth Jarvis, Ryan O’Reilly, Mason McTavish, William Karlsson, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dylan Cozens, Vladimir Tarasenko, Johnny Gaudreau, Wyatt Johnston, Quinton Byfield, Boone Jenner, Gustav Nyquist, Yegor Sharangovich, Troy Terry, Robert Thomas, Sean Monahan, Anthony Duclair, Nazem Kadri, Shane Pinto, Ivan Barbashev, Lucas Raymond, John-Jason Peterka, Artturi Lehkonen, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brayden Schenn, Ivan Barbashev, Dylan Strome, Charlie Coyle, Dakota Joshua, Alexis Lafreniere, Mason Marchment, Pavel Zacha, Adam Henrique, Morgan Geekie, Jake Neighbours, Bryan Rust, Jonathan Drouin, Jake DeBrusk, Anthony Mantha, Nino Niederreiter, Marco Rossi, Chandler Stephenson, Nick Foligno, Scott Laughton, Nick Schmaltz, Logan Stankoven, Nick Paul, Trevor Moore, Sam Bennett, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyler Bertuzzi, Tyler Seguin, Mikael Granlund, Kyle Palmieri, Bobby McMann, Blake Coleman, Yegor Sharangovich, Logan Cooley, Philipp Kurashev, Ross Colton, Matias Maccelli, Michael Bunting, Alex Killorn, Danton Heinen, Jake Sanderson, Mike Matheson, Seth Jones, Brock Faber, Bowen Byram, Noah Hanifin, Filip Hronek, Thomas Harley, Travis Sanheim, Owen Power, Torey Krug, Mattias Ekholm, Darren Raddysh, Cam Fowler, Neal Pionk, Ivan Provorov, Justin Faulk, Cam York, Olen Zellweger, Pyotr Kochetkov, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jake Allen, Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Ilya Samsonov, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Jonathan Quick, Philipp Grubauer, Laurent Brossoit, Casey DeSmith, Elvis Merzlikins, Devon Levi, Justus Annunen

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