Leeching off the Leafs (Kessel, Blake, Hagman, Grabovski, Ponikarovsky)

Leafs RW Phil Kessel no longer plays for the Bruins, but he and the suddenly potent Toronto offense visit Boston on Saturday night.

The Maple Leafs have won four of their last five, scoring at least three goals in each of those wins, including a 6-3 waxing of the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Thursday night.

Leafs LW Jason Blake and RW Phil Kessel — both of whom scored two goals in Thursday night’s win — are already esteemed fantasy commodities. But who else on this squad is worthy of your attention?

The box score in Thursday’s win provides clues. On each of Blake’s goals, Leafs LW Niklas Hagman and C Mikhail Grabovski recorded an assist. On each of Kessel’s goals, Leafs LW Alexei Ponikarovsky tallied an assist.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson deserves a thank you for assembling these lines. The path for leeching is clear.

Want to leech off Kessel? Try Ponikarovsky, who is owned in only 34.9 percent of ESPN leagues and 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Want to leech off Blake? Try Hagman (25.3 percent owned in ESPN, 31 percent in Yahoo!) or Grabovski (23 percent in ESPN, 14 percent in Yahoo!).

Of these players, Hagman deserves a special mention. His ownership percentage should be higher. For one thing, he is not a center. For another, he has 13 goals, ranking 19th in the NHL. He is on pace for a 40-goal season, not to mention 230 shots.

Yes, those would be career highs — in eight full seasons, Hagman has never surpassed his 2007-08 stats of 27 goals and 178 shots. Still, the fact remains: Hagman is on track for a superb campaign. Yet more than two-thirds of the fantasy hockey world continues to ignore him.

Of course, scoring six goals won’t come so easily for the Leafs when they travel to Boston to face the Bruins on Saturday night. But the road map for leeching off Blake and Kessel is clear.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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