In the fantasy hotspot, we evaluate players who are experiencing a boost in production (or potential production), due solely to the linemates that have landed with. At least for the short term, it's worth picking up one of these guys and riding the wave that comes with being paired up with top talent, or with added power play time. Here are a few players going into the start of the season who may have higher value now that they're surrounded by stars:
- Williams has had a rough couple of seasons from a series of freak injuries and trades. He may be ready to re-establish himself as a big time goalscorer, as it looks like he's going to be paired up with Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth on the top line in L.A. This line could surprise many and emerge as a real offensive threat.
- Now that Cammalleri is gone, someone will land the lucky spot and play the wing with Iginla and Jokinen. Early signs in Calgary point to youngster Backlund getting a shot. If he does, he's worth picking up for as long as he can hold top line duties.
- Kovalchuk was a factor in bringing Antropov into Atlanta, and it looks like the two will start the season together, along with rising star Brian Little. This figures to be a strong line for the Thrashers, and Antropov will be the biggest beneficiary. He never had this level of talent beside him during his years in Toronto, so it will be interesting to see what he can do now.
- The Penguins have a long history of seeing average wingers put up big numbers playing along side superstar forwards. Kennedy looks to have shot at adding to that history, as he figures to start the season along side Malkin. When Max Talbot returns from injury, Kennedy will likely slide back down to the third line, but don't be afraid to ride the wave for a couple of weeks to start the season.
- Cheechoo was the odd man out the last couple of seasons in San Jose, when he lost his slot next to Big Joe. Signs out of Ottawa seem to indicate he'll start the season with Jason Spezza, so you can probably count on a better performance from Cheechoo out of the gate. It is yet to be seen whether or not Alfreddson will join this duo, but either way, Cheechoo should benefit.
- Setoguchi fit this category for most of last season when he joined Joe Thornton and went on to have a career year. You can add Dany Heatley into the mix now, meaning it's only going to get better for Setoguchi.
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