Oct 19, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin (7) handles the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Hockey: Penguins' Paul Martin, James Neal close to returning

Fantasy hockey owners who have a lot of Pittsburgh Penguins on their roster are in for some good news this week.

First of all the Pens play four times next week, beginning Monday night at home vs. the Florida Panthers. The four game schedule is a blessing for fantasy owners as the Penguins only had one game this week.

Nov 20, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin (7) lines up for a face-off against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Secondly, it looks as if Pittsburgh could be getting two of their big guns back in defenseman Paul Martin and winger James Neal.

Martin has been out for nearly two months with a broken tibia, but returned to practice on Saturday and could return as soon as Monday.

If he is available in you league I would grab him as Marin is owned in only 56 percent of ESPN leagues. Being that the Penguins are fourth in the NHL in scoring and more importantly have the top-ranked power play unit, he will have opportunities to stockpile assists.

Before his injury Martin was pretty solid, racking up 11 points in 23 games.

However his return could impact Matt Niskanen as well.

Niskanen has played very well in Martin’s absence and is owned across the board. However it will be interesting to see what Penguins’ head coach Dan Bylsma does in regards to his top power play unit as both Martin and Niskanen’s values drop a bit depending on who doesn’t get that top spot.

That’s something for fantasy owners to monitor this week.

In addition to Martin coming back for the Penguins, Neal is also on target to return for Monday’s game as well.

One final Penguins note, keep your eye on forward Jayson Megna (lower body), who practiced with Pittsburgh for the first time since suffering his injury. To make things more interesting, Megna was put on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, which could make him an option in deep leagues.


Tags: Fantasy Hockey James Neal Paul Martin Pittsburgh Penguins

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