Fantasy hockey: Waiver pickups to target this week

Andrei Kuzmenko headlines this week's fantasy hockey waiver wire pickups. (Getty Images)
Andrei Kuzmenko headlines this week's fantasy hockey waiver wire pickups. (Getty Images)

Working the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week that can add points to your total is the number one way you can control the outcome of your matchup. In this article every week, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of rostership so that you can fill out your fantasy squad with the best players available in your league. Let’s dig in.


Rostered in 41-50% of leagues: Andrei Kuzmenko, LW - VAN (41% rostered)

Kuzmenko has gone a little bit quiet of late without any points in his last three games, but he’s seeing top power play usage and plays alongside Elias Pettersson at even strength. Kuzmenko now has 21 points in 24 games, good for a 72-point pace. On top of all this we now have the revelation that Brock Boeser may be on his way out of town. If that happens, Kuzmenko will not have any real challengers to his top six role or top power play usage, making him an even safer bet to roster for the rest of the season. If Kuzmenko is still out there in your league, it’s time to rectify that situation.

Honourable mentions: Boone Jenner, C - CBJ (44%) & Matty Beniers, C - SEA (43%)

Rostered in 31-40% of leagues: Ryan O’Reilly, C - STL (38% rostered)

St. Louis as a team is mired in a stretch where they’ve dropped five of their last six games and their goaltender seems to think he’s a defenseman. But O’Reilly has potted three points in his last four games, and the Blues have a strong schedule this week with four games and three of those coming on “off-nights” where less than half of the league is playing. The Blues play three games in four days to start the week (Mondays, Tuesday and Thursday) so you could even pick up O’Reilly for those three games and then change him out for another player playing two games over the last three days of the week. The Blues have a schedule worth targeting this week, and O’Reilly is their best player who is likely still on the wire in your league.

Honourable mentions: Trevor Moore, LW/RW - LAK (32%) & Dylan Cozens, C - BUF (38%)

Rostered in 21-30% of leagues: Nick Schmaltz, C - ARI (22% rostered)

The stench of the Coyotes has kept Schmaltz’s rostership down til now, but any player averaging twenty-plus minutes a game with talented teammates (Clayton Keller, Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakob Chychrun) needs to at least be given a chance. Arizona also has a four-game, three off-night schedule this week, making Schmaltz an easy fit for your lineups this week. Schmaltz has four points in his last five games, so it’s not like you’re just praying for him to fall into some production, either. Recall that this is the same Nick Schmaltz who put up 59 points in 63 games under similar circumstances in Arizona last season; there’s at least some track record of success here that suggests he is valuable pickup in weeks where the Coyotes have a great schedule.

Honourable mentions: Cole Perfetti, C/LW/RW - WPG (29%) & Kevin Hayes, C - PHI (26%)

Rostered in 0-20% of leagues: Arthur Kaliyev, LW/RW - LAK (15% rostered)

It can be dangerous to recommend a pickup based on some line juggling that happened in a game in which that player’s team was down by a large margin. But Arthur Kaliyev seeing a bump up to the top unit for the third period of Saturday night’s tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes at least gives me hope that coach Todd McLellan sees some of what I do in Kaliyev: a burgeoning goal-scorer with some of the best shot and chance generation stats (on a per-minute basis) in the entire league. Kaliyev is on a 28-goal, 54-point pace despite averaging just 11:37 of ice time this season; if he finds his way onto the top line and sees 15-16 minutes instead, the multiplicative potential is obvious. In a week where the Kings play four games with two off-nights, it’s a good time to try out Kaliyev and see if this is the week where he takes that next step.

Honourable mentions: Dawson Mercer, C/RW - NJD (17%) & Jack Quinn, LW/RW - BUF (10%)


Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Shayne Gostisbehere - ARI (43% rostered)

Gostisbehere is on a 56-point pace, but remains unrostered in 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Gostisbehere went through a cool stretch after a torrid start, but has started to pick things back up of late with five assists in his last five games. He’s a power play wizard seeing 23+ minutes a night, and similar to Schmaltz above, the team context isn’t so bad as to think that Gostisbehere is useless just by association. Arizona’s sweet schedule this week makes it high time that you ensure Gostisbehere is rostered in your league.

Honourable mentions: Jake Sanderson - OTT (43%) & Sean Durzi - LAK (33%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Mike Matheson - MTL (10% rostered)

Matheson is easily the most widely available PP1 quarterback playing heavy minutes for his team. Matheson is averaging more than 24 minutes a night over his last five games and has a penchant for piling up shots from the blue line as well (three or more shots in four of his last seven games). The Canadiens may not be a powerhouse, but they have a very respectable top line and power play with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield that should give Matheson a production floor to hit as long as he’s seeing these kind of minutes. While he’s not likely to boost your totals too much on the bangers side of things (hits/blocks/PIM), Matheson is seeing the deployment necessary to be a very worthwhile stream and potential hold in 12 team leagues and beyond.

Honourable mentions: Cam Fowler - ANA (23%) & Rasmus Sandin - TOR (21%)


Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Spencer Martin - VAN (26% rostered)

The news that Thatcher Demko is out for six weeks instantly made Spencer Martin a desirable pickup for me. No, the Canucks are not a great team and routinely leave their goaltender hung out to dry. But Martin has frankly outperformed Demko so far this season and will now get a chance to run with the Vancouver net. The win totals may not be splendid and the goals against average may run a little high, but Martin should see plenty of volume and I am always open to a goalie who may go on a hot streak. Ville Husso and Anton Forsberg arose from similar spots to become some of the most valuable players in fantasy hockey last season, so taking the chance on Martin feels like a low-risk, potentially high-reward play that’s very easy to move on from if it goes south.

Honourable mentions: Karel Vejmelka - ARI (47%) & John Gibson - ANA (41%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Dan Vladar - CGY (11% rostered)

I have to credit my Apples & Ginos colleague Josh Hutchinson for this tidbit, but Dan Vladar has played four of the last six Calgary games as incumbent starter Jacob Markstrom continues to struggle to find his game. Vladar sports a tidy .915 save percentage on the season and I do expect Calgary to improve their level of play in the second quarter of the season. Whether Vladar manages to steal more starts moving forward is still up in the air, but he’ll see at least one this week with a Friday/Saturday back-to-back, and Calgary also plays Monday and Wednesday. He’s got a very real chance of getting two starts this week and if he continues to shine while Markstrom continues to scuffle, we could be looking at a #ZeroG gem.

Honourable mentions: Sam Montembeault - MTL (11%) & Elvis Merzlikins - CBJ (23%)

Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter @applesginos.

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