Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: A high-profile NHL offseason signing is finally starting to deliver
By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
It's a new week. That means new possibilities. Like getting things right again in fantasy. If you recall from the previous column, I kinda took a vacation and forgot to set my lineups. And wouldn't you know it, my laxness would cost me last week as I forgot to sub in Jason Zucker and lost my head-to-head by less than four points. Oof.
So ... let's pretend that didn't happen and dive right into this week's selections.
(Rostered rates as of Jan. 27)
Anton Lundell, FLA (Yahoo: 28%)
Lundell gets another mention based on his recent switch to the wing, allowing him to join Aleksander Barkov on the top line. Since combining with the star center, Lundell has posted seven points and 32 shots in nine games. He's also been key on both special-teams units, with five power-play assists on their second group and two short-handed goals as a lead performer. Lundell may eventually move back to the middle, but he's got a good thing going now.
Ondrej Palat, NJ (Yahoo: 24%)
When the Devils signed Palat to a long-term deal last summer, a lot was expected of him. After all, he proved to be a key cog for a Tampa team that took consecutive Cups. Unfortunately, Palat would get hurt less than two weeks in and required groin surgery that kept him sidelined until the start of this month. He was eased back in but has started getting more opportunities and has produced a goal, four assists, 11 shots, a plus-5, 12 hits and six blocks from his last six appearances. More even-strength offense seems likely alongside Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt.
Cole Perfetti, WPG (Yahoo: 21%)
Perfetti is back in this column as he's still within the top six and has gone on a couple of prolonged scoring streaks. He had 10 points across a 10-game stretch starting Nov. 21, and he's currently riding a 9-in-10 run. While Perfetti has mainly skated on the second power play, he's up on the lead line at five-on-five with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor. The rookie may be merely averaging around 14 minutes, but he's directing almost two pucks on net per night and is always dangerous on the attack.
Filip Chytil, NYR (Yahoo: 13%)
We have our third repeat forward in Chytil, who's been on fire since being profiled at the start of December, having reeled off 11 goals, six assists and 62 shots. This latest stretch of success has been achieved on the third trio with Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko — aka, The Kid Line. The same group also participates on the Rangers' backup man-advantage, where Chytil has registered four PPPs. The center position is fairly deep, though he also qualifies at RW in Yahoo leagues.
Jordan Staal, CAR (Yahoo: 10%)
Like Chytil, Staal represents another bottom-six pivot who's excelled in recent weeks. The 34-year-old continues to log significant ice time while notching 12 points, 27 hits and 159 faceoff wins since Dec. 18. Staal has been without a power-play place the last couple years but is big on the penalty kill. He's slightly hindered in fantasy by only being eligible at center, yet there's enough output across multiple categories for him to fit somewhere on your roster.
Wyatt Johnston, DAL (Yahoo: 2%)
Johnston was drafted by Dallas with the 23rd pick in the summer of 2021 and went on to lead all of Canadian junior hockey with 124 points during the regular season. He topped the OHL by adding another 41 in the playoffs. He made his NHL debut in October memorable by potting his first goal — on the power play, no less. Johnston won't be 20 until May, but he's already being entrusted with enough responsibility and keeps producing at a level that'll only grow once he moves into a more advanced role.
Ryan Donato, SEA (Yahoo: 1%)
Another week, another Seattle forward to discuss. This time it's Donato and his recent rise to the upper half of the depth chart. Even though he's mainly managing meager minutes, he's scored four times in three games and has picked up at least one point in 11 of the last 17. With the way the Kraken have maintained such a potent offense, almost all of their players up front are worth considering. Donato's hot streak may soon disappear, but you might as well give him a shot while the fire's still burning.
Paul Cotter, VGK (Yahoo: 1%)
Cotter was scratched for 10 straight outings near the beginning of the campaign and then immediately clicked on a line with Nicolas Roy and Phil Kessel. He's known for frequently laying out opponents, but the scoring was there in the minors and that's slowly crept its way into his current repertoire. Cotter eventually filled in for Jack Eichel on the first line, and he's back there again with Mark Stone out and Chandler Stephenson stepping down to the third group. He's notched four goals over nine games since coming back from an upper-body injury along with 17 shots and 36 hits while working again on the lead man-advantage.
Cam Fowler, ANH (Yahoo: 10%)
Fowler was already enjoying an upswing when originally mentioned in mid-November. He's since contributed 21 points over 32 games, highlighted by 10 PPPs and a 23:51 average. Fowler's 80 shots are mediocre for an offensive defenseman, while his minus-15 can be a deterrent and he doesn't produce much in the physical department. But what he can do is get on the scoresheet and log a lot of minutes while maintaining a place on Anaheim's top power play.
Timothy Liljegren, TOR (Yahoo: 7%)
The Leafs have been hammered by blueline injuries all season, which has allowed a few players to earn larger roles. Liljegren missed the opening 11 outings after offseason surgery and his ice time has been inconsistent throughout. His scoring has come in spurts, yet he's recently recorded a decent run of two goals and four assists from his last nine to go with 16 shots, 21 hits and 16 blocks. Liljegren also currently lines up on Toronto's second man-advantage, which is a bonus for any fantasy participant.
Nick Blankenburg, CLS (Yahoo: 1%)
Following a solid showing on a stacked University of Michigan squad, Blankenburg was signed by the Blue Jackets in April and immediately notched three points across seven contests. An early multi-point effort appeared promising, but he'd soon get hurt and then missed two months with a broken ankle. Blankenburg has a goal and three helpers since his return while adding 11 shots, 13 hits and 12 blocks. He's also been provided a spot on the backup power play and managed his first career PPA Saturday on Johnny Gaudreau's tally.
Sebastian Aho, NYI (Yahoo: 0%)
No, The Canes' star forward has not become a blueliner. This Sebastian Aho is the defender who's seen time with the Isles over parts of four seasons while dominating in the AHL. There wasn't much room for Aho early this year as he either operated as a healthy scratch or bit player. His minutes would eventually climb to decent levels and so would his output, with a sprinkling of points, shots and blocks. In addition to a goal and three assists in the last six matchups, there's been a recent addition of man-advantage duty, though he hasn't counted there yet.
Sam Montembeault, MON (Yahoo: 20%)
The Habs haven't looked particularly strong on the back end this season. Jake Allen showed glimpses of brilliance early on but soon slumped and then got injured. Montembeault had mainly performed well when called upon and got his chance to lead after Allen went down. He went on to start eight straight games, posting a 2.63 GAA and .930 save percentage. Allen returned Thursday, but Montembeault has impressed enough recently to warrant keeping the top job.
Collin Delia, VAN (Yahoo: 3%)
What's riskier than recommending a goalie from the 28th-ranked defense? How about someone from the team in 31st place?
Delia's overall stats (3.05/.895) aren't encouraging, though he hasn't been terrible of late with a couple wins from four appearances. Meanwhile, Spencer Martin has lost eight in a row accompanied by a horrendous 4.95/.847 line. Thatcher Demko also struggled before succumbing to a lower-body injury at the start of December. His return is unknown and Martin isn't cutting it, leaving Delia as the default No. 1. Adding Delia may sound like a bad proposition, but the Canucks are hosting Columbus on Friday and there's enough value for any netminder who receives regular action.
Players to consider from past columns: Logan Couture, Martin Necas, Dylan Cozens, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jeff Skinner, Andrei Kuzmenko, Matty Beniers, Phillip Danault, Dylan Strome, Kevin Hayes, David Krejci, Trevor Moore, Nick Schmaltz, Max Domi, Mason McTavish, Lucas Raymond, Brock Boeser, J.T. Compher, Owen Tippett, Jared McCann, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Conor Sheary, Jack Roslovic, Brandon Hagel, Gabriel Vilardi, Sam Steel, Jordan Eberle, William Karlsson, Juuso Parssinen, Viktor Arvidsson, Eeli Tolvanen, Andre Burakovsky, Jason Zucker, Nick Paul, Seth Jarvis, Tyler Bertuzzi, Taylor Raddysh, Dylan Guenther, Seth Jones, Brandon Montour, Jake Sanderson, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Sean Durzi, Vince Dunn, Adam Boqvist, Janis Moser, Erik Gustafsson, Calen Addison, Adam Larsson, K'Andre Miller, Vitek Vanecek, Martin Jones, Pavel Francouz, James Reimer, Karel Vejmelka, Antti Raanta, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Stuart Skinner, Pheonix Copley, Craig Anderson, Casey DeSmith