Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Schmaltz, Korpisalo lead pickups to target this week
Load up for the stretch run of the fantasy hockey season with these waiver wire options at every position.
Utilizing the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week who can add points to your total is the number one way to control the outcome of your matchup.
In this weekly article, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of rostership so 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: Jason Zucker, LW - PIT (41% rostered)
Jason Zucker has had an eventful last few weeks, to say the least. From February 26 to March 12 Zucker scored nine goals in eight games without registering a single assist. Since then, Zucker has been held pointless in three straight. Still, I'm pretty interested in Zucker for a couple of reasons.
First, Zucker has a four-game, two-off-nights schedule this week, making him an attractive pickup for scheduling purposes. Second, Zucker has continued to fire shots and throw the body even while the scoring has dried up with eleven shots and seven hits in his last three games. Zucker remains a staple on the Penguins’ second line and second PP unit and should be rostered in every league this week.
Honourable Mentions: Mikael Backlund, C - CGY(42%) and Ryan Hartman, C/RW - MIN (43%)
Rostered in 31-40% of Leagues: Nick Schmaltz, C/RW - ARI (32% rostered)
Schmaltz is my favorite pickup of the week, a player who has performed at over a point-per-game pace since shortly after the start of the calendar year 2022.
Schmaltz has found particular chemistry with linemates Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton, and the trio has formed a legitimate first line for the otherwise hapless Coyotes. Schmaltz sat out three games with injury last week, but returned on Saturday to register an assist while logging more than 20 minutes of ice time.
Arizona has one of the league’s best schedules this week for fantasy purposes with four games including three off-nights, meaning you’ll be able to fit Schmaltz in your starting lineup easily this week to snag those points.
Honourable Mentions: Boone Jenner, C - CBJ (40%) and J.T. Compher, C/RW - COL (34%)
Rostered in 21-30% of Leagues: Evan Rodrigues, C/LW/RW - COL (24% rostered)
Rodrigues is my favorite streaming pickup from the Avalanche, who happen to have the league’s best streaming schedule this week. The Avs play four games with each one on off-nights, making it certain you get all four games played out of Rodrigues this week. That’s nice any week, but it’s of particular note this week given the league’s schedule which has the vast majority of teams playing on the heavier nights and very few playing on the off nights.
And Rodrigues is no random pickup. Currently attached to Colorado superstars Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the Avalanche top line, he’s picked up a goal and an assist in the last two games with this deployment. I feel confident that as long as he remains on the top line, he’ll be a very useful stream.
Honourable Mentions: Barrett Hayton, C - ARI (27%) and Lawson Crouse, LW/RW - ARI (21%)
Rostered in 0-20% of Leagues: Eetu Luostarinen, C/LW - FLA (7% rostered)
Similar to Rodrigues, Luostarinen has laid claim to a top-line spot alongside a superstar center. Aleksander Barkov can certainly have a positive effect on anyone lucky enough to play on his wings, but Luostarinen has flashed the ability to up his game when given an opportunity in the Panthers’ top six and he’s got three points in his last four games to prove it. The Panthers have one of the league’s better schedules throughout the remainder of the fantasy season, making Luostarinen a prime target in deeper leagues as long as he’s skating alongside Barkov.
Honourable Mentions: Taylor Raddysh, LW/RW - CHI (4%) and Trevor Moore, LW/RW - LAK (7%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Jake Sanderson - OTT (28%)
The case for Sanderson is pretty obvious: The Senators play four games next week, and Sanderson has recently supplanted Thomas Chabot on the top power play unit as Chabot contends with an ongoing injury issue. Sanderson has averaged nearly 24 minutes a night in his last three games and looks very much like a No. 1 defenseman for a team that already has two other options for that role in Chabot and Jakob Chychrun. If the Senators can do one thing well, it’s score goals and Sanderson figures to factor into far more of those moving forward as long as this power play deployment lasts.
Honourable Mentions: Michael Matheson - MTL (31%) and Samuel Girard - COL (26%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Juuso Valimaki - ARI (15% rostered)
Valimaki is suddenly one of the hottest defensemen in the league, recording three multi-point games in his last four outings while firing 12 shots on goal. A Shayne Gostisbehere injury before he was shipped to the Hurricanes opened the door for Valimaki to take over both as top power-play quarterback and de facto No. 1 defenseman in the desert, and he hasn’t looked back, skating 22-25 minutes a night with regularity and setting up the aforementioned Arizona top line with aplomb.
Arizona’s schedule this week makes Valimaki even more of a priority addition for any fantasy team needing some off-nights in their defense corps.
Honourable Mentions: Cam Fowler - ANA (25%) and Adam Boqvist - CBJ (7%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Joonas Korpisalo - LAK (43% rostered)
Korpisalo has been as steady as it gets since arriving in Los Angeles, allowing exactly two goals against in each of his four starts as a member of the Kings. It looks like coach Todd McLellan has committed to splitting starts 50/50 between Korpisalo and Pheonix Copley for the time being, so you’ll have to check who’s getting which starts for the Kings before making the add. But the Kings are 7-0-2 in their last nine games while allowing two goals against or less in every single one of those outings; any goaltender making a start for them is a great look these days.
Even if it’s just for a one-game spot start, keep Korpisalo in mind when planning out your goalie position this week.
Honourable Mentions: John Gibson - ANA (48%) and Philipp Grubauer - SEA (35%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Joel Hofer - STL (17% rostered)
It’s the smallest of sample sizes, but Joel Hofer has been a revelation since joining the Blues this past week. Hofer followed up a 32-save performance in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals Friday with a 33-save shutout of the Winnipeg Jets on home ice Sunday.
Hofer’s recall was due to Jordan Binnington’s two-game suspension, and the Blues may very well opt to send Hofer back to the AHL (where he’s been terrific all season, sporting a .920 save percentage). But without much left to play for this year, Blues management may decide they want off the Binnington carousel and see what they have in Hofer. I know I’ll be watching for Blues goaltending news this week to see if Hofer can be the final piece on a championship fantasy squad this year the way Ville Husso was a year ago.
Honourable Mentions: Akira Schmid - NJD (18%) and Ivan Prosvetov - ARI (3%)
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.