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 weekly article, 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: Martin Necas, RW - CAR (49% rostered)
I have some reservations about Necas’s ability to maintain the torrid pace he’s set for himself through the first eight games of the season. But Necas is getting a boatload of ice time (averaging 19:50) and the Hurricanes are one of two teams who play four games with three of those coming on off-nights this week. As you’ll continually hear me preach in this column, having players whose games come on those off-nights is crucial to avoiding leaving players on your bench throughout the week and helps you get the most from your lineup. Necas may not be a point-per-game player all season long, but he’s hot right now and a priority add given that top-tier schedule this week.
Honourable Mentions: Alexis Lafreniere, LW/RW - NYR (43%) and T.J. Oshie, C/RW - WSH (41%)
Rostered in 31-40% of Leagues: Anton Lundell, C - FLA (37% rostered)
Lundell had a slow start to his season but has come alive of late, scoring three points in his last four games. The Panthers as a team have begun to pour shots on goal and are beginning to look a little more like the juggernaut of last year, even without Jonathan Huberdeau in the fold. Lundell has recently carved out a spot on the vaunted top power play unit in Florida, making him all the more attractive in the long term. Florida plays four games this week with only one off-night, so check your lineups and see if you’ll be able to squeeze him in on those heavy nights. If you can, this is the right time to jump on the Lundell train as the soaring sophomore looks to take the next step to stardom.
Honourable Mentions: Carter Verhaeghe, LW - FLA (39%) and Brock Nelson, C - NYI (38%)
Rostered in 21-30% of Leagues: Jeff Skinner, LW - BUF (22% rostered)
Skinner has not been seeing the extreme usage that Necas has, but similar to Necas’s situation Buffalo has a four-game, three off-night schedule this week that makes all of their low rostered players very attractive for a pickup. Skinner may average somewhere around 16 minutes a game, but he’s a shot-producing machine with just one goal on the season so far. At some point the dam will break and what better time than a week in which you’re essentially guaranteed that Skinner will find your starting lineup for at least three games? Skinner does have a goal and two assists across seven shots in his last couple of games, so there are definitely positive signs here making him a slam dunk pickup for the week.
Rostered in 0-20% of Leagues: Victor Olofsson, RW - BUF (15% rostered)
Olofsson is coming off a two-goal outburst including the OT winner against Chicago on Saturday, and that shot production we like to see is there too: Olofsson has put up ten shots in his last two games and at least two shots in six straight games. He’s not currently seeing top line or top power play deployment, but Olofsson appears to be heating up and given that sweet upcoming Buffalo schedule, he’ll certainly start games for you this week and give you some value. It’s worth noting that even without top-end deployment Olofsson has maintained 15+ minutes per night for three straight games, so clearly Sabres coach Don Granato knows what Olofsson is capable of and is using him accordingly.
Honourable Mentions: Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW - LAK (14%) and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C - CAR (3%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Brandon Montour - FLA (41% rostered)
I know that I’ve talked about Montour before in a past article, but that was before Montour became Florida’s de facto #1 defenseman with Aaron Ekblad out with injury. Montour has shouldered more than 26 minutes in four straight games and his most recent effort was a goal and two assists on six shots across 27:49 of ice against Ottawa on Saturday. Keep in mind that Florida was running a two defenseman power play with Ekblad and Montour together on the top unit before Ekblad’s injury, and you can see a scenario where Montour goes from “injury replacement pickup” to “league winner” in short order.
Honourable Mentions: Vince Dunn - SEA (33%) and Dmitry Orlov - WSH (36%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Sean Durzi - LAK (25% rostered)
Durzi has quietly put up very solid numbers of late with five points in his last seven games including two power play assists. Durzi is also a solid (if unspectacular) contributor to shots, hits, and blocks so he won’t leave you with a big old donut on nights he doesn’t collect a point. Durzi’s spot as the second power play unit’s quarterback seems secure at this point and he’s averaging over 20 minutes a night on a Kings squad that has scored less than three goals only twice in their first ten games. The extra bonus with Durzi is that you have the contingent upside where if PP1 mainstay Drew Doughty misses any time, Durzi immediately becomes the hottest add in fantasy. Given that Durzi is providing solid production even outside of that scenario, he’s an easy-to-roster defender with clear upside for more.
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Vitek Vanecek - NJD (37% rostered)
Last week we were talking about Mackenzie Blackwood and his opportunity, but Blackwood forfeited his chance to solidify a hold on the New Jersey net by allowing five goals on eighteen shots to Washington last Monday night. Vanecek took over on Wednesday and has rattled off three straight wins while allowing only three goals, including a shutout of the mighty Colorado Avalanche last Friday. New Jersey has been dominating teams in shot share and other advanced metrics and that makes whoever the Devils starter is very valuable for fantasy.
Honourable Mentions: James Reimer - SJS (38%) and Jake Allen - MTL (39%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Stuart Skinner - EDM (25% rostered)
I’ve been holding off on Skinner simply because I thought the Oilers had invested too much money into Jack Campbell to consider playing Skinner much more than once every three games. Well, that all changed this past week when Skinner got the Wednesday start, Campbell took Thursday, and the Oilers came right back to Skinner for Saturday’s tilt with the arch-nemesis Calgary Flames. Skinner faced a barrage of pucks in both games but stood tall, stopping 77 of 80 to win both games while Campbell allowed five goals to Chicago of all teams in between Skinner’s displays of brilliance. Moving forward I’m much more open to Edmonton’s crease being more of a tandem situation and Skinner is certainly outplaying Campbell thus far.
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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