By Neil Parker, RotoWire Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
At this stage of the fantasy season it becomes more difficult to unearth waiver-wire targets. The majority of strong assets were either drafted this fall or free-agent acquisitions early in the season. In fact, it’s reassuring to see alumni from this column among the top contributors at each position.
Still, the pursuit continues, and there are always upgrades to consider.
Going back to a strategy mentioned in a previous article, this is the time to consider grabbing a player excelling in the AHL. Daniel Sprong and Nikolay Goldobin were the particular mentions, but Dylan Strome is worth a look now.
The 2015 third overall selection has collected six goals and 22 points through 13 AHL games since his demotion to Tucson, which is following up a jaw-dropping 109 points over just 57 games in his final OHL campaign. In deep settings, Strome is on the radar because he’s probably already showcased there’s nothing left to prove outside the NHL.
Here’s the schedule for the next scoring period, Nov. 27-Dec. 4:
Two games: Bruins, Islanders, Rangers, Capitals
Four games: Ducks, Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Stars, Panthers, Kings, Canadiens, Golden Knights, Jets
Five games: Blackhawks
All other teams play three games.
(Yahoo ownership percentages as of Nov. 24.)
It’s important to keep an eye on players cut in your leagues, and note the handful of the previously covered players listed below who might be hanging around on your waiver wire.
Mathew Barzal, NYI (36 percent): It’s stunning to see Barzal so widely available after scoring five goals and 20 points through his past 16 games. He’s locked in as the second-line center and is skating with the No. 1 power-play unit. Additionally, after recording 167 points through 99 games over his final two seasons in the WHL, it isn’t like Barzal’s offensive outburst is coming out of nowhere.
William Karlsson, VGK (38 percent): With 10 goals, 18 points and 35 shots through his past 16 games, it’s difficult to ignore Karlsson. The 24-year-old center was never given a legitimate shot in Anaheim or Columbus despite owning offensive upside and rounded skill set. Everything’s clicking in Vegas, as Karlsson’s 3.02 points per 60 minutes rank 34th in the league among all skaters with at least 300 minutes this season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM (33 percent): It’s easy to overlook that the 2011 first overall selection is just now entering his offensive prime. The 24-year-old center has quietly collected six goals, 14 points and 34 shots through his past 14 games, and Nugent-Hopkins is currently centering an intriguing line with Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon on his flanks. The Burnaby, B.C. native could easily have his best offensive season, which is likely the result of his improved possession numbers (career-high 52.9 Corsi For percentage).
Jonathan Marchessault, VGK (31 percent): Dating back to last season, Marchessault’s 2.51 points per 60 minutes rank 47th among all skaters with at least 1,500 minutes. He’s up to six goals, 15 points, 52 shots and 12 PIM through his past 14 games, which are standout numbers in all fantasy formats. His universal acceptance as a strong asset is overdue.
Micheal Ferland, CGY (20 percent): The top-line winger has been held off the scoresheet in consecutive games, but proceeded that with a rock-solid seven tallies, 11 points, 32 shots and 25 hits through 11 outings. While the scoring might never jump off the page at a point-per-game pace again, he’s still combined with linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for 5.25 goals per 60 minutes this season. Ferland also projects as a cross-category contributor.
Craig Smith, NAS (16 percent): After three consecutive 20-goal campaigns with an average of 2.74 shots per game, Smith fell off the map entirely last season. He’s now skating with Kevin Fiala and Kyle Turris on a new-look second line, and the trio have combined for a respectable 3.61 goals per 60 minutes, and Smith has three goals, six points and 13 shots during that six-game span.
Josh Manson, ANA (37 percent): The no-nonsense defenseman has recorded three goals, six points, 12 shots, nine PIM, 16 hits, nine blocked shots and a plus-3 rating through his past seven games. It’s difficult to find better cross-category coverage than that. However, Manson doesn’t receive power-play time, so his offensive numbers will likely continue to peak and valley throughout the season. Still, the peripheral contributions buoy his value through the dry spells.
Johnny Boychuk, NYI (30 percent): After it took nine games for Boychuk to find the scoresheet this season, he’s recorded a respectable three goals, seven points and 36 shots through his past 12 outings. More impressively, he’s blocked 32 shots and posted a plus-13 rating during that span. The 33-year-old defenseman is a steady contributor to round out virtual blue lines.
Erik Johnson, COL (14 percent): The 29-year-old veteran is heating up with two goals, six points and 31 shots through his past 10 games. Johnson’s logging huge minutes (26:32 with 2:32 on the power play per game), so his peripheral numbers are also solid. With Colorado competitive, Johnson’s fantasy value is on the rise because his talent and upside have never been in question.
Tyler Myers, WPG (13 percent): Winnipeg quietly sits tied for third place in the NHL, and plucking players from winning teams is an advised approach. After playing just 11 games last season and starting 2017-18 with just a single goal through the first nine games, Myers was off the grid. He’s found his form of late, though. The 27-year-old defenseman has collected eight points, 19 shots and 10 PIM through the past 12 games. His fantasy value is on the rise.
Roberto Luongo, FLA (52 percent): Through his past six games, Luongo is 4-2 with a .955 save percentage and 1.64 GAA. He projects to continue receiving the bulk of starts for Florida, so the veteran should be owned in all settings. While it’s not of the question to be selective with his matchups, Luongo has quickly proven he’s still capable of stealing games during this recent surge.
Steve Mason, WPG (9 percent): Things went south in a hurry to start his Winnipeg tenure, and Connor Hellebuyck has been excellent. However, Mason is going to see time, and he’s been stellar of late with a .964 save percentage and 1.19 GAA through his past four outings (three starts). If his strong play continues, Mason should push for a more even timeshare in the Winnipeg crease.
Thomas Greiss, NYI (45 percent): While there is nothing spectacular about Greiss’ .906 save percentage or 3.30 GAA, he’s gone 7-2-2 and has won four consecutive starts. There are only so many wins to go around, and the 31-year-old German has the potential to improve his ratios going forward. He’s going to continue splitting work with Jaroslav Halak, but Greiss can help in the majority of settings — especially if only utilized in favorable matchups.
Cam Ward, CAR (6 percent): This is a painful recommendation because Ward entered the campaign with a .907 save percentage through 211 games over the previous five seasons and is clearly a below-average goaltender. Still, Scott Darling has been wildly inconsistent of late with an .881 save percentage and 3.39 GAA through his past five starts, including allowing 15 goals over three of those outings. Ward is still capable of strong stretches of play, and Carolina is currently underachieving.
Players to consider from past columns: Pavel Buchnevich, Bo Horvat, Jordan Staal, Rick Nash, Mikko Rantanen, Kevin Fiala, Yanni Gourde, Boone Jenner, Alexander Kerfoot, Alex DeBrincat, Tom Wilson, Dmitry Orlov, Darnell Nurse, Esa Lindell, Mathew Dumba, Jacob Markstrom, Michal Neuvirth, Aaron Dell, Carter Hutton, Charlie Lindgren.