Working 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 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 roster 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: Brandon Hagel, LW/RW – TBL (47% rostered)
Sometimes it’s simply not that hard to make a recommendation. That’s certainly the case this week with Brandon Hagel, who has points in five straight games including back-to-back two-goal, three-point outings. It’s pretty hard to find fault with Hagel’s deployment either, as he’s currently riding shotgun on the top line alongside Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point while maintaining a spot on the vaunted Tampa top PP unit. Hagel flashed some scoring upside in Chicago but has been buried in the middle six for much of his Tampa tenure thus far. He may not maintain this role forever, but he’s absolutely crushing it currently and it’s the last call for this train as it leaves the station.
Honorable Mentions: Andrei Kuzmenko, LW – VAN (42%) and Matty Beniers, C – SEA (44%)
Rostered in 31-40% of Leagues: Ryan Hartman, C – MIN (35% rostered)
Hartman made his return to the Minnesota Wild lineup Sunday after a long hiatus due to a shoulder injury, and the early returns were promising. Hartman skated alongside the red-hot Frederick Gaudreau and the uber-talented Matt Boldy in his return to action, firing three shots in just 12:10 of ice time. While there may not be a spot for Hartman on the top power-play unit anymore, Hartman still also has a chance to unseat Sam Steel as the top line center between Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov, a role he held for much of last season. We’ll see if that’s the case, but the three shots give me hope that Hartman is fully recovered and ready to reproduce a scoring role for the Wild as soon as this week. With Minnesota playing back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday, Hartman makes a perfect pairing with a Columbus or St. Louis player to get four games in four days from your streamer spot.
Honorable Mentions: Jakub Vrana, LW – DET (39%) and Ryan O’Reilly, C – STL (36%)
Rostered in 21-30% of Leagues: Trevor Moore, LW/RW – LAK (24% rostered)
Trevor Moore just needed a shoutout for the yeoman’s work he’s been putting in this season. Moore ranks 18th in the league in shots on goal this season, more than studs like Kyle Connor, Nikita Kucherov, and Matthew Tkachuk. Moore has been decidedly unlucky so far this season, shooting just 6.4% and factoring in just 53% of LA’s goals scored when he’s on the ice according to Natural Stat Trick. Moore is fixed in a second-line role in LA, skating a healthy 17:45 a night and should be recognized as a real fantasy contributor, likely to run hot soon and rectify those percentages somewhat. Moore also averages over a hit per game, making him an attractive dart throw in bangers categories leagues as well.
Honorable Mentions: Cole Perfetti, C/LW/RW – WPG (23%) and Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW – LAK (21%)
Rostered in 0-20% of Leagues: Nick Schmaltz, C/RW – ARI (16% rostered)
I realize that Arizona players are not exciting to fantasy hockey managers, but collectively we need to realize and appreciate that Nick Schmaltz is going to end up averaging 19-plus minutes a night including top-line and top power-play duties and put up a 60-70 point pace. He’s racked up seven points in his last five games and looks to be settling in — the fact that he’s rostered in so few leagues is absolutely baffling given his usage, production, and RW eligibility. In a week where schedule advantages are few and far between, grab Schmaltz and put him in your long-term plans.
Honorable Mentions: Ivan Barbashev, C/LW – STL (20%) and Mason McTavish, C/LW – ANA (13%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: K’Andre Miller – NYR (40% rostered)
Miller has a few points in his favor that earn him this spot. First, you have the team context with the Rangers owning among the league’s best offenses (7th in goals scored). Second, you see that Miller’s time on ice is consistently in the 22-plus minute range, meaning he’s on the ice more often than not when the Rangers are scoring their goals. Finally, Miller is clearly feeling it of late with seven points in his last seven games. While I don’t view Miller as anything close to a point-per-game player moving forward, it seems reasonable to think that Miller could push into 45-point-pace territory with solid peripherals to boot, making him plenty rosterable in almost any format.
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Pulock – NYI (33%) and Jake Sanderson – OTT (37%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Cam Fowler – ANA (15% rostered)
I’ve touched on Fowler here before but he’s still being widely disrespected by fantasy managers with this level of rostership. Fowler remains the Ducks’ PP1 quarterback and no. 1 defenseman overall. I’ll concede that Fowler doesn’t contribute much in terms of hits or blocks and therefore is less valuable in bangers categories leagues, but he’s certainly got all the earmarks of a 50-plus point defenseman despite the Ducks being a truly terrible team this season. There’s a built-in upside with Fowler that some of the kids in Anaheim start to figure things out and lend some additional goal scoring to the lineup. Overall I just can’t figure out what’s holding Fowler back from being rostered in the 40-60% range given his point production and potential for the rest of the season.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Dumba – MIN (21%) and Rasmus Ristolainen – BUF (8%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Charlie Lindgren – WSH (50% rostered)
Lindgren’s recent run of success has been truly astonishing, with only one game of more than two goals allowed in his run of seven straight starts. Lindgren has played well enough that it’s hard to see the Capitals handing the reins completely back over to Darcy Kuemper, who was brought in this offseason as the presumptive starter. Lindgren is as hot as they come right now and I am always interested in running with a goaltender who is currently on a run of great play. Long term I will make no projections about Lindgren maintaining this elite level of performance, but if you’re hurting for goaltending you can do much worse than a guy running as hot as Lindgren is currently.
Honorable Mentions: James Reimer – SJS (30%) and Pavel Francouz – COL (30%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Daniil Tarasov – CBJ (3% rostered)
It’s a real deep cut, but I have interest in Tarasov in the deepest of leagues. Expected starter Elvis Merzlikins has looked like a shadow of his former self this season, and projected backup Joonas Korpisalo is currently injured. Enter Tarasov, who was given back-to-back assignments versus the league’s elite, taking on Tampa Bay and Boston two days apart. Tarasov allowed seven goals but predictably saw a ton of rubber in those starts as well. Tarasov has a pedigree as being one of the league’s most highly touted goaltending prospects, so while the wins may not come due to the Blue Jackets’ struggles as a team, it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected if Tarasov got hot and put together a stretch similar to what Anton Forsberg did for the Ottawa Senators at the end of last year.
Honorable Mentions: Philipp Grubauer – SEA (16%) and Pheonix Copley – LAK (9%)
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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