NHL Waiver Wire: Pickups of the Week

NHL Waiver Wire: Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our NHL Waiver Wire series.

Last week, I detailed the important matchup I was facing in the RotoWire Staff Keeper Hockey League. A win would clinch a top-six spot — more specifically, sixth — to qualify for the playoffs. Confidence wasn't exactly high considering the team had been underwhelming of late outside of one outstanding effort.

So, it was no surprise when I lost by 28 points. I could complain about a disappointing end, but there are positives. This being a dynasty league (first started in the early 2000s), I have a number of players — most with very reasonable salaries — to carry over for next season. And since I don't have to worry about fantasy results, watching hockey won't be as stressful.

Even though I have no lineups to set, my motivation to help others remains. Which, of course, comes in the form of waiver selections. If you're in contention, I want you to do well. Fight for a title. Battle for better placement prizes. And make me proud.

(Rostered rates as of Mar. 29)

Forwards

Bryan Rust, PIT (Yahoo: 46%): For a decade, Rust has skated alongside elite centers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And rather unsurprisingly, he's been quite the reliable scorer over the last half of his career. Injuries have also appeared throughout the years, which is probably why Rust has never exceeded 58 points. He was sidelined for two significant stints this season and has still produced 23 goals and 21 assists. Since returning from his

Last week, I detailed the important matchup I was facing in the RotoWire Staff Keeper Hockey League. A win would clinch a top-six spot — more specifically, sixth — to qualify for the playoffs. Confidence wasn't exactly high considering the team had been underwhelming of late outside of one outstanding effort.

So, it was no surprise when I lost by 28 points. I could complain about a disappointing end, but there are positives. This being a dynasty league (first started in the early 2000s), I have a number of players — most with very reasonable salaries — to carry over for next season. And since I don't have to worry about fantasy results, watching hockey won't be as stressful.

Even though I have no lineups to set, my motivation to help others remains. Which, of course, comes in the form of waiver selections. If you're in contention, I want you to do well. Fight for a title. Battle for better placement prizes. And make me proud.

(Rostered rates as of Mar. 29)

Forwards

Bryan Rust, PIT (Yahoo: 46%): For a decade, Rust has skated alongside elite centers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And rather unsurprisingly, he's been quite the reliable scorer over the last half of his career. Injuries have also appeared throughout the years, which is probably why Rust has never exceeded 58 points. He was sidelined for two significant stints this season and has still produced 23 goals and 21 assists. Since returning from his latest absence, Rust has managed six points and 22 shots while joining forces with the captain in all attacking areas.

Alexis Lafreniere, NYR (Yahoo: 42%): It's taken a bit of time, but Lafreniere is finally following through on his pedigree. It's obviously helped to be placed in the top-six with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, yet you can clearly see the improvement. Going back to Jan. 23, Lafreniere has racked up 11 goals, 10 assists, 74 shots and a plus-12 on 17:18 a night. He also has eight points in his last eight games. The only potential drawback would be his lack of a lead power-play role, though six PPPs overall isn't terrible. As long as Lafreniere continues to develop and is surrounded by solid linemates, there's no telling how high his potential could be.

John-Jason Peterka, BUF (Yahoo: 34%): When Peterka was first featured in November, he was in the midst of an upswing thanks to a move up the depth chart. He continued to excel in the middle-six while featuring with Dylan Cozens. There were the back-to-back two-goal efforts at the end of January that involved a combined nine shots — and that type of volume isn't surprising as he's averaged three pucks on net this year. Since Peterka was promoted to the top unit with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch the last week, he's potted four times across his last three contests. He's also part of the Sabres' lead man-advantage, though they've gone scoreless over their last 13 chances. With all that responsibility, Peterka is bound to post plenty of points.

Chandler Stephenson, VGK (Yahoo: 27%): No matter how hot Stephenson gets, poolies mainly ignore him. They may still associate him from his leaner years with Washington, though that doesn't seem very realistic considering he's been exceling throughout his four-plus seasons in Vegas. Then there's the consideration that center is a deep position in fantasy, yet that excuse is moot since he also qualifies at LW in Yahoo! Regardless where Stephenson fits in a lineup, there's the consistency of finishing three consecutive campaigns with double-digit PPPs. And if you're worried about what he's done lately, try 26 points in 31 games while averaging 19:00.

Mikael Granlund, SJ (Yahoo: 18%): There's always an inherent risk to take a player from one of the league's worst offenses, and more so when the team is also firmly projected to finish last in GAA. The Sharks finished their fire sale at the trade deadline but retained a couple experienced pieces. Granlund took a chance on joining San Jose last offseason, which has handsomely paid off via 11 goals and 38 assists in 59 appearances. He's also maintained massive minutes while operating in a lead role during all situations. As long as your league doesn't count plus-minus, the opportunity to add an excellent producer like Granlund at a significant discount is a no-brainer.

Conor Garland, VAN (Yahoo: 17%): Garland has become more of a complementary winger in recent years filling in lower down the lineup. He's currently averaging his lowest ice time since he was a rookie, which has led to erratic results. He's more of an afterthought on the man-advantage, with only a pair of PPAs to show. He had been struggling going into March, but he's since returned to form by notching nine points. Garland earned a boost last week when he joined Elias Pettersson at five-on-five and made the most of it with two goals and two assists through four matchups. Even though he reunited with familiar linemates Teddy Blueger and Dakota Joshua on Thursday, he still notched an assist and carries enough upside to fit in your rosters.

Nick Paul, TB (Yahoo: 13%): Niche players can help in fantasy; you just have to find the right one and hope he regularly delivers. It's probably no secret that a third of Paul's points this season (13 of 39) have come on the power play. And when it's the NHL's best power play we're talking about, that becomes even more intriguing. Paul logged more minutes earlier on as he held a more advanced non-PP role, yet his last goal and three assists haven't come while up a man. He's also increased his hit frequency this month while averaging just under two shots per contest and winning over 53 percent of faceoffs. But ultimately, you're adding Paul for that singular offensive strength.

Danton Heinen, BOS (Yahoo: 1%): After beginning his career with Boston in 2016, Heinen completed the circle in October when he signed a one-year deal. As opposed to the early days of increased scoring, he's developed into a well-rounded real-life player whose fantasy stock is relatively low. Heinen also doesn't participate on the man-advantage. Those last two details won't have you running to acquire him, so there must be some appealing info. Of course, it's his latest move alongside David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha at even-strength that has enhanced his profile. And we're not talking about some short-term setup, as Heinen's been positioned with top forwards for over a month. The 11 points over this span probably doesn't look like much, though that represents a large chunk of his offense. Tack on 25 shots with 27 hits from the same run, and you'll realize Heinen just may be the sneaky flyer you've been looking for all along.

Defensemen

Sean Durzi, ARI (Yahoo: 57%): There aren't many times when we recommend someone taken in over 50 percent of leagues. It's even rarer when that number approaches 60, but it's warranted for Durzi based on his role. The offensive output has decreased with only four assists in 12 games, yet he's also provided 23 blocks, 21 shots and 12 hits over the same timeframe while averaging 23 minutes — including nearly three as the top power-play quarterback. Durzi also dished a couple helpers on Tuesday, with one of those a PPA. He's also only two points and one PPP off career-highs, both which should be broken by the end of the schedule.

Dmitry Orlov, CAR (Yahoo: 23%): Orlov was mentioned last week when discussing Jaccob Slavin, as the latter has generally been more consistent and therefore more worthy of fantasy selection. The Russian gets his own space here as he's at least registered regular contributions the last two weeks. 17:30 may be a little low for a blueliner, though he's turned that into three goals, five assists, 18 shots, and 17 hits. The Canes have also found the back of the net 36 times during this stretch, which leaves Orlov and teammates with more chances to find the scoresheet. His power play placement has also disappeared, so you may want to avoid him if you're looking for stats in that category.

Ryan McDonagh, NSH (Yahoo: 9%): McDonagh isn't someone you normally associate with scoring stats. His four points across 28 contests though December and January probably wouldn't make you think otherwise. But in the last 23 games, McDonagh has gone off for two goals and 15 (!) assists with an occasional role on the backup man-advantage. He's continued producing in other areas over this period, most notably in blocks (50), shots (26) and plus-minus (15) while skating over 22 minutes a night. Combine that with a primary place on the penalty kill, and that should be enough to get McDonagh on more rosters.

Jordan Spence, LA (Yahoo: 0%): It hasn't been the smoothest season for Spence as he's logged some low ice times and a few healthy scratches. That's probably due to him being more attack-minded (such as the 87 points across 103 AHL outings) and/or the fact the Kings boast a solid back line unit. This column has touted the importance of power-play involvement, especially in deeper formats. When it comes to secondary scorers while up a man, Spence is about as reliable as you can get, with two of his five PPPs coming since the middle of the month. He's also recorded modest returns in other categories as he averages around one shot, one hit, and one block. Spence may not be receiving a lot of responsibility now, but he's doing fine and is one to stash for the future.

Goaltenders

Devon Levi, BUF (Yahoo: 29%): Had you told me before the season Levi wouldn't appear in this column until the end of March and that the reason wasn't due to him being highly rostered or injured, I probably wouldn't have believed it. After all, he was projected as a Calder frontrunner and the Sabres' savior. But alas, there was another. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has emerged as the clear No. 1 with some stellar play while Levi struggled and eventually got demoted. He did well enough in the minors to earn a call-up and only gave up two goals against Vancouver last week in his first game back. UPL got chased early on Wednesday after allowing five to the Sens, leading to Levi stopping 31 of 32 shots. Even with Buffalo not vying for the postseason, Luukkonen should remain the lead. At the same time, Levi is only 22 and needs to get enough work down the stretch to see if he can handle a larger workload.

Alex Nedeljkovic, PIT (Yahoo: 14%): The Pens look set to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. Tristan Jarry has endured a rough March having posted a 4.44 GAA and .870 save percentage through 10 appearances. Nedeljkovic hasn't necessarily looked much better this month with a 3.40/.876 line, yet he made 38 saves against Carolina on Tuesday and earned the victory over Columbus on Thursday. If Pittsburgh intend to compete for a postseason berth, both netminders will need to step it up. Jarry may have an advantage due to his track record, though Nedeljkovic could earn a larger share if he can keep producing decent performances. And there's a chance for more wins as the offense has scored 31 times across the last eight matchups.

Players to consider from past columns: Seth Jarvis, Juraj Slafkovsky, Ryan O'Reilly, Mason McTavish, William Karlsson, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dylan Cozens, Johnny Gaudreau, Wyatt Johnston, Quinton Byfield, Boone Jenner, Gustav Nyquist, Yegor Sharangovich, Troy Terry, Robert Thomas, Sean Monahan, Anthony Duclair, Nazem Kadri, Shane Pinto, Lucas Raymond, Artturi Lehkonen, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brayden Schenn, Ivan Barbashev, Dylan Strome, Charlie Coyle, Mason Marchment, Pavel Zacha, Adam Henrique, Morgan Geekie, Jake Neighbours, Jonathan Drouin, Jake DeBrusk, Anthony Mantha, Nino Niederreiter, Marco Rossi, Jack Roslovic, Nick Foligno, Scott Laughton, Nick Schmaltz, Logan Stankoven, Ryan Hartman, Trevor Moore, Sam Bennett, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Casey Mittelstadt, Tyler Bertuzzi, Tyler Seguin, Kyle Palmieri, Bobby McMann, Blake Coleman, Yegor Sharangovich, Philipp Kurashev, Ross Colton, David Perron, Matias Maccelli, Michael Bunting, Alex Killorn, Daniel Sprong, Jake Sanderson, Mike Matheson, Seth Jones, Brock Faber, Bowen Byram, Noah Hanifin, Filip Hronek, Thomas Harley, Travis Sanheim, Owen Power, Timothy Liljegren, Torey Krug, Mattias Ekholm, Darren Raddysh, Cam Fowler, Neal Pionk, Pavel Mintyukov, Ivan Provorov, Darren Raddysh, Justin Faulk, Cam York, Pyotr Kochetkov, Jake Allen, Anthony Stolarz, Joey Daccord, Ilya Samsonov, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Jonathan Quick, Philipp Grubauer, Laurent Brossoit, Casey DeSmith, Elvis Merzlikins, Justus Annunen, Dustin Wolf

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evan Berofsky
Evan Berofsky enjoys writing. Seriously. When he’s not trying to shove hockey miscellany down your throat, he gets his kicks playing tournament Scrabble(TM). If you have anything to say about Evan’s work (or need any hot word tips), feel free to contact him at eberofsky@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter (@evanberofsky).
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