No matter how well you draft or how great you trade, the waiver wire is an essential tool for winning your one-year leagues.
Many fantasy general managers simply gloss over the names on the wire, thinking there’s not much help out there. However, the smart general manager knows that are plenty of valuable finds if you’re willing to spend a few minutes scouring your league’s free agents.
Below are 10 players who are attractive pickups in Yahoo/Fantrax/ESPN leagues. All these players are owned in less than 40 percent of leagues, which means the majority of fantasy hockey leagues are missing the boat on some of these smart claims.
Next to the name of the player is the percentage of leagues the player was owned on Yahoo as of Sunday evening.
10. Zach Aston-Reese: 19 percent
There’s a lot he brings to the table if your league has peripherals. Since Dec. 1 (and not including last night’s game), his 70 hits are second in the league and his 19 blocked shots are tied for third among forwards. He also has 35 shots in those 17 games. While his ice time is low, he has seen a smattering of time with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That may not be enough to keep him long-term, but with a four-game point streak before Sunday’s game, he could be worth a streaming option.
9. Paul Stastny, 33 percent
Don’t overlook Stastny in one-year leagues. His overall numbers don’t look impressive, but you have to remember he missed a bunch of games due to injury. Since returning to the lineup, he has 10 points in 13 games. He doesn’t have any power-play points but is getting some power-play time, so it’s just a matter of time before he breaks through in that category.
8. Jared Spurgeon, 36 percent
Much of the time, when you’re looking at the waiver wire mid-season, you’re simply looking for players getting the opportunity to produce. That’s Spurgeon. Ian has been mentioning Spurgeon in recent ramblings, including Sunday’s, but basically, Spurgeon has been benefitting from Matt Dumba’s mid-December injury. His ice time is up and he now has five points in his last two games. I’d like to see him get more power-play time before being completely sold, but for now, he’s worth a pick up to see if he can continue to turn the extra ice time into points.
7. Nick Leddy, 28 percent
This was shaping up to be a season to forget for Leddy, who had seven points in his first 30 games. However, he’s been excellent lately with seven points in his last 10 games. I’m not too enthused by his lack of shooting (he didn’t take a shot in four of those 10 games), but I do like the fact he is still on the top power-play unit and is still routinely hitting 20 minutes per game.
6. Nick Bjugstad: 8 percent
You don’t take Bjugstad for his points, but for his peripherals. The Panthers forward is expected to return to the lineup soon, as he is now practising with the team (he was wearing a non-practice jersey until late last week). A year ago, he had 48 points, 230 shots, 41 PIM and 95 hits. With his upper-body injury knocking him out for at least 13 games, he obviously won’t reach those numbers, but he looks like a solid pick up for the second half of the season.
5. Alex Galchenyuk, 36 percent owned
If you’re willing to ignore his plus/minus, Galchenyuk is an excellent option to pick up. He’s on fire with four goals and six assists in his last eight games. In those eight games, he also has five power-play points and 21 shots. His ice time still bounces around too much for my liking, but he’s a great option to stream into your lineup.
4. Kevin Hayes, 35 percent
Some fantasy general managers are actually dropping Hayes recently as he deals with an upper-body injury, so it may seem strange that I am recommending you pick him up. However, this is the best time. He’s not expected to be out long-term so he could be in the lineup by the end of the week. He has 33 points in 39 games, and had 16 in his last 11 before going down with the injury. He’s on the top power-play unit and is getting almost 20 minutes a night.
3. Phillip Danault, 15 percent
Fun fact: In Yahoo leagues that count goals, assists, plus/minus, PIM, power-play points, shots, faceoff wins, hits and blocked shots, Danault is the third best Hab this season (and in the top 100 overall) and the best Hab in the last 14 days (and top 25 in the league). Yet players such as Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Drouin are all at least 55 per cent owned despite not producing as well. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Danault has been a top guy lately, so pick him and enjoy the ride until he cools off.
2. Dylan Strome: 13 percent
Strome has been a little underrated since being traded to Chicago, but let’s not overlook what he’s accomplished the last couple of weeks. Going into Sunday night’s action, he has seven points in his last five games. He’s been on the top power-play unit the last eight games and is routinely reaching 19 minutes a night playing on a line with Patrick Kane.
1. J.T. Compher: 11 percent
Compher has been quietly moving up the Colorado lineup in recent weeks, and has been a mainstay on the top power-play unit for about 10 games. He missed some time due to injury, but let’s look at his season broken down into three sets of numbers.
First five games (before injury): Four points, two power-play points, 10 shots, 12:45 TOI, 1:42 PP TOI (the power-play time was the eighth highest on Colorado among forwards)
Next 11 games (after injury): Seven points, two power-play points, 19 shots, 14:20 TOI, 1:01 PP TOI (eighth on Colorado)
Last 10 games: Seven points, three power-play points, 25 shots, 19:44 TOI, 5:28 PP TOI (fourth on Colorado).
He’s been consistently putting up points and is now being rewarded with some plum ice time, especially on that top unit. As long as he is in that spot, he is a must own in all leagues.