Top 10 Players With an Excellent Opportunity

Tom Collins

2021-03-15

While scouring the waiver wire, fantasy general managers will usually look at recent success, but that won't necessarily give you all the information you need to be successful.

Generally speaking, you want to find players that, all of a sudden, find themselves in an excellent opportunity to succeed. This might mean fourth-line players getting top-six roles, or healthy scratches arriving back into the lineup and getting power-play time.

Look at last season. Bryan Rust started the season in a bottom-six role, but was producing. When injuries hit Pittsburgh, Rust was promoted to a top-six position and continued to perform well. When the injured players started getting back into the lineup, the Pittsburgh coaching staff couldn't demote Rust. Now Rust is a fixture on the top power play and in a top-six role.

Of course, not everyone makes an impact with that opportunity. To use another Penguin player from last year, Dominik Simon played quite frequently with Sidney Crosby but couldn't produce. Now he's in Calgary struggling to get into the lineup, and when he does, is barely playing (his last game on March 1 saw him play fewer than six minutes).

Someone once said, "The door of opportunity is wide open if you are prepared." Below are 10 players that now have that door of opportunity. Some may see the opportunity last for the rest of the season, while others just a game or two.

10. Rasmus Ristolainen

At first, many fantasy general managers focused on Dylan Cozens possibly taking over Jack Eichel's spot on the top line, but that quickly petered out. Don't lose sight of what Buffalo has chosen to do with their power play without Eichel. Before the Eichel injury, Buffalo went with the four forwards/one defenseman deployment for their top power-play unit. In the last three games without Eichel, Buffalo has experimented with three forwards/two defensemen. That extra defenseman has been Ristolainen, who hasn't been producing offensively but is still a beast if your league counts blocked shots. If Buffalo can get anything going, Ristolainen might be able to benefit from the uptick in power-play time.

9. Matt Grzelcyk

The Boston Bruins threw the adage "if it's ain't broke, don't fix it" out the window. Grzelcyk has missed a lot of time this season, and by March 2, he had played only six games total. Up to that date, Boston scored on 26.8 per cent of their opportunities and was ranked sixth in the league. Grzelcyk got back in the lineup on March 3, and after a couple of games, took over the power-play duties on March 9. In the three games since, he's got two power-play points. If he can stay healthy, he might be able to deliver on that sleeper status many pegged him for before the season began.

8. Riley Nash

The results aren't there for Nash, but the opportunity sure is as he's turned into Columbus' first-line centre (although no power-play time keeps him from being ranked higher). Up until the end of February, Nash was mostly playing with Eric Robinson,