The 10 best waiver-wire adds for the stretch run (or playoff run) in your fantasy leagues
Editor's Note: Tom Collins is away on vacation this week so Chris Liggio steps in to pinch hit
The fantasy playoffs are upon us and most teams could stand to make an injection of talent in lieu of an ice cold player (staring at you Matt Duchene). This is the time of the year that can pull on the heart strings of an owner as in the case with Duchene where there is no time left to give them a chance to come around and you need production now.
Below you shall find a list of 10 players who can be solid additions to your roster in these closing weeks to help in your pursuit of a league championship. Criterion for these choices particularly focuses on production over the past month but is not limited to goals and assists - games played over the course of the last four weeks as well as respective player situations in line assignments and power-play usage. This list provides options for shallower eight team leagues and ones in the twelve team stratosphere and touches on players who are of use in roto leagues; goalies have been excluded from this but go get Brian Elliott if he is somehow not owned after a disgruntled owner dropped him earlier in the season.
A diamond in the rough that is Vancouver, Bo Horvat has been providing solid value throughout the season. When you're the piece dealt straight up for Cory Schneider, you're bound to be good and this has been the next step in his ascent. Now clearly the building block for the future in British Columbia, Horvat is in the midst of his first twenty-goal season at the age of twenty-one and many more are bound to come. In the past month he is averaging over nineteen minutes per night, which tells us that he is being deployed in all situations and has the full trust of his coach. Bo's one drawback is his lack of time on the primary power-play unit but it has not stopped him from producing consistent offense at even strength. If you are in a league that counts faceoffs his value is only driven further as he can easily provide 10 draws a night.
At this point it has become criminal the lack of investment in Josh Bailey by fantasy squads. Not days, not weeks, but for months Bailey has been a very valuable forward riding shotgun with John Tavares and should be on any roster that has a spot being wasted on a player not pulling his weight. Quintessentially guaranteed to usurp 50 points for the first time in his career it seems he is a classic late bloomer coming into his own. Certainly being on John Tavares’ line is fueling this but he is not solely reliant upon Tavares for production. Possessing fantastic vision he has been handing out the assists in the past month and averaging over 18 minutes per night in that time. Also being deployed on the top power-play unit consistently this is a must-have forward if available on the wire.
The definition of flying under the radar, Jaccob Slavin is an excellent blueline addition for the postseason run. Consistently playing against the opposition's top talent his plus-18 speaks volumes to his defensive acumen. While Slavin is not known for gaudy point totals he has quietly produced steady offense in the past month from the backend to go along with a great plus-minus and an average of over 24 minutes per night. He's no Brent Burns but he won't hurt and you could do a lot worse for a third or fourth defender in your league regardless of size. Carolina boasts one of the best overall schedules for the final four weeks so Slavin would be a savvy addition for any and all squads.
So far so good for Drew Stafford after the move to Baaaahhh-ston. While the season on the whole has been ugly for Drew a fresh start in black and gold seems to be doing the trick and although his linemates seem to fluctuate we may still be looking at one of the sneakier fantasy plays down the stretch in your quest for a title. His plus-minus since moving to Boston has been stellar and such should remain a constant; as added bonus for those of you in leagues with hits, Stafford will throw the body a healthy amount as well, only further bolstering his value. Boston is in the thick of the playoff race among contenders and with Tampa Bay nipping at their heels one should expect all parties considered for the Bruins to put their best foot forward night in and night out.
Dylan Larkin has had an atrocious season we can all just sum up to the dreaded sophomore slump. That, and the fact that Detroit has finally faltered and looks to be entering a rebuild period. Nonetheless lately Larkin is producing with consistency and is centering an intriguing line where he is flanked by fellow speedster Andreas Athanasiou and grit specialist Justin Abdelkader. Larkin and Athanasiou together bring brilliant speed that may be the swiftest duo in the NHL and it can make it very tough on opposing defenders. They will rarely draw top defensive pairings over Henrik Zetterberg's line so this could make for great matchups going forward. Larkin might be on the second power-play unit but the grouping has just as much skill as the first unit. If you're worried about plus-minus this is not your guy but if you need points then he is.
Nick Schmaltz is not here because of point production whatsoever but solely because of the situation he finds himself in now that we know Artem Anisimov will be out for three to four weeks. When you are centering Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin you are more than worth the speculative add in hopes that you shall bear immense fantasy fruits. Sometimes it pays to take a little risk in fantasy and Schmaltz certainly makes for a boom-or-bust pick as he does not hit nor take penalties; but with Kane as hot as the neon plasma surface of the Sun and Panarin delivering, the odds would seem to be more in favor of boom than bust. Although Chicago's playoff schedule for fantasy intent is not the best you cannot pass up a chance to gain exposure to Kane/Panarin if you have the space on your roster.
Elias Lindholm was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft and it goes without saying that his time in the big leagues has been far from brilliant; but that's not to say he has been bad either. In his first two seasons he posted back-to-back 39-point years highlighting his ability to be consistent and this campaign he is two points shy of this same mark whilst missing 11 games so far. Lindholm is consistently deployed in the top six and also finds himself routinely on the first power play so he makes for an intriguing option in the final stretch. Carolina is a highly underrated team especially at home. They compete hard and Lindholm is an integral piece of the puzzle. Elias holds further value for those of you with faceoffs and hits as scoring categories.
If you're in a points-only league please kindly skip over this paragraph as Radko Gudas has no use for you. For those of us in a multi-category league shame on you if he is on the waiver wire still after all this time. Most would be shocked to see that Gudas is ranked 23rd overall in Dobber Hockey's Top 100 Roto Rankings. Although he severely lacks in the points department his contributions in penalty minutes, hits and blocks more than make up for it. Any league where these three are all scoring categories he is arguably elite. Radko is not your primary defender but he certainly would really round out your blue line in multi-cat and can be relied on for one shot, one hit and one block at minimum each and every night. Philadelphia is fighting for their playoff lives so each and every game for them is playoff intensity; take advantage of this desperation in their game and roster Gudas if you need a replacement.
At this point it would seem the cat’s out of the bag when it comes to the underrated value of Mikael Backlund, so therefore we turn to another member of the 3M line; Michael Frolik. The Calgary Flames as a whole are quite literally the representation of their logo; on freaking fire. This line consisting of Frolik, Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk is arguably their best line and despite being on the second power-play unit, they are responsible for more of the power play production as a whole since the turn of the calendar year. With Brian Elliott finally regaining the form we all know him to possess, Dougie Hamilton becoming a top tier defender and Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan being well Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan this team is percolating at the right time and should they make the big dance watch out. Frolik has always been a solid hockey player and is averaging over 18 minutes a night in the past month. His current line scenario seems to be also further bolstering his capability to produce for both the Flames and potentially for your fantasy squad.
Any player on the Coyotes roster outside of a select view is looked at like a leper in fantasy circles. Beyond Radim Vrbata, Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson there lies a hidden gem in Tobias Rieder. Rieder has always had the potential and he might be starting to realize it. Rieder is a responsible player whom Dave Tippett deploys on the penalty kill and the fact that he is only minus-5 in almost 70 games played in Arizona speaks to his defensive responsibility. Lately his plus-minus has rarely been a hindrance with any single games worst rating being a minus-1. And now with him posting points with consistency in the past two weeks Tobias is rewarding what very few owners he has with excellent end-of-season return on investment. It's almost guaranteed he is available in your league and with no pressure to make the postseason in Arizona the players can just focus on their game and Tobias is certainly doing such.
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