This is it. Twelve months of prepping, drafting, trading and signing free agents have come down to the next couple of weeks for most leagues.
Maybe you’re fighting for a championship. Maybe you’re battling for the bronze. Maybe your league has rules where the bottom-feeders battle it out for the first overall pick. Whatever the reason, there are still plenty of fantasy general managers who should be scouring the waiver wire for extra help.
There are lots of reasons why you need to pick up a couple of new players. Do you really want to go into your final week forced to dress Jonathan Drouin, who has picked up points in only one of the past 16 games?
Below are 10 players that have been running hot in standard Yahoo pools or have favourable schedules for this week. Any part that mentions the ranking in the last 30 days is before Sunday’s games. These players are also somewhat under-the-radar. Obviously, if Matthew Tkachuk, Evander Kane and Aleksander Barkov are available in your pool, you choose those players first.
10. Michael Frolik
Picking up Frolik could be a huge gamble, but he might be the best bet in deep leagues where there may not be a lot of other options (he’s owned in three per cent of Yahoo leagues). In his last 15 games, Frolik has three goals and 11 points, which sounds great. Then you delve more into his numbers and realize that eight of those points came in three games. However, he’s playing with stud Matthew Tkachuk, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Frolik have a couple more big games.
A funny thing happened to Namestnikov this weekend in Yahoo pools. He was owned in only 14 per cent of leagues on Saturday, and on Sunday, that number had dropped to 11 per cent. That’s kind of surprising, considering he’s been the 40th-best fantasy player in the past 30 days (six goals, five assists, plus-five, one power-play point, 30 shots and 33 hits). He is cooling off somewhat (zero points in his last four games), but he does get the benefit of playing Detroit and Toronto this week (both are in the top five for most goals allowed in March).
8. Ryan Strome
Owned in just six per cent of Yahoo leagues, Strome has been a beast over the past 30 days. In that time, he has six goals, five assists, plus-six, two power-play points, 25 shots and six hits. Since Mats Zuccarello was traded to the Stars on Feb. 23, Strome has eight points in 12 games, and has seen his ice time jump to 18:36 a game (up from 14:45 in 41 games with the Rangers before that). One downside is the Rangers play Tuesday and then not again until Saturday, which starts five games in nine nights for the Rangers. If your league has a two-week finale that starts this week, he’s an attractive option if you can wait until Saturday to pick him up.
7. Lars Eller
Eller has shown in the past the ability to put together a good stretch of fantasy hockey, and his past month may be some of the best yet. In the past 30 days, has been consistent across all categories (four goals, five assists, plus-six, one power-play point, 33 shots and 14 hits). Washington plays four games this week, so Eller, only five per cent owned, could be a sneaky play.
Crouse, owned in 11 per cent of Yahoo pools, has been a top-50 player in Yahoo pools in the last 30 days, thanks largely to his hit total. Over the month, he has three goals, three assists, plus-two with 28 shots and 68 hits. Since Feb. 14, Crouse has 74 hits. That is easily the tops in the NHL (by comparison, Ryan Reaves is the only other player with more than 54 hits, and he has 62). If you need hits, the best option available is sitting right there on your waiver wire.
5. Andrew Shaw
You don’t put in a claim for Andrew Shaw for the points. That’s just a bonus. You do put in a claim if you need shots and hits, two areas where Shaw excels. Shaw has put up at least four hits in five of his last seven games, and since Nov. 1, has put up at least two shots in 29 of his 46 games. The Habs have four games this week as they fight for a playoff spot and Shaw has already called his team out, meaning he’ll be looking to lead by example on the ice. That was evident in Saturday’s game when he had seven shots and seven hits.
The gang who write the ramblings have mentioned Silfverberg a few times, but it doesn’t seem to be driving people to claim the Ducks forward as he’s sitting on the waiver wire in more than two-thirds of pools. Since March 3 (and not including Sunday night’s game), Silf has played eight games, and has five goals, four assists, plus-six, two power-play points, 16 shots and three hits. He’s also been averaging about 18 minutes a night. Remember that the Ducks are the masters of the off-night schedule, with games on Wednesday and Friday night this week, making Silfverberg even more attractive.
Bjugstad seems to have found a different gear since being dealt to Pittsburgh. He’s not in the top six or on the top power-play, so you can’t credit his performance solely on linemates. However, in the last 30 days (and before Sunday night’s game against Philadelphia), Bjugstad has five goals, three assists, plus-four, three power-play points, 42 shots and 37 hits. That’s the 29th-best fantasy performance over that timeframe as he’s basically contributing in every category, but he’s available in 75 per cent of leagues.
The fact that Hinostroza is owned in only five per cent of leagues goes to show you 1) how little attention people pay to hot streaks and 2) how people give up on their teams as we get further into the season. Since Jan. 10, the Coyotes forward has 22 points in 30 games and has started getting power-play time the last 10 games. In the last 30 days, he’s the 28th-ranked player on Yahoo, and also has triple eligibility, able to slot in at centre, left wing or right wing. The Coyotes have four games this week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday).
It’s not too often that a number one netminder is sitting on the waiver wire this late into the season, but that’s exactly what is happening with Grubauer. In case you haven’t heard, he’s wrested the starter’s job away from Semyon Varlamov, starting three of the last four games and four of the last seven (plus one five-minute relief appearance). Since Feb. 23, Grubauer has a 0.79 GAA, a .971 SV %, three shutouts in six games to go along with a 3-2 record. In those two losses, he gave up only two goals in each game. Compare that to Varlamov, who has let in at least three goals in six of his last seven starts. Grubauer is owned in 31 per cent of leagues and the Avs play four games this week. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be on a team this week.
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