A busier week in the NHL is ahead on the schedule with a mere two teams playing only two games and now eight teams playing four times. We are in the thick of it now where standings are starting to form. The Calgary Flames’ games being postponed through Dec. 16 dropped their totals to one game this week while removing a game from the week from the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The only teams that play two games are the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. While on the other end, the eight teams that play four games this week are the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, and Vegas Golden Knights.
This week we see many players step up and excel with other top-end guys go down to injury.
(Rostered as of Dec. 13, ESPN Fantasy Hockey)
Oliver Wahlstrom, New York Islanders (rostered 4.2%)
Oliver Wahlstrom has been the most effective and productive player for the New York Islanders recently, despite head coach Barry Trotz still keeping him off the top line. He had a very long stretch without a point, but the team as a whole was struggling to produce much.
Over the past five games, he has really popped off and turned it around this season, scoring as many expected. He has three goals and five assists while tallying 17 penalty minutes. If he can keep that production up, the team will have no choice but to elevate him. Not rostered in very many leagues, you would easily be able to take advantage of his hot streak with little risk.
Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils (21%)
Jesper Bratt continues his torrid pace since starting the season pointless in five games. Since, he has recorded at least one point in 17 of the 21 games, for eight goals, 16 assists, and 24 points. The chemistry between him, Dawson Mercer, and Andreas Johnsson has been unmatched on the Devils.
He may not be able to keep up this pace for an entire season, but he is on track to finish with a ton of points for someone as underrated as he is.
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues (15.7%)
St. Louis Blues has a number of players out, and with the struggles this season by Brayden Schenn, it opened the opportunity for Ivan Barbashev to be elevated to the second line and play with better players. This has helped, as he has scored six of his 10 goals on the season in the last nine games, while adding three assists to be a point per game player over that span. The talent was always there, just on a team like the Blues, it was hard to find opportunities higher up in the lineup.
Nino Niederreiter, Carolina Hurricanes (49.1%)
Nino Niederreiter has been someone who has benefited greatly by playing on the top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, and who wouldn’t. With two goals, four assists, and a plus-seven rating in the previous five games, it’s looking as though he will stay on the top line of the Hurricanes for a while.
Ondrej Kase, Toronto Maple Leafs (4.1%)
The injury to Mitch Marner has created the opening on the top line for Ondrej Kase to jump in and produce. This may not last forever, but for the time being, this is how things have been working. Injuries have always held back Kase’s career. But now that he’s healthy, we’re seeing just what a steal he is.
Kase has three goals and two assists in the past four games with 15 shots. He is bound to keep getting points, especially playing with Austin Matthews who is red-hot in the goal-scoring department.
Marcus Foligno, Minnesota Wild (36.6%)
Fantasy owners still seem to be hesitant on adding Marcus Foligno to their teams. He is one of the most efficient players in giving value to all fantasy categories. He has been very solid in scoring this season with 13 goals, while maybe his most valuable asset is the amount of penalty minutes he adds while not taking away from the other stats.
Jake Bean, Columbus Blue Jackets (1.5%)
Jake Bean‘s ice time has increased significantly recently with how he has performed. With ice time and opportunity comes a better chance to contribute all over the ice. Just in the past three games, Bean has a goal and two assists, plus-four, and eight shots. The Adam Boqvist injury has allowed the Blue Jackets to get a better look at Bean on the top pairing with Zach Werenski.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes (36.4%)
A name that continues to appear due to the hesitation of what team he plays for. Surprisingly though, Shayne Gostisbehere is a minus-five on a minus-53 team and looks to jump in playing time even more over the next little bit since Jacub Chychrun is dealing with an upper-body injury.
Gostisbehere receives regular power-play time and has contributed 17 points this season, tied for the team lead. His ice time has really elevated as of late and is very respectable for a defenceman. The only part of the game he really doesn’t add much value is in the penalty minutes department.
Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers (13.2%)
Alexandar Georgiev is still holding down the starting duties in New York while Igor Shesterkin is still on the injured reserve. Gerard Gallant believes he will be back sometime this week, but the team has three games in four days and Georgiev looks to start at least two of them if Shesterkin isn’t back until later in the week.
Since taking over starting duties, Georgiev has won three of four games while posting a 1.42 goals-against average (GAA) and .951 save percentage (SV%).
Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (29.7%)
Some good and bad news for Dallas Stars fans the other day, Ben Bishop won’t be able to continue his career. That means that Jake Oettinger is here to stay. There was already speculation as to what the Stars were going to do when Bishop returned, now they don’t have to scramble.
The two goaltenders they have been running with, Braden Holtby and Oettinger, have done very well. I expect them to at least split time, seeing as how Oettinger has won five out of six games he’s played and has a 1.52 GAA and .951 SV% on the season. The addition of Ryan Suter to the back-end has helped with defending the goal a bit more this year.
Stay up to date every week with who to target on the waiver wire based on opportunity and recent play, it may help you get that extra win and the championship down the line.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.