Fantasy Hockey Week 8: Top 10 Waiver Wire Pickups

This is a very average week in the NHL, with most teams playing three games. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but don’t expect your fantasy stats to pop off the page this week. There are only four teams that play four games and two that play only two.

The teams that play the most include the Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks, and Tampa Bay Lightning. While, on the other end, the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers play just two games. The Flyers are slumping, so you may want to completely avoid any players from them, while it’s bad timing for the Stars’ schedule to slow down, as they are hot right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t add players for the long run, though. The Lightning’s depth may be worth looking at since Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point are injured.

(Rostered as of Nov. 29, ESPN Fantasy Hockey)

Forwards

Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks (rostered 25.4%)

Trevor Zegras has really elevated his game over the past little bit and gotten himself back into the Calder Trophy race. In his last four games, he has four assists and had eight shots in his last game. He also had six penalty minutes in that time. Something that may pass fantasy owners by is that Zegras can contribute to all categories. He averages 2.5 shots per game, has more penalty minutes than games, scores both goals and assists, and plays on the power play.

Trevor Zegras Anaheim Ducks
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

He has found chemistry on the second line, and it allows for better matchups when opponents are worried about the underrated top line of Adam Henrique, Ryan Getzlaf, and Troy Terry on the Anaheim Ducks.

Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues (12.3%)

Though Robert Thomas doesn’t add value to all categories, if you are in need of some assists, time on ice, or even some power-play points, he isn’t owned very much, probably for that reason. Thomas has recorded 20 points in 21 games but only has two goals, 31 shots, and 10 penalty minutes, which isn’t too bad considering that would translate to 40 over a full semester.

Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils (9.5%)

Jesper Bratt has been consistently overlooked in all fantasy leagues, but he should be targeted immediately if he is available, which he should be. Owned in fewer than 10 percent of leagues, he has been scoring a ton since he shook off the slow start. In his last four games alone, Bratt has a stat line of one goal, five assists, plus-six, and 14 shots (“Devils’ Jesper Bratt: Racks up three points in win, CBS Sports, Nov. 28, 2021).

His totals for the season are up to 17 points in 19 games and 54 shots. He is playing on a very underrated line with Dawson Mercer and Andreas Johnsson, both of whom should be looked at as well.

Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes (55.8%)

Clayton Keller had an alarmingly slow start to the season, but playing on the Arizona Coyotes, who were in shambles overall, didn’t help. Part of the reason for some recent success is due to his play and finding his scoring touch. The Coyotes have never been a team feared for their scoring ability, but Keller has put up points in the past.

Related: NHL Stat Corner: Capitals, Penguins, Oilers, Panthers, Predators, & Kings

Over his last five games, despite being shut out in his last appearance vs. the Dallas Stars, he has scored two goals, five assists, and is a plus-six.

Marcus Foligno, Minnesota Wild (18.9%)

The Minnesota Wild players have been underappreciated this season, as even more could’ve appeared on this list, including Ryan Hartman. Instead I chose to focus here on Marcus Foligno, who is owned in fewer than 20 percent of leagues, rather than over 40 percent for Hartman. Many have not yet caught on how well the Wild are doing by committee. Sure, that doesn’t make many of the players must-own, but they are always floating around the top of the waiver wire to give a boost to your team in a time of need.

Marcus Foligno Minnesota Wild
Marcus Foligno, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As of late, Foligno has played well above his season average, getting over 18 minutes of ice time per game. With this extra ice time, he has been able to score three goals and an assist in the past five games. He shoots the puck more than you would expect, and an added bonus is that he gets a lot of penalty minutes. His total for the season is already up to 41.

Reilly Smith, Vegas Golden Knights (35%)

Reilly Smith has been on a goal-scoring tear lately as the Vegas Golden Knights start to get healthy (“Vegas Golden Knights report cards: Robin Lehner, Reilly Smith leading the way at quarter-season mark”, The Athletic, Nov. 26, 2021). He’s scored a goal in four of his last five games and seven goals in his past nine games after scoring just twice in the first 12. On a team that is good and scoring can come from anywhere, there is lots of value in a player like this, as he is able to succeed not only off of his own talents but also those around him.

Mats Zuccarello, Minnesota Wild (36.5%)

Another Wild forward who gets overlooked despite having a very good season offensively. His chemistry with Kirill Kaprizov continues to add a ton of value to Mats Zuccarello, so as long as he is playing close to Kaprizov, Zuccarello is very much worth the add.

He may not shoot the most or sit in the penalty box too often, but he has 16 points in 16 games and produces on the power play. Zuccarello also plays good minutes for a forward, averaging over 18 minutes a game, and also has a very good plus/minus at this point in the season due to a solid team around him and a good line.

Defencemen

Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes (37.4%)

A very good bounce-back season in the most unlikely of places, Shayne Gostisbehere is showing once again that he is still able to produce points no matter what team he plays for. The Coyotes’ power play features two defencemen, Jakob Chychrun and Gostisbehere since they are both offensive forces and the forward group is weaker.

It has helped him to record 15 points in the team’s first 21 games of the season. At this rate, Gostisbehere is set to easily top 50 points, even if his production drops off a little. The Coyotes weren’t going to stay as bad as they were to begin the season all year long. Even during that time, it seemed like Gostisbehere was the only one consistently putting up any points.

Goalies

Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (24.7%)

There are going to be moves made in Dallas once all of their goaltenders are healthy, but for now, Jake Oettinger has taken over the Stars’ crease and has won all four of his starts this season since his recall from the American Hockey League.

Jake Oettinger Dallas Stars
Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

He has only allowed five goals in his four starts and is sporting an incredible 1.26 goals-against average (GAA) and .959 save percentage (SV%). He has helped turn the Stars’ season around and should be the top streaming option in net with the potential for longer success. By how well he is playing, he will force the team to keep him around.

James Reimer, San Jose Sharks (23.2%)

The San Jose Sharks’ up and down season continues, but one of the constants has been James Reimer in net. He has taken over the starting job from Adin Hill, and for good reason. The Sharks still believe they can win and will do everything they can to do while their veterans still have some juice left.

Reimer has seven wins this season and three in the last four games. His totals on the year are a 2.06 GAA, .933 SV%, and one shutout coming in the game yesterday vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. He can be a long-term option as long as the Sharks stay competitive.

It’s always worth keeping an eye on teams that don’t necessarily have a ton of star power, but instead have many players getting the job done by committee. In that, you will be able to find a lot of streaming options on teams like the Wild or the New Jersey Devils. Take a chance on any of these players this week, and you shouldn’t be disappointed in the results.


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