Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: 1/31
We are now past the All-Star Break in the NHL season, so the stretch run has been entered for a lot of Fantasy Hockey leagues. Those who are fighting for playoff spots or extra points, looking for that extra boost, might want to pay some attention this week to these waiver wire adds. There are particular teams with some great matchups this week, including the Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils, when it comes to offensive players. And those, along with others, would be players to consider as sneaky waiver wire adds. Here is my post-All-Star break list of waiver options for today through next Tuesday.
Kyle Palmieri (NJ)
The former Anaheim Duck Palmieri, since arriving to the New Jersey Devils, has been one of the more prolific goal scorers on a team that has been barking for offense since their Stanley Cup run in 2012. However, this year, the Devils are contending and lasting longer than I would’ve thought. The reason why I bring this up is Palmieri is available in 48.6% of leagues due to his injury that caused him to miss 19 of the Devils 48 games. From a talent perspective, Palmieri is probably the third or even second best scorer on this Devils team. And on a team with a lot of youth, he provides that veteran presence, especially after the trade of Adam Henrique. Palmieri, in 29 games, has eight goals and eight assists to go along with 39 hits and 23 blocks. Those numbers would likely be around 15 for his offense and 80 for his hits if he was healthy, showing how valuable of a player he is to the Devils. Right now, he is listed on the third line for New Jersey, but do you really expect him to play behind Stefan Noesen and Blake Coleman at the wing forever? My point is to expect him to have a greater role on this team, both for the short-term and for the long-term.
In terms of matchups, the teams they are facing are the Flyers, Penguins, and Senators, all of which have had goaltending and defense issues this year. Despite the Flyers over-performing their normal level of defense and goaltending at 2.82 GAA, I wouldn’t be afraid of Steve Mason or Michael Neuvrith in net. And the Senators (3.43 GAA- 30th) and the Penguins (2.98- 21st) have had issues all year despite having the talent. And for a guy that has scored 26 goals and 30 goals in the past two years, expect that eight to rise quickly with these matchups and with the Devils playing urgent hockey in the thick of a playoff push.
Mathieu Perreault (WPG)
I mentioned at the top that the Winnipeg Jets are another team I like for a lot of different players. My choice among that multitude is center Mathieu Perreault. Similarly to Palmieri, Perreault has missed time (12 games) of what has been a successful season for Winnipeg. Still, he has put up good numbers for a guy that is only owned in 38.1% of leagues. He has 15 goals and 14 assists on the season, and that number is likely to go up as well with him seeing more ice time due to the injury to star center Mark Scheifele. And even with the injury, he is still joining a Winnipeg Jets team that is monstrous offensively with the third-most goals in the NHL this season, only behind the Islanders and Lightning.
And in terms of matchups, they are good for this week, playing against the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, and Arizona Coyotes. Now you may ask, why Vegas? They have had a good defense and are fifth-best in terms of goals allowed. Those are fair points, but I’m still not scared of Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban as elite goaltenders. Plus, Winnipeg is at home for these games, where they are 17-3-1 this season. The Avalanche are middle of the pack in terms of goals allowed and the Coyotes are near the bottom, and neither team has ultra-talented goaltenders or defensemen. Even without Scheifele, expect the Winnipeg Jets to come out of the All-Star break firing offensively. And I expect Perreault, a guy that would probably have at or close to 20-20 if he was healthy, to be a big part of that as the first or second line center both for the short term and the long term with Scheifele sidelined for probably two more weeks.
Noah Hanifin (CAR)
Another week, another Hurricane featured. I mentioned Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk last article, so I decided to switch it up and go with Noah Hanifin. The 21-year-old defenseman already has his career high with seven goals and also has 17 assists, which on his current pace will be near his career high of 25 last year. The great thing about the Hurricanes as well, if you commit to the timeframe that I mentioned at the top of the article (January 31-February 6), is that they have four games in that stretch. One of them is against a good defensive team in the Sharks, but it’s also with goaltender Martin Jones just coming back, so he may be a bit rusty trying to get back into a rhythm. As for the rest of the games, they feature the Montreal Canadians, Ottawa Senators, and Philadelphia Flyers, teams that either have struggled talent wise or performance wise this season. Being that Hanifin is exclusively an offensive defenseman (just 41 hits and 47 blocks) and that he plays on the second power-play unit, expect his offensive stats to be boosted against these iffy teams. As I mentioned above, the Senators are 30th in the NHL with a 3.43 GAA, with Montreal at 3.14 and Philadelphia at 2.82. And with the Hurricanes with a good amount of young talent offensively, expect Hanifin to get some assists as well, either with a direct pass or with a deflection off one of his shots from the point. Once again, the Sharks are the exception in the four-game stretch (fifth on penalty kill), but every other team is in the bottom 10 when it comes to penalty kill. With those combinations, expect Hanifin and several other Carolina Hurricanes to gain value offensively in this stretch.
Robin Lehner (BUF)
Goaltending is hard to find this year, with a lot of starters going down for long stretches of time and a lot of backups being owned as depth positions in the majority of leagues. But one gem that is a starter and may work as a temporary fix this week is Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner. Why do I say that about a goaltender on the team with the least points in the Eastern Conference? One reason is the fact that all the offensive teams they are facing are either middle of the pack or below average, with the hardest of those matchups being the 13th ranked St. Louis Blues (2.84 GPG). The other reason is that all three of those games are at home, which gives them a greater chance to win in an environment they are comfortable with and don’t have to travel to. The final reason is that he is the clear No. 1 without much competition, giving him a greater chance to start all these games. The Sabres are one of those teams that don’t have a young backup or farm product to develop that can threaten Lehner. The Sabres backup is journeyman backup Chad Johnson, a player with a similar career success line and stat line to Lehner. Therefore, with Lehner starting 35 games in comparison to Johnson’s 13, expect him to still play a bulk of the remaining games. And despite him not being a good goaltender statistically and skill wise, a starter is still a starter, and he can serve a role to still get points on your fantasy team. Especially in this week, with all home games against the Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and Anaheim Ducks, he may get higher point totals against offensive teams that aren’t exceptional. All the teams they are playing are below average offensively, with the Blues ranked 18th at 2.84 goals per game, the Panthers ranked 20th at 2.77, and the Ducks at 21st with 2.76. And when it comes to talent, those teams are more known for their physicality and defense. Despite having some good scorers on their respective teams, these teams don’t have a lot of offensive depth. With those reasons in mind, even though I don’t think Lehner will be insanely good, he could serve some good value if you need a 3rd or 4th goaltender, or even an injury replacement for fantasy owners of Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford, Semyon Varlamov, or any of the Florida Panthers goaltenders. And with decent matchups and all home games, expect his value to be better than expected for a player of his talent level and better than a player owned in only 21.5% of leagues.