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Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 8

by Sheldon Curtis | @sheldon__curtis | Featured Writer
Nov 21, 2018

Two more teams have fired their head coach this week (Edmonton and St. Louis), so it will be interesting to see the effects of a new voice behind the bench. In particular, Ken Hitchcock is an intriguing choice for Edmonton. He’s coached highly skilled offensive players before, but is known for installing a grinding, tight-checking system with his previous teams. McDavid will always be a special player, but the rest of the lineup may be affected. Hopefully, there’s no way but up as a new direction for the struggling Blues offensively.

Center

Mikko Koivu (MIN) 31%
On pace for a career-best 69 points, Koivu is a historically undervalued player. The Wild were a sedentary team for so long under a series of defensive coaches, that it’s easy to forget they are now guided by a man-the-torpedoes coach in Bruce Boudreau. From a pathetic 177 goals as a team in 2011-12, the Wild have scored 266 and 253 respectively, in the last two seasons. Koivu is still averaging about 18 minutes per night and has plenty of talent around him.

Mikael Backlund (CGY) 13%
Backlund has endured a slow start to the season, but Calgary is suddenly an offensive juggernaut, surging to seventh in the league (tied with Vancouver). Also averaging around 18 minutes per night, Backlund is typically assured top six minutes alongside four players that are currently scoring more than a point per game. Backlund’s personal best season of 53 points and his three-year average of 48 suggests he will pick up the pace as the season progresses.

Right Wing

David Perron (STL) 20%
Perron is one of the Blues that may benefit from a new bench boss (Craig Berube as interim). Mike Yeo’s system seemed to have a gradual stifling effect on the offensive creativity of several St. Louis players, and Perron is prominent on that list. Fresh off a career-best 66 points in Vegas, Perron is currently on pace for 46 points this year, with arguably much better talent around him. With a clean slate, he could have another strong year.

Mats Zuccarello (NYR) 24%
He is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but Zuccarello is a steady offensive performer, as his three-year average of 58 points will attest. The Rangers are certainly not a powerhouse these days, but Zuccarello can provide solid depth for you and may be easy to pick up before he’s back in the lineup.

Left Wing

Brady Tkachuk (OTT) 42%
He is owned at a fairly high rate already, but I believe his skill and impact on the Senators as a 19-year-old rookie bears mentioning. The Senators are simply a different team with him in the lineup. He is second on the team in hits (while playing in only 10 games) and has 10 points to start his rookie season. He may have been dropped due to his recent injury, but he has come back strong, and should be picked up before your rivals realize he’s the real deal.

Alexander Kerfoot (COL) 12%
Kerfoot posted a very respectable 43 points in his rookie year and is showing no signs of a sophomore slump in Colorado (on pace for 56 points). While Colorado’s incredible first line is garnering most of the attention (justifiably), Kerfoot should be a fixture on the second line garnering 13+ minutes the rest of the year.

Defense

Damon Severson (NJ) 25%
One caveat with Severson is that he often starts the year on a roll but cannot sustain a high level of production throughout the season. If that happens again, you can simply drop him when the points dry up, but he’s currently playing well and has all the skill needed to be a steady offensive force for the Devils. New Jersey isn’t among the league leaders in offense, but now has some serious scoring talent, which may help Severson maintain his strong play through 82 games.

Maxime Lajoie (OTT) 30%
Thomas Chabot has absolutely exploded this year, with 24 points in his first 21 games, but Lajoie has also stepped in to help fill the immense void left by the trade which sent Erik Karlsson to San Jose. He has 10 points to date, and while he’s not a big hitter and his plus-minus numbers may diminish his value somewhat, he’s a surprisingly integral part of the surprisingly spunky Senators. He is averaging over 20 minutes in ice time and should continue to maintain his spot on the second defense pairing.

Goalie

Anton Khudobin (DAL) 15%
Some free agent signings are telling (and prophetic in this case). Khudobin is one of the few backup goalies that can be happy as the backup, but can also step in and play well in multiple games if your starter is injured. Ben Bishop has been plagued by injuries during his career, and is currently down with a lower-body ailment. This may only be something that lingers for a week or so, but if Khudobin gets hot, the Stars will be in no hurry to rush Bishop back into the crease.

Sleeper

Tanner Pearson (PIT) 10%
In what correlates to winning the lottery for a former sniper (okay, former junior hockey league sniper), Pearson has gone from the offensive wasteland of L.A. to playing with Evgeni Malkin. He already seems to be finding his stride after a two-point game against Buffalo, his third game with Pittsburgh. To put that in perspective, Pearson had zero goals and one assist in 17 games with the Kings this year. Anyone playing with Geno is worth a waiver bid, and Pearson does have two 40-point seasons under his belt.

Sheldon Curtis is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Sheldon, check out his archive.