Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 12
Another week and another coach was fired in the NHL. To date, the only team that seems to have benefited from this type of move is the Edmonton Oilers (with tried and true Ken Hitchcock taking the reigns). Dave Hakstol is out in Philly, after a particularly slow walk down the plank and this situation is worth watching. With Joel Quenneville possibly rubbing his hands in the background, Scott Gordon has a chance to get a very talented roster to respond to his style and system. That roster should not be 23rd in goals scored and their defense, in particular, might see a big uptick in production.
Cody Eakin (VGK) 11%
Eakin is listed as the third line center in Vegas, now that Paul Stastny is back from injury but is clocking a respectable 15:50 in ice time and has 19 points (including 11 goals) in 33 games so far. Vegas is not lighting it up like they did last year, but they are playing much better of late and are 13th in scoring. Max Pacioretty is still adjusting to his new team and Nate Schmidt has only played half of their games, so Vegas could be gaining momentum as the year goes along, and Eakin should be a solid contributor.
Anthony Cirelli (TB) 9%
Cirelli has taken some time to heat up in Tampa, but he may be another mid-round nugget for the Lightning. While he posted no points against the Jets, he did score five goals and one assist in his previous four games. It’s too early to tell if he’s streaky or starting to find his game, much like teammates Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, and Tyler Johnson. Those guys were obscure at one point also, but Cirelli may be another example of a player who’s actually better in the pros than in junior.
Daniel Sprong (ANH) 3%
Sprong may be on a redemption tour in Anaheim, as he clearly needed a change of scenery. He never seemed to fit in with the Penguins veterans, but there’s no denying his skill set. He was a point per game player in the AHL and well above that on his Junior team. He’s currently slotted on the third line with Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie, as the Ducks suddenly seem to have some offensive depth.
Tom Wilson (WSH) 69%
At the other end of the ownership spectrum is Wilson. At 69% he is certainly not a sleeper, but I have to make the case for higher ownership. At almost 19 minutes per game, he’s enjoying a regular shift on a line with the gifted center, Evgeny Kuznetsov. He also plays with Backstrom and Ovechkin at times and has scored an impressive 15 points (including nine goals) in only 13 games. He also has 31 hits already, and as long as he keeps those legal, he should be a regular contributor the rest of the year.
Pontus Aberg (ANH) 12%
Another reclamation project for the Ducks, Aberg went from being a high second-round draft pick of Nashville to being claimed off waivers by Edmonton, and then Anaheim. While he could never really crack the roster on a deep Predators team, the injuries in Anaheim provided another chance for him to showcase his talent. He now finds himself on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase and has posted 18 points in 29 games. He has three goals and four assists in his last seven games so there’s a good chance he keeps his spot as a top-six forward.
Andrew Ladd (NYI) 1%
Ladd is currently on IR, but is reportedly expected back as soon as this week. He hasn’t exactly lit it up with the Islanders, but he’s hit 23 goals or more six times in his career, including a 62 point campaign in 2014. He should receive at least third line minutes once he has his sea legs back, and could thrive under new coach Barry Trotz. At 33 years of age, he may already be on that slippery slope, but he could also bounce back nicely as a cheap waiver claim just before returning to the lineup.
Nate Schmidt (VGK) 8%
After a breakout 36 point campaign last year for the Golden Knights, Schmidt was suspended for 20 games for violating the league’s Performance Enhancing Substances policy. He’s already leading the team in ice time at 22:36 and Vegas is simply a much better team when he’s on the ice. He should also enjoy his fair share of power play time and could still be an under the radar pickup.
Jack Johnson (PIT) 4%
As with many of his on-ice decisions, this is a roll of the dice. Johnson is a guy that had a five year run of posting 35-40 points and in Pittsburgh he has the chance to reignite that offensive game with the likes of his good friend Sidney Crosby. He’s averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per game and still has an excellent shot from the point. The Penguins are still struggling, but if they turn it around Johnson could see his value improve greatly.
Carter Hart (PHI) 21%
For a guy starting his first ever game to be owned at this level tells you something. He’s under a lot of pressure in Philly due to the implosion of the team this year, and the decades-long issue the Flyers have had in net. He’s the most highly touted young goalie in years though, and has won at every level and under a ton of scrutiny and pressure. If anyone can handle the spotlight in Philly, it’s this guy. The Flyers were a very patient organization under Ron Hextall, but may now be more willing to give Hart a legitimate shot in the crease this year.
Colin White (OTT) 6%
White has stepped in as the number one center in Ottawa with the recent injury to Matt Duchene. While Duchene is expected back soon, White’s response to his opportunity was impressive. With seven points in as many games, he’s looked the part of a top-six forward and should have cemented that role and the increased ice time that goes with it.