Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 13
With the holiday season upon us, it’s a pretty light week in the NHL, although Thursday and Saturday feature a heavy slate of games. I highly recommend taking in the World Junior Tournament (which begins on Boxing Day — the day after Christmas), as you will see some of the purest, most exciting hockey of the year. You’ll also be able to do some scouting in advance on up and coming players, some of which may even play in the big leagues later this year.
Derek Stepan (ARI) 13%
Stepan was slowly but surely making a name for himself in New York with seven straight seasons of 44 points or more. That 44-point season was posted in only 48 games and he’s also hit 50 points six times in his career. You definitely get less attention in the desert (even your horse has no name), and Stepan’s season has started as a crawl, but he’s still a talented center with some pretty decent skill around him. Grab him before anyone else remembers he’s good.
Blake Coleman (NJ) 23%
Coleman is just beginning to break out this year, and it’s too soon to tell if that’s a tease or a harbinger. He’s worked his way up to the second line now and is clocking in a respectable 15:47 in ice time. He may have to impress a bit more to get any serious power play time, but could fill an important role on a pretty thin offensive team.
Alex Chiasson (EDM) 20%
Chiasson has bounced around and then some (five teams in seven years), so I’m reluctantly posting this. He was a high second-round pick for the Stars, but it’s hard to have faith in a guy averaging 19 points the last three years. However, he’s currently playing on Leon Draisaitl’s line, is averaging 16:12 in ice time and is listed on the number one power play unit. All of this can change if their new defensive system (Ken Hitchcock strikes again) dries up the offense, but Chiasson is on pace for 36 goals this year.
Ilya Kovalchuk (LA) 49%
His ownership is still pretty high, but Kovy was floundering on the fourth line at times before it finally came out that he was skating on one leg. On his return, he potted two goals and had an assist the next night. The Kings are dead last in scoring, but there are a handful of skilled forwards on this team and Kovalchuk should be considered a great depth forward at worst.
Nino Niederreiter (MIN) 24%
Niederreiter has averaged 21 goals and 44 points the last three years. He looks to be coming up short this year (on pace for 16 goals and 41 points), but almost any hockey player can get streaky and he’s no exception. Playing in Bruce Boudreau’s offensive system doesn’t hurt either, nor does his posting on the second line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.
Ryan Murray (CLS) 6%
Murray has been as snakebitten as any blue-chip prospect in recent memory. Drafted second overall, he was labeled as “can’t miss” and then promptly missed 146 games in his first five seasons. Coming back from one serious injury is daunting for a high-performance athlete, so his season so far this year is really impressive. He’ll never light things up offensively, but his 17 points and +17 rating after 36 games is solid and dependable.
Jake McCabe (BUF) 1%
I’m digging deep here (wait until you see my sleeper) with McCabe. A poor man’s Ryan Murray, although more rugged, his stats in college were solid to good. He’s posted on the third pairing with the underrated Marco Scandella, and clocking 18:49 of ice time (which isn’t great for a defenseman), but the Sabres are a much-improved team. Their scoring is up drastically and you don’t have to automatically worry about +/- marks on Sabre players anymore (McCabe is +3).
Darcy Kuemper (ARI) 14%
I suggested Adin Hill a couple of weeks ago once the news of Antti Raanta’s injury was disclosed, but I think it’s prudent to go after Kuemper as well. His stats aren’t as amazing as Hill’s, but he’s at 2.81 goals against average and 0.911 save percentage, and that’s starter quality, or close to it. His 5-9-2 record is troubling, but Hill is very young and may tire emotionally as the season moves on (many young goaltenders do), so Kuemper may play a large role yet on this team.
Radim Simek (SJ) 1%
Signed in 2017 as a free agent, Simek has not traveled the typical path for a defenseman on the number one pairing (with Brent Burns) in San Jose. While toiling in the Czech league, his numbers were pretty impressive, but it’s hard to predict how a 26-year-old rookie will look. So far, so good, with five points and a plus-seven rating in his first 11 games. If he keeps playing with Burns, he’ll have decent numbers by default, but this guy may be a real find for the Sharks.