Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 15
We are just past the halfway point of the NHL season, and while there’s still time for plot twists, a few patterns have established. Two of the most pleasant surprises are the Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. The Flames rank a shocking third in goals scored as of Wednesday, and there are plenty of viable trade targets and waiver-wire options on this team. As for the Sabres, if +/- is used in your leagues, you may have avoided all but two or three of their players. They ended up a putrid -81 last season, but they pulled ahead to +4 following Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over the Devils. That alone will make a few more Sabres players viable members of your squad. Perception is fluid in the NHL, so it’s always a good idea to keep on top of who’s trending up and down.
Vincent Trocheck (FLA): 52%
While a slim majority of owners have retained Trocheck, he should be at 100% ownership when healthy. He’s currently due to be out until at least Feb. 1, so it may seem a bit early to pounce on him. Yet if you have a bench spot, I’d recommend getting the drop on your rivals and stashing him for three to four weeks if necessary. He hit 31 goals and 75 points last season and is just entering his prime as a top-six center. Florida has amassed some impressive offensive talent up front, and Trocheck could hit the ground running when he returns.
Dylan Strome (CHI): 13%
Strome was the third overall pick in the 2015 draft but just couldn’t find his stride in Arizona. While he had gaudy stats in junior (354 points in 219 games), he posted only six points in his first 20 games with the Coyotes to start the season. That prompted a trade to Chicago, and the initial results are encouraging (14 points in 21 games). Currently situated on the second line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Strome could really blossom during the second half.
Charlie Coyle (MIN): 18%
Coyle is a bit of a plugger fantasy-wise with a three-year average of 17 goals and 45 points. He will hit (46 in 42 games this year) and is currently centering the second line for the Wild. Minnesota isn’t scoring at the rate you’d expect for a Bruce Boudreau club (20th), but there is legitimate offensive talent around him and he’s averaging a solid 17:09 in ice time this year.
Bobby Ryan (OTT): 6%
It’s hard to make a strong case for Ryan after his last two seasons, but I will say this: He had two straight years of 54-plus points and has been hampered the last couple of seasons by injuries and (most likely) the gong show playing out in Ottawa. After a promising start to the year, Ottawa has slumped (1-8-1) in their last ten games. The Sens, however, are actually 10th in scoring. Ryan is currently slotted on the second line with great offensive players (Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel) and should at least provide solid depth.
Boone Jenner (CLS): 26%
During the 2015 season, Jenner looked like he was blossoming into a star. With 30 goals and 49 points, he had the makings of a young stud power forward and possible future captain of the Blue Jackets. Unfortunately, he scored only 21 goals combined the next two seasons and has only chipped in six so far this year. He still has a shot at a 40 point season and already has 82 hits to his name. He’s also a solid +6 and is averaging 17:25 minutes of ice time per night.
Micheal Ferland (CAR): 42%
Ferland is pretty widely owned, but may have been dropped in your league after missing time with concussion issues. He got off to a great start this season with the Hurricanes (seven goals in his first 12 games), but the injury really set him back. He may just be finding his way again, and he scored recently against the Blue Jackets. If he can stay healthy playing a power forward role, he can still post some excellent numbers for Carolina this year.
Robert Hagg (PHI): 38%
Hagg was a highly touted second-round pick by the Flyers in the 2013 draft. Philadelphia brought him along slowly, but he is starting to get regular ice time this year with an average of 17:57 minutes per game. He’s only currently on pace for about 25 points but may have more offensive upside. One thing you will get from Hagg (if your league scoring system counts it) is hits, as he’s already laid out an impressive 142 so far.
Michal Kempny (WAS): 25%
At 28 years of age, Kempny is a good example of the theory that most NHL defensemen hit their stride at around 27 or so. He’s on pace for about 30 points, which would triple last year’s output. He’s sporting an amazing +25 mark and also has a solid 42 hits so far this year. Definitely a depth guy, but on a powerhouse team.
Juuse Saros (NSH): 23%
Saros is one of the few small goalies left in the NHL. In fact, Pekka Rinne, Nashville’s starter, was one of the first 6’5″ goalies that set the tone for prototypes going forward. At 5’11”, Saros gets by on superior quickness, athleticism, and vision. He anticipates the play very well and gets in good position to face down the opposing shooter more often than not. He is in line to become the number one goalie for the Predators once Rinne moves on, and he should get enough starts in the meantime to warrant a roster spot.
Sven Baertschi (VAN): 3%
The Canucks are slowly building something good on the left coast, and Baertschi may benefit as much as anyone on that team. A former high first-round pick of the Flames, Baertschi didn’t respond well to being the chosen one in Calgary. He had very little offensive support there and not much in Vancouver until this year, but super stud rookie Elias Pettersson has helped transform this team. Baertschi is slated to play with him once he returns from a knee injury. If he can stay in a top-six role, Baertschi could come on strong in the season’s second half.