Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 16
I was looking back at some previous suggestions in this series, and as to be expected there were some hits and misses. I’ll start with the bad news: Casey Mittelstadt (13 points and 13% ownership) — I’m still surprised to see him struggle to this extent as this is really his rookie season, but he’s still young and the talent is undeniable; Peter Budaj (4.48 goals against average and 0.870 save percentage…in the minors!) — Budaj had a really good season last year, winning 30 games with a 0.915 save percentage, but goalies will always be a different breed. Sorry. The good news: Alex Tuch (37 points in 40 games and 57% ownership) — he’s looking like the real deal and still pretty available; David Rittich (17 wins, 0.920 save percentage and 72% ownership) — Big Save Dave has really been a great story for the number two overall team in the league, and is quietly becoming their number one goalie. Not sorry.
Frank (insert mob nickname) Vatrano (FLA) 5%
This may be a short-term benefit, as Vincent Trocheck is due to return in two to three weeks. Regardless, Vatrano is making a push for a bigger role with nine points in his last 13 games. He only has 20 to date this season, so he should be flying well under the radar for most owners. He’s a bit of a dart throw but may give you a couple of good weeks at minimum.
Colton Sissons (NSH) 16%
Sissons has taken over the role as the second line center in Nashville with the recent injury to Kyle Turris. While Turris may be back at the end of this week, Sissons is starting to click offensively with five points in his last six games. If the Preds get on any kind of roll, their coach will be reluctant to change anything, including line combinations. Regardless, Sissons is a very dependable two-way player with a shot at 20 goals this year.
Anthony Mantha (DET) 24%
After a solid 24-goal, 48-point season last year, Mantha is on pace for just 17 goals and 29 points this year (although he’s missed several games to date). He’s still a 6′ 5″ winger with soft hands and is almost guaranteed a top-six role on a Detroit squad lacking in talent and depth. He’s currently on the second line with Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen averaging a solid 17:25 of ice time. If he finds his stride again he’s more than capable of finishing the season strong.
Conor Garland (ARI) 7%
Garland has been a great story recently for the Coyotes, who can use all the good vibes they can get. He recently made headlines for scoring a goal with his face and has the stitches and bruising to prove it. He actually came back in that game and scored another goal and has played a feisty, productive style for Arizona. Garland was a phenomenal player in junior (328 points in 206 games), and if his game translates at all to the NHL, he could be a steal for the Coyotes (and you).
Michael Frolik (CGY) 7%
Frolik was a healthy scratch recently but has scored 10 points in his 10 games since returning to the lineup. As he only had seven points in the previous 20 games you can understand why he was sent to the press box. Calgary is scoring at will this season and if he can stay on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, Frolik could be a nice sleeper the rest of the year.
Kevin Fiala (NSH) 35%
One of Colton Sissons linemates, Fiala passes the eye test whenever you watch Nashville play. A former first-round pick, it looks to be just a matter of time before he becomes a star. He’s currently on pace to match last year’s solid 48-point campaign, although with fewer goals. At 15:28 of average ice time, he’s still gaining the trust of his coach, although he’s also on the number two power-play unit.
Cam Fowler (ANH) 26%
I’d typically expect much higher ownership on a proven player such as Fowler, but he was out with an injury for some time, and the Ducks are struggling to score this year. Fowler is scoring pretty much at his three-year average of 33 points this year but is capable of hitting 40 in a good year. He’s too good to be a free agent.
Filip Hronek (DET) 0%
Hronek definitely is flying under the radar in his rookie season, although he has nine points in 23 games this year. A second-round pick of the Red Wings, Hronek scored more than a point per game in his only OHL season and also produced good numbers in the AHL. He’s currently slated on the second pairing with Jonathan Ericsson and may start receiving quality power play time soon.
Jordan Binnington (STL) 31%
Binnington has been biding his time in the AHL (four seasons prior to this year) and may end up being one of those stories where a franchise was patient and let a young goalie develop at his own pace. His stats this year for St. Louis are tremendous (3-0, 1.45 goals against average, 0.941 save percentage) and couldn’t have come soon enough for the Blues. With another uneven season so far from Jake Allen, St. Louis desperately needs someone to take the reigns and run with it. It’s a very small sample size, but so far so good.
Lukas Radil (SJ) 0%
Radil is a 6’4″, 28-year-old free agent that had posted really solid numbers in the KHL the last three seasons. He’s scoring at close to a 40-point pace so far this year, but there’s a chance that is accelerated with more ice time (he’s now on the second line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier), and as he continues to acclimatize to the NHL game.