Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 17
We have a very light week in the NHL with the All-Star break upon us. Some teams aren’t playing at all, so hopefully you can field a full roster, which could be the difference between a win or loss this week. With just over a month before the trade deadline, it will be interesting to see if any GMs get a jump on their adversaries in the next couple of weeks. This tends to be the time where a lot of trade discussions take place, and they often lay down the groundwork for deals. Keep an eye on those rumors, as the potential value of many players (adds and drops) could change significantly with a fresh start.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi (MTL): 5%
This is a hunch as much as a statistical argument. Kotkaniemi has not looked out of place as an 18-year-old center in the NHL, and he has helped take some heat off Marc Bergevin for selecting him with the third pick in last year’s draft. Though he’s shielded somewhat as a third-line center with 14:20 of ice time, he’s also on the second power-play unit. He’s shown no signs of hitting a wall with six points in his last 13 games and may be one of those rookies that finishes strong once he figures out the game on this side of the pond.
Nick Bonino (NSH): 5%
For a late-round pick of San Jose (bonus points if you knew that) in the 2007 draft, Bonino has carved out a pretty solid career. On pace for a 20-goal, 41-point season, he’s settled in nicely as the second-line center on a high-scoring Nashville squad ranked ninth in goals scored. If +/- is a scoring stat in your league, he’s at +23 already, and his respected two-way game should ensure that remains a consistent bonus going forward.
Josh Bailey (NYI): 40%
I touted Bailey about three months ago, but he’s worth mentioning again. Barry Trotz is a great coach, but even seasoned observers are shaking their heads at the job he’s doing this year with an Islanders team that lost John Tavares in the offseason. Their goal differential is about +90 from last year’s mark at this time, so Bailey is now another +/- gem who was -20 last year. He probably won’t match his breakout 71-point season, but he is currently on pace for 62 points and should be owned by the majority of teams in any format.
Wayne Simmonds (PHI): 66%
The near constant trade rumors may be affecting Simmonds, as he is off his typical pace of 53 points by a wide margin this year (currently looking at a 38-point campaign). To be fair, pretty much everyone in Philly is scoring at a lower clip this year, and Simmonds is still on pace for 25 goals. He’s rostered by two-thirds of owners, but he could explode down the stretch if traded to the right team. Imagine him on Connor McDavid’s line or in Calgary’s top six, for instance. He’s also a solid producer for hits with 89 to date.
Nick Ritchie (ANH): 5%
After a slightly acrimonious holdout to begin the year, Ritchie didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Anaheim is really struggling to score this year with the NHL’s second-fewest goals, but Ritchie is heating up. He probably will never be better than a solid contributor, but the 23-year-old is on a 50-point pace for a full season and averages 2.1 hits per game. He’s entrenched on the second line and first power-play unit, averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game.
Tyler Bertuzzi (DET): 8%
Bertuzzi always seems to be trending in the right direction. In junior, he progressed from scoring at a 40-point pace to clocking 98 points in 68 games during his final OHL season. He matured similarly in the minors, recording 30 points in his first 71 games and 14 in 16 games before last year’s call-up. Although he’s a streaky producer, we may be seeing the same trend in the NHL. He has a solid 55 hits to date, is +6 on a lousy team, and is on pace for 21 goals and 43 points this season.
Jaccob Slavin (CAR): 8%
Slavin is slowly but surely working his way to becoming a household name. He’s been a darling in Carolina for the last three years but hasn’t received much fanfare outside of that market. He looks like a solid 35-point player moving forward, though he may push for 40 this year with six points in his last seven games. Averaging over 23 minutes per game, he’s on the top pairing with Dougie Hamilton and mans the point on the second power-play unit.
Nick Leddy (NYI): 31%
After a rough start and an awful 2017-18 season, Leddy is starting to find his legs again under Trotz. Clocking a horrendous -42 last season, Leddy’s holding steady at +1 this year and is on pace for a 30-point campaign. He may end up higher than this though; his three-year average is 43 points, and he has eight assists in his last 13 games. Listed on the top pairing and power-play unit, he has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time per night.
Anders Nilsson (OTT): 9%
I’m bringing back another name from Week 4 in Nilsson, as his situation has changed. From a Canuck backup challenging for more playing time to a legitimate contender for Ottawa’s top role, Nilsson has a great opportunity to reignite his career. The Senators are the Senators, but Nilsson’s stats are pretty encouraging in Ottawa (4-4, 3.28 goals against average and 0.920 save percentage in his last eight games). Craig Anderson may well get shipped out before this year’s trade deadline, so you could end up obtaining a solid starting goalie.
Cal Clutterbuck (NYI): 2%
Continuing with the Islanders theme this week, I present Cal Clutterbuck. He’s really only an option if you include hits in your scoring system—he has 115 so far—but he has posted four goals and three assists in his last 12 games. Also a +6 in that time frame, he’s on a roll.