Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 19
It’s great to see a heavy schedule again in the NHL after the All-Star break and bye weeks. We have 14 games Thursday and Saturday night and an unusually high eight games on Sunday. This is the stretch run for fantasy hockey owners as you make some tweaks to your roster and consider trade options. Let’s take a look at some waiver picks that might help set you up for glory.
J.T. Miller (TB): 33%
Miller has bounced around Tampa’s lines this year (literally from first to fourth to his current third line status). He is clocking at a below-par rate this year (on pace for 43 points when his three-year average is 52 points) and is on pace for 10 fewer goals as well. He’s not exactly a sleeper at 33% ownership, but if he finds his game during the stretch run he may work his way up to a top-six role again. On the Lightning, that is instant production.
Jared McCann (PIT): 0%
McCann has simply not produced in the NHL the way many observers thought he would. A former first-round pick of the Canucks, he was a solid junior scorer (187 points in 184 games in the OHL), but only spent about half a season in the AHL. He may have been moved up to the big club too soon and is now on his third team in four years. This is probably the best scenario for him breaking out offensively with the firepower around him.
Corey Perry (ANH): 37%
A few owners have picked Perry up already hoping for the player that regularly posted seasons of at least 30 goals (and 50 one year). Coming off knee surgery, Perry will be a work in progress, and Anaheim is playing horrible hockey right now. He’s simply a stash for now, but did post 49 points last year with (according to insiders) a bad knee that finally gave out a few months ago.
Nick Bjugstad (PIT): 17%
Bjugstad also migrated from Florida to Pittsburgh in a recent trade, and Bjugstad’s story is similar to McCann’s. After posting 24 goals in his second full season, Bjugstad looked to be a player on the rise, but he scored only 22 goals in total the next two seasons combined. A 49-point campaign last year revived hopes, but with 13 points in 34 games this year, Florida decided to move on. As with McCann, Bjugstad may have won the lottery if he finds himself setting up guys like Kessel or Hornqvist, not to mention Crosby and Malkin.
Reilly Smith (VGK): 45%
Smith enjoyed his best professional season last year with 60 points. Vegas stumbled a little in the first half of the season, but is now third in the Pacific Division and Smith is logging an impressive 18:46 of ice time for the 13th ranked offense in the league. I think Vegas will end up top 10 in scoring and Smith will play a role in that mark.
Thomas Vanek (DET): 3%
Vanek is a much maligned, but offensively productive player. He’s been remarkably consistent (at least 41 points in every season so far), but has been a bit sluggish in his 14th campaign. He is a prime candidate to move to his eighth team before the trade deadline and could find himself in a much better offensive situation. He scored 56 points last season, has almost 800 in his career and could get hot again in the right scenario.
Egor Yakovlev (NJ): 0%
Who? Yakovlev is a 27-year-old free agent Russian with 13 games to his credit. He has posted five points without a ton of ice time, and the offensively challenged Devils may decide that he brings a spark to their offense. This is a dart throw for sure, but he should be fairly easy to acquire.
Oliver Kylington (CGY): 0%
Not that long ago, the Flames had one of the barest cupboards in the NHL, a product of continuously trading away picks. Calgary has made more of an effort recently to draft and develop, and Kylington is a prime example. Once touted as a top-five pick, he had a strange draft year and ended up tumbling into the eager arms of the Flames in the second round of the 2015 draft. The club has been patient, allowing his game to mature for parts of three seasons in the minors, but he is starting to impress during a recent call-up.
Anthony Stolarz (PHI): 2%
It is strange to think of the Flyers having not one, but two good young goalies. Some organizations are so snakebitten at certain positions as fans associate Philly with bad goaltending. While Carter Hart has deservedly gained the vast share of praise this year, Stolarz has been playing very well lately and could be a factor for the Flyers going forward. At 25, he’s five years older than Hart and may be more emotionally ready for the grind of an NHL season. At worst, he could be a great spot start for you.
Teddy Blueger (PIT): 0%
Some guys pass the eye test and Blueger looks fast and confident playing in the NHL. A second-round pick in 2012, the young Latvian has posted solid numbers in college as well as the AHL. If he can stick with the big club and score a top-nine role, Blueger has a chance to surprise this year.