Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 20
We are now in the home stretch for fantasy hockey with another month or so before the playoffs begin in most formats. With the sheer number of top-nine forwards, top-four defensemen, and upstart goalies coming out of nowhere, there are always plenty of options to boost your lineup or replace an injured or ineffective player. Let’s take a look at this week’s crop.
Bryan Little (WPG): 18%
Little has had a fairly quiet, but productive 12-year career to date. He’s hit 50 points three times and is on pace for 52 this year even though he’s averaging only 16 minutes of ice time this year. As the second line center, his numbers would surely be higher if Patrik Laine wasn’t suffering through such a miserable sophomore slump. If Laine finds his game, Little should benefit greatly down the stretch.
Adrian Kempe (LA): 2%
Like most forwards in L.A., Kempe has struggled to score this year with only 20 points to his name. He does have eight (four goals and assist each) in his last 10 games though, and he may start receiving more ice time as the Kings look to ship out some players before the deadline. He’s currently centering Ilya Kovalchuk and Carl Hagelin, and while the argument could go either way, it is conceivable that this line’s talent starts to show through in the next few weeks.
Tyler Toffoli (LA): 26%
Toffoli has been even hotter the last 10 games, tallying five goals and 11 points. He’s on pace for about 40 points this season but has posted as many as 58 in a season. What’s interesting about Toffoli is the potential of a trade to a contender. His name has been bandied about lately, and with a great center and new lease on life, he could produce at a 55-60 point clip again.
Dominik Kahun (CHI): 4%
Kahun is a 23-year-old forward from the Czech Republic who was signed as a free agent by the Blackhawks this year. He had a couple of solid seasons in the OHL but was most recently playing in Germany, so the jury was out on his NHL prospects. He’s making the most of his chance, as he has worked his way onto Chicago’s second line with excellent young linemates in Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. While his 40-point pace is impressive, he’s been even hotter lately with eight in his last eight games. Chicago has found its offense lately, so Kahun should not be overlooked.
Jakub Vrana (WAS): 15%
I made a case for Vrana a few weeks ago, but I feel the need to reiterate. It’s been a slow boil for Vrana after picked 13th overall in the 2014 draft, but occasional flashes of brilliance–and overall consistency that was previously lacking–are more common now. This has resulted in him working his way onto the second line with some big-time players (Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie) where he’ll have a chance to shine. He has an outside shot at 50 points this season (and has eight points in his last 12 games), so Vrana should have much higher ownership.
Lawson Crouse (ARI): 3%
Crouse has eight points in his last 15 games, but what jumps out is a staggering 182 hits for a guy averaging 12:13 minutes per game. Crouse was a decent offensive player in junior (140 points in 168 games) and was picked 11th overall by Florida, so it may just be a matter of time before he develops into a quality power forward. If your league counts hits, then that category alone makes him worth a look.
Jordan Oesterle (ARI): 2%
I’m throwing a dart here, but Oesterle has posted eight points in his last nine games for the Coyotes and is now averaging almost 19 minutes of ice time per game. Only two teams have scored fewer goals than Arizona, so you’re probably just looking at a spot start with him, but he should be easy to acquire.
Cody Ceci (OTT): 1%
Ceci looked like a breakout candidate after a 10-goal, 26-point campaign the previous year. Not much has gone according to plan in Ottawa the last couple of years, and Ceci has seen his game stagnate somewhat. He does have six points in his last nine games, though. Averaging 22:32 minutes of ice time this year, he may finish strong. The Sens are actually 11th in scoring, and he is arguably their second-best offensive blueliner.
Robin Lehner (NYI): 78%
I know his ownership is already high, but unless your league starts only one goalie I have to ask what the other 22% of leagues are doing. Lehner struggled at (most) times in Ottawa and Buffalo but has really turned his game around this year with the resurgent Islanders. In one of my leagues, he has been a top-five goalie in the most recent four-week stretch and is 16th this season. He’s having a very strong year and should have ownership levels in the mid-90s.
Evan Rodrigues (BUF): 2%
Rodrigues is another free-agent success story that seems to get better all the time. The Sabres have done a nice job of adding low-cost, high-reward assets to their lineup lately, and they have increased their goal production significantly from last season. Rodrigues currently centers Buffalo’s third line and the second power-play unit, averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game. With six goals and eight points in his last 11 games, he may start seeing the ice more often.