Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 21
I was hoping some big trades would have gone down by now, but speculation is rampant ahead of Monday’s deadline. Matt Duchene will be a healthy scratch, which pretty much means he’s going somewhere. A couple of my suggestions factor in the possibility of moving to a new team or gaining more ice time after a teammate gets shipped out. It’s an exciting time for hockey fans whether you’re looking for your favorite team to make some moves for a Stanley Cup run or are only locked into the fantasy angle.
Sam Bennett (CGY): 7%
Bennett is becoming an intriguing player for the Flames. As a top-five draft pick who scored 155 points in 128 junior games, much more was expected of him offensively than three underwhelming seasons of 36, 26 and 26 points. Yet Bennett has surprisingly developed his physical game. This is a guy who couldn’t complete a single chin-up at the combine (it was later revealed he needed shoulder surgery), so he wasn’t really thought of as a tough guy. The secret’s out now, though, as Bennett has 99 hits to his name and some epic fights as well. If your league includes hitting as a scoring category, he’ll give you solid production in that area. He is also getting much more power-play time and creating more offensive chances when on the ice.
Colin White (OTT): 3%
With six points in his last six games, White is making a case for a much bigger role if the Senators move Duchene and/or Mark Stone. I suggested him in Week 12, but with the recent developments in Ottawa, it’s worth mentioning him again. A former first-round pick, White was better than a point-per-game player in just two years in college. Having always displayed a responsible two-way game, he should be trusted by his coaches to pick up the slack for the duration of this season.
Justin Williams (CAR): 20%
I’ve mentioned Williams as well (Week 9), but he’s still only owned at a 20% clip despite scoring at a 52-point pace this year. With eight points in his last seven games, he’s peaking at the right time. Right on the playoff bubble, it’s uncertain if the Panthers will buy, sell, or stand pat with their lineup. Williams is a prime candidate to move to a contender and is skilled enough to find himself in a top-six role with a great offensive team down the stretch.
Pavel Buchnevich (NYR): 6%
With an average of 14:26 of ice time to date this season, Buchnevich is another candidate to play more after the trade deadline. While the Rangers hung in longer than many expected, a 5-4-1 record in their last 10 games sealed the deal. They look to be active sellers with Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and maybe Chris Kreider potentially available. Buchnevich is clocking at a 40-point pace and should have a chance to finish strong this year.
Jake DeBrusk (BOS): 30%
I suggested DeBrusk in Week 4 and while he’s up to 31% ownership, he should be widely owned at this point. After a sluggish start, he’s now firing on all cylinders with four goals and 10 points in his last eight games. The Bruins may load up again for a playoff run, but even without any hired help, DeBrusk is solidly situated on the second line, averaging over 16 minutes of ice time per night.
Oliver Bjorkstrand (CLB): 2%
Bjorkstrand posted 40 points last year, his first full season in Columbus. The Blue Jackets are sneaky deep, placing a top-six role out of reach, but Bjorkstrand scored 290 points in only 193 WHL games. It may just be a matter of time until his offensive game shines through. He’s a roll of the dice for sure, but an easy pickup.
Alexander Steen (STL): 3%
Steen has had a forgettable year, but the Blues are on fire right now, and he’s still a very capable offensive player (five seasons with over 50 points). With points in three straight games, he may be starting to find his groove as a top-six player on a talented team.
Travis Sanheim (PHI): 7%
Sanheim is one of those tall, gangly defensemen who can take a long time to develop. The Flyers’ patience appears to be paying off, as he has seven points in his last 11 games and 22 so far this year. With seasons of 65 and 68 points in junior, the timing of this expected offensive production is critical as the Flyers make a mad dash for a playoff spot (7-2-1 in their last 10 games). Sanheim is currently averaging 18:36 minutes per game on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov and should have a prominent role down the stretch.
Rasmus Andersson (CGY): 0%
Andersson (like Bennett) hasn’t put up impressive stats this year, but he is playing with much more confidence lately. He’s got talent (124 points in 131 junior games) and is getting more power-play time for the Flames. It’s surprising he only has one goal, as his shot is very hard and accurate. The points should come with his move to the number two power-play unit.
Cam Ward (CHI): 17%
I didn’t anticipate including Ward in one of these articles, but he has gone 6-1 in his last seven with a 2.88 goals against average and 0.921 save percentage. This is another player who could be moved by Monday, and stranger things have happened than Ward playing a ton of games for a playoff contender.