Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 5 (2019)
As I mentioned last week, this is the point in the season when you can start looking at trends and decide for yourself whether they are accurate indications for the rest of the year or false narratives that may give you an edge if you spot them first. Some teams that are off to terrible starts are the Red Wings (1-8-1 record and -18 goal differential) and the New Jersey Devils (2-5-2 record and -14 goal differential). I trust that Steve Yzerman will right this ship eventually, but it may take a couple of seasons (therefore, I’m downgrading Red Wings somewhat in seasonal leagues). I think the Devils can turn things around this season, though, and there could be some bargains available. Across the league, here are some waiver options to consider.
Ryan Strome (NYR): 4% Owned
If Strome can’t seize his current opportunity in New York, then I’d say the jury will return with a verdict of not worthy. With the injury to Mika Zibanejad, Strome has moved into the first line center spot between Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin. With seven points in his first nine games, he’s off to a decent start and with second-line wingers such as Kaapo Kakko and Chris Kreider, a demotion to that line shouldn’t hurt his production too much. Strome looked like a young star when he tallied 50 points in his second season, but he hasn’t hit 40 since. Still only 26 years of age, this may be a perfect situation for him to blossom as a legitimate number two center.
Chris Tierney (OTT): 3% Owned
Ottawa is off to a predictably slow start, but the team is not without hope fantasy-wise. Tierney himself is centering the second line with Tyler Ennis and Vladislav Namestnikov. Both wingers are now journeyman but have scored in the past (each with multiple 40 point seasons). Tierney is averaging over 18 minutes per game and is on the number one power-play unit.
Nikita Gusev (NJ): 17% Owned
Gusev was a sought after commodity once it became known that the Vegas Golden Knights were looking to move him. New Jersey swooped in and picked up a guy that had an impressive 82 points in 62 KHL games last year (leading the league by a wide margin). Scoring a point per game in that league is considered elite and Gusev has posted 215 points in his last 173 KHL games. It may take him time to adjust to the North American style of hockey, but his talent is undeniable.
Zach Parise (MIN): 17% Owned
Once a mainstay on rosters, Parise may have been dumped by a few owners after a very slow start. Injuries have really tarnished a very promising career, but Parise rebounded last year with 81 points. At 35 years of age, he’s long removed from his best season of 94 points, but the Wild should be able to shake off a rough start and find their game this year, and Parise is still one of the main cogs in their machine.
Calle Jarnkrok (NSH): 9% Owned
Jarnkrok has enjoyed a slow and steady career progression from three 30+ point seasons to finding himself on the top line in Nashville. Filip Forsberg will most likely reclaim that spot when he returns from injury, but Jarnkrok can establish a top-six role going forward if he makes a good impression on that line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.
Connor Brown (OTT): 4% Owned
Brown was a sought after piece of the puzzle in an offseason trade with Toronto and is off to a great start with the Senators. With 10 points in 11 games, he’s currently leading the team in scoring and is averaging 20:27 in ice time. He’s shown in the past that he can be a prolific scorer (128 points in 68 games during his last season in the OHL) and seems to be the coach’s favorite. That should mean there’s less chance of him riding the pine and more opportunity for him to produce for your team.
Ryan McDonagh (TB): 36% Owned
The Lightning should be a juggernaut again this year and McDonagh is still a vital part of their defensive corps, holding down a spot on the second pairing. He’s off to a slow start (three points in his first 10 games), but this should give you an opportunity to scoop him up. He had 46 points last year (+38, 128 shots, and 98 hits) so he produces in many different ways and is currently hitting 22 minutes of ice time per night.
Noah Hanifin (CGY): 7% Owned
Hanifin came to Calgary last year in a huge trade with Carolina and posted a solid first season with the Flames. It is amazing to have a 22-year-old defenseman entering his fifth season already (d-men typically hit their prime at 27) and Hanifan is starting to play a more confident game this year. An excellent skater, he’s paired with a solid vet in Travis Hamonic for a great second pairing and is averaging 21:23 in ice time. While he’s off to a slow start, Hanifan already has two 30+ point seasons under his belt and could easily surpass that this year.
Brian Elliott (PHI): 12% Owned
Elliott is in his preferred scenario, being seen as the forgotten backup that most have given up on. As a number one goalie, he struggled in St. Louis and Calgary, but has often been considered the best number two goalie in the league. With a very young Carter Hart as the goalie of the future in Philly, the pressure is off Elliott. His response has been to outshine the young phenom (2.28 goals against average and .926 save percentage versus Hart’s respective numbers of 3.32 and .862). Elliott could easily play 40+ games this year at a very high level.
Filip Zadina (DET): 2% Owned
This is a long term play, as Zadina is still currently in the AHL. If your league settings allow this type of pickup, Zadina is the type of young talent that could be one of your top forwards in three years. Steve Yzerman will be patient with his young star, but I don’t see Detroit overseasoning their prospects the way Kenny Holland did. I’m anticipating a call-up during the next 20-30 games and for Zadina to stick with the big club.