Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 16 (2020)
We are over the midway point of the NHL season now, and we can easily pick up on a few trends. It appears the ownership group in New Jersey is tired of having lottery picks, as they have now fired their head coach and general manager. While they continue to languish near the bottom of the standings, Ray Shero did make the Devils fantasy relevant, as he traded for Taylor Hall and drafted Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Shero was bold at times, and it will be interesting to see if his dismissal will have any impact on potential trades for the rest of this season.
It looks like half a dozen teams will currently be sellers, but others (like Montreal, Buffalo, and the New York Rangers) may hold off a couple of more weeks to see if they can still turn their seasons around. Tampa Bay, Dallas, Vancouver, and Calgary seem to have righted their ships, and they could be buyers, while teams like Florida and Arizona seem to have replaced their annual seller tag with that of a motivated buyer.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with seven or more wins in their last 10 games:
- Tampa Bay — nine wins!
- Vancouver — eight wins
- Pittsburgh, Dallas, St. Louis, Calgary — seven wins
Teams with three or fewer wins include:
- Montreal, Ottawa, Detroit, Colorado, Winnipeg, L. A., Anaheim
Eric Staal (MIN): 35% owned
Bruce Boudrea used to have a solid reputation as an offensive-minded coach, but Staal is currently the leading scorer on the Wild with 33 points in 45 games. The 35-year-old pivot bounced back from a downward career arc to post 65 and 76 point seasons his first year in Minnesota, but he seems to be settling back to a 50-plus point player. He still centers the top line and averages around 17 minutes per night, so he should at least be a solid depth guy.
Noel Acciari (FLA): 26% owned
Acciari is listed as a winger (with center designation as well) on the second line in Florida. The Panthers have slowly but surely become an exciting team to watch, and they currently sit second in the league in scoring. Most leagues award more points for goals than assists, and if that’s a real emphasis in your scoring structure, Acciari’s Cy Young stats (17 goals, three assists) may make him worth a claim. He also has an amazing 70 blocked shots to date if that’s a scorable stat for you.
Tanner Pearson (VAN): 36% owned
During the 2018/19 season, Pearson played on three different teams, but he may have found a good home in Vancouver. He is currently on the top line with Bo Horvat and Loui Eriksson, and he has posted 34 points in 46 games. He’s also chipped in for 62 hits and 113 shots, and he’s earned 16:24 of ice time per night.
James Van Riemsdyk (PHI): 26% owned
While he’s now on the third line in Philly, Van Riemsdyk still has the talent to move up the lineup and increase his ice time (although 15:16 is not bad for a third-line player). His +2 mark is solid for this team, and he’s still shooting the puck with 106 shots in 45 games. The Flyers seem to be playing close to the vest in Alain Vigneault’s first season as head coach, but there is a lot of offensive talent on this squad, and Van Riemsdyk is still capable of a 55-point season.
Dominik Kubalik (CHI): 19% owned
Chicago is in last place in the Central Division, and those kinds of teams are more likely to experiment with different line combinations. Enter Dominik Kubalik, who finds himself on the top line with Jonathan Toews and John Quenneville. Kubalik is a 24-year-old rookie who has played most recently in Switzerland, but who has also spent some time in the OHL. He only scored at roughly a 40-point pace in junior, but he may be one of those guys that took longer to find his game. He already has 16 goals and could be a steady contributor if he can remain in the top six in Chicago.
Brett Connolly (FLA): 14% owned
Connolly is also on the second line in Florida (with Acciari), and he may still be hoping to find his home, as this is already his fourth team in the NHL (in nine seasons). It’s not a great look when a top-10 draft pick moves around that much, but Connolly is producing so far this season, as he has 16 goals to date. He’s also got many talented teammates on this squad, as well as a very successful coach in Joel Quenneville.
Ryan Graves (COL): 44% owned
Graves is second in the NHL in +/- with an impressive +29 mark in 44 games. He’s also chipped in with six goals, 15 points, and is active in all scoring areas (84 shots on goal, 75 hits, and 89 blocked shots). This is a guy you can plug in for another defenseman who is injured or who has only two games in a particular week.
Radko Gudas (WAS): 30% owned
Gudas is a hitting machine, with 126 in his first 46 contests this season. His overall game seems to be rounding out, as he is on pace for a career-high 26 points and is an impressive +20 so far. He’s another depth guy that you should expect steady production from whenever you plug him into your lineup.
Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ): 43% owned
I continue to recommend stash plays, and with goalies, you may have to make this move sooner, as there are obviously fewer options at this position. With knee injuries, it’s tough to predict when a goalie will feel comfortable and ready to return to the crease, but his timetable is for mid-February barring any setbacks. Before the injury, Korpisalo was the undisputed number one goalie in Columbus with a really solid stat line (17-10-4, 2.49 GAA, 0.913 save percentage).
Kailer Yamamoto (EDM): 5% owned
Yamamoto has an excellent opportunity right now, as he’s been called up from the AHL and is playing with superstar center Leon Draisaitl and the underrated Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Yamamoto has delivered so far, with five points in his first six games, and is a legitimate offensive talent in his own right (291 points in 230 WHL games). He’s only 21, and he’s tiny, but he could be a difference-maker for you if he can stick with the big club.