Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 19 (2020)
With all teams now having played at least 50 games, the playoff picture is only starting to take shape in the NHL. You can certainly argue that at least six teams are out of the running, although it’s probably closer to a dozen. The trade deadline is set at the 40th day from the end of the regular season, which allows most teams to play at least 70% of their games to give general managers a realistic view of whether they should be a buyer or seller.
Teams like Toronto and Winnipeg may already be in desperation mode to make a push for a wild card spot, and the rumor mill is starting to blast out all kinds of “information.” Deals and potential deals should be noted and can have a great influence on your own team(s) beyond the February 24th deadline.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with seven or more wins in their last 10 games:
- Florida, Pittsburgh, Columbus — eight wins
- Boston, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Edmonton, Chicago — seven wins
Teams with three or fewer wins include:
- Ottawa, New Jersey, Detroit (one win), Arizona, Winnipeg, San Jose, Los Angeles
Paul Stastny (VGK): 21%
For a guy listed as the number one center, Stastny has posted third-line stats so far this year. At 34, I could no longer throw a football over that mountain, so he may have hit a similar wall. His drop off has been striking though, as he has 15 fewer points in four extra games compared to the previous season. He’s basically been a 50-point guy (on pace) for the last nine seasons, so there is some hope that he can find his touch again on a talented team.
Nicholas Suzuki (MON): 19%
With the recent demotion of Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the AHL, Suzuki has a great opportunity to cement his place in the lineup while increasing his ice time. He’s already on the ice for 15:47 per night, so he’s definitely posting legit second-line minutes, but his real opportunity may lie with his addition to the top power-play unit. With 33 points in 54 games, he’s been a rare bright spot in an up and down season for the Habs.
Victor Olofsson (BUF): 49%
Olofsson had his great rookie season interrupted with a lower-body injury (NHL teams only employ generalist physicians), but he is due to return next week, so pick him up while you can. With 35 points in 42 games, he was justifying his place as a top-six forward, often playing with superstar Jack Eichel. You probably can’t ice the puck in less time than it will take the coaches to replace Jimmy Vesey with Olofsson.
Jason Zucker (MIN): 19%
It feels like most NHL pundits are tired of bringing up Zucker as a likely trade candidate, but the Wild are unlikely to reverse course on moving him. He’s still a prominent name with decent production, he’s signed through 2020, and he’s still only 28. Zucker hit 33 goals and 64 points two years ago and could be a perfect addition to a team looking for secondary scoring.
Dylan Strome (CHI): 24%
Strome just returned from an ankle injury on the weekend, so he may need a week or so to find his stride again. The Blackhawks are playing well lately and are only three points out of a wildcard spot, so they may start double shifting their top guns to make a run. Strome is clearly one of those guys now, as he’s scored 81 points in his last 99 games.
Joel Armia (MON): 24%
Armia is most likely a third-liner at this point, but Montreal might be a seller, and he could be an attractive blend of a low-salary rental with a reasonable asking price. Picture him on a line with Crosby or Tavares for the stretch run, and I’d say he qualifies as a hunch play.
Dustin Byfuglien (WPG): 27%
Byfuglien and the Jets are apparently discussing a mutual departure as I write this, so jump all over him. I actually suggested “Buf” in Week 15, but it looks like his ownership level hasn’t increased much at all. That will probably change quickly as this guy can be a difference-maker. He is almost 35, and he’s been away for several months now, but he’s also posted 17 or more goals six times and has almost 1900 hits in his career.
Justin Schultz (PIT): 8%
Another recent returnee from IR, Schultz really needs to turn his season (and career) around. The 51-point season he posted in 2016-17 looks like an aberration, although he did hit 30 points in Edmonton a couple of times. The Penguins are eighth in offense, and there’s no shortage of talent around him. He should be an easy pickup as many owners have probably written him off.
Jonathan Quick (LA): 28%
Quick is another guy that I was hesitant to mention, but there is a chance that LA sends him off with a road map and an apple this month. I can’t defend his stats in the last two years, but he plays behind the second-worst team in the league. Few would deny he was a clutch, all-star goalie for many years, and if he can catch that lightning again on a strong defensive team, this could be a savvy addition. It may take an injury to a current starter to incite another team’s interest, but he’s been a proven winner.
Justin Williams (CAR): 8%
I was surprised to see Williams return this year, and he’s done it in fashion with three points in his first four games. He may not get a ton of ice time, but he’s listed on the first power-play unit, and he did score 53 points last year.