Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 20 (2020)
We have some typically tight playoff races right now, with as many as 10 teams vying for four wildcard spots and no team running away with the top seed in either division. Last year’s incredible upset of Columbus over Tampa Bay in the first round may spark some hope in all of the contending teams this year. On top of that, the St. Louis Blues had the worst record in the league last year (as late as January 3rd) and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
I will be surprised and disappointed if there is not a lot of activity before the trade deadline this year for those reasons among others. Parity is alive and well in the NHL and it’s hard to imagine a GM not envisioning a key move or two to put his team over the top. Some league insiders will sniff out some smoke which turns into fire, so it’s worth the effort to keep track of the chatter as upcoming moves could have a significant impact on your players and on some of the suggestions below.
As I was writing this a pretty big trade went down: Jason Zucker (who I pimped last week) is now a Pittsburgh Penguin with a very real chance of playing with either Crosby or Malkin. If you didn’t pick him up last week, there’s no time to waste as he will not last long as a free agent.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with seven or more wins in their last 10 games:
- Columbus, Tampa Bay – eight wins
- Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia – seven wins
Teams with three or fewer wins include:
- Ottawa, Detroit, St. Louis, Arizona, Los Angeles (one win)
Jeff Carter (LA): 16%
I was on to something last week regarding the Kings moving a goalie but thought it might be Quick instead of Jack Campbell being traded. Jeff Carter is also a candidate to be moved as he does not have a no-movement clause in a contract that may be bearable for a team looking for a number two center with massive playoff experience (120 games). He has 16 goals this year, and two more years on his deal ($5.3 million cap hit). That’s not a top-of-the-list guy, but could be a decent consolation prize if L.A. takes some salary back in a trade.
Tomas Hertl (SJ): 36%
This is for keeper or dynasty league owners only, as Hertl is on IR. With 36 points in 48 games, Hertl is just on the edge of being a legit keeper (especially when on IR). His stats were a bit better than Vladimir Tarasenko’s last year as he played one more game, but scored two more goals and eight more points. If he has been dropped in your league I would add him in a heartbeat and plug him in as an every-week starter next year.
Anthony Duclair (OTT): 36%
Ottawa looks to have a lottery pick in next year’s draft so it’s questionable whether they see Duclair as part of a rebuild or an asset they can move for a solid return. He’s only 24, but with one assist in his last seven games, his incredibly hot start to the season is looking a little suspicious these days. On the right team (and line), Duclair could get streaky hot again.
Gustav Nyquist (CBJ): 24%
Columbus has really turned their season around as of late (8-1-1 record in their last 10 games), and Nyquist has definitely contributed with 35 points in 56 games. Those aren’t great stats until you use perspective. Columbus is 25th in team scoring and Nyquist is second on the team in that category. With their style of play, I wouldn’t expect anything more than steady production and a decent +/- mark, but many Blue Jackets are probably flying under the radar, so he could be an easy pickup.
Kyle Palmieri (NJ): 67%
Palmieri is one of the most underrated players I can think of. Like Columbus, New Jersey is in the bottom seven of the league offensively and Palmieri lost his two best playmakers in Taylor Hall (trade) and Nico Hischier (injury). Since arriving, Palmieri has hit 24 goals or more in each of his four seasons and already has 20 this year in 50 games. He’s 29 years of age with a modified no-trade clause but I have to think he’d be open to a move if management approached him. Even if he stays in New Jersey, he’s a solid starter.
Kevin Fiala (MIN): 18%
Fiala groups in with Nyquist as he has posted 35 points also to date (50 games). I’d be surprised if he was moved as he’s only 23 and was just acquired last year by the Wild. His opportunity is with increased ice time and a stint on the top line with Eric Staal and Zach Parise. He already has posted a 48 point season and could easily top that this year.
John Klingberg (DAL): 75%
This guy should be close to 100% owned. I know he’s a little off his production this year, and he missed some time with injury, but he’s averaged 54 points and 10 goals per season the last three years. Dallas is struggling offensively (especially upfront), and this will affect almost any defenseman’s production. This team is in the thick of the playoff race and Klingberg is very capable of going on a tear down the stretch.
Jared Spurgeon (MIN): 19%
Spurgeon also has a modified no-trade clause but could be a valuable commodity if the Wild can find a willing trade partner he’s willing to move to. At 30 years of age, Spurgeon is still a productive player (24 points in 48 games) and is a valuable power-play quarterback, which is a huge factor in the playoffs. If he stays in Minnesota, he’s averaging 22:29 as the defense partner to Ryan Suter.
Corey Crawford (CHI): 38%
Chicago is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games but is still in last place in the Central Division. With both of their goalies free agents next year, the Blackhawks must be at least watching the phone unless they are in fact dialing. Crawford has a no-movement clause so he would have to waive this, and Robin Lehner may be more appealing to other teams anyway. If Lehner moves and Crawford stays, Chicago is playing well enough now that you could expect some solid production.
Kevin Labanc (SJ): 19%
San Jose has been a huge disappointment this year but Labanc could be a bright spot moving forward. A late-round gem, Labanc scored 107 points in his second season in the OHL (in 68 games), when many stars are trying to maintain a point per game pace. He then posted 23 points in 21 AHL games before earning a full-time gig with the big club. He’s winging it on the second line with Joe Thornton and Timo Meier and is an especially intriguing keeper prospect.