Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 22 (2020)
As is often the case, the NHL trade deadline was heavy on activity but light on significant trades. When the big names are guys like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Vincent Trocheck, you can safely assume the word blockbuster was not, or should not have been, uttered all day. If you also look at some of the lead-up trades, however, there are now a few mid-level players with a new lease on life. I’ll focus mainly on the fallout from recent moves and how that may affect the value of the players involved, as well as new and former teammates.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with seven or more wins in their last 10 games:
- Boston, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers – eight wins
- Philadelphia, Colorado, Vegas – seven wins
Teams with three or fewer wins include:
- Florida, Ottawa, Detroit, Washington, Columbus, Chicago, Anaheim, Los Angeles
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (NYI): 63% owned
The Islanders just traded a first and second-round pick (and a conditional third) for a guy who had 12 points in 39 games last year. To say he was enjoying a rebound year is putting it mildly, as Pageau had already posted 40 points in 60 games this year, including 24 goals. What might be most impressive is his +10 mark on a team that was collectively -48. The Isles are a deep and well-coached team, so Pageau has a chance to shine.
Erik Haula (FLA): 12% owned
After a 55-point season (2017/18) in Vegas, Haula was struggling offensively with only 22 points in 41 games in Carolina. He looks to be slotted in as the number two center for the Panthers, playing between talented wingers Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman, although line combinations can be fluid in the NHL. He’s joining the fourth highest-scoring team in the league and should benefit from the talent around him.
Andreas Athanasiou (EDM): 31% owned
If Athanasiou gets to play with Connor McDavid, he just won the stats lottery, so scoop him up now. He will almost undoubtedly get a tryout on that line, and his world-class speed will be intriguing, as he’s one of a handful of wingers that can come close to keeping up with McDavid on the ice. His -45 (in 46 games) is cringeworthy, but the Red Wings are a mind-boggling -110 as a team. No player improved his circumstances more than this guy.
Ilya Kovalchuk (WAS): 29% owned
Another winger moving on up to the east side is Kovy, as he heads from Montreal to the powerful Washington Capitals. They are a top-four team with a top-three offense, and Kovalchuk can settle in without much pressure on him. He seemed rejuvenated in Montreal, but he has only been scoring at a 46 point pace this year. That may pick up significantly on this team, and he should be a popular waiver-wire pickup.
Vladislav Namestnikov (COL): 8% owned
Namestnikov is another Russian moving to a high-powered offense. Colorado is currently fifth in offense and boasts some of the top talent in the league up front, along with a superstar rookie defenseman in Cale Makar. Namestnikov’s best season to date was 48 points, although he was scoring below that pace this year. While he’s not big, he’s already posted 94 hits, and his -7 mark is pretty positive when you look at Ottawa’s team +/- (-48).
Ondrej Kase (BOS): 9% owned
The Bruins may have been the most top-heavy team in the league this year, as their first line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand has scored 47% of the team’s goals. Kase has a great opportunity to claim a spot on the second line and provide some much-needed secondary scoring down the stretch. If you exclude his rookie year, he’s scored at a 46-point pace and has a great chance to break out with the Bruins.
Erik Gustafsson (CGY): 47% owned
After a surprising 60-point campaign last year, Gustafsson has skated back 26 points in 59 games this season. It’s harder to predict how this move will go for him, as the previous year may have been a fluke, and the Flames are a middling team to date. They were tied for second in league scoring last year but are currently in 19th place. Gustafsson should get plenty of ice time in an injury-depleted defensive corps, and sometimes a change of scenery can spark some offense.
Brady Skjei (CAR): 11% owned
You don’t typically see 25-year-old former first-round picks traded at the deadline, but Carolina offered their first pick in 2020 for Skjei. With 39 points in his first full season, the Rangers thought they’d drafted a young star, but consecutive seasons of 25 points must have soured them somewhat. He should be a top-four defenseman from day one in Carolina and should also see some regular power-play time.
Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR): 4% owned
Carolina was arguably the busiest team at the deadline, but surprisingly, they did not acquire a goaltender. Their improbable victory Saturday night with a Zamboni driver in goal (not making this up) led most to believe they’d make that position their number one priority. With both James Reimer and Petr Mrazek injured, the Canes have instead called up Nedeljkovic and Anton Forsberg from their farm team. It’s probably a coin flip as to who plays the most, but Nedeljkovic’s stats are slightly better. He’s also a former second-round pick by the Canes, so there’s a good chance the front office wants to see what they have in the young netminder.
Chris Tierney (OTT): 3%
Along with players traveling to new teams, there are also holes to be filled once they leave. Tierney has the opportunity now to slide into Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s spot in the roster. A former second-round pick by the Sharks, Tierney has two 40 point seasons under his belt and is basically on pace for 40 this year. There is a good chance that his ice time increases, and a promotion from the third to the second line can be substantial on a team that’s thin in talent.