Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 23 (2020)
At week 23 some fantasy hockey leagues are about to enter your playoff period in the next week or two and congrats if you made the cut! With fewer than 20 regular-season games left for each NHL team, the playoff picture is starting to emerge somewhat as far as the top teams in each conference. It looks to be a mad scramble for a dozen or so other squads vying for a seat at the table, and that should lead to some great hockey for the next few weeks. If you are still scrambling to get into your league playoffs, or are vying for a bye week, etc. I have some waiver pickups to consider.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with seven or more wins in their last 10 games:
- Philadelphia, Vegas – eight wins
- Boston, NY Rangers, St. Louis, Colorado – seven wins
Teams with three or fewer wins include:
- Pittsburgh, NY Islanders, Columbus, Florida, Montreal, Detroit
Mikael Backlund (CGY): 44%
Backlund has been on fire lately (nine goals, seven assists, +five in his last 11 games) and has provided some badly needed secondary scoring on the Flames. Respected as a solid two-way center, his game has gone to a different level in the last three weeks. With only 26 points in his first 56 games, it’s hard to explain where this resurgence came from but he has averaged 48 points the last three seasons.
Scott Laughton (PHI): 4%
Laughton is an even tougher case to explain, as he has never hit the vaunted 33 point total in his career, but has posted 10 points in as many games. He has winger eligibility and is currently listed on the second line for the red-hot Flyers with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny. This may end up being the 10 game stretch he tells his grandchildren about, but he should be an easy pickup and at 25 years of age may simply be maturing into a very good two way forward.
Andrew Mangiapane (CGY): 12%
Along with Mikael Backlund, Mangiapane has really stepped up on the Flames second line (with Matthew Tkachuk). In his last 11 games, he’s been a point per game producer (including seven goals) and is + eight during that stretch. The Flames are in a very tight race to secure a playoff spot and Mangiapane should see increasing ice time if he continues his strong play.
Nick Ritchie (BOS): 5%
Giving up on a top ten pick in his fifth NHL season can be risky. At only 24, Ritchie is a 234 lb. power forward who hasn’t been a consistent scorer to date, but now he’s a Bruin. He definitely has his detractors but has a new lease on life on the second line with David Krejci and Ondraj Kase (also acquired from Anaheim in a separate trade). If your league counts hits as a scoring category, he already has 90 and has also posted eight points in his last nine games.
Robert Thomas (STL): 6%
Some guys just look like they’re going to be a star and Thomas fits that bill. At only 20 years of age he has currently posted 40 points in 61 games while averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time per night. The Blues have a deep and talented team so he’ll have the benefit of playing with quality teammates while not having a lot of pressure on him to perform. He should be a solid pick up this year and is a very strong addition to dynasty league teams.
Kevin Fiala (MIN): 56%
The Wild are in a murky situation as they were rumored to be sellers going into the trade deadline, but are still only a couple of points out of a playoff spot. Fiala is playing the best hockey of his young career and has posted an impressive 14 points in the last 10 games. He looks to have nailed down a spot on the top line and may see his ice time increase from the current 15:11 per night.
Brandon Montour (BUF): 3%
At 3% ownership, Montour should be an easy addition for most but is probably just a depth guy. His +16 mark on a team that is -17 is impressive, but the Sabres were most likely expecting more than 18 points in 50 games from a guy in which they gave up a first-round pick. He is averaging 19:14 per game paired up with Rasmus Ristolainen and has five points and a + seven mark in his last nine games.
Matt Niskanen (PHI): 55%
Niskanen’s situation is quite different than Montour as he’s on the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference. He has also played well lately with eight points in the last 10 games, and a + seven mark as well. He’s averaging almost 22 minutes per night on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov and is on pace for a 42 point season.
Alex Stalock (MIN): 34%
Stalock looks to have taken over as the number one netminder in Minnesota. His stats are much better in every category and he has posted a 5-2 record with a 2.00 GAA and .924 save percentage (and 2 shut outs) in his last eight games. Minnesota could veer either direction down the stretch but are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and might finish strong.
Joel Eriksson Ek (MIN): 2%
Another Wild player that has played well, and under the radar, is Eriksson Ek. He is productive in the quiet areas (+ seven, 97 shots on goal, 88 hits), and is pretty much on pace for a 40 point season. He’s much more of a dynasty stash, but he was a talented scorer in Swedish Junior and the AHL so that part of his game should continue to progress.