Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 5 (2021)
The playoff bubble was a resounding success for the NHL, but Covid-19 has already had a drastic impact on the regular-season schedule to date. A staggering 27 games have already been postponed, with countless others impacted in the next few weeks.
A glaring trend has emerged in that none of the Canadian teams have had a game postponed. I considered only suggesting players north of the border for this article, but that isn’t the only factor to consider when targeting waiver pickups. Having said that, I would strongly tilt towards anyone playing in the North Division for the next few weeks.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with a winning percentage of at least .800 this season:
- Tampa / Vegas / Boston / Toronto / Florida
Teams with a winning percentage below .400 include:
- Nashville / Los Angeles / Vancouver / Detroit / Ottawa
Jordan Staal (CAR): 28%
Averaging a healthy 16:39 of ice time, Staal is looking to have a bounce-back year after a couple of disappointing campaigns. At 32 years of age, he should still have some gas in the tank and will play with talented wingers on a nightly basis as he centers the second line. He’s only played five games to date (six points), so he might be under the radar in most leagues.
Adam Lowry (WPG): 25%
Lowry is a huge forward, who may be relegated to the fourth line with the arrival of Pierre-Luc Dubois, but seems to get regular shifts on the wing lately. He scored 45 goals in his final year in junior and may be a late bloomer at the pro level, as he has posted eight points in his first 10 games this year. He leads the team in hits and is an all-star in that category (over 200 hits in three different seasons).
Miles Wood (NJ): 12%
Wood has steadily improved through four seasons with New Jersey and is currently first in goals on the team (with five) and tied for first in points (with eight). He’s only averaging 14:14 of ice time but should see that number increase if he continues his strong play. He’s a tough player and will create room for himself and his linemates, and if he somehow landed a gig as Jack Hughes‘ winger, he could be one of the breakout players this season.
Mikael Granlund (NSH): 13%
Nashville is really struggling right now, but Granlund is off to a decent start with five points in his first six games. There’s some solid talent in the top six for the Preds, and Granlund is leading all forwards in ice time with 20:43 per night. He needs to find his offensive game again but has flirted with 70 points a couple of times and could be a solid 45-50 point guy this season.
Kasperi Kapanen (PIT): 24%
There’s new blood in Pittsburgh’s front office, and while that may not translate directly on the ice, a few guys may be breathing easier. Jim (let’s make a deal) Rutherford is out, the methodical Ron Hextall is in, and Kapanen might be a guy that stops looking over his shoulder now. With five points in his first seven games, he’s not off to a bad start, but if he can find some chemistry with Evgeni Malkin, he could be a solid starter for your team.
Mikael Backlund (CGY): 19%
If your league gives bonus points for underrated players, Backlund’s your guy. A very responsible pivot, he is relegated to the third line in Calgary but is often their best forward. The Flames have a very solid top nine, and he has hit 20 goals three times and 45 points five times in his career to date.
Noah Dobson (NYI): 19%
Averaging a solid 18:53 of ice time per night, Dobson is in a great situation. He’s on a well-coached team with a great defensive system, and he is not under pressure to run the show. He has earned a spot on the top power-play unit and should develop into an offensive force (147 points in 186 junior games). He’s a much better dynasty addition but could produce solid numbers this year.
Josh Morrissey (WPG): 23%
Morrisey is Winnipeg’s top defenseman, playing 24:50 per night and running their power-play. He isn’t lighting it up yet ( four assists in 10 games) but has hit 30 points twice and had close to 200 points in the WHL. He’s also a consistent hitter and solid plus-minus guy.
Jake Oettinger (DAL): 20%
With Ben Bishop not expected back until possibly April, Oettinger has a sneaky-good opportunity to take a run at the number one job in Dallas. Anton Khudobin has become a very good goalie but played 55 games last year (including playoffs), and Dallas may want to rest him at times for another potential playoff run. Oettinger was their first-round pick in 2017 and has developed his game steadily to date. With impressive career averages in college (.923) and the AHL (.914), there’s plenty of optimism for this young netminder.
Trevor Zegras (ANA): 5%
Anaheim has only scored 29 goals in their first 14 games this year, and Zegras has scored five points in his first two games for their AHL team. Hmmm. He’s only 19 years of age, so the Ducks may be patient with him, but he was dominant at the World Junior Tournament with 18 points in seven games. He was not only the leading scorer but showed leadership and poise under pressure. He’s a slam-dunk for dynasty teams but may rip it up this year in the NHL.