Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 15 (2021)
We’re really in the stretch run now, with most NHL teams having ten to twelve games left. There are still some playoff spots up for grabs, and teams will want to hit the postseason with momentum, so it could be an entertaining end to a unique regular season.
Parity seems to be more prevalent the last week or two, as only a couple of teams are rolling, and only two (New Jersey and Columbus) are in free-fall. Vancouver is a wild card right now, coming off an extended shutdown period due to multiple Covid-19 exposures. With two straight wins over Toronto, they have surprised the league and now have several games in hand as they mount an improbable charge towards the last playoff spot in the North Division. As many of their games come late in the season, I’ve limited my Canuck suggestions to one player, but you may want to scour their entire roster. As for the rest of the league, let’s take a look at some current players with low ownership rates and high upside.
As for who’s hot and who’s not, here are the teams with seven or more wins in their last 10 games:
- NY Islanders / Boston / Vegas / Colorado / Minnesota
Teams with three or fewer wins in their last 10 games include:
- Montreal / Philadelphia / New Jersey / Columbus / St. Louis / San Jose / Anaheim
Casey Mittelstadt (BUF): 22%
Mittelstadt might end up being viewed as a rare bright spot on the 2021 season for Buffalo. Once considered a blue-chip prospect, Mittelstadt looked the part with a six-game call-up to start his NHL career. He scored five points in that span but then only 34 points in his next 108 games, prompting a demotion to the AHL. He didn’t set that league on fire either but has been productive as of late, and with Jack Eichel out of the lineup has expanded his role (second-line center) and ice time (15:15 per night).
Josh Norris (OTT): 15%
It seems like Norris was drafted a decade ago (actually in 2017 by San Jose), but Ottawa has been patiently allowing him to develop his game in college, and then for one impressive season in the AHL (where he scored 31 goals and 61 points in 56 games). Norris tied for the scoring lead in Ottawa during his rookie season with 29 points in 46 games and is centering the top line between Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson. Expect that role to continue and his ice time (16:22 per game) to possibly increase.
Teuvo Teravainen (CAR): 69%
Having a 69% ownership when you’ve only played 13 games will give you an idea of Teravainen’s perceived value in fantasy hockey. Word on the street is that he will travel with the team on their next road trip and could be in the lineup soon. With 148 points in his last 163 games, Teravainen would be a superstar if he played in Toronto or New York and should be at or near 100% ownership soon. If it’s not already too late, jump on this dude.
Tyler Bertuzzi (DET): 17%
Another victim of a long-term injury, Bertuzzi may not even play any more games this season. If you do have room on your bench, he’s worth a pickup, though, as he does it all, averaging roughly one hit per game and coming on offensively. With seven points (and five goals) in his first nine games, this season looked like a coming-out party, but he still has a chance to finish strong, undoubtedly in a top-six role for the Red Wings.
Mats Zuccarello (MIN): 32%
I was pimping Zuccarello a few weeks ago, but his ownership is still far too low for a guy with 27 points in 31 games. Minnesota is disturbingly thin at center, but Zuccarello is currently on the top line with rookie phenom Kirill Kaprizov. If you’ve seen the Wild play, those two have obvious chemistry, and Zuccarello should continue to log first-line minutes down the stretch.
Drake Batherson (OTT): 25%
I mentioned Batherson earlier as part of the top line for the Senators, and he looks like a key young building block for their future. A fourth-round steal in 2017, Batherson played 103 games in the AHL, where he scored an impressive 116 points. He is one point behind Norris and Tkachuk for the scoring lead in Ottawa, is on the top power-play unit, and is averaging over 16 minutes per game.
Ryan Ellis (NSH): 45%
Ellis may still be finding his sea legs after a stint on injured reserve, but he has elite offensive talent. Few probably thought the Predators had any chance at a playoff spot this year after their horrendous start, but would actually qualify if the season ended today. They are just 21st in scoring but seem to be picking up steam offensively, and Ellis will likely be a key part of any success this season. He scored 38 points in only 49 games last year and could achieve that pace again down the stretch.
Nick Leddy (NYI): 39%
I’m guessing his nickname is Steady Leddy, as Nick is a minute muncher on a very strong Islanders squad. He’s hit 37 points or more five times in his career, and other than one horrendous plus-minus effort (-42 in 2017-18), he has been solid in that area. He has a respectable 27 points in 46 games and averages about one hit per contest as well. He’s a great depth guy to plugin if you have an injury late in the year.
Cal Petersen (LAK): 22%
Petersen looks to have taken over the crease in Los Angeles, and his stats are far better than those of Jonathan Quick (2.67 vs. 3.06 GAA and .920 vs. 890 save percentage). The Kings have nothing to gain by playing Quick at this point and are most likely interested to see if Petersen can maintain his strong play through to the final buzzer. He could give you some quality starts this season and should be an excellent dynasty addition.
Nikita Gusev (FLA): 9%
For whatever reason, things went very poorly for Gusev this year in New Jersey. After scoring 44 points in 66 games last year, the talented Russian could not get untracked this year but may turn his season around in Florida. Sam Bennett has been phenomenal since joining the Panthers, and Gusev looks to currently have an audition on the top line with Aleksander Barkov. He could be another great addition to the Panthers this year and could be a fairly uncontested waiver addition.