Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 17 (2021)
This will be the last waiver article for a very interesting NHL season. For the most part, I found the games to be well played and intense (even without fans) this year, and I cannot wait for the playoffs to begin. To see Carolina and Florida in the top five is somewhat surprising, but I find it refreshing to see a shift in the power dynamics of the league.
This article will tilt more towards dynasty stashes, as dozens of young players could be dominating fantasy teams within the next season or two. You may have to be patient with them and/or pounce on them in future drafts, depending upon the number of players you’re allowed to protect. 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:
- Edmonton / Ottawa / Pittsburgh / Boston / Carolina / Florida / Tampa Bay / Vegas / Colorado / Minnesota
Teams with three or fewer wins in their last 10 games include:
- Winnipeg / Vancouver / Philadelphia / Chicago / Detroit / Columbus / Arizona / San Jose / Anaheim
Nico Hischier (NJ): 25%
This will go down as a lost season for Hischier as he suffered a facial fracture shortly after returning from off-season surgery. He’s been one of the few bright spots for New Jersey this year, though, although he may run out of time to really get untracked offensively. It’s not helping that the Devils have been arguably the worst team in the league since the trade deadline. Looking back at his lone QMJHL season (86 points in 57 games) and 52 point rookie year, the talent is undeniable.
Kirby Dach (CHI): 13%
Much like Hischier, Dach has scored at roughly a 40 point pace in limited games this year. Picked third overall in 2019, Dach will eventually be looked at as the leader of the Blackhawks. He’s very fluid for such a large man and should have the pleasure of playing with either Alex DeBrincat or Patrick Kane.
Trevor Zegras (ANH): 17%
Zegras hasn’t lit it up in his first season, but that is more indicative of the Ducks in general, as they sport the league’s worst offense. Zegras can help turn that around though, as he has been very productive everywhere he’s played. Scoring 21 points in his first 17 AHL games prompted a call up to the show, and he’s played well enough to stick around, burning the first year of his rookie deal. There doesn’t appear to be much in between him and the number one center position in Anaheim.
Robby Fabbri (DET): 5%
Fabbri’s main issue to date has been staying healthy. He’s actually scored at a 41 point clip so far (46 points if you exclude his last two disastrous seasons in St. Louis). The Red Wings are quietly adding legitimate talent up front and could be a surprise team as early as next season. The injury history is definitely a concern, but the upside is significant.
Cole Caufield (MON): 13%
Caufield will get a taste of the NHL this year, which should help him prepare to charge out of the gate next season. A goal-scoring machine, Caufield holds the record for most goals in the U.S. National Team Development Program. For context, here are some of the players he overtook: Phil Kessel; Phil Kessel; Patrick Kane; Auston Matthews. The number of games played notwithstanding, that’s an impressive list to be part of, let alone on top.
Robert Thomas (STL): 3%
Thomas seemed to have his breakout year last season with 42 points in 66 games but has had a tough time building on that success. Scoring at less than a 40 point pace this year should put him far down the list of most drafters, but he still has an excellent chance to be a top-six player on a talented Blues team. The majority of this team seemed to underachieve this year, but Thomas has the talent to be part of a breakout story next year.
Matt Grzelcyk (BOS): 36%
Grzelcyk didn’t have the breakout season many predicted but is scoring at roughly a 40 point pace for the Bruins. At 27 years of age, he may have plateaued as far as development, but he and Charlie McAvoy look to be the top pairing for the next few years. He could be a 45 point guy and should have a solid plus/minus score on a strong Boston team.
Bowen Byram (COL): 5%
Byram has had a slow start to his career offensively, even though he’s been averaging over 17 minutes per game. It looks to only be a matter of time, though, as the Avalanche are loaded with talent. He and Cale Makar could soon be the best power-play tandem in the league, and he can head-man the puck to an elite set of forwards. He scored 123 points in his last 117 games in junior, and it could be as early as next year that he’s a household name.
Jake Oettinger (DAL): 37%
With Ben Bishop‘s extensive injury history, the Stars were wise to draft Oettinger in the first round of the 2017 draft. Bishop’s extended rehab this season gave Oettinger a chance to play, and he has not disappointed the team. His stats have been better than Anton Khudobin, the de facto starter, and he looks to have a shot at claiming the net in Dallas going forward. With three seasons in the NCAA and one in the AHL, Oettinger looks to have had enough development time and may be ready to be a starter in the NHL.
Dylan Strome (CHI): 10%
Strome seems to have regressed in Chicago after posting 51 points in 58 games a couple of years ago. He was a healthy scratch recently but is only 24 years of age and put up monster numbers in the OHL (315 points in his last 159 games). He also posted a 53 point season in 50 AHL games, so it seems only a matter of time before he recovers his scoring touch in the NHL.