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Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 5 (2022)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Nov 12, 2021
Nazem Kadri

Trends come and go in an 82-game NHL season, but the ebbs and flows to start this year have been fascinating to watch unfold. The Edmonton Oilers have the top two point leaders in the league with a pair of star centers in Connor McDavid (C – EDM) and Leon Draisaitl (C – EDM). However, experienced veterans should not be dismissed from fantasy relevance either, as Steven Stamkos (C – TB) and Anze Kopitar (C – LAK) are both ranked inside the top-12 for points through the first month of the season. Talented players can be found on all 32 franchises, as even Arizona has a couple of defensive stalwarts in place of a sputtering offensive attack. Understanding each team’s line and their depth chart maneuvering, paired with the play of their goaltenders, reveals most of the information needed to project the future usage of players.

Losing streaks have befallen the Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, and Seattle Kraken in the last week. The Western Conference seems to possess more talented offensive units, with nine teams scoring at least 40 goals, whereas the Eastern Conference only has four teams above the 40-goal threshold. This begs the question. Are there better goaltenders in the Eastern Conference divisions or more explosive offenses in the Western Conference? Time will tell, with Lord Stanley’s Cup finding itself roosting in the Eastern Conference in five of the last six seasons.

We’re only twenty percent into the season, so players will continue to emerge as hot prospects and fade quickly into obscurity based on health and production opportunities. Sometimes players hit cold streaks but find their rhythm in the matchup least expected. Here are a few players readily available on league waiver wires that I like a lot based on their current production and outlook for the remainder of the season.

View our expert consensus fantasy hockey rankings >>

Center

Alexander Wennberg (C – SEA): 5.8%
The 27-year old center is on his third team in three seasons but has been the definition of consistency regarding his offensive production. Wennberg has five assists in his last four games, earning at least one point during this span, compensating for his lack of scoring. Wennberg skates on the Kraken’s third line but anchors their top powerplay unit, earning a few quality minutes with favorable opportunities in the offensive zone. With only one goal on the season, occurring back in Seattle’s second game, Wennberg will likely find the net soon due to positive regression. Netting five of eight assists in his last five games is an excellent sign that Wennberg is hitting his stride and riding a wave of momentum, making him a quality stash off of waiver wires. Seattle has scored 40 goals this season, so the offense is not to blame for their 4-9-1 record. Wennberg will be a consistent contributor who is a low-end Utility option moving forward due to the floor he provides via shots on goal and the string of assists he manufactures.

Nazem Kadri (C – COL): 21.8%
31-year old Nazem Kadri is settling into playing alongside the new personnel brought in by the Colorado Avalanche this offseason. After an impressive postseason run last year, the Avs are battling to stay in contention in the Central Division, as they have an even goal-differential due to only netting 37 goals this season. Kadri is not to blame for this, as he has increased his shot volume and currently enjoys a five-game point streak, scoring two goals and netting a three-assist outing against Columbus. It’s most impressive due to the modest 14 minutes of time on ice Kadri is earning across the last week. Nathan MacKinnon‘s injury has shifted Gabriel Landeskog (LW – COL) to the first line with Mikko Rantanen (RW – COL), leaving Kadri to mostly fend for himself on the second line. He does see valuable looks on the second powerplay unit and is in the midst of a point streak, so stash him before the demand rises.

Wing

Reilly Smith (RW – VGK): 16.2%
Don’t look now, but the Vegas Golden Knights are climbing up the competitive Pacific Division after rattling off a couple of wins. A slow start to the season offensively has picked up in recent games, with Reilly Smith skating the first line for a team with quite a bit of talent at all levels of the roster. The 30-year old averages over 18 minutes of time on ice per game and is also featured on the top powerplay unit for the Golden Knights, which has led to a three-point burst across his last two games played. Eight shots on goal and at least one blocked shot during this two-game span have elevated Smith’s appeal in lineups moving forward, so make sure to add him off of waivers as he continues to prosper under Vegas’ improved play.

Jakub Voracek (RW – CBJ): 18.8%
I will continue to throw Jakub Voracek’s name into weekly waiver wire pick-ups as long as he stays under 30 percent rostered. He developed during his time in Philadelphia and has returned to Columbus and is helping set up scoring opportunities for one of the youngest teams in the league, generating assists in bursts throughout the season. He is due for positive goal regression and will have plenty of opportunity skating on the Blue Jackets’ top powerplay unit and first-line. Opportunity and efficiency are what Voracek does best, as he seldom shoots but is savvy enough to find the right player at the right time in the offensive zone. He is a high-floor play that can be rolled into lineups if necessary but should primarily be added to bolster bench depth for the time being.

Defense

Shayne Gostisbehere (D – ARI): 20.3%
It’s challenging to process rostering an Arizona Coyotes player in the 2022 NHL season, but a couple of high-floor players warrant consideration. First, 28-year old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere landed in the Desert after spending his first seven years with the Philadelphia Flyers, which has forced him to adjust to more than just a new city. Arizona ranks last in goals scored (21) and goal-differential (-33), so it’s undoubtedly been an adverse start for players. However, Gostisbehere has stepped up as of late. The Coyotes’ defenseman has six points in his last three games, racking up three assists against the Kraken and two goals during this streak. It also helps that he earns nearly 20 minutes of time on ice per game and gets an extra opportunity to produce on Arizona’s second powerplay unit. With the offense finally starting to come alive, Gostisbehere is the catalyst that makes it work. He is worth inserting into lineups or can be considered insurance for a blue-chip defensive prospect already in lineups.

Evan Bouchard (D – EDM): 24.1%
Edmonton has amassed 52 goals this season, tied second-most behind only the Florida Panthers. A beneficiary of playing on the most high-octane offense in the league is the Oilers’ first-line defenseman, Evan Bouchard. The 22-year old has played nearly 25 minutes in both of his recent games, where he produced a point in each game while pouring in at least three shots on goal. His linemate Darnell Nurse (D – EDM) is among the best offensive defensemen in the league, so Bouchard should continue to see many scoring opportunities to remain valuable enough to insert into lineups. Grab him off of waiver wires, particularly with Edmonton’s schedule softening with future dates against Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, and Arizona.

Goalie

Jonathan Quick (G – LAK): 10.1%
Jonathan Quick has turned back the hands of time and tapped into the elite level of goaltending he displayed during the Los Angeles Kings’ championship run in 2012 and 2014. The 35-year old netminder has a 1.98 GAA and a .935 save percentage across eight starts in the crease to start the season, having allowed two or fewer goals in four consecutive starts, which all led to wins. His most recent start resulted in Quick’s first shutout of the season against a bad Ottawa Senators team. He does face a brutal three-game stretch against contenders like Washington and Carolina, but the veteran netminder has proved he’s up to the task, helping keep the Kings’ seven-game winning streak intact. Somehow, he is still widely available on waiver wires. Good goaltenders are invaluable, especially ones that are consistent, so grab Quick if you’re lacking a solid goalie in your lineup. He is worth stashing on benches as well.

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Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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