Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 7 (2022)
Seven weeks into an NHL season, permitting teams to play outside of their divisions with fans back has fully rejuvenated the sport. The parity and energy on display have led to surprising starts for preseason contenders and pretenders alike, as Edmonton continues to boast the top two point leaders in Leon Draisaitl (C – EDM) and Connor McDavid (C – EDM), while Washington has seen the resurgence of veterans Alex Ovechkin (LW – WAS) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (C – WAS) lead the Capitals to 70 goals. Remember Buffalo? They were a fun story to begin the year, but their recent play has soured, leaving the Sabres on a four-game losing skid entering Thanksgiving weekend. Conversely, the return of Sidney Crosby (C – PIT) has transformed Pittsburgh’s outlook for the better, as the Penguins are in the midst of a four-game winning streak after a sluggish start.
Valuable waiver wire players typically consist of two types. The first is efficient players buried on the second or third line of a team that might not play over 15 minutes of time on ice or either powerplay unit. The second type is a player who skates on the top line on a team that is overlooked or the odd-man-out when producing on scoring possessions. Of course, the risk is always baked into waiver wire players, but taking your shot on a couple of high-upside assets will not damage your roster. Instead, it will improve it, mainly if a player develops into a top-five point scorer for the team. But, of course, development occurs at different rates, and opportunity also varies significantly from team to team.
I’ve gathered a few players at each position to assess whether they are efficient or limited while also looking at their future opponents and the current state of each divisional race. These are just a few of the guys I like that remain widely available seven weeks into the 2022 NHL season.
Jeff Carter (C – PIT): 18.8%
Veteran center Jeff Carter is much better suited as a second or third line anchor than trying to lead the first line at the current stage of his 17-year career. The 36-year old is more than capable of producing points behind Sidney Crosby, as he has a goal and an assist across his last three games. Carter is still a shooter on the second line and earns minutes with Crosby and Jake Guentzel (LW – PIT) on the Penguins’ top powerplay unit, which adds to his appeal. His typical floor on offense is three to four shots on goal, while his experience and vision allow him to navigate the offensive zone confidently. Carter is a quality stash off of waivers, as his role has become shrouded by Crosby’s return, which has helped ignite a four-game win streak.
Yanni Gourde (C – SEA): 19.1%
Three of Yanni Gourde’s last four games have resulted in the 29-year old center earning a point. This is the consistency to target, as Gourde is fourth in points (11) for Seattle and skates on their first line. Hovering between 18 and 19 minutes a night, Gourde has three points in his last two games played despite totaling only one shot on goal during each outing. The Kraken sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division but are quietly on a two-game winning streak. Their players are overlooked mainly due to the team’s lack of overall success in its inaugural season, so take advantage and add Gourde off league waiver wires. He is in line for continued success against Buffalo and Detroit following the holiday weekend, so keep Gourde stashed and ready for upcoming line-up deployment.
Kaapo Kakko (RW – NYR): 9.1%
The Rangers are one of the younger teams in the league who have maintained success. Their offense has begun to find its rhythm in recent weeks, and third-year winger Kaapo Kakko is an essential cog in their offensive engine. He benefits from Mika Zibanejad (C – NYR) and Chris Kreider (LW – NYR) skating next to him on the Rangers’ first line, and he fluctuates his time on the ice, depending on the game script. Kakko has at least one point in five consecutive games and earns additional minutes on the second powerplay unit. Limited shooting volume is one of the knocks on Kakko, but he is efficient enough to overcome the low-floor that he possesses. He’s been hitting his ceiling consistently, which makes Kakko an enticing prospect to grab off of the waiver wire.
Connor Brown (RW – OTT): 24.1%
Ottawa is one of the league’s most disappointing teams this season. Don’t let the stink of the Senators steer you away from adding Connor Brown. He’s a quality player to stash off of waiver wires but missed four games due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Brown’s return has netted a point in each appearance. Both games saw Brown surpass 22 minutes of time on ice while his shots on goal bounced around wildly, raising the risk of rolling him into lineups. Brown is a quality stash that is one of the few players that can produce points on a limited opportunity for one of the league’s worst teams. If you have players who produce on better offenses, they should remain in starting lineups over Brown. However, he can be treated as a low-floor Utility option if necessary.
P.K. Subban (D – NJ): 15.9%
I’ll continue to rally for veteran defenseman P.K. Subban to get added off of fantasy waiver wires. Subban has at least three shots on goal in three consecutive games and has three assists in his last four games played. New Jersey is one of the more intriguing teams in the league because of its ability to beat quality opponents. Dougie Hamilton (D – NJ) was the big-name signing for the Devils this offseason, but the defense has run through Subban’s physicality and finesse as a passer in the offensive zone. His lack of time on either powerplay unit did little to limit Subban in the team’s last game against Minnesota, where he skated for over 23 minutes. If you need a high-floor defenseman, Subban is a great choice.
Erik Johnson (D – COL): 5.2%
33-year old defenseman Erik Johnson has been with the Colorado Avalanche for over a decade. Skating on the third line has limited Johnson’s opportunity this season, but he has managed to produce a point in every other game across the last two weeks. Johnson’s floor is relatively safe considering that he has two or more blocked shots in three of his previous five games. This elevates his floor amidst Colorado’s six-game winning streak, but he lacks the upside to win a matchup most weeks. Johnson is a good insurance stash on fantasy benches, but his lineup appearance should be tempered accordingly.
Jeremy Swayman (G – BOS): 25.7%
Quality netminders are sparse on current waiver wires. However, one of them stands out above the rest to me in 23-year old Jeremy Swayman. In his second year for the Boston Bruins, Swayman has a 6-3 record in the crease alongside Linus Ullmark (G – BOS), who has also managed the net well in seven starts. Swayman has only allowed more than two goals once in his last seven starts, while he has yet to log more than 28 saves this season thanks to strong defensive units. If you need a goaltender who is likely to manufacture wins and maintain a low GAA, Swayman is the best option to target on the waiver wire. His 2.23 GAA ranks 18th amongst all goaltenders, making him a high-floor stash on a Bruins team with perennial talent.