The Waiver Wire – For February 2 – February 9
David Desharnais MTL – ADD - With the arrival of Thomas Vanek, Montreal’s offense is set for a nice shot in the arm. Not only will this take some of the pressure off the top line that Desharnais centers, but it will also help the top line power play, which Vanek is guaranteed to be a part of. Having a sniper like Vanek on your wing with a man advantage is going to help Desharnais’ production, and with an ownership level of 15%, he’s readily available in most leagues. We recommend adding him – before your competitors do.
Mikael Granlund MIN – ADD - Minnesota may have won the Matt Moulson sweepstakes, but it will be Mikael Granlund who will really get most the benefit. Not only is he currently centering the top line with Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, but he’s also on the second line power play with – drumroll please – Matt Moulson. This should result in a dramatic jump in Granlund’s production – defenses will have to adjust to a much stronger second line opening up more opportunities for the big top line at even-strength, and a sniper like Moulson will also produce on the power play. Granlund’s ownership numbers are at 10% so he’s also very available. IMPORTANT NOTE: Those of you who start head-to-head playoffs starting March 17, Minnesota plays FIVE games that week. Stock up on Wild players if that’s the case for you.
Brad Richards NYR – TRADE IF YOU STILL CAN – With the surprise trade of Ryan Callahan for Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards’ stock went way up. The chemistry between St. Louis and Richards was evident throughout the first game against Toronto, and it’s clear that these two will light it up from here on out. Richard’s ownership numbers are far too high for him to be available in most leagues, but I would expect him to produce a point-per-game (at least) from this point forward in the season, if coach Alain Vigneault keeps them together. That’s a 50% increase from current production – a definite boost playing with the defending Art Ross winner.
Kyle Palmeri ANA – WATCH - One of the most interesting moves near the deadline was the trade of Dustin Penner to Washington for essentially nothing. Considering the success that Anaheim was enjoying, a movement of this sort was enigmatic. The beneficiary of this trade will be one of the young wingers that Anaheim is riding this season – most likely Kyle Palmieri. He’s currently penciled in on both the top line and the top power play line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry; playing with players of that caliber always result in points, especially when you’re also sharing power play time with them. The only reason our rating is at watch is that coach Bruce Boudreau has alternated between Jakob Silfverberg, Matt Beleskey and Patrick Maroon all year, and any misfire by Palmieri could see one of these young guns eat his breakfast.
Anders Lee NYI – WATCH – Opportunity, skill, and hard work breed success; since his call-up in the first game back after the Olympic break, Lee has recorded five points in five games, and is getting all the ice time he can play. He’s on the third line with Ryan Strome and Colin McDonald at even strength, but he’s enjoying some top-line time on the power play with Frans Nielsen, who’s having a career year, and Brock Nelson. He has a ludicrously low ownership rate of 1% - even in the deepest pools, he’s probably available. If you need a depth forward, consider grabbing him.
Ales Hemsky OTT – WATCH - Ottawa has had a rough time offensively this year; sitting 16th in the league for goals-for, the management of the Sens decided to bolster their production by acquiring Hemsky from Edmonton. He’s always reminded us of Alexei Kovalev – when he wanted to, he could be a game-changer. It was always a question of finding his motivating factor to get him to do so. Hemsky will get first power play time with Jason Spezza, and will serve on the top line with him and Milan Michalek, which should pay dividends. If Hemsky cannot find the back of the net quickly, he’ll find himself down the chart, as he’s not responsible enough defensively to not be productive offensively.
Martin Erat PHO – WATCH – It was a surprise to us that Erat didn’t fit in well in Washington; his “shoot first and pass later” mentality was a natural fit, but perhaps there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Alex Ovechkin takes enough shots on his own, and doesn’t need a second fiddle. Nonetheless, Erat’s history in Nashville will likely suit him well in Phoenix where he’ll be on a very similar system-oriented team. His new line mates of Kyle Chipchura and Radim Vrbata should be able to increase his production from his current levels. Keep an eye on him; he may do better than you think.
Lee Stempniak PIT – ADD – One of the “sleeper” adds of the deadline will be the acquisition of Stempniak by Pittsburgh. Incredibly deep down the center with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh’s biggest problem has been finding wingers who can keep up. When they do find them [Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Jussi Jokinen] the results are often magical. Stempniak reminds us very much of a better Jokinen, and we’ve all seen what a successful reclamation project he’s been on Malkin’s wing. With an ownership of 7%, he’s available in your league. We would add him if we were you.
Steve Ott STL – WATCH – We’ve been a fan of Steve Ott since his Dallas days – even when his numbers didn’t support our cause. Now that he’s playing on a big-time team like St. Louis, his numbers are in flux. On the one hand, he’ll get far less ice time, and will not get a whiff of power play time, but he’ll provide key leadership on the third line with Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow. Ironically, he’ll be playing with some of the best players he’s ever played with, and will probably produce less. What he will be good for, however, is +/- and PIM categories, and should be able to chip in offensively here and there. Move him from your “grinder” category to your “elite goon” category and he may be a valuable commodity to get. Let’s see what he does over the next couple of weeks.
Tyson Barrie COL – ADD – He’s had one heck of a 2014 so far – since Jan 1, Barrie has registered seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 21 games, and a +10 to boot. Colorado has come leaps and bounds this year, and it’s been youth like Barrie that has carried them to this point. Coach Patrick Roy has harnessed their energy and transformed it into a juggernaut, and Barrie is one of the rookies leading the charge. His ownership rate of 34% has spiked over the last week, but he may still be available in your league. If you need a defenseman, grab him.
Ilya Bryzgalov / Darcy Kuemper MIN – SHORT TERM ADD – For those of you in head-to-head leagues that have their play-offs starting March 17th, be cognizant that Minnesota’s schedule has them playing five games that week. Grabbing both Bryzgalov and Kuemper will give you the equivalent to two starters for that week. That’s a huge advantage if you’re weak in goaltending. Why am I mentioning this now? Because a week from now, your playoff opponents are going to figure this out, and all Minnesota players – goalies and skaters – will be hot commodities. That, and Darcy Kuemper is playing pretty good hockey lately, and getting him now is advisable.
Ben Scrivens EDM – WATCH – Well, it’s taken all year, but Edmonton has finally started winning games, and it may be directly because of Scrivens’ play. In his last seven starts, Scrivens is 5-2 with a 2.11 GAA and a .941 SV%. While he had a couple of stinkers in there – two 4-goal outings – he’s been consistently good for the Oilers, and he may have given them the confidence necessary to turn the corner on their awful play all season. If Scrivens’ turns in another good few outings, he may be a deep gem in the rough.
Peter Budaj MTL – SHORT-TERM ADD – With the injury to Carey Price leaving the Montreal goaltending situation in doubt, Budaj now has the crease for at least the near future, and should have a very good team in front of him. Whie Budaj’s numbers surely won’t approach that of the incumbent, he should be good for a number of wins in his absence. If you’re short on wins, we would advise picking him up if you can do so.
How did we do last week?
(When we judged our correctness, we looked at whether we were expecting performance or lack thereof.)
Due to the huge delay between our last regular column – which was February 2 – we’re going to start rating ourselves starting with this week. Historically, we’re 80-39-31 for the season.
Grab players from these teams this week, if you can:
1. New York Rangers – Four games this week – Carolina, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and San Jose
2. Phoenix Coyotes – Four games this week – Tampa Bay, Florida, Boston and Calgary
3. Pittsburgh Penguins – Four games this week – Two Back-to-backs against Washington and Philadelphia
Avoid players from these teams this week, if you can:
1. New Jersey Devils – Three games this week – Philadelphia, Florida and Tampa Bay
2. Montreal Canadiens – Three games this week – Boston, Ottawa and Buffalo
3. Detroit Red Wings – Three games this week – Columbus, Edmonton and Chicago