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The Waiver Wire: Crunch Time

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Dan Waldner

Dan Waldner

Dan Waldner covers hockey for RotoWire, and has been involved in fantasy hockey pools for 15 years. He's a lifetime Toronto Maple Leafs fan, a passion his wife puts up with and his daughter is starting to emulate.

The Waiver Wire For March 16 March 22

As the head-to-head playoffs are now underway for most pools, were going to focus on the adds for this week that will put you over the top. Desperate times call for desperate adds, and these tips will help pick up some categories where youre close.

Preface

Rather than going though each player one-by-one, we recommend dropping all non-keeper grade Minnesota from here on out, in favor of the people below. The Wild played five games last week, but now have three games per week for the next two weeks

Focus your efforts on Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, and Dallas Stars players who play four games per week each week.

Also, another tip to pass along in crunch time watch your usage of waiver adds, if your league has a transaction restriction per week. In ours, for example, we are allowed four adds a week. Its been our finding in our years of playoff success that the first two adds should be done during the Monday-Thursday period, to offset games played or injuries, whereas the last two adds are to be done Friday-Saturday-Sunday, to target key battleground stat categories. It is lunacy to use them up by Wednesday, and folly to use them all on the last weekend. Be judicious, but also recognize when to cut bait. If youre behind on the PIM category by 41 going into Saturday, perhaps youd be better to target another more reasonable category.

Centers

Mika Zibanejad OTT WATCH - With an ownership rate of 3%, hes typically readily available to be added in most pools, and why not? He had a very promising year in 2012-2013 with 20 points in 42 games, but his sophomore year has shown regression. In 59 games, he only has 27 points, and is a -14 on the year; his defensive game has suffered enough that coach Paul MacLean has called him out in the media a number of times. Nonetheless, we recommend keeping an eye on him due to his four game schedule, inclusion on the power play, and general scoring ability.


Gustav Nyquist DET ADD Even though hes taken in 40% of leagues, its worth mentioning that this is a guy to grab, if you can. Detroit is horribly understaffed, with key injuries to Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. In those absences, Nyquist has asserted himself as the heir-apparent; hes at just under a point per game (37 points in 44 games) in his second year with the team, and is a +9 on the season. Hes a defensively responsible, point-per-game Detroit center sound familiar? Hes on a hot streak, with 5 points in his last three games, he plays 11 games in the next three weeks, and hes on the top power play unit. Hes a no-brainer add if hes available.

Travis Zajac NJD DROP Not only has he had a mediocre season so far 39 points in 68 games but hes also only playing two games this week. Granted, those teams are the Coyotes and Islanders, but neither are guaranteed wins. We also know that New Jersey is having a very difficult time scoring, currently ranked 26th in the NHL in Goals For. Theyre also 5-5 in their last 10, meaning theyre not particular hot right now. End result: if youre in tight this week against a good opponent, you cannot afford to have Zajac on your roster. Drop him and add someone like Nyquist or Zibanejad to get two more games out of that position.

Wingers

Ales Hemsky OTT ADD Yes, we realize we have mentioned him in the past, but its important to reiterate: Ottawa plays 4 games each week from here on out, and Hemsky is on the top line with Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza. In his last two weeks, he has two goals and six assists for eight points, with two penalty minutes and two power play points in seven games. Given this pace, he should be good for about four points a week. He also has an ownership rate of 23%, which is sufficiently low that hes available in most mid-depth leagues. Thats key add him now before someone else does.

Milan Michalek OTT ADD Its no coincidence that we suggest Michalek as well as Ales Hemsky in the seven games since being paired with the newcomer, he has three goals and three assists, in addition to nine penalty minutes. He should be good for three to four points this week, and a handful of penalty minutes. Ottawa is not yet definitely out of the playoff picture, and you can be sure that the top line will be pushing extra hard to ensure theyre still on the fringe.

Steve Downie PHI ADD A perfect combination of psychotic physicality and good hands, Downie is every fantasy GMs ideal goon. In addition to being over a penalty-minute-per-game player, hes also got 24 points in 59 games, and is a +3. He also plays on the second power play unit in Philadelphia, so he can contribute in just about every category across the board, while still hammering home the PIM category. Hes owned in 15% of leagues, which is low, and he plays four games a week for the next three weeks. If you can do so, we recommend adding him.

Defensemen

Marc-Edouard Vlasic SJ SHORT-TERM ADD While hes not your traditionally offensive-minded defenseman that fantasy GMs love, Vlasic offers something thats pretty difficult to replicate: a great +/- defender with good point totals. His 24 points in 71 games is definitely on the low side, but a +32 is hard to replicate in fact, it has him fourth in the league. Plus-minus is a very difficult stat category to focus on, but Vlasic has only had 15 games this year where he was in the red, and only two where he was worse than a -1. Contrast that against 13 games where he was better than +1, and the case is clear. If the category is a weakness, add Vlasic for the week.

Andrej Meszaros PHI ADD So, lets see if we understand this correctly. Andrej Meszaros gets traded to Boston from Philly at the deadline, and Boston hasnt lost when hes been in the lineup. And, in those six games that hes suited up for the Bruins, he has three points, a +6 and four penalty minutes. And the Flyers play four games each week from here on out. And he has an ownership level of 4%, meaning hes typically available in all but the deepest leagues. Did we miss anything? Add him.

Goalies

We are going to do something a bit different this week for the playoffs. Below are a list of backups that should be good for a solid start, and probably a win. Those are always key in the playoffs when you need some starts.

Chad Johnson BOS Coming off a shutout on Friday against Colorado, hes almost certain to get one start this week, likely on either Saturday or Sunday, and most likely the former, against Washington.

Antti Raanta CHI With Chicago playing a back-to-back this week, Raanta is likely to get one start on Thursday or Friday, probably against the struggling Senators.

Alex Stalock SJ Playing a back-to-back Monday/Tuesday, hes likely to get one of those starts against Calgary first, or Edmonton second.

Jeff Zatkoff PIT Pittsburgh is playing a Thursday/Friday back-to-back, so Zatkoff will likely play one, probably Columbus on the Friday.

Peter Budaj MTL Montreal is unlikely to roll Carey Price for their back-to-back on Monday/Tuesday so Budaj is likely to get one start probably against Buffalo on Tuesday.

Carter Hutton NAS Nashville will likely put Hutton in net for Thursday against Buffalo, to allow Pekka Rinne to start the following night in Dallas.

How did we do last week?

(When we judged our correctness, we looked at whether we were expecting performance or lack thereof.)

Mikael Granlund MIN EMPHATIC ADD 4GP 2G 1A 3P +0 2PIM [Correct]

Charlie Coyle MIN SHORT-TERM ADD 4GP 1G 0A 1P -1 [Neutral]

Lee Stempniak PIT EMPHATIC ADD 4GP 2G 2A 4P +1 [Correct]

Kyle Okposo NYI DROP 1GP 0G 0A -1 [Correct]

Ryane Clowe NJD ADD 3GP 0G 1A -3 5PIM [Neutral]

Ryan Callahan TBL ADD 4GP 1G 1A -2 6PIM [Correct]

Olli Maata PIT ADD 4GP 0G 0A -2 [Incorrect]

Jared Spurgeon MIN SHORT-TERM ADD 4GP 1G 2A +1 2PIM [Correct]

Eric Gelinas NJD SHORT-TERM ADD 3GP 0G 1A -1 2PIM [Neutral]

Darcy Kuemper MIN SHORT-TERM ADD 2GP 0-2 3.00 GAA / .897 SV% [Incorrect]

James Reimer TOR SHORT-TERM ADD 4GP 0-4 3.75 GAA / .884 SV% [Incorrect]

Tim Thomas DAL SHORT-TERM ADD 2GP 0-2 4.00 GAA / .826 SV% [Incorrect]

So, by our count, we went 5-4-3 this week. We were bang on with the skaters, going 5-1-3, but could not buy a vowel in the crease. Historically, were 94-45-36 for the season.

Weekly Notes

Grab players from these teams this week, if you can (with an eye to the future weeks):

1. Philadelphia Flyers Four games this week (12 Remaining) Los Angeles, New York Rangers, Toronto and Boston

2. Ottawa Senators Four games this week (12 Remaining) Tampa Bay, Florida, Chicago and Calgary

3. Dallas Stars Four games this week (12 Remaining) Winnipeg, Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis

Avoid players from these teams this week, if you can (with an eye to the future weeks):

1. Vancouver Canucks Three games this week (9 Remaining) Minnesota, Colorado and Anaheim

2. New Jersey Devils Two games this week (10 Remaining) Phoenix and New York Islanders

3. Washington Capitals Three games this week (10 Remaining) Los Angeles, Boston and Nashville