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The Waiver Wire: Our Best and Worst Recommendations of 2013

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

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: Our Best and Worst Recommendations of 2013

Normally, we highlight the best and brightest of the available players in most leagues – and those players that should be avoided or moved as their value has dipped – but this week, we’ll be dedicating this column to those players we’ve recommended that have been the biggest booms and busts. After all, it’s not a real New Years without the “Best of 2013” for just about everything.

Best Recommendations

Frans Nielsen C, NYI – Recommended Waiver Add Oct. 20

One of our favorites, Nielsen has come into his own this year, centering the second line on the much-maligned New York Islanders. From the outset, he put up fantastic numbers (4G 4A 8P in 8GP) and showed wonderful chemistry with his line mates Josh Bailey and Michael Grabner. GMs who heeded our advice have been rewarded thus far with 12G 17A 29P in 38GP. Not bad for a second-line player on a team currently ranked 28th in the league.

Chris Kreider W, NYR – Recommended Watch Oct. 27

After New York’s pitiful start to the season, and Rick Nash’s injury, we knew that Kreider’s call-up was not only inevitable, but that his opportunity would likely bear fruit. The watch recommendation seemed to be overly cautious – in his 31 games since being called up, he’s recorded 9G 12A 21P with 30PIM and 7PPP with an equally impressive +9 rating. It’s no coincidence that his promotion coincided with the turnaround in Ranger fortunes; he’s been the sparkplug that they needed to right the ship.

Nick Foligno W, CBJ – Recommended Add Nov. 24

We have to admit – we’ve always been fans of Foligno’s since back in his days with Ottawa (if you know anything about Ontario, you know that’s hard to admit for Toronto fans). His style of gritty, hard-nosed play reminds of us of players from 20 years ago, like Darcy Tucker or Michael Peca. Due to his team’s lack of success this year, many GMs overlooked Foligno; when we made the recommendation to add him, his ownership rate was at less than 10%. Since our recommendation, Foligno has been a fantasy bargain, registering 5G 6A 11P with 34PIM in 15GP.

Torey Krug D, BOS – Recommended Add Oct. 27

Krug first caught our eye in last year’s playoffs, showing poise and composure well past his 22 years. He’s shown in this, his first full year, that his play was not a fluke – in his 37 games so far, he has put up 8G 11A 19P with 12PIM, 11PPP and a +5 rating. One would be forgiven from thinking that, being a rookie, his play would be streaky, but his game log suggests anything but. With one exception – a five game stint – he’s never gone more than three games without a point. That’s exceptional consistency from a defenseman of any age. We expect that based on this play, he’ll easily be a Calder candidate, and rightly so.

Mark Streit D, CAR – Recommended Add Nov. 24

Philadelphia’s start to the season was so horrendous that we knew that there would be plenty of opportunities for bargains when the ship righted itself. The first one that surprised us was the availability of Mark Streit. When his ownership rate dipped below 10%, we knew the time to recommend him had come. Since our recommendation, Streit has recorded 3G 6A 9P in 15GP with 10PIM, 4PPP and a +1, which was a far cry from the 0G 7A 7P 12PIM 4PPP -3 in his preceding 22GP.

Jonas Gustavsson G, DET – Recommended Strong Waiver Add Oct. 20

While his play over the last four seasons had been anything but stellar – averaging around a 3.00GAA / .894 SV% - we were sure that he could raise his game to a new level this year in Detroit, if the opportunity presented itself. With Jimmy Howard’s injury troubles, Gustavsson was given just that, and he has made the most of it, recording a 10-3-2 record with a 2.35GAA / .915SV%. While those numbers don’t leap off the page in the same way that Ben Scrivens or Martin Jones’ stats do, we came to the game late with them – as did everybody else. With Gustavsson, we called it after his third start.

Biggest Misses

Nail Yakupov C, EDM – Recommended Watch/Add Nov. 25

For such a skilled player, it was unthinkable that he would get off to the start he did this season, on a team of such great skill as Edmonton. Our preseason rankings had Edmonton in the thick of it for the final playoff spot, should all the right things break the right way. His disastrous start surely had to end, and we were watching intently for the first sign of it breaking; unfortunately for us, we mistook a blip for a sign. Since our recommendation, he has recorded 2G 3A 5P and 14PIM with a category-killing -11 in 16GP.

Mason Raymond W, TOR – Recommended Trading Away Oct. 27

This one hurts doubly: first, because we were wrong, and second, because we’re such fans of his on the Leafs. Raymond has been easily the biggest bargain in the league this year from a salary standpoint – his 11G 14A 25P production for his salary of $1 million is unparalleled. Our recommendation of trading him was that his performance was likely capped due to Clarkson’s return bumping him down to third line status. As it turns out, it was Clarkson who would eventually earn the demotion, and Raymond’s current line of Peter Holland and Joffrey Lupul are giving the injury-riddled Leafs a solid second line.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard W, NYI – Recommended Waiver Add Nov. 17

Sometimes you just can’t anticipate what performance a player will give and what moves a GM will make. Immediately following our recommendation after a solid three points in four games, Bouchard ran full-tilt into an iceberg-sized cold streak – zero points in his next eight games, recording a -8 in the process. Following this GM Garth Snow sent Bouchard to the minors and promoted Mark Strome in his place. It’s a shame too, because we’re both big believers in Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Joe Corvo D, OTT – Recommended Add Dec. 8

We weren’t sure what was going on with the Ottawa coaching staff and Corvo, but numbers didn’t add up. He had recorded 2G 6A 8P in 13GP – surely that type of production deserved more time on the ice than he was getting. Since our recommendation, Corvo has recorded one point – a goal – in eight games, and worse, has been a -5, earning him a well-deserved spot in the press box for the Christmas week.

Roman Josi D, NAS – Recommended Watch Nov. 24

While his scoring performance has been about where we were expecting him when we recommended him – 2G 9A 11P in 27GP – what we weren’t expecting was his horrible +/- rating. Coach Barry Trotz is well-known for his strict adherence to a defense-first system, which Josi’s -14 rating does not fit well with. Despite this brutal +/-, he’s getting a ton of ice-time, ranking 11th in the league in ATOI at just over 25 minutes per game. If anything, one can take solace that his partner, Shea Weber, is also sporting a career-worst -11 rating thus far.

Viktor Fasth G, ANA – Recommended Add Nov. 17

While we couldn’t have predicted his injury, even without, Fasth has been a shadow of his former self. In the two games he actually did play this year, he’s 0-1-1 with a 2.50GAA / .901SV%. While we know that’s not abhorrent, we recommended an add on a person who might not see anything more than those two games this year – and only one came after our recommendation, the three-goal-against performance in Pittsburgh. This was definitely a solid miss for us.

A Final Note

If you’re a true fan of hockey – any hockey – you should tune into the World Junior Hockey Championships that started December 26th. If you’re reading this from north of the border, you already know that Christmastime is “Junior” season – this tournament has a mammoth following in Canada, rivalling the NHL Playoffs for spectators. But, if you’re in the US, the World Juniors don’t get nearly as much publicity.

The hockey is rough, unrefined and fast – and it gives a wonderful show of all the high-level talent that will be coming into the NHL in the coming years. Most of the league’s most well-known players – Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and many others – have all been stars at this tournament, and provided fantasy GMs with their advanced scouting report for rookies in the next year.

The entire tournament is televised on the NHL Network in the US, and on TSN in Canada.