The Waiver Wire – For The Week of October 26 – November 1
Even Better Than You Think
Filip Forsberg RW, NSH – After being taken 11th-overall by Nashville in the 2012, there were a lot of expectations the placed on the young Swede to help solidify the traditionally weak Predator offense. While it’s taken him a few years of seasoning in the minors, Forsberg is now showing the promise that was hoped for from someone with such a famous hockey last name. His seven points in seven games, alongside a responsible plus-nine rating indicates that he’s a budding star in the NHL, and far better than you think. If you’re in a respectably deep league, check to see if you can grab him off the wire, or make a reasonable trade to get him. We think that the projections of 35 points in 55 games this year are far lower than what he’s going to end up with.
Dougie Hamilton D, BOS – With the recent loss of Zdeno Chara to a knee injury, big things are going to be expected of the now-third year player to take his game to the next level. His production and responsibility have increased each year, leading to five points in his last five games. This includes a drubbing of Toronto on Saturday where he netted a goal and two assists, tallied a plus-two with two penalty minutes – just for good measure. We expect this is going to be a year where he exceeds expectations and solidifies himself as a top-two defenseman. Keep an eye on him – his fantasy value is likely to spike.
James Neal W, NSH – Many people – ourselves included – drastically lowered our fantasy expectations on him for the year, leaving Pittsburgh and finding newer, more defensive grounds in Nashville. It seems our early dire predictions were a bit premature – the 27-year old winger has five goals in eight games, including a natural hat trick against Chicago last week. While it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to continue the pace he had flying on Evgeni Malkin’s wing, he has found good chemistry with the aforementioned Filip Forsberg and reclamation project Mike Ribeiro. Since most people continue to share our initial pessimism on his outlook, we think he’s better than believed. He may be a useful trade target.
Blake Comeau LW, PIT – This is no shocker: there’s a clear and palpable advantage to playing on Evgeni Malkin’s line. Fantasy GMs the world over prey on players that are likely to feed on the table scraps from the truly elite. Comeau appears to have a respectable set of hands – the likes of which can score and punch in almost equal measure. If his position on that line is stable, he’ll likely put up career highs in points, while providing fantasy GMs a bunch of PIM and residual +/- from the Penguin second line. He’s also widely available in almost all leagues.
Damien Brunner RW, NJD – After a wholly disappointing season last year where the 28-year old failed to improve his production totals after moving from Detroit, early reports are in, and looking favorable. In four games, he has a goal and two assists which, while early, is still a good sign. He’s playing with Patrik Elias and Michael Cammalleri on the second line, and he’s serving on the second-unit power play, so he has all the opportunity to be able to exceed his previous production. All looks good thus far – we think he’ll be good to pick up in the deeper leagues.
Devante Smith-Pelly RW, ANA – In light of the injury to Patrick Maroon who was patrolling the top line alongside superstars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Smith-Pelly has been given the opportunity to see how he fits up in rarefied air. His play style and numbers indicate a rough-and-tumble player with a nose for the net. Fantasy GMs looking for penalty minutes and generally decent scoring across all categories should consider adding him, especially in the deep leagues where points are at a premium. While he stays atop the first line, he’ll be great. When Maroon returns, perhaps less so.
Anders Lee C, NYI – We have been big Anders Lee fans since last year, and we’re glad that he’s back in the league. While his first game last week against Boston was shaky – posting a minus-one and looking overwhelmed – his second game against Dallas was a complete slugfest, where he netted his first goal of the year and a great plus-two (for a game that ended 7-5). We think he’s got a big future in the league, and fits great on an Islander team that has shown they score in bunches. If you’re in a deep league and have a spot open to take a flyer on a player, we’d suggest Lee.
Anton Stralman D, TBL – Victor Hedman’s injury is Anton Stralman’s gain. With seven points in nine games, the seasoned Swede is off to a great start, and now, will be getting additional offensive opportunities that Hedman was making the best of. His previous career-high was a rather mediocre 34 points in 2009-2010, and we expect that his time in Tampa Bay will be far more productive this season. If you’re looking for an underdog defenseman, pick up Stralman for at least the next six weeks.
Jonathan Drouin LW, TBL – As the third-overall pick in 2013, and former linemate of Colorado phenom Nathan Mackinnon, Drouin had a bitter pill to swallow last year when he didn’t make the big club out of camp. After a full year in junior where he obliterated the competition, he is ready for redemption this year – and he looks hungry. In his first three games he recorded a goal and two assists, and looked dangerous whenever he was on the ice. While the last game against Minnesota was disappointing, he’s going to be a good player in this league for many, many years to come. Most – if not all – keeper leagues will have him hopelessly snapped up, but some shallower leagues have him available still. Don’t overexpect – he’ll probably be in the 40-50 point range this year (at best).
Jori Lehtera C, STL – We recommend keeping an eye on the 26-year old Finn; he has all the makings of being a potential diamond in the rough in the league. He’s playing on a fantastic team with a fantastic coach, and has a history of success in the KHL and Finnish league. He’s a hard player to play against, and, given the right opportunity, could translate all those factors into hard numbers in the NHL. He’s still feeling his way around right now, but he has three points in six games – all three coming in one game against the Coyotes – so you should watch from a distance for now until he finds his North American game.
Leo Komarov C, TOR - Last year, this sparkplug left the Leafs to rejoin the KHL for the year before deciding to return this season to welcoming fans. Komarov is a wonder to watch, because he loves laying down the body on the opposition. Fantasy-wise though, he’s never been very good unless your league has hits as a category. This season, however, his line of Mike Santorelli and David Clarkson have found a unique chemistry: the three are full of energy, and on many nights, are the best line for the Leafs. Whether this makes any tangible returns on the scoresheet remains to be seen. Until that happens, just flag him and
Justin Abdelkader LW, DET – We’ve never been big fantasy fans of Abdelkader, but he seems to currently be occupying a position of relative prestige – the left side of the top line in Detroit, beside Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist. Even with his relatively modest ability to put the puck in the net, the other two members of his line are explosive offensively, and by virtue of him being around the net, he’s likely to see a dramatic spike in production while he’s there. His five points in eight games this year so far has indicated that we’re on point in our prediction. Watch him over the next week; that will indicate whether he stays in his spot or Tomas Tatar eats his breakfast.
Henrik Lundqvist G, NYR – As King Henrik goes, so too goes the New York Rangers. Lundqvist has posted lower than normal numbers (for him) with a 4-3 record, a .895 save percentage and a 3.14 GAA. While he started last year in roughly the same way, this is a worrying trend that he’s starting, and it’s one we’re not convinced he’ll escape unscathed from this year. If you’re in a keeper league, we would suggest that it may be time to start looking around for trade partners. Sure, he’s not going to bad this year, but can you really afford to hold a premier goalie who only shows up six weeks into a season?