The Waiver Wire – For The Week Of November 9th – 15th
Better Than You Think
Patric Hornqvist W, PIT – While we were big fans of his in his time in Nashville, his fantasy value this year in Pittsburgh cannot be stated strongly enough. He has found wonderful chemistry with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby on the first line – but that is second fiddle to his position on the first unit power play that is incredibly hot right now. Converting on over 37% of opportunities - that’s better than one in three – anybody on that unit will be incredibly valuable, and his current numbers reflect that. In 12 games, Hornqvist has seven goals, eight assists, a plus-four, and eight power play points. While his ownership numbers reflect this surge in value, don’t fool yourself into thinking this is just a hot streak. Hornqvist is a talented player, and was doing a lot of heavy lifting in Nashville, where offense was hard to come by, and always a second priority behind a solid defensive system. His newly skilled linemates and devotion to a purer offensive output will show great dividends for years.
Nick Bonino C, VAN – Many pundits were worried that Vancouver’s trade of Ryan Kesler to Anaheim may have been rather one-sided. Turns out, they appear to be right – but the direction of the inequity seems to be opposite what people were expecting. Bonino has been a force this year in Vancouver, finding a permanent home on the second line with Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows. In 14 games, he has 12 points (seven goals, five assists), a responsible plus-seven with six PIM. He’s younger and cheaper than Kesler, while outperforming him on an inferior team. To make the trade even sweeter, the Canucks also got a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, who turned out to be Jared McCann, a highly touted prospect. Overall a winning trade for Vancouver, and one that is certain to pay dividends for many years to come.
Daniel Winnik W, TOR – Following a scary looking injury in the game against Colorado this week, Winnik looks to return to the Leafs lineup as early as Sunday against the Senators. Winnik has been one of the most versatile players Toronto has had the privilege to employ in some time; he’s got a decent set of hands that can score when given the right opportunity, is responsible defensively, is the de facto anchor of the penalty-kill, and isn’t afraid to mix it up when a fight is needed. Coach Randy Carlyle has him currently sitting on the wing of the new top line of Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, which has seen him register a goal and five assists with a plus-six in six games. With an ownership rate of 3%, he’s definitely a hidden gem. Wait until his return is announced, and pick him up. We expect that while he’s on the top line, he’ll be on pace to break his career-record in points per season.
Jacob Trouba D, WPG – After a dismal start to the year, Winnipeg – and Trouba – look to have their feet finally under them. Following a 6-2 win to start the year in Arizona, the Jets went 1-5 in their next six. During that stretch, Trouba had no points and was a minus-three. He also saw his TOI drop to a season low 19:58 during that time. In their last seven, however, Winnipeg is 5-2, and Trouba has been a fantasy force, registering two goals and an assist, a plus-two, with 10 PIM and 19 shots. While those are hardly Erik Karlsson type numbers, they represent the turning of a corner to a bad start. He recorded 29 points in 65 games last year, and was a solid defenseman for the Jets – we expect him to get back up to form, and should be able to exceed those numbers this year if his uptick trend indicates he’s shrugged off a bad start.
Justin Faulk D, CAR – Carolina had the worst luck imaginable to start the season, losing their three best players to injury in rapid succession. Now that Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner are back, the Hurricanes have found their game, and are starting to win. One of the beneficiaries of their return – and one of the biggest goats of their absence – was Justin Faulk. During their eight game losing streak, he was a minus-nine. In the four games since their return, he’s got a goal and two assists with a plus-four rating. He’s a very good offensive defenseman who plays on a team with a poor offensive outlook, but he’ll get all the opportunities the team will be able to provide. That should pace him for 35-40 points this year.
Tom Wilson W, WAS – Much like previous recommendations we have made about Andre Burakovsky and Joel Ward, the 20-year-old Wilson is riding the wing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. That alone should perk your ears up, as even the most modest of talents can pot tons of points. Wilson last year was getting fourth line time, and was more of a goon than scorer. The one criticism of the Backstrom-Ovechkin combination is that neither of them are terribly willing to get dirty along the boards to get the puck; Wilson is full of sandpaper, and provides the gopher that is so needed on that top line. In his three games currently on the top line, he has a goal and two assists with six PIM and nine shots. That is a money fantasy stat line. While his tenure may be limited on that line, he’s a good enough risk in the short-term that you should pick him up.
Mark Stone W, OTT – We’re not sure how long you should hold him for, but for the here and now, go grab Mark Stone. He’s playing in the top-six in Ottawa while there are day-to-day injuries with Alex Chiasson and Bobby Ryan, and he’s making every second count. He has three goals and four assists in 11 games, but interestingly, has a five game point streak on the go, where he’s recorded two goals and three assists. His ownership level right now is hovering around 1%, which when you consider the amount of PPTOI he’s getting (about 2:30 a game), he’s criminally underowned. PPTOI is one of the leading indicators of fantasy potential, and the amount he has consistently received this year indicates that he’s poised to score regularly. It’s a good idea to get him now if you can.
Elias Lindholm W, CAR – Much like his teammate Justin Faulk, Lindholm’s numbers to start the year were abysmal. During the losing streak, he was a minus-six with one assist and nothing else to speak of fantasy-wise. His rank by the start of November was in the low-600s, with an ownership rating a shade above 0%. In the four game winning streak, he has four goals and two assists with a plus-three. He’s seen his ratings hit the mid-300s, and his ownership rates are starting to go up. He’s not going to finish the year on his current pace, nor will he be shut out the rest of the year. As always, the middle ground between hot and cold looks to be the norm. As long as everybody on the team stays healthy, he should be good for 40-50 points this year as he continues to mature and grow into the league in this, his second year in the big leagues.
Michael Del Zotto D, PHI – When we heard that the Flyers were going to sign MDZ this season to backfill for the injured (and possibly retirement-bound) Kimmo Timonen, we thought the fit was perfect, and it looks like we were right. In 13 games so far this season, Del Zotto has a goal and six assists, and has seen his ice-time climb from under 15 minutes to start the season, to a hair over 23 minutes currently. In his last four games, he’s got a goal and an assist with a responsible plus-four. His game has looked far more complete, and while nobody will ever mistake him for a defensive stalwart, he has become one of the most reliable rearguards for the Flyers this year.
James Sheppard W, SJS – Playing on the Sharks third line, Sheppard has played solid in the eight games he’s appeared in this year. It’s only recently that he’s been getting rewarded; he has two goals and an assist in three games and a plus-one. We put him on the watch list this week because we think he may be poised to break out at some point in the near future, possibly getting some playing time in the top-six, likely at the expense of either Matthew Nieto or Tommy Wingels. Regardless of what plays out, flag him in your league, and watch what happens in the coming week or two.
Chad Johnson G, NYI – As well as the Islanders have been playing of late, the situation in the crease has been terrible. Jaroslav Halak has been very inconsistent and has left a lot to be desired, posting a 3.24 GAA/.898 SV%. By contrast, Johnson has been pretty good - with the exception of one stinker against SJ, where he allowed five goals in 23 shots. If you exclude that one game, he has a 2.00 GAA /.910 SV% - not Vezina worthy, but surely better than the alternative. If this trend continues, Johnson may very well scoop the starter’s job out from under Halak. If that happens, he’ll be big and his ownership rates will skyrocket. Flag him now, and be ready to pounce.
Tyler Toffoli W, LAK – We really like the young King, and we were one of the first to advocate grabbing him both last year and in the pre-season this year. But, let’s be clear here – Toffoli is not a point-per-game player. His charge out of the gate was largely a result of increased ice-time due to key injuries of Anze Kopitar and Marion Gaborik, and solid play against some beat up teams (v. Columbus – four points), and some slumping teams (v. Edmonton – two points; v. Winnipeg – two points). We still really like his outlook for this year, but don’t expect this trend to continue. In his last three games, he’s a minus-one with no points; this should start to lower the expectations back to earth. Be careful if you intend to trade to acquire him – we think his value is lower than what the current ask is.