The Waiver Wire – For the Week of December 21 – December 28
Better Than You Think
Alex Galchenyuk C, MTL – Even though he was picked third overall in 2012 by the Canadiens, Galchenyuk so far looks to be the pick of the litter for that draft year. While top pick Nail Yakupov has languished in Edmonton, the Belarussian-American has blossomed in La Belle Province, recording 58 points in 113 games prior to the start of this season; good totals, we should say, for a teenager in the NHL. This season, however, he has discovered the lethality that made him such a high draft pick – in 33 games he has 22 points, including nine goals. In fact, just the past week he scored his first NHL hat trick against the Hurricanes. If he can continue his production, he’ll approach 60 points in a season as a 20 year old. He’s smart with the puck, imminently coachable, and is a hard working young talent. Fantasy GMs should value him higher than they do – his ownership rates tend to flutter around 50%, though those are largely reflective of shallow leagues. Within the next two seasons, he’ll likely have his production up into the mid-70 point range, where he’s likely to be able to keep it for a long time. Compare his numbers to Vladimir Tarasenko’s from last year, and you’ll see they’re very similar – and we all know what type of year he’s having.
Brendan Gallagher W, MTL – Where linemate Alex Galchenyuk was the thoroughbred of the draft, Gallagher was a plough horse, going in the fifth round, and not really expected to breakout the way he has in the last three years. Combined, the two of them have palpable chemistry that is evident – both on the boxscore and on the ice. The older Gallagher has been more hustle and bustle, able to draw high numbers of penalties, agitate (read: PIM), and provide the sandpaper that Galchenyuk lacks. He’s also no slouch with production, scoring 69 points in 125 games including 13 power play points. Together, the two have been dynamic and have been recently promoted to the top line with Max Pacioretty. This is sure to provide yet another boost to Gallagher’s production, and the combination of Galchenyuk and Gallagher may resemble (at least to the fantasy world) the combination of David Krecji and Milan Lucic in Boston – although we somehow don’t think the diminutive Gallagher would provide the same rate of fisticuffs that Lucic does. With an ownership rate at only 27%, he is definitely better than many of you think.
Mark Scheifele C, WPG – In our very first article last year, we predicted that this youngster would snare a nomination for Rookie of the Year; while our zeal may have gotten the best of us, his 34 points in 63 games was great, and a clear indication of what was to come. Fast forward a season, and Scheifele has picked up where he left off, scoring 17 points in 33 games, and solidified the second line center position for the Jets. His improvement in play this season hasn’t been terribly noteworthy on the scoresheet, but are evident in the little things that he does while on the ice. This has given coach Paul Maurice the confidence to center him in that second slot behind Bryan Little in the organization depth chart. Michael Frolik and Mathieu Perrault have found chemistry with him, and Scheifele has responded in kind, recording seven points in his last four games. Good things look to be in his future, and with an ownership rate of 11%, he’s readily available in most leagues. Deep league GMs would be wise to add him if possible.
Eric Fehr C/W, WAS – With a career-best of only 39 points which he’s five years removed from, you may think that Fehr is an odd choice to recommend, but here we are. Centering the second line of Washington, he has ample opportunity to contribute offensively, but that’s not where the magic lies on the Capitals first line power play, where he was given time in the last game against Columbus. His response in that game was a goal and an assist with a plus-one rating. If coach Barry Trotz decides to roll the dice for a little bit and give Fehr more time on that line to see if he can change things up, it would bode extremely well for Fehr’s numbers – and the fantasy GMs who would invest in him.
Josh Bailey W, NYI – Riding high atop the Islander left wing depth chart is none other than Bailey, replacing Nikolay Kulemin who had been languishing on the Tavares line. While he only has a goal in the three games he’s been playing on the first unit, he looks like he belongs, and if he can maintain his spot up there, he should produce well. The problem with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo is that their chemistry is so on-point that many wingers haven’t been able to gel with them. Bailey’s history with the team, and his time on the power play with both of them should bode well for his ability to tune into the harmony that they have. Anybody who finds a permanent spot with the two of them should be a valuable add in almost any league.
Jeremy Morin RW, CLS – It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody that Chicago moved Morin, being as buried down the depth chart that he was. Nor should it surprise anybody that his destination was Columbus – after all, they have an entire roster of this prototypical rough-and-tumble forward. What was a surprise was where he was slotting upon arriving – on the top line alongside Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno, both of whom are at a point-per-game clip. To anybody paying attention, that turned his fantasy value from virtually non-existent to very noteworthy. If he can find some chemistry with the two bright lights in the Blue Jacket’s lineup, he could be able to see 30-40 points this season alongside substantial PIM. He could be a better Antoine Roussel – and you know how highly we value him in fantasy leagues.
Mark Stone W, OTT – Even though Ottawa is having a rough go of it this year, you shouldn’t slough off the entire team from a fantasy perspective. A bright light recently has been the play of Mark Stone, who has been promoted to the top line alongside Kyle Turris and Clarke Macarthur. The result has been almost immediate, recording a five-game point streak and looking very much the part of a top line winger. His success has allowed Bobby Ryan to play on the second line with Mika Zibanejad, and spread out the scoring. His ownership levels are extremely low (for now), so if you’re in a deep league and need some scoring punch (don’t we all), make sure you add him for the short- to mid-term.
Devan Dubnyk G, ARI – The Coyotes have had success the past decade on the back of solid defensive play and exceptional goaltending. Starter Mike Smith has certainly not fit within that mold this year, and the result has been a terrible showing for Arizona, and the emergence of his understudy, Devan Dubnyk. In ten starts this year, Dubnyk has a 6-2-2 record with a 2.55 GAA / .922 SV% - none too shabby if you consider that Smith has posted a 5-14-2 record with a 3.35 GAA / .889 SV%. With this contrast, it’s likely that Dubnyk will run with the crease until such time as the real Mike Smith emerges, or Dubnyk’s numbers fall. We don’t believe either is imminent, and Dubnyk warrants at least an add with spot starts for those teams that need goaltending.
Jay Harrison D, WPG – While the Jets’ offense is humming, their defense is hurting; mainstays Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom, and Mark Stuart are all on IR, and likely there for some time. Coach Paul Maurice has been making steak from hamburger meat with the patchwork core that they have, and recently, added veteran Jay Harrison to the fold in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. The 31-year old will take on elevated responsibilities for at least the next month, and Maurice and Harrison know each other from their time in Toronto. We think Harrison will find a top spot and be able to produce in the absence of the regulars, and could be a decent pickup. We’re not there yet to recommend him, but we suggest watching his numbers for the next week. He already has a point in his first game there and is a plus-one.
Chris Kelly W, BOS – Now that David Krejci and Zdeno Chara are back from injury, the entire Boston lineup has finally been iced for the first time in months. The result has been that Chris Kelly has lined up with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson on the third line – a combination that has resulted in a three-game point streak for Kelly to go with a plus-two rating. From a league standpoint, that combination is one of the more potent third lines around, and Kelly could well be a fantasy beneficiary – if everybody can just stay healthy now.
Calvin Pickard G, COL – Semyon Varlamov’s injury woes have kept him to two games in the last month – and during those two, he allowed a total of nine goals. Most of the Avalanche have underperformed so far this season, but one bright light that’s emerged in this time has been the play of Calvin Pickard, who has taken the crease from Reto Berra in Varlamov’s absence. In his last nine starts, he’s posted a 4-3-2 record, and a 1.89 GAA and a .943 SV% - not too shabby, especially considering that he braved 40-plus shots in three of those starts. His solid play may prompt a trade upon Varlamov’s return, much in the way Martin Jones’ play last year prompted the trade of Ben Scrivens upon Jonathan Quick’s return from injury.
David Krejci C, BOS – Plagued with a groin injury that he was battling since the beginning of November, he’s been a shadow of himself in the two games he’s played since his return. Any professional athlete who has had a groin injury will tell you that not only do they take forever to fully heal, but they also pop back up, providing a nagging intermittent pain until they’re fully healed. What does this mean to fantasy GMs: there’s a good chance that he won’t be the David Krejci of old for a long time – or perhaps not at all this year. We have already made the decision to trade him for Anze Kopitar in one of our leagues – and we don’t think that’s going to be a bad trade for us from this point out. We’re not saying that he’s going to be a dud this year – only that one should be wary of getting him until such time as his outlook this year becomes predictable.