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NHL Waiver Wire: Survival of the Fittest

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.

For the Week March 23-29

Tyson Barrie D, COL -
He's highly owned (about 80 percent of leagues), so we're only mentioning him on the off possibility that he's free in your league. We were lucky enough to pick him up in a shallow league we're playing in this year, so you just never know. Barrie will play four games this week, and Colorado has the best schedule in the NHL this week. While the Avs play two more difficult opponents in Vancouver and Calgary, they also play Buffalo and Edmonton, which should be easy to run up the fantasy tallies. In addition, Barrie is having a great fantasy year: he's on pace to set career markers in every stat other than plus-minus. His 46 points in 68 games is already good enough for ninth in the NHL for blue liners; not too shabby for a 24-year old in his second full season in the NHL. Considering his rank is in the low hundreds, we don't imagine we need to twist your arm on him; all things considered, he would be the best defensive add this week.

John Klingberg D, DAL -
So, where Tyson Barrie is likely unavailable for you, most of you have access to John Klingberg -- a pretty decent substitute, all things considered. His ownership level is in the low 30s, meaning he's available in most mid-depth pools and above (with a few deep pools also having him free), and given the fact he's coming back from an injury, many might have forgotten to re-add him. He's had a surprisingly good rookie season, posting 36 points in 53 games in a pretty bad Stars lineup. Fortunately for Klingberg's owners, Dallas has the same schedule as Colorado, meaning Klingberg will have a lot of opportunity this week to add to that good rookie year. Our only concern is that Dallas plays such a run-and-gun offense that it often exposes itself to a lot of turnover goals; that hurts plus-minus categories tremendously. If plus-minus isn't a category, you have nothing to worry about.

Brandon Pirri C, FLA -
We feel like a broken record when we talk about him, but as long as his ownership level stays low and he continues to produce, we'll continue to beat the Pirri drum. Since we last recommended him -- two weeks ago -- he's recorded a tidy little four-game goal streak. Goal scorers are hard to come by this time of year, and especially on a team with four games next week, and only a few points out of a playoff spot. He gets power-play time on the second unit, and gets first-line ice time with Nick Bjugstad and Brad Boyes. Those are two big opportunities for him to produce any given night, and he's been quietly showing -- to those paying attention -- that he's deserving. If you are in a deep league, and are in a goals-driven category configuration, do yourself a favor and add Pirri.

Alex Tanguay W, COL -
During our research we had to do a double-take when we saw how low his ownership is relative to his performance. While his 46 points in 69 games are not anywhere near the career-high 81 recorded almost a decade ago in Calgary, they're still solid, and he's on pace to record his best year since 2010-11 when he put up 69 points. His ownership is at 22 percent - low enough that most leagues have him available. He plays on the second line with Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog, a fantastic tandem that should ensure he gets a lot of opportunities to score, and because they're both extremely solid defensively, Tanguay's plus-minus should be pretty good as well. As mentioned, Colorado has a great schedule this week, and grabbing Tanguay would likely bode well for owners - he'll be able to assist in almost every standard stat category.

Adam Henrique C/W, NJD -
While New Jersey plays four games this week, the opposition looks pretty steep for the Devils. Los Angeles on Monday followed by a three-game-in-four-night road trip against Washington, Carolina and Anaheim looks like a recipe for problems, but in reality, the only category you should really be concerned with is plus-minus. If that's not a category for your league, you have nothing but upside grabbing someone like Henrique. He plays on the top line in New Jersey with Scott Gomez and Steve Bernier, and somehow finding a way to turn lead into gold. In his last 10 games, Henrique has nine points -- four goals and five assists -- with a plus-three and a power-play goal thrown in for good measure. While both Bernier and Gomez have contributed, it's little doubt who the main driver is on that line; Henrique is trying to show to upper management that he's able to lead a first line next season -- hopefully with a little more firepower than what he has to deal with now. At only 19 percent owned, he's readily available and should be a solid contributor this week.

Sunday Special

So, you're behind. It's Sunday, and you need something in your back pocket to pull out for a Hail Mary. Try these two:

Petr Mrazek G, DET -
With the injury to backup Jonas Gustavsson, and the inconsistent play of starter Jimmy Howard lately, we wouldn't be surprised if Mrazek gets more starts down the stretch, as Detroit lines up for yet another playoff run. Mrazek's numbers this year have been all over the map -- during his stretch in January and February where he ran with the crease, he either allowed two goals or less in eight games or four goals or more in four. Recently, however, he's running on the hot side with four goals allowed in his last two starts and a save percentage of .947. At this time of year, it's difficult to find a quality goalie in a pinch; Mrazek may very well be an all-or-nothing add in hopes of snagging a category or two (assuming, of course, he starts March 29 against the Islanders). Of all available options, he's one of the better ones. And with an ownership of 13 percent, he's probably the best you'll get.

Ryan Spooner C, BOS -
The best matchup you're going to find Sunday, March 29, is going to be Boston vs. Carolina; not only is it the biggest mismatch of points, but it's also the biggest disparity of desire. Boston is clinging to the last wild-card spot, desperately trying to fend off upstart Ottawa and underdog Florida, while Carolina is just counting the days until golf season starts. The biggest problem with the matchup, however, is that most Bruins' players have solid reputations -- and with it comes high ownership numbers. Spooner is a bit different; he's been centering the top line in David Krejci's absence, and has done a solid job at producing, even though he's probably punching above his weight class. Regardless, you're not looking for a keeper -- you want someone who may be able to contribute with a two-point performance on the last day of the week. Oh, and they have to be available in the leftover bin. Well, Spooner fits the bill quite nicely, and he should have a solid day against Carolina.



Schedule Analysis

Teams with Beneficial Schedules

1. Colorado Avalanche - Four games - Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Buffalo
2. Dallas Stars - Four games - Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver
3. Chicago Blackhawks - Four games - Carolina, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Winnipeg

Teams with Detrimental Schedules

1. Philadelphia Flyers - Two games - Chicago and San Jose
2. St. Louis Blues - Two games - Pittsburgh and Columbus
3. Columbus Blue Jackets - Three games - Anaheim, Chicago and St. Louis