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Fantasy hockey: Waiver pickups to target this week

The best options at every position to target on your fantasy hockey waiver wire this week. (Getty Images)
The best options at every position to target on your fantasy hockey waiver wire this week. (Getty Images)

Working the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week that can add points to your total is the number one way you can control the outcome of your matchup. In this article every week, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of rostership so that you can fill out your fantasy squad with the best players available in your league. Let’s dig in:

Forwards

Rostered in 41-50% of leagues: Brock Nelson (48% rostered)

Nelson is heating up with five goals and seven points in his last five games. This week, Nelson plays four games and he’s still available in more than half of Yahoo leagues. You might recall that Nelson went on a tear down the stretch last year in which he rang up 17 goals and 25 points in just 23 games, so he’s no stranger to a goal-scoring streak. Nelson and Mathew Barzal are both currently skating about 18 minutes per night as the Islanders roll with a sort of 1A/1B top two lines. Fire up Nelson now and see if this turns into another sustained run of fantasy dominance.

Honourable mentions: Anton Lundell - FLA (42%) & Seth Jarvis, LW/RW - CAR (47%)

Rostered in 31-40% of leagues: Alexis Lafreniere, LW/RW - NYR (40% rostered)

It seems like the hockey world has been waiting an eternity for Lafreniere to break out, but there is some evidence that he’s close to doing that. First off, Lafreniere has seen his ice time jump up from just under 14 minutes a night last year to a little less than 17 minutes a night this season, and the difference has come due to a promotion to the second line alongside the red hot Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck. Lafreniere has been putting pucks on goal at a far greater rate than ever before this season, up 63 percent on a per-minute basis. It’s hard to fathom that Lafreniere’s current 6.1 percent shooting percentage will continue for much longer as he converted at over 17 percent in both of his first two seasons in the league. All in all, it feels like the time is ripe to bet on a Lafreniere breakout.

Honourable mentions: Andrei Kuzmenko, LW - VAN (33%) & William Karlsson, C/LW - VGK (34%)

Rostered in 21-30% of leagues: Dylan Strome (25% rostered)

You’re going to see more than one member of the Washington Capitals featured in this article, and it’s all because of that sweet schedule: Washington plays four games this week and every one of them is on an off-night (a night in which less than half of the league is scheduled to play). Getting any player from Washington essentially guarantees that they will make your starting lineup for all four games this week, which is a great asset if you’re just looking for a week-long pickup. Strome has been riding on the top power play and has already registered nine points on the young season, so you can definitely do worse than Strome as a one-week streaming play.

Honourable mentions: David Krejci, C - BOS (27%) & Logan Couture, C - SJS (28%)

Rostered in 0-20% of leagues: Marcus Johansson, LW/RW - WSH (4% rostered)

Johansson is the other forward currently on that top power play for the Capitals not named Alex Ovechkin or Evgeny Kuznetsov, and so he should garner a long look from anyone looking to avoid logjams in their lineup on the heavier nights this week. Johansson’s time on ice has been slowly but consistently ticking upwards on the season and he’s been above 16 minutes in each of the last six games. In deeper leagues, Johansson is a ticket you can bet on for some off-night points and power-play points in particular.

Honourable mentions: Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW - LAK (15%) & Conor Sheary, LW/RW - WSH (7%)

Defensemen

Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Dmitry Orlov - WSH (44% rostered)

This recommendation comes with a heavy caveat: Orlov is currently listed as day-to-day and missed practice on Sunday after leaving Saturday’s game with a lower body injury. So you’re going to need to have a clear update on Orlov’s status before pulling the trigger here. But if he’s healthy, Orlov represents a top pair defenseman who you can count on to fill out your shots, hits, and blocks categories with some regularity. That’s not to say that Orlov can’t provide any offense either, but he’s currently mired in a four-game pointless streak, so you can’t say he’s on a tear by any stretch of the imagination. If you need a defenseman with those key off-nights though, you can’t do any better than Orlov this week.

Honourable mentions: Jaccob Slavin - CAR (44%) & Vince Dunn - SEA (36%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Calen Addison - MIN (22% rostered)

Back to talk more about Calen Addison, who has been getting dropped left, right and center since he’s only registered one point in his last seven games. Addison is a power-play specialist in the mold of a John Klingberg or Torey Krug, and the reality of these types of defensemen is that they don’t score points every single game. The difference between them and other defensemen is that these players don’t cover up their pointless streaks throughout a season with their shot or hit or block totals, and so it becomes harder to stomach rostering them when those pointless games inevitably come. I’m holding Addison until he’s dropped from the top power play unit in Minnesota, and in a week where the Wild play four games and three of those on off-nights, I’m adding Addison if he’s available.

Honourable mentions: Nick Jensen - WSH (23%) & Matt Roy - LAK (15%)

Goalies

Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Erik Källgren - TOR (30% rostered)

For the second straight year, Källgren has been thrust into the starter’s role in Toronto due to injuries in front of him. In his first two tests, Källgren has stood tall, stopping 36 of 37 shots as the Leafs have seemingly gotten their season back on track with back-to-back wins against the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes. With Ilya Samsonov’s timeline still unknown and Matt Murray not close to returning, Källgren could be in line for a bunch of starts on a suddenly resurgent Toronto team. If you’re desperate for help at goalie, you can definitely do worse than Erik Källgren this week.

Honourable mentions: Stuart Skinner - EDM (44%) & Jake Allen - MTL (36%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Martin Jones - SEA (19% rostered)

I can’t say I saw this one coming, but Martin Jones has been on a tear of late, allowing just three goals in his last three games. Those games were against quality opponents as well, as Jones faced down Pittsburgh twice and Minnesota once in that span. It’s hard to imagine the same Martin Jones who has posted a .900 save percentage or worse in each of the last four games has suddenly rediscovered his form at age 32, but I am always willing to ride a hot goalie and Jones is a textbook definition right now. Seattle as a team has been more effective at limiting chances against this year, so there’s a real possibility that an improving team context and a boost of confidence from a hot streak turn Jones into worthwhile pickup and hold for the next number of weeks.

Honourable mentions: Karel Vejmelka - ARI (13%) & Scott Wedgewood - DAL (19%)

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Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter @applesginos.

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