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Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: 14 players to choose from

By Evan BerofskyRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Injuries can take a toll on any team. Just ask the Avs, who lost two of their Big Three forwards within two weeks. They subsequently readjusted their lines, but find themselves stuck in a five-game losing streak.

There's no way for Colorado to replace the 162 combined points Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog posted last season, but better fixes obviously exist in fantasy. After all, you can choose from any of the 31 NHL clubs.

One option is to focus on fill-ins who can fulfill the requirements lost through injury. So if the fallen player is known for scoring goals and recording shots on goal, look for someone on the wire who can at least perform both functions. Or go in another direction and load up on other needs, especially if you're in a league that involves weekly head-to-head matchups where category points determine the winner.

Check out the following candidates and see if any of them can be of service.

(Yahoo rostership rates as of Nov. 7.)

FORWARDS

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers (48 percent rostered)

Kreider might be slightly off the point pace, but he's supplementing the scoring by contributing in other categories. In addition to the three goals and four assists, he's provided 27 shots and 29 hits — with 19 of the latter coming in the last seven games. Kreider mans the left side of the second line, but also averages 4:14 on the Rangers' top power play.

Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild (24%)

A couple weeks ago, fellow RotoWire scribe Janet Eagleson warned readers about Staal's viability as a fantasy player based on his advanced age and slow start. The 35-year-old must have gotten the memo, as he's gone off for five goals and five assists in 10 contests since, including a current run of points in five straight. He isn't recommended for long-term use, but you might as well ride the Staal Train while it still has wheels.

The time to grab Staal is now. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning (24%)

The injury bug has not been kind to Palat the last few years, though he's maintained decent numbers when available. The 208th pick from 2011 started this season with goals in three of his first five outings and just enjoyed a strong week where he racked up five points and 11 shots. He's also rotating between Tampa Bay's power-play units, where he skated more than three minutes a night from the last four appearances. The Bolts will only play four games the next two weeks as they'll play in Sweden and then travel home, but Palat could work the following two weeks when they're scheduled for seven.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators (19%)

Poolies who stay away from Senators due to their poor defensive reputation are missing out on a few good forwards. Brady Tkachuk's rostered everywhere, but some Ottawa frontline players can be had for nothing. One of them is Pageau, who has benefited from Colin White's slump and subsequent injury to move into the No. 1 center role. The promotion has paid off for the hometown guy, as he's chipped in with three goals and an assist over his last three outings. White is set to return later this month, but Pageau — with his team-leading six goals and plus-15 rating — should continue to receive plenty of responsibility.

Nick Bonino, Nashville Predators (16%)

Bonino has served as a secondary producer over his NHL career, peaking at 49 points with Anaheim in 2013-14. He combined for 60 points in his first two years in Nashville, so a breakout wasn't expected for this season. Even as the Preds' third center, Bonino leads the club with eight goals, including a hat-trick versus Chicago last week. Although only one of his 12 points have come on the man-advantage, his ice time during this situation has increased to the point where it matches his shorthanded shift. While he won't end up on top of tallies, Bonino will contribute enough to help your squad.

Conor Garland, Arizona Coyotes (15%)

Several wingers may rank above Garland, but few can achieve more with less. He's averaging less than 13 minutes through 15 outings, yet has racked up seven goals, three assists, and 38 shots. Garland has built a rapport with Nick Schmaltz, sharing the ice on even-strength (along with Clayton Keller) and the Yotes' second power play. If he keeps hustling and firing pucks on net, positive things will continue to happen.

Nick Ritchie, Anaheim Ducks (5%)

Ritchie displayed his toughness by accumulating 216 PIM and 591 hits over his first three full NHL campaigns. He showed spurts of scoring last year with 31 points — including nine on the man-advantage. And so far, Ritchie has replaced part of the grit with his offense by finding the scoresheet in five of his last seven appearances. As long as he's surrounded by talent — whether that be Adam Henrique on 5-on-5 or Ryan Getzlaf while up a man — he has the opportunity to reach the 40-point plateau.

Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars (1%)

Dallas obviously recognized talent when it drafted Faksa 13th-overall in 2012, but he only averaged 32 points the previous three seasons. The steady Czech seemed destined to follow the same path this year with only two goals and an assist to show from the first 15 games. He'd get back on track with an assist Saturday, while an injury to Roope Hintz would leave an improved spot and power-play vacancy for Tuesday's encounter against Colorado. Faksa took full advantage of the situation by potting twice while directing seven shots on goal. This may only turn out to be a short-term gig as Hintz is expected back by next week, so check upcoming line projections before picking up Faksa.

DEFENSEMEN

Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars (27%)

After recording 32 points, 141 hits, and 161 blocks last season, Lindell was determined to sustain similar stats. Despite significant duty, the Finn has only notched three points. At least he's kept up his defensive skills with 19 hits and 38 blocks, but more offense would be nice. However, that deficiency is bound to improve due to John Klingberg reportedly set to miss significant time. Lindell teamed up with Klingberg on Tuesday to register PPAs on the same goal, but that task will only increase now that the Swede won't be around for the near future.

Mark Borowiecki, Ottawa Senators (13%)

Borowiecki will never be confused for Bobby Orr, but that's just fine since no one ever expected him to reach that level. The bruiser has made a name for himself by punishing the opposition, having amassed 616 PIM and 1418 hits across nine seasons — including a league-leading 154 PIM and 364 hits in 2016-17. Borowiecki has drawn attention, as he's matched last year's haul of five points in only 14 matches. Even if we assume that total won't increase significantly, his 27 PIM, 49 hits and 27 blocks represent a decent contribution for a lower-tiered fantasy defender.

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks (12%)

Four-time NHL All-Star. Three Stanley Cup rings. Two Norris trophies. One playoff MVP. The scoring might have dropped from the glory days, but it's amazing to see Keith carrying a heavy workload at 36. The highly touted Adam Boqvist was called up, but he's still got plenty to learn. And Erik Gustafsson is struggling after exploding for 60 points last year. Keith has stepped in and produced a point in each of the last three games while earning his old place on the Blackhawks' top power play. Gustafsson may end up recapturing his form and Boqvist will undoubtedly surpass the other Chicago blueliners down the road, but Keith represents the team's best current option.

Rasmus Andersson, Calgary Flames (1%)

Following a respectable 19 points and plus-17 during his NHL debut, Andersson was ready to build upon those efforts. Five points over 18 games seem promising, but too many zeros found their way onto the scoresheet. The upside is that Andersson has enhanced his ice time in Year 2 by almost 15%. No PPPs to date, but that should eventually change due to a two-minute average. And he's provided a glimpse of a turnaround with a pair of assists on Tuesday while skating a season-high 21:53.

GOALTENDERS

Alex Stalock, Minnesota Wild (8%)

Once the model of consistency, Devan Dubnyk has fallen on hard times with a 3.68 GAA and .883 through nine appearances. Meanwhile, the slightly younger Stalock has looked like the starter he never became by posting a 2.42 GAA and .917 over eight games. The Wild have proved inconsistent on D, so it may seem dicey to recommend any of their goalies. But after recent strong performances from Stalock and an attack that seems to finally have gelled, he represents Minnesota's top choice.

Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars (7%)

Things looked bleak for the Stars during their opening nine games, since they only won once. Fortunately, they've taken seven of the last eight while only allowing 12 goals during this stretch. Ben Bishop is the unquestioned No. 1 between the pipes, but Khudobin represents one of the league's premier backups. The 33 year old has come out on top in his three most recent appearances and should continue to provide adequate cover for Bishop as the season progresses.

Players to consider from past columns: Bo Horvat, James van Riemsdyk, Victor Olofsson, Brock Nelson, Nazem Kadri, Joel Armia, Andreas Johnsson, Alex Kerfoot, Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Henrique, Andre Burakovsky, Ryan Strome, Paul Stastny, Dominik Simon, Jonathan Drouin, Travis Konecny, Jaden Schwartz, Erik Haula, Jeff Carter, Oscar Klefbom, Devon Toews, Alex Goligoski, Justin Schultz, Sami Vatanen, Anthony DeAngelo, Cam Fowler, Matt Niskanen, Carter Hutton, Craig Anderson, Jaroslav Halak, MacKenzie Blackwood

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