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Fantasy hockey: Waiver pickups to target this week

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 weekly article, 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: Brandon Hagel, LW/RW - TBL (44% rostered)

Hagel is bordering on a must-add after securing top line and top power play deployment alongside Tampa stars Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Hagel has piled up twelve points in his last ten games and it’s not hard to see why given the kind of firepower he’s playing with. While the Lightning don’t have an A+ schedule for this week (3 games, no off-nights), Hagel is looking like a player you might end up holding for the entire season and it’s worth jumping on a player like that even if the schedule isn’t perfect.

Honourable Mentions: Artturi Lehkonen, LW/RW - COL (50%) and William Karlsson, C/LW - VGK (41%)

Rostered in 31-40% of Leagues: Jeff Skinner, LW - BUF (33% rostered)

I’m going to keep talking about Jeff Skinner until he gets rostered as much as he deserves. Skinner remains a fixture on the suddenly potent Buffalo top line and top power play, and is a consistent shot producer and offensive chance generator. Skinner may only have two points in his last five games, but he’s averaging more than 3 shots per outing during that span and has chipped in seven hits as well. Skinner is another player that I think of as a long-term hold, so if the bottom of your lineup has been underperforming, you may want to look at Skinner as more than just a short-term option.

Honourable Mentions: Kirby Dach, C/RW - MTL (36%) and Boone Jenner, C - CBJ (31%)

Rostered in 21-30% of Leagues: Jonathan Toews, C - CHI (21% rostered)

Here’s a classic schedule-based streaming option for you. Toews’ best days as a point-producing, top-line center in the league are clearly behind him, but he’s registered eight points in his last ten games and now faces a week in which he plays four games including three off-nights.

Jonathan Toews has turned back the clock over the past couple weeks, making him an intriguing fantasy hockey add. (Getty)
Jonathan Toews has turned back the clock over the past couple weeks, making him an intriguing fantasy hockey add. (Getty)

The league-wide schedule is particularly tough for fantasy purposes this week, so getting a top power-play option like Toews who will at the very least make your starting lineup on three different days is absolutely key to maximizing your chances of victory. I recommend not overthinking the fact that Toews is mired on a terrible Blackhawks team and focusing on his individual performance of late along with that juicy upcoming schedule.

Honourable Mentions: David Krejci, C - BOS (23%) and Phillip Danault, C - LAK (22%)

Rostered in 0-20% of Leagues: Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW - LAK (16% rostered)

Arvidsson is an interesting case, a player who seems to oscillate between outbursts like his two-point, seven-shot night against Florida a little more than a week ago and the zero-point, one-shot effort he posted three days later against the Minnesota Wild. Arvidsson may not inspire the most trust out of any of the options available to you on your waiver wire, but the Kings also have a four-game, three off-night week ahead and the entire Kings second line is probably available in your league. I prefer Arvidsson to linemates Trevor Moore and Phillip Danault due to his past performances and penchant for blow-up, week-winning games.

Honourable Mentions: Trevor Moore, LW/RW - LAK (17%) and Shane Pinto, C - OTT (18%)

Defensemen

Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Noah Hanifin - CGY (49% rostered)

Hanifin has been averaging more than three shots per game in the month of November, and while he’s not a bigtime hitter, he does tally up his fair share of blocks each game. Suffice it to say, Hanifin can help you out in the peripheral categories like shots and blocks while still adding his fair share of points (three in his last five games). Calgary only plays three games next week but they do get you the one off night on Monday so you should have no issues taking the swing on Hanifin.

Honourable Mentions: Jake Sanderson - OTT (40%) and Vince Dunn - SEA (37%)

Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Jake Bean - CBJ (5% rostered)

Zach Werenski’s season-ending shoulder injury is Jake Bean’s opportunity, and he’s already begun taking advantage with a two-assist outing including one on the top power play unit on Saturday night. Bean had been mired down the lineup but saw 21:10 of ice on Saturday and will undoubtedly be in line for more minutes with Werenski and Adam Boqvist both out of the lineup.

Bean looks like a very solid add in a week where the Blue Jackets play four games with one off night. Bean’s upside may be somewhat limited by the lack of offensive talent in Columbus, but top power-play defensemen are few and far between in fantasy so snap Bean up before your leaguemate does.

Honourable Mentions: Sean Durzi - LAK (24%) and Colton Parayko - STL (9%)

Goalies

Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Antti Raanta - CAR (45% rostered)

Frederik Andersen’s injury status remains up in the air and Antti Raanta has a history of being able to perform in spot-start situations like this. Toss in a team context that’s among the league’s best in Carolina and you have a recipe for a terrific pickup at the position in Raanta. If you went with a #ZeroG approach in your draft and are looking for help at the goaltending position, Raanta is absolutely that guy for you this week. Andersen’s history of injury troubles means the Hurricanes are likely to avoid rushing him back, so I feel reasonably secure in picking up Raanta at least for one week here.

Honourable Mentions: Karel Vejmelka - ARI (33%) and John Gibson - ANA (44%)

Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Joonas Korpisalo - CBJ (5% rostered)

You may be wondering why I’m recommending a goalie pickup from a team as down in the dumps as the Blue Jackets are currently, and that’s a fair question. But Korpisalo came back from injury and walked into three straight starts. The Blue Jackets hung him out to dry, allowing more than 40 shots on goal in two of those games, but Korpisalo hung tough with a .912 save percentage. Columbus has a four-game week upcoming, and Korpisalo is a lock to get at least two and potentially three of those games. The icing on the cake? The first three of those games are against Philadelphia, Montreal and Detroit, giving you plenty of time to evaluate Korpisalo’s play against lesser competition while he’s getting the run of the Columbus net.

Honourable Mentions: Casey DeSmith - PIT (14%) and Arvid Soderblom - CHI (5%)

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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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