NHL Waiver Wire: Pickups of the Week


Fall is here. It’s getting colder outside and the leaves are starting to change. There’s also this thing called pumpkin spice, but you’re probably sick of hearing about it.

Fantasy hockey is back, and poolies are already scrambling to find the hottest and/or next breakout performer. There’s no better place to go for that than the waiver wire. The thrill of beating others to a potential potent producer can only be matched by that player following through on that promise.

With a very small sample of regular-season action to analyze, there’s not much real-life information we can use. But if projected lines, injuries, and other news are also considered, we should be able to spot which players are undervalued in most Yahoo! leagues.

Here’s a sampling of the latest recommendations. As is standard in this column, no one rostered over 50 percent will be mentioned — though exceptions apply.

(Rostered rates as of Oct. 14)

Forwards

Andrei Kuzmenko, VAN (Yahoo: 39%): Kuzmenko successfully started his North American tour with six points in four preseason games. The 26-year-old signed with the Canucks in the summer after seven years in the KHL and hasn’t looked out of place on the smaller ice. Kuzmenko would follow up on his hot run with a power-play marker during his regular-season debut while firing four shots on net and logging 17:43 — including 7:01 on the top man-advantage. If he’s still available in your league, get him ASAP.

Mason McTavish, ANH (Yahoo: 29%): Another

Fall is here. It’s getting colder outside and the leaves are starting to change. There’s also this thing called pumpkin spice, but you’re probably sick of hearing about it.

Fantasy hockey is back, and poolies are already scrambling to find the hottest and/or next breakout performer. There’s no better place to go for that than the waiver wire. The thrill of beating others to a potential potent producer can only be matched by that player following through on that promise.

With a very small sample of regular-season action to analyze, there’s not much real-life information we can use. But if projected lines, injuries, and other news are also considered, we should be able to spot which players are undervalued in most Yahoo! leagues.

Here’s a sampling of the latest recommendations. As is standard in this column, no one rostered over 50 percent will be mentioned — though exceptions apply.

(Rostered rates as of Oct. 14)

Forwards

Andrei Kuzmenko, VAN (Yahoo: 39%): Kuzmenko successfully started his North American tour with six points in four preseason games. The 26-year-old signed with the Canucks in the summer after seven years in the KHL and hasn’t looked out of place on the smaller ice. Kuzmenko would follow up on his hot run with a power-play marker during his regular-season debut while firing four shots on net and logging 17:43 — including 7:01 on the top man-advantage. If he’s still available in your league, get him ASAP.

Mason McTavish, ANH (Yahoo: 29%): Another NHL freshman, though McTavish is eligible for the Calder Trophy. The hero from the latest WJC (earning Canada the gold) made a cameo with the Ducks last year for nine contests, but he’d do most of his damage in the OHL with a whopping 76 points across 48 outings, highlighted by 29 in 19 during a playoff run that concluded with a Memorial Cup Final appearance. McTavish opened his 2022-23 account with a pair of assists — one of them a PPA — and three shots. Most point projections have him hitting somewhere in the 50-60 range, and we can see that being met based on top-six placement and a spot on the lead PP.

David Krejci, BOS (Yahoo: 21%): It was only one year overseas, but it felt like Krejci had been gone forever. The lifelong Bruin, who amassed 730 points prior to this season, made an instant impact by adding three to his total in Washington. Getting to center compatriots David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha must be a treat for Krejci, not to mention sliding right back into the No. 1 man-advantage. He could drop down to the second PP unit when Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk return, but he’ll have enough offensive opportunities to be worthy of rostering.

Ryan Strome, ANH (Yahoo: 17%): Let’s go back to Anaheim and target another key forward. Strome rejuvenated his career on Broadway, lining up with a number of talented forwards while operating on the top power-play, and he’s continuing that trend with the likes of McTavish, Trevor Zegras, and Troy Terry. He wasted no time impressing his new club with a goal and two helpers on Wednesday over 18-plus minutes of action. Barring injury or other misfortune, expect more of the same from Strome.

Marco Rossi, MIN (Yahoo: 9%): For all the recent hardships Rossi has endured, it was nice to see him back with the Wild on Thursday. The ninth pick from the 2020 Draft may not currently hold primetime placement, yet he boasts tremendous skill and should eventually move up the lineup. Many are discussing Owen Power, Matty Beniers and McTavish as the favorites to take top rookie honors, but don’t sleep on Rossi. Just ask anyone who saw him dominate the OHL for two seasons.

Josh Anderson, MON (Yahoo: 7%): Anderson hasn’t really been paired with elite linemates since his arrival in Montreal, so teaming up with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield may be his golden chance to rack up the stats. He made his mark in Game 1 with the game-winning goal versus the Leafs, though his ice time was a bit lower than usual. Staying within the upper half of the depth chart is a must for Anderson to be fantasy-relevant. You may want to pick him up now based on his situation or monitor for the next week or so before taking the plunge.

Max Domi, CHI (Yahoo: 4%): The Blackhawks appear to be continuing on a downward trajectory, but not everything is negative. A few of their players will take on a lot of responsibility and therefore be ideal for fantasy usage. One of those would be Domi, who inked a one-year deal in July after a couple uneven campaigns. He’s begun life in Chicago centering the first line and power play, which means getting to work extensively with Patrick Kane. That alone is enough reason to grab Domi.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, CAR (Yahoo: 4%): Social media had fun when Carolina pried Kotkaniemi away from the Habs last year after the latter failed to lure Sebastian Aho back in 2019. His output last season wasn’t exciting, though he only averaged 12 minutes a night. With Vincent Trocheck gone, Kotkaniemi has ascended to the No. 2 pivot, which means joining forces with fellow first-rounders Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas. Combine that with a place on the Canes’ backup power play and there’s no way he should be available in 96 percent of leagues.

Defensemen

Sean Durzi, LA (Yahoo: 28%): It’s not everyday you’ll read someone recommending a defenseman scratched the day after that player made a couple questionable defensive plays. But in Durzi’s case, we know he’ll jump right back into the lineup, because there’s no way LA’s clear second offensive blueline option (remember his breakout in 2021-22 with 27 points — including 15 PPPs?) is being kept out long-term. If you want to be safe and wait until official word comes out for the next game before grabbing Durzi, that’s perfectly acceptable.

Brandon Montour, FLA (Yahoo: 13%): Montour is coming off an 11-goal, 26-assist campaign that also featured 153 shots and a plus-15. So why is he not getting the love when it comes to fantasy? Did I mention Montour’s now a part of Florida’s first man-advantage and his minutes have skyrocketed? On Thursday, he led all Panthers by skating 24:58 (!) overall and 7:47 (!!) on the power play. Montour didn’t notch any points, but those usage numbers are very encouraging for future fantasy success.

Mario Ferraro, SJ (Yahoo: 8%): Ferraro hasn’t consistently found the scoresheet since debuting at 21, though he’s logging major minutes and is helpful in other areas like hits and blocks. He’s recently seen a boost to his power-play portfolio and has already contributed a PPA. There’s a chance Ferraro could miss Friday’s matchup due to a minor knock in practice, but he’s set to be a viable season streamer based on his expanded role and cross-category production.

Justin Schultz, SEA (Yahoo: 4%): Following a strong showing in his first year with the Kraken and with Mark Giordano long gone, it was assumed Vince Dunn (40%) would assume the top PP quarterback role. We’re two games in and Schultz is the one covering the lead position and is up two assists to one. Dunn is still getting more minutes than Schultz and Seattle have significantly upgraded their attack, so both look like excellent options. 

Goaltenders

James Reimer, SJ (Yahoo: 24%): The Sharks are rebuilding and there’s optimism with a few nice prospects up front, though the back end is a bit lacking. That last part doesn’t sound encouraging for anyone who may be thinking of adding a San Jose goalie, yet the two current options are decent enough. Reimer’s the elder of the duo and actually compiled a winning record last season. He looked solid in the Global Series opener and is expected to cover at least half of the starts alongside Kaapo Kahkonen. The Finn may eventually unseat Reimer, but the veteran seems to be the current preferred choice.

Jake Allen, MON (Yahoo: 22%): Montreal earned a big win on Wednesday at home against Toronto thanks in part to Allen and a few big saves — including stopping Alex Kerfoot on a penalty shot. Like the Sharks, the Habs’ D is kinda shaky and not especially conducive to fantasy consumption. But sometimes, the promise of regularly starting is enough to add a netminder to your roster. Allen doesn’t have much competition for the top job with Carey Price unlikely to return anytime soon and Sam Montembeault the only other active goalie on the roster.



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