While some teams have already started their season, others are just getting ready to start theirs. However, the waiver wire is a minefield during week 1 of your fantasy hockey draft because there are so many players who will be promoted and demoted in weeks 2-3 that it’s difficult to know what you’ll get if you’re patient or not. That’s why this column exists! Every Tuesday I’m going to highlight 3 lesser known guys at each position about whom we should keep an eye out for in future weeks as well as other waiver pickups which may become useful down the line.
The “fantasy hockey waiver wire week 2” is a weekly article that highlights the best players to pick up on the waiver wire.
Every week, we’ll scour the waiver wire for under-the-radar players that may aid your team, whether you play dynasty or redraft, and we’ll also throw in some DFS advice. Finally, we’ll take a look at some old go-to fantasy assets that might be overrated in the short or long term for a variety of reasons.
Max Comtois, Anaheim Ducks LW (Rosted in 48.9% of ESPN.com leagues): I expect a strong second-half surge from a now-healthy Comtois, as I predicted in last week’s “Eight fantasy hockey predictions for 2022.” The just-turned 23-year-old scored his first goal of the season in Sunday’s OT triumph against Detroit, and he won’t be long in carving himself a permanent spot in the Ducks’ top six. Comtois can also be depended on to dish out a good helping of hits and penalty minutes to his coaches. In ESPN.com standard leagues, the tenacious winger has averaged 1.9 fantasy points per game since joining the team in the new year.
C Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights (41.9%): The top center might be back on the ice by the first part of February, according to rumors out of Vegas. Three to four weeks, then? While stashing Eichel in an unused IR space is a no-brainer fantasy move, depending on league rules and your current standings, there’s also a case to be made for keeping him on your bench. For fantasy playoff competition in H2H leagues, you want this man on board. If he can get back to full health and conditioning, the former Sabres captain might be a game-changer with Mark Stone and (eventually) Max Pacioretty. Picking him up now, in my opinion, is a risk worth taking.
St. Louis Blues C/RW Ivan Barbashev (40.7 percent): Barbashev has been a fantasy pleasure with Pavel Buchnevich (for the most part) since December, accumulating five goals and nine assists in a dozen recent games. The 26-year-old has only failed to score in three of those games, while being consistently prolific. Barbashev has averaged 2.4 fantasy points per match since Dec. 4, even with Sunday’s clunker against the Stars. If Jordan Kyrou isn’t available, look into the Blues’ sixth-year skater, who isn’t as well-known.
Tanner Jeannot (18.5 percent), Nashville Predators LW: He scored a goal despite playing just 12:35 in Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Coyotes. After a solid start to the season, the 24-year-old rookie has pushed his way into the Calder discussion by averaging almost a point per game since Dec. 4. Now he’s stepping in for Filip Forsberg on the Predators’ best scoring line (COVID-19). Nashville will host the Avalanche on Tuesday and the Sabres on Thursday before traveling to Boston on Saturday.
Alexander Kerfoot (4.8 percent), Toronto Maple Leafs: When one is temporarily substituting in on a top scoring line alongside Auston Matthews, a haul of two goals and six assists in three games is difficult to overlook. Kerfoot is ringing in 2022 with a bang after a dreadful December, and fantasy managers in deeper leagues may as well join him for the trip. Kerfoot should only be relegated to the second scoring line with William Nylander and John Tavares after Mitch Marner emerges from the league’s COVID-19 process and rejoins Matthews on Toronto’s top unit. That’s a fairly excellent job, too. For a limited time, the former Avalanche forward will be available in 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
LW Lawson Crouse of the Arizona Coyotes (3.7%): Crouse had three goals and three assists on 15 shots in four recent games while playing on a scoring line with Phil Kessel. Perhaps even more tempting is the fact that the former Frontenac (along with his expiring contract) is said to be for sale. I’m curious to see what the 11th overall draft selection (2015) can do with a team that scores more points overall. (I suppose Crouse would relish such an opportunity.) Despite being in his sixth professional season, the 24-year-old has yet to fulfill his full potential. In deeper ESPN.com leagues, he’s worth a shot.
Alexander Barabanov (LW, San Jose Sharks) is also worth mentioning (1.5 percent )
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Zach Whitecloud (27.6%), Vegas Golden Knights: Only teammate Brayden McNabb has more blocked shots per 60 minutes among NHL defenders who have appeared in more least 15 games this season, and the difference between 7.80 and 7.76 BkS/60 is a hair’s breadth. Whitecloud, unlike McNabb, shoots the puck a lot and has five goals and six assists in 26 games. In ESPN.com standard leagues, that all adds up to 2.2 fantasy points per game, excellent for a top-20 finish among the league’s blueliners.
Brett Pesce of the Carolina Hurricanes is also worth mentioning (6.9 percent )
Washington Capitals’ Zach Fucale (0.8%): On Monday, the Capitals’ backup to the backup is set to start for the second time this season (and in his NHL career) against the Bruins. Since making his league debut on Nov. 11, Fucale has only allowed one goal in two complete games and one half game. If the AHL regular is nervous about playing on the game’s grandest ice stage, he’s doing a good job of concealing it. Those in need of a goalie body who want roster flexibility could start the 26-year-old against Boston and go from there. At the very least, he’s a viable Daily Fantasy option.
Postgame analysis and highlight show airing each night throughout the season from Barry Melrose and Linda Cohn. Watch on ESPN+
Expectations were lowered
Boston Bruins’ Linus Ullmark/Jeremy Swayman: If Tuukka Rask returns to the Bruins as expected, one or both of Ullmark and Swayman’s playing time will be significantly reduced. Swayman, who is on a waivers-exempt entry-level deal, might end up in the minors. There are still some obstacles to overcome – Rask must first demonstrate his fitness in either AHL or NHL play – but a change in Boston’s goaltender situation looks to be on the horizon.
Perhaps the career-Bruin will just be used as a fill-in for Ullmark, who has been playing well recently. Perhaps not. Fantasy managers who have put money into their teams should be prepared to make changes as events develop.
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