Fantasy hockey waiver watch – What the Rangers’ recent success means for Kaapo Kakko


Every week, we’ll mine the waiver wire for lesser-rostered assets to help your squad, whether you favor dynasty or the redraft format, and we’ll also toss in some tips for DFS players out there. Finally, we will look at some former go-to fantasy assets who may be overvalued – in the short- or long-term – for one reason or another.


Forwards

Adam Henrique, C/LW, Anaheim Ducks (46.9%): Having already focussed this space’s attention on Ryan Getzlaf and Troy Terry as underappreciated fantasy assets, why not round out with the winger who completes that highly-functioning trio? Henrique has been a fabulous fit alongside Getzlaf and Terry, with six goals and nine assists to show for 18 games. Unlike his linemates, the 31-year-old remains available in more than half of ESPN.com leagues. Sure, the wheels can still fall off in Anaheim, but the more the Ducks compete, and succeed, the less likely that scenario feels in play. In any case, you may as well take full fantasy advantage of Henrique and Co. in the meanwhile.

Victor Olofsson, RW, Buffalo Sabres (28.2%): Following recovery from an undisclosed injury – a recuperation period that stretched on longer than initially anticipated – the Sabres’ most productive skater is back on the ice. Competing on a forward line with Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner, Olofsson contributed an assist while earning 17 minutes of ice-time in Sunday’s return. Before falling hurt, the 26-year-old forward averaged 2.4 fantasy points per contest in ESPN.com’s standard game. No other Buffalo forward has come close to that mark. Snatch up the underappreciated asset before he captures more attention. The Sabres face the Blue Jackets, Bruins, Canadiens, and Red Wings this week.

Jakub Voracek, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (23.9%): Averaging a point per game – mostly assists, granted – the veteran playmaker isn’t receiving nearly enough love across the ESPN.com fantasy spectrum. Especially considering eight of those points have counted with the man-advantage. Rocking along on a power play with Oliver Bjorkstrand, Voracek is averaging 2.0 fantasy points per game since Halloween. Mostly without linemate Patrik Laine, who’s been sidelined with an oblique strain. Laine’s return – loosely slated for early December – should help further enhance Voracek’s already solid fantasy value.

Kaapo Kakko, RW, New York rangers (7.4%): As discussed in last week’s fantasy hockey calendar hack, Kakko is finally emerging from the unproductive fog that clouded an altogether frustrating stretch of 10 games to start the season. Entrenched on a scoring line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, the 2019 second-overall draft pick now has three goals and two assists in his past four contests, while averaging 18 minutes of ice-time. Since the Rangers are winners of five of their past six, that unit isn’t likely to be split up anytime soon. It’s only a matter of time before the 20-year-old winger, feeling freshly confident, puts up numbers with the extra skater. Kakko should be rostered in the majority of deeper fantasy leagues.

Seth Jarvis, C/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (2.8%): He’s sticking in the NHL beyond the nine-game threshold, to start. Most probably, anyway. The Hurricanes are a better team with Jarvis in the lineup, so burning the first year of his entry-level deal feels like the right move, one would think. Coach Rod Brind’Amour appears a fan, Sebastian Aho adores playing with him on the Canes’ top scoring line, and the kid – who loves to shoot – has a goal in each of his past three games. Nothing is for certain until Jarvis suits up for his 10th NHL contest but signs point toward an elongated stay. A must-roster in dynasty/keeper leagues, the 13th overall draft selection (2020) also has a role to play in deeper redraft fantasy competition.

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Seth Jarvis scores to put Carolina up 2-1 over Anaheim in the third period.

Max Pacioretty, LW, Vegas Golden Knights (85.2%): However unlikely, Pacioretty could be available in leagues with zero injured reserve and/or few bench spots. It certainly wouldn’t hurt you to check. Recovering from a lower-body fracture (broken foot?), the Vegas sniper is back to skating and projects to re-join the lineup shortly. A perennial fantasy game-changer, Pacioretty racked up an average of 4.3 points through a small sample of two contests before suffering the injury. On the fantasy front, he has few equals.

See also: Dawson Mercer, C/LW, New Jersey Devils (8.4%); Valeri Nichushkin, C/LW, Colorado Avalanche (4.2%)

Defenders

Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (27.0%): Darnell Nurse’s busted finger means even more will be asked of Bouchard, who’s already establishing himself as a puck-moving force in what projects to be the 22-year-old’s first full NHL season. Already a “Waiver Watch” regular, Edmonton’s young defender has 10 points to show for 17 games this season, including two assists (one short-handed) in the Oilers’ most recent 5-2 win over the Blackhawks. A pair of power-play points, in addition to a respectable number of blocked-shots, helps round Bouchard out into a fantasy commodity worth rostering in more than a quarter of ESPN.com leagues. And this young competitor, drafted 10th overall in 2018, is only going to get better with experience.

Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche (4.2%): A well-balanced asset in leagues that reward more than scoring, the veteran leads Colorado’s defense with 27 blocked-shots, 30 hits, and ranks second only to Cale Makar in shots on goal. While Johnson is well beyond setting the scoreboard a-flame, those supporting numbers add up. Averaging 1.9 per game on the year, the top-four defender has proven extra reliable since Oct. 28, only once failing to earn managers fewer than 1.7 fantasy points in ESPN standard competition.

See also: P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils (15.1%); Zach Whitecloud, Vegas Golden Knights (4.7%)

Goaltenders

Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (16.8%): For a good (smartly-scheduled) time, if not a long time. With Braden Holtby on the injured shelf, a freshly-promoted Oettinger has comported himself superbly through two recent starts. Meaning we might see less of Anton Khudobin in the foreseeable future. However, there are several concerning factors to consider before jumping on the AHLer’s (until recent) fantasy bandwagon. The Stars are underperforming as a whole. Two starts are still only two starts. Dallas faces Edmonton and Colorado this week. All considered, I’m holding off investment in Oettinger, at least until Saturday’s tilt in Arizona. But he’s certainly worth monitoring in the meanwhile.

Lowered expectations

John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars (68.0%): Three points – zero on the power play – in 12 games isn’t going to cut it. Not when the defenseman isn’t blocking shots or contributing in other fantasy-relevant ways. Now Klingberg is skating fewer than 20 minutes/game. Managers with an excess of bench spots might choose to keep the underperforming blueliner – in step with most other members of the Dallas Stars, to be fair – around in hopes of a turnaround. Others might not.

See also: Justin Faulk, D, St. Louis Blues (71.1%)



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