2018 Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Report: March 22
Each week The Sports Forecaster-Gabriel Farnesi will bring you the top players available on the waiver wire for your fantasy hockey league.
Each week of the National Hockey League regular season, we will take a look at some of the most interesting names that may appear on the waiver wire in various fantasy leagues. It may be NHL players whose situation has improved because of injury, minor-league players recently recalled (or on the verge of a recall) or off to fast starts in the AHL. Here is this week's batch:
1. Ryan Donato, LW, Bruins
The Bruins signed Donato last week, and then he debuted with a three-point effort against Columbus! The 21-year-old Bostonian followed up that performance with his second NHL goal at St. Louis. He has produced goals in each of his first two contests in the big league and registered four points in total. Things will not always be this easy for the son of former NHL Ted Donato, but he could now be a difference-maker in many fantasy leagues.
2. Vince Dunn, D, Blues
The Blues were supposed to be out of the playoff picture after trading away center Paul Stastny at the deadline, but they continue to hang around (they are currently 2 points behind LA for the final Wild Card position in the Western Conference). Dunn has been a big part of the team's recent resurgence with four points in his last two games--including a four-point effort against Chicago recently. Dunn seems like the team's new power-play QB.
3. Pontus Aberg, RW/LW, Oilers
The 24-year-old Swede never truly emerged as a top-six winger in Nashville, though he did show plenty of flashes. In fact, he looked good during last spring's run to the Stanley Cup finals. Traded to Edmonton at the deadline, Aberg has registered points in each of his last two games as an Oiler (though the contests were sandwiched between a two-game ban for disciplinary reasons). At this point, Aberg is worth a late-season shot.
4. Neal Pionk, D, Rangers
When the Rangers signed Pionk as a free agent out of college hockey in 2017, they might not have expected such impressive play (and production) this quickly. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman has recorded five points in his last three games for New York and now boasts 11 points (all assists) in his first 19 NHL games. He is a virtual lock to be with the Blueshirts in '18-19 and should be considered a potential keeper.
5. Jared McCann, C, Panthers
It has taken McCann some time to get his offensive bearings at the NHL level but Florida's patience is starting to get rewarded. Serving as Florida's third-line center for much of the 2017-18 campaign, McCann has notched three points in his last two games for a total of 23 points in 58 games. Only 21 years old, McCann still owns some long-range upside as a productive, two-way center. He could be worth a pickup if he remains en fuego.
6. Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks
In most leagues, Toews is not available at this time. However, in some shallower leagues he may have been dropped earlier this season. It is time to pick him back up, especially since the Chicago captain has been reunited with star winger Patrick Kane in recent games. If the Blackhawks decide to keep the pairing together in 2018-19, Toews' fantasy value will spike up significantly. It might be what both veterans need to bounce back.
7. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Rangers
The Russian netminder has been a feel-good story in New York during the second half of an overall miserable 2017-18 season. The 22-year-old Muscovite has gone 3-0-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in his last five contests--not bad for a first-year pro who spent the previous three seasons in Finland with TPS Turku. As things stand right now, Georgiev is the favorite to back up Henrik Lundqvist next season.
8. Jack Campbell, G, Kings
Speaking of feel-good backup goaltending stories, Campbell has finally arrived as a National Hockey League netminder. When Los Angeles traded backup Darcy Kuemper to Arizona at the deadline earlier this year, it signaled a vote of confidence for the 26-year-old Campbell (a first-round pick by Dallas in 2010). Campbell has some fantasy dark horse appeal heading into 2018-19 and should be a capable handcuff for Jonathan Quick.
9. Jimmy Schuldt, D, free agent
Who? His name may not say much at present time but Schuldt is expected to be one of the prized, late-season acquisitions from the NCAA ranks this year. The junior blueliner from St. Cloud State University is currently flirting with the point-per-game mark (39 GP, 10-28-38) as team captain of the Huskies. Schuldt, who turns 23 next month, should be a consideration in deep keeper leagues even before his NHL destination is announced.
10. Valentin Zykov, RW/LW, Hurricanes
It has been a frustrating second half of the 2017-18 campaign in Raleigh, as the Hurricanes have slipped out of playoff contention. Therefore, expect to see a lot of Zykov in the final nine games. The leading scorer for the AHL's Charlotte Checkers this season, Zykov is still only 22 years old and has obvious goal-scoring acumen. So, the Russian could work his way into a top-six winger role before the end of '17-18. He is a true fantasy sleeper.