This week the waiver wire takes a close look at specific needs your fantasy team may have. Goaltending is a precious commodity in many fantasy leagues and there are some under the radar netminders who could provide good value. And if you are in a league which counts peripheral stats such as hits and blocked shots there are some players who can help you stuff those categories.
James Reimer is injured and Jonathan Bernier is struggling so badly that Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock has recalled Garret Sparks from the Marlies and gave him his first career NHL start. How did Sparks do? He made 24 saves to shut out the Edmonton Oilers for his first career win and shutout. Not bad! How long will Sparks continue to see starts in the NHL with Toronto? Hard to say, but as long as Reimer is out and Bernier is on a milk carton, expect Babcock to ride Sparks until further notice.
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets – Goalie 46% owned
Like in Toronto, Ondrej Pavelec is down with an injury and Mike Hutchinson is struggling, giving up 17 goals and three losses in his last four starts. Out of necessity (or desperation) Coach Paul Maurice turned to the recently recalled Hellebuyck to make his NHL debut. How did he do? He got his first win allowing only one goal against, not bad. Unlike Sparks who has come from the ECHL, Hellebuyck has a much stronger pedigree playing college hockey and having a breakout performance at last year’s World Championships for Team USA as indicated by his higher ownership percentage. Hellebuyck should represent a stronger long term solution and by seasons end could even be in keeper consideration for some leagues to a must own in others.
Anders Nilsson, Edmonton Oilers – Goalie 40% owned
Nilsson has stolen the starting job away from Cam Talbot who has not played well so far. Nilsson has represented the more reliable option but could really use some run support from the Oilers to help his fantasy cause in the win column. Despite having only one win in his last five starts, his season stats are impressive (for an Oilers goalie) at 2.7 GAA and a .911 save%. When Connor McDavid returns it could fix his win column stat, so scoop him up while he is available.
Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs – Right Wing 39% owned
Komarov makes this list by virtue of his hits stats, 114 hits is second overall in the NHL. However, it is worth noting that Komarov is playing on a line with Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk and has ten goals and four assists this season already. Not only can you count on Komarov to help you win your hits column, he won’t hurt you win other categories as well.
Kris Russel, Calgary Flames – Defence 41% owned
Russel is leading the NHL in blocked shots with 80 to date. He is logging big time minutes for the Flames at 21:55 minutes a night with over a minute on the power play as well as almost a full two minutes on the penalty kill. Russel has also provided a little offense to boot with six points on the season.
Jean Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators – Centre 29 % owned
A fan favorite in Ottawa who loves to play the Habs, Pageau is tied for second in the NHL with three shorthanded points. While this category alone is not reliable enough to merit recognition, Pageau has also been cleaning up on draws with 196 wins (27th in the NHL) and has produced nine points in total on the season.
Mark Borowiecki, Ottawa Senators – Defence 30% owned
If you are looking for a player to pad all your peripheral categories, look no further than the Sens Borowiecki. He has 38 penalty minutes, 92 hits, and 39 blocked shots. While he is not at the top of any of those categories, he provides a balanced dose of each giving him extreme value in formats that score those stats.
Here are some players who are hot, recently recalled, or worth keeping an eye on. Byron Froese of the Toronto Maple Leafs can help win some face off categories, his offense has not yet arrived, and it may never but he is a Coaches favorite and sees lots of minutes for the Leafs. Alex Radulov is in the KHL but will be a free agent this summer. If you are in a deep keeper league and can burn a roster spot on him it may be worth the risk as he may return to the NHL. The population of Pominville just jumped to two. After a very slow start to the season, Jason Pominville now has two goals in the last two games. Defencemen Nikita Nesterov and Andrey Pedan were recently recalled by Tampa Bay and Vancouver respectively and may see some NHL action soon. And finally, Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen have been recalled by the Detroit Red Wings. Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.