Fantasy Hockey: Evan Rodrigues leads waiver wire options to target this week

Avalanche forward Evan Rodrigues and Canucks winger Andrei Kuzmenko are among the names you should target this week in Fantasy Hockey.

Working the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week who can add points to your total is the number one way you can control the outcome of your matchup. In this article every week, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of rostership so that you can fill out your fantasy squad with the best players available in your league. Let’s dig in:

Forwards

Rostered in 41-50% of leagues: Andrei Kuzmenko, LW/RW, VAN (46% rostered)

Kuzmenko remaining available in over half of Yahoo leagues is a mind-boggling development, as the Russian import is on a 74-point pace after yet another multi-point outing on Sunday. Kuzmenko’s shots have dried up after a hot stretch earlier in the season, but he’s maintained a strong top-six role almost the entire season and has rewarded the team with just a tremendous level of production in his first NHL season.

Vancouver has a three-game, two off-night schedule this week, meaning you’re certainly going to be able to fit Kuzmenko into your starting lineup for at least two games this week. If he’s still available in your league, it’s time to rectify that problem.

Honourable Mentions: Logan Couture, C, SJS (47%) & Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, SEA (45%)

Rostered in 31-40% of leagues: Boone Jenner, C, CBJ (34% rostered)

Jenner returned to NHL action Saturday and immediately resumed his role as the top center in Columbus, skating 19:17 and collecting his customary assortment of shots, hits and blocks. Jenner is a category-stuffing stud if that’s your format, while offering a strong amount of value to the points and points-only crowds as well. While Jenner didn’t open on a 5-on-5 line alongside Columbus stars Patrik Laine or Johnny Gaudreau, it’s a strong bet to assume he’ll resume that deployment shortly and he immediately got back on the top power-play unit. Jenner is, simply put, one of the strongest all-around options for fantasy out there (and in particular for your categories leagues).

Honourable Mentions: Phillip Danault, C, LAK (34%) & Seth Jarvis, LW/RW, CAR (32%)

Rostered in 21-30% of leagues: Jason Zucker, LW, PIT (22% rostered)

Pittsburgh has the best schedule of any team this week in terms of fantasy appeal, with four games and three off-nights. Zucker earns this spot as the only member of the Pittsburgh top six not rostered in more than 50 percent of leagues. I’m not overly in love with Zucker’s recent stretch of play as he’s only fired seven shots in his last five games, but I do love Zucker’s propensity to throw the body as he’s registered 19 hits in that same stretch. In a week like this where the heavy nights are extremely heavy and the off-nights are pretty light, adding someone like Zucker can ensure that you’re at least getting games played on those off nights and not simply benching a good player on those super heavy Thursday and Saturday nights. Get Zucker in there, let him fill the hit category for you, and hope that he nets you a couple points as well over the course of the week.

Honourable Mentions: Kevin Hayes, C/LW, PHI (28%) & Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, LAK (29%)

Rostered in 0-20% of leagues: Evan Rodrigues, C/LW/RW, COL (18% rostered)

It’s hard not to be excited about Rodrigues currently, as he's playing on the top power play and top line alongside Avalanche superstar Nathan Mackinnon. Rodrigues only has one game below 20 minutes of ice time in his last 10, and he’s netted 10 points in that span as well.

While Rodrigues is a net zero in the bangers categories on most nights, he’s a strong shot-producer with a history of point scoring to boot. The Avs play four games this week, including two off-nights, making it a perfect time to add a top line player on a team that knows how to score goals. In fact, I’d straight up prefer Rodrigues to Zucker or Jenner this week in most formats.

Honourable Mentions: Nick Schmaltz, C/RW, ARI (20%) & Nino Niederreiter, LW, NSH (16%)

Riding shotgun with Nathan MacKinnon makes Evan Rodrigues an intriguing addition in Fantasy Hockey. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Riding shotgun with Nathan MacKinnon makes Evan Rodrigues an intriguing addition in Fantasy Hockey. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Defensemen

Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Owen Power, BUF (47% rostered)

It’s safe to say that Owen Power has been a bit of a disappointment this season, with zero goals and just 15 assists in 38 games to start the season. And it’s not like Power is stuffing the box score in other ways, averaging just 1.6 shots per game, 0.5 hits per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. But Power has caught my eye by registering at least four shots in each of his last three games. Given Power’s pedigree as a No. 1 overall pick, his strong usage (25-plus minutes in five of his last eight games), and the Sabres’ explosive offense this season, I’m bullish on taking a shot on Power now with the thought that he very well could turn into a second half hold for my roster.

Honourable Mentions: Sean Durzi, LAK (38%) & Brady Skjei (39%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Damon Severson, NJD (17% rostered)

This is the time of year in which it starts to become very difficult to find viable fantasy defensemen on the waiver wire in deeper leagues. That’s why it’s such a welcome find when a guy like Severson puts together a streak like he’s on currently.

Severson has seven points in his last six games, ensconced as the Devils’ second power-play quarterback and general minute muncher, averaging over 23 minutes a night in that span. He’s not likely to be someone you can hang onto forever, but he’s a legitimately talented offensive defenseman on a hot streak playing for a very talented New Jersey team. In deeper leagues past the halfway point of the season, that makes him worth streaming for a week at the very least.

Honourable Mentions: Colton Parayko, STL (14%) & Cam Fowler, ANA (10%)

Goalies

Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Filip Gustavsson, MIN (45% rostered)

Gustavsson has been a minor revelation this year, with 10 wins in 16 starts to go with a sparkling 2.17 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. As of late, Gustavsson has been alternating starts with expected starter Marc-Andre Fleury and quite honestly outperforming him. As long as Gustavsson is returning these kinds of results, he’ll be worth rostering even if he never exceeds that 50 percent share of the Minnesota net.

From the Wild’s perspective I can’t see a reason for them to overwork the 38-year-old Fleury even if they do view him as their true No. 1 goaltender. You can get more volume from the John Gibsons and Karel Vejmelkas of the league, but Gustavsson is the goalie in this range providing the best starts.

Honourable Mentions: John Gibson, ANA (35%) & Karel Vejmelka, ARI (50%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Adin Hill - VGK (14% rostered)

Logan Thompson has gotten the majority of the starts in the Vegas net this year, but of late he hasn’t quite performed up to the standard he had set in the early going. Contrast that with Hill, who in his last two starts beat the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers by allowing just two goals to each on 40 and 39 shots, respectively.

Goalies are fickle creatures, and I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if Hill outperformed Thompson the rest of the season and earned a greater share of the Vegas crease moving forward. Watch for who gets the Dallas start on Monday night — if Hill gets the call it will be a clear alternating pattern over the last six starts. If he gets that start and performs well in it, he could easily get a run of games soon, so if you're desperate for goalie help in a deeper league I’d be tempted to pick up Hill before that game.

Honourable Mentions: Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ (14%) & Eric Comrie, BUF (10%)

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Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter @applesginos.

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