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- Canadian-American ice hockey player
Special to Yahoo Sports
We're getting back to semi-normalcy in terms of fantasy with COVID absences and game postponements decreasing. A positive sign, yet something still requiring constant monitoring.
Hope your rosters aren't too decimated. Having sufficient bench/IR slots helps, but we know by now that doesn't ensure a full lineup each night/week.
To stay up-to-date on all the hockey happenings, RotoWire carries the latest news and in-depth material.
Check the following waiver candidates and see who can help you.
(Rostered rates/stats as of Jan. 6.)
Tanner Jeannot, NSH (Yahoo: 43%)
You see an unheralded rookie produce — albeit one who slipped in seven points from 15 NHL games last season — and you think there's no way it could consistently continue. But for Jeannot, the stats have kept on flowing. On top of receiving more minutes starting in mid-November, he's gone off for nine points, 16 PIM and 37 hits over the last nine. And even when Jeannot doesn't find the scoresheet, he's busy in other areas — as seen on Tuesday when he contributed a fighting major, seven hits and five blocks.
Patric Hornqvist, FLA (Yahoo: 35%)
As someone who's gone scoreless in 18 of 33 games while skating on Florida's fourth even-strength unit, it's assumed Hornqvist's high-enough coverage is based on his success in Pittsburgh. Or perhaps it's a regular spot on the top power play where he's averaged 3:41 the last month while racking up 35 shots and 26 hits. Hornqvist finally capitalized with a PPG Tuesday in addition to another tally and represents a perfect man-advantage net-front presence.
Kirby Dach, CHI (Yahoo: 15%)
People often have a short-term memory, so Dach's probably known as that guy Cale Makar made look like a fool on Tuesday's OT winner. While the overall scoring stats are disappointing, the 2019 third overall pick is getting plenty of ice time with about 20 minutes a night since Nov. 9, including more than two on the power play where four of his 13 points have originated. With Dach involved in all situations and sometimes surrounded by decent wingers, there's reasonable optimism about his fantasy future.
Paul Stastny, WPG (Yahoo: 11%)
When healthy, Stastny has posted nice numbers with eight goals and eight assists in 24 appearances. And as a unique occurrence, his offensive totals have been evenly split between the two halves. Stastny has recently logged time as a winger next to Mark Scheifele on even-strength while producing three PPPs on the Jets' second man-advantage. He may have just turned 36, but there are significant opportunities to boost his scoring while chipping in a few shots and faceoff wins along the way.
Kaapo Kakko, NYR (Yahoo: 11%)
The natural reaction to the Rangers' last outing would be to endorse Alexis Lafreniere (31%) after the 2020 No. 1 selection picked up a pair of points. However, his status on the second line could be short-lived with Artemi Panarin said to be returning Thursday. Kakko hasn't necessarily met expectations based on being drafted second overall in 2019, yet his offense has steadily improved along with a respectable two-way game. And over the most recent two weeks, he's been more involved (18:25 average) and has seen time on the first power play.
Craig Smith, BOS (Yahoo: 10%)
Since being cleared from the health and safety protocols, Smith has been installed alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand at five-on-five. As luck — and really favorable positioning — would have it, he registered a goal and assist across the first two outings. There's always a chance they reunite David Pastrnak with the dynamic duo and Nick Foligno is preferred on the lead power play, but Smith holds enough upside at least as a short-term add.
Marco Rossi, MIN (Yahoo: 8%)
With Joel Eriksson Ek out indefinitely, the Wild have decided now is the time to promote Rossi. Health issues kept the Austrian phenom away from hockey for a while, but he's come roaring back with 23 points in only 21 AHL games. The expectation is for Rossi to step right into the top-six and first man-advantage. We'll know more about this situation following his debut, though he figures to be popular on the wire based on his immense talent and initial North American output.
Gustav Nyquist, CLS (Yahoo: 4%)
There were a bunch of zeros on Nyquist's ledger earlier this season but he's recovered with six goals and eight assists since the start of November, capped off by back-to-back multi-point efforts. The ex-Red Wing holds a secondary role in Columbus, yet has been one of the team's top performers. And let's not forget Nyquist is only two years removed from a 60-point campaign. Whether the momentum can be prolonged is another question, but he should at least be worth a flier in most leagues.
Colton Parayko, STL (Yahoo: 38%)
Sixteen points, 61 shots, 78 blocks, 34 hits. Not many NHL D-men can boast those types of stats while skating 24-plus minutes per game. Parayko averaged nearly 32 points in his first five full seasons, so he's no stranger to offense. Torey Krug and others supply the bulk of the attack, though the 6-foot-6 seven-year pro can also be active on the attack. Parayko's valuable as a real-life defender and can also be of service in the fantasy world for anyone searching to add a multi-category achiever.
Bowen Byram, COL (Yahoo: 35%)
Byram kicked off his sophomore campaign with eight points and 17 shots from his opening nine games, but soon found himself gone for 14 of the next 16. He was activated on the weekend and looked as if he hadn't missed any time, even if no scoring came from either of the two outings. Byram is entrenched in the Avs' top-four, though isn't listed with any power-play role as Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, and Devon Toews are available. He's still one to keep an eye on considering he combined for 123 points across his final two years in junior.
Rasmus Ristolainen, PHI (Yahoo: 30%)
With Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim recently testing positive and Ryan Ellis still out, the Flyers' D looks even more of a mess. Ristolainen hasn't been as horrendous on the Philly back end compared to his many games in Buffalo, though that isn't saying much. While the veteran has only recorded a goal and seven helpers, he's been a beast in the hits department with 104 through 31 appearances. Over seven full seasons with the Sabres, Ristolainen accumulated 101 PPPs. That role may reappear in the short term, but don't expect it to stick once one or more of the aforementioned defenders return.
P.K. Subban, NJ (Yahoo: 9%)
Dougie Hamilton (broken jaw) is gone for at least two weeks. Damon Severson had excelled before the star was sidelined and has only added more responsibility to his already heavy workload. Ty Smith appeared to be next in line for a boost, but he may have blown that chance after being benched for most of Tuesday's matchup. A long time ago in an NHL far, far away, Subban operated as an elite offensive blueliner. The last two years have shown a drastic decline in his production, though the last five outings consisting of three points, 14 shots, six hits and three blocks on 20:36 of ice time could be the spark that thrusts him back into fantasy relevance. Or not.
Kaapo Kahkonen, MIN (Yahoo: 28%)
What were the odds both NHLers named Kaapo would feature in the same column? 1 in 1. It was announced earlier in the week Cam Talbot will be unavailable Thursday, which leaves Kahkonen as Minnesota's top netminder. He was most recently seen at the Winter Classic subbing in for Talbot when the latter got yanked after two periods. Kahkonen looked good across his previous three starts while Talbot has been horrendous in four with a 5.29/.855 line. If the Finn can put together a couple of solid performances, the Wild could find themselves in the middle of a goalie battle.
Alexandar Georgiev, NYR (Yahoo: 26%)
Igor Shesterkin remains the unquestioned No. 1 on Broadway, though Georgiev is proving himself as a solid second. The career backup took advantage of the incumbent's injury at the beginning of December and has posted a 1.79 GAA and .940 save percentage in eight appearances since. Shesterkin recently returned and is coming off a shutout against the Lightning. He's in line for the bulk of the load barring another setback, but Georgiev will be ready for any spot duty.
(Players to consider from past columns: Nazem Kadri, Brandon Saad, Tage Thompson, Lucas Raymond, Ryan Hartman, Nico Hischier, Ryan Johansen, Trevor Zegras, Nino Niederreiter, Mats Zuccarello, Robert Thomas, Viktor Arvidsson, Evan Rodrigues, Boone Jenner, Troy Terry, Matt Duchene, Jesper Bratt, Alex Tuch, Mikael Granlund, Sonny Milano, Rasmus Dahlin, Jamie Drysdale, Moritz Seider, Shayne Gostisbehere, Scott Perunovich, Damon Severson, Evan Bouchard, Mattias Ekholm, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jake Oettinger, James Reimer, Laurent Brossoit)