The Wire Troll: Jaroslav Halak Hoarding Islander Crease
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. With the season still in its very early stages, now is the time to work that wire and snap up any early season surprises that could prove valuable over the long haul.
This week, Adrian Kempe enjoyed his first career hat trick as the Kings continued their best start ever; Sidney Crosby added to the Rangers’ early-season woes; and Roman Josi returned to the Nashville lineup with a splash.
And now let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations featuring two wingers, a goalie and a defenseman (three of whom, curiously, have a first name beginning with the letter J).
Jaroslav Halak, G, New York Islanders (ESPN: 13.7 per cent; CBS: 35 per cent): The Islanders were supposed to have a timeshare in net this season, but Halak has started four of the first seven games (and played a half game in the other one), so is clearly the dude to own between the pipes in Brooklyn. On Friday, he helped seal the win for the Isles with a huge shootout stop (see video below). After appearing in fewer than 30 games last season, Halak is set to get much more action this season. A ninth round pick by Montreal way back in 2003, he tends to ratchet up his focus as the games become more important, so may pay even more dividends down the stretch, assuming the Isles are fighting for a playoff spot.
Jason Pominville, RW, Buffalo Sabres (ESPN: 41.9 per cent; CBS: 47 per cent): With multi-point efforts in three of his last four games, Pominville is off to a great start in his return to Buffalo, ranking 11th in scoring in the NHL. He enjoyed a nice bounce-back effort last year with 34 assists, but the way things are going early on, he’s on pace to threaten his career-best of 53 helpers set way back in 2007-08. Now a true leader on the young Sabres, he’s getting more minutes, so jump on him while you can as he won’t last long on the wire.
Justin Abdelkader, LW, Detroit Red Wings (ESPN: 10.6 per cent; CBS: 10 per cent): Although he was shut out and took a -2 on Wednesday, what’s intriguing us about Abdelkaber is his time on the first power play unit the last couple of games. If this continues, the production will follow. But he’ll help in other categories, too, such as hits and penalty minutes, and the fact that he’s even plus/minus after going -20 last season is a nice turnaround. Currently playing on a line with Martin Frk and Frans Nielsen, Abdelkaber is a big bodied presence that thrives on being an agitator, but based on his early production, he could be in line for his best season yet.
Ron Hainsey, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (ESPN: 2.6 per cent; CBS: 6 per cent): Hainsey seems to have settled in as the Leafs’ primary penalty killing defenseman, but he’s getting plenty of 5-on-5 time as well. He picked up his fourth assist on Wednesday and has gone +3 over the last two games combined. Hainsey had a very secondary role in both Carolina and Pittsburgh last season, managing just 13 helpers in 72 games. We had hoped the move to the Penguins would spark his offense, but it didn’t work out. However, on the high-powered Leafs, Hainsey should easily surpass his assist total from last season.
- New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock made his season debut on Thursday, and while he played under nine minutes, he did — as expected — see power play time, picking up an assist. He has a chance to be very useful.
- It’s time to pay attention to Vancouver RW Derek Dorsett. The veteran has never scored more than a dozen goals, but has four tallies in the last four games. Could this career fourth-liner be having a breakout at age 30?
- On Friday, Washington RW T.J. Oshie potted his sixth goal in eight games — his fourth with the man advantage. After a career-best 33 markers last season, he looks poised to shatter that mark this season.
- Sharks’ netminder Martin Jones didn’t exactly look great in his first two outings — both at home. And while his next two games (also at home) were better, it wasn’t until Friday night, when he shut out the Devils in New Jersey, that he looked like the top 10 Fantasy goalie most expect him to be this season.
- The Wings have finally signed restricted free agent centre Andreas Athanasiou, the 23-year-old who was second on the team in goals last season. There’s nice upside with this kid, so it’s great news the holdout is over and you’d be wise to jump all over him while you can.
- Pittsburgh winger Conor Sheary sure had a big impact on the game Friday. Not only did his late power play goal give the Pens the win, but he also was responsible for hurting Florida goalie Roberto Luongo’s hand and knocking him out of the game. With three goals in the last four games, Sheary is quickly becoming a Fantasy staple.
- After missing the first five games thanks to offseason sports hernia surgery, it sure took Boston centre Patrice Bergeron a long time to make an impact, didn’t it? All he did was score a goal and add three assists in his season debut on Thursday. What a freaking Fantasy stud.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.