The Wire Troll: Ryan Donato Delivering in Minny
Ryan Donato (right) looks like a new player for the Wild. (The Associated Press)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. With February finally finished, we’re clearly into the homestretch of the season now. Don’t let up now!
This week, last-place Ottawa finally relieved Coach Guy Boucher of his duties; in his first game back in his old home, John Tavares was booed mercilessly; and things continue to get worse for the Oilers as they have now lost winger Jesse Puljujarvi to season-ending hip surgery.
And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations…
Ryan Donato, LW, Minnesota Wild (ESPN: 1.7 per cent; CBS: 27 per cent): We recommended Donato at the end of December, but he never really got that bump in PT we anticipated, so he continued to scuffle. Traded to the Wild (with a conditional 2019 fifth round pick for Charlie Coyle) a few days before the deadline, he’s looked like a different player in Minny, getting points in all four games (1-5-6) while going +3 (the goal being in overtime — see video below). Donato is a kid that displays great awareness in the offensive zone, and while earlier this season he wasn’t getting the same kind of puck luck he had as a rookie, he’s been flashing tremendous playmaking ability since the trade so is worth scooping up to see if this is for real.
Filip Hronek, D, Detroit Red Wings (ESPN: 0.6 per cent; CBS: 12 per cent): With Nick Jensen dealt at the deadline, Hronek has seen a spike in ice time — especially on the penalty kill — and now he’s likely to get even more responsibility with Trevor Daley hurt. Hronek has spent half this season in the AHL, showing tremendous offensive talent (23 points in 28 games), and he’s looked so much better since his latest NHL recall, picking up four assists over the last four games. Detroit is focused on the future, and he’s a huge part of that, so expect him to continue to log heavier minutes down the stretch.
- Islander centre Casey Cizikas has never been much of a Fantasy factor, but he’s enjoying a career season. He had s short-handed goal Thursday, giving him three goals and a +4 rating over the last five games. Cizikas had never reached double digits in goals, but should top 20 this season.
- As mentioned above, Tavares sure heard it in his return to Long Island. And despite firing five shots on goal, he had his four game point streak snapped. Still, Tavares should easily surpass his career high in goals this season.
- Despite the fact he wasn’t dealt at the deadline, Columbus left winger Artemi Panarin is obviously still all-in with his play for the Blue Jackets. He had a goal and an assist with six shots on net Thursday, giving him points in three straight games. Panarin now has four straight 25-goal campaigns and he should reach a new career high in points this season. As an UFA, he’s going to cash in this summer, big time.
- Montreal right winger Joel Armia has scored four goals in the last two games, putting him on pace for a new career high of 14 tallies. The Habs are hot right now, and it sure helps getting contributions like this, as Armia notched his first career hat trick on Friday.
- Flyers captain Claude Giroux was on a rare four-game scoreless streak, but sure has snapped out of that in the last week. After logging two assists on Friday, he has points in four straight (2-5-7), and while it’s clear he won’t touch what he did last season, he may still flirt with 90 points.
- Vladislav Namestnikov hasn’t been the same player since getting traded to the Rangers last season, but he’s rolling right now, scoring his ninth goal on Friday to give him points in four straight.
- Buffalo left winger Conor Sheary stuck it to his old team Friday, scoring twice and adding an assist to lead the Sabres over the Penguins, 4-3 in overtime. He’s struggled to score goals this season, but now has four points in the last four games, and has bounced back a bit after such a down season in 2017-18.
- Travis Konecny scored twice for the surging Flyers on Friday to reach the 20-goal mark for the second straight time. He has four points over the last three games and is on pace for his first 25-goal campaign.
- Cookie Monster Phil Kessel has gone cold just as the Penguins need him most in their fight for a playoff spot. He has just two assists over the last five games and hasn’t scored a goal since January 30. Regardless, Kessel in on pace a for a second straight 55-assist season.
- Defenseman Damon Severson‘s breakout season in New Jersey continued on Friday with a goal and two assists, as he was in on every Devil goal of the night. He’s already matched his career high in goals and passed his high-water mark in points. Severson should reach 30 assists for the first time.
- Alex Ovechkin now has 10 seasons of 45 or more goals — the most in NHL history. Could he break Wayne Gretzky‘s career mark of 894? Well, OV is 33 years old now and sits 242 shy of tying the Great One, and he sure as hell isn’t slowing down (on pace for his second highest goal total ever).
- Montreal right winger Brendan Gallagher has scored in back-to-back games, giving him five goals over the last five. Although his assist numbers are down this season, he’s en route to a career-best 35 tallies this season.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American singer Lionel Richie found great success after leaving the Commodores, where he got his start way back in the late-’60s. In 1983, he released his second solo album, Can’t Slow Down, which sold over 20 million copies. Here’s the title track.
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Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey pickup of the week is.