The Wire Troll: Ilya Mikheyev Shakes Off Sophomore Slump
Ilya Mikheyev is finally starting to produce. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA Today Sports)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, so be sure to spend some time with your significant other(s), but don’t forget to take a few minutes to pilfer the waiver wire.
This week, Mikko Koivu announced that he’s retiring and putting an end to his 16-year career; Patrik Laine is already wearing out his welcome in Columbus, getting benched on Monday; and after a decent start to the season, Vancouver is in free fall with six straight losses.
And now, let’s get to this week’s…
Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks
Ilya Mikheyev, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs (ESPN: 2 per cent; CBS: 14 per cent): With Wayne Simmonds out six weeks with a broken wrist, Mikheyev has seen a boost in minutes and is seeing a bit of PP time. Despite his frustrating start, Mikheyev has played well, and it’s now starting to manifest itself in production with points in back-to-back games, including the game-winning goal on Wednesday (see video below). Could this be an instance when the flood gates open? We recommended him in mid-October last season and the Russian winger showed great promise as a rookie — especially with his playmaking skills — so he’s worth grabbing to see if this extra ice time helps get him going. There’s no doubt Mikheyev has the skill top play among the top six, so don’t sleep on him.
Joe Thornton, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (ESPN: 7.3 per cent; CBS: 27 per cent): Looking for a nice stash candidate? Then it’s time to grab Thornton as he’s expected to return from his rib injury in about a week. He stayed healthy last season, so hopefully this is an outlier (although he also got hurt early on two seasons ago) and he’ll be productive for the remainder of the schedule. If Jumbo Joe gets slotted back in the top six upon his return, he’ll prove a very astute pickup, so don’t be afraid to use a roster spot on the veteran.
Dustin Brown, RW, Los Angeles Kings (ESPN: 39 per cent; CBS: 35 per cent): Last March, we recommended Brown as a candidate for a strong finish. Well, Covid put a quick end to his hot play, but this season he’s picked up right where he left off, recording four points in the last two games and nearly a point per game overall while proving a nice source of hits. Brown’s also racking up more PM this season, and while he’s playing on the top line and garnering plenty of PP time, he needs to be owned.
Marcus Hogberg, G, Ottawa Senators (ESPN: 0.9 per cent; CBS: 3 per cent): Okay, no one is going to label Hogberg as a saviour given his recent performance, but if you’re desperate for goaltending help in a deep league, give him a look while struggling starter Matt Murray is out. Yes, Hogberg could be the worst goalie in the NHL, but he’s going to get a chance to play now, and that means an opportunity to provide value. He did manage to chalk up a few wins last season, so there’s hope he can do the same now with his current shot.
- Sidney Crosby played the hero Thursday, scoring the only shootout goal and adding an assist in regulation to help the Pens complete a comeback victory over the Isles. He now has helpers in back-to-back games as he tries to dig his way out of a somewhat slow start that has seen him manage just 10 points through the first 12 games.
- Veteran Calgary blueliner Mark Giordano is heating up, as are the Flames. They’ve won three straight, and he’s recorded multi-point efforts in two of these victories. Giordano likely won’t ever come close to duplicating his 74-point effort of two seasons ago, but he remains a steady producer capable of piling up a goodly amount of apples.
- Mathew Barzal is absolutely blazing right now, scoring once on his four shots on Thursday to give him a seven-game point streak during which he’s piled up three goals and six helpers. With five goals already, Barzal could threaten his career-best despite the shortened campaign.
- He’s certainly not alone in his struggles among NHL goalies, but Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko has really hit a wall so far in February. He had a decent start to the season, but he’s giving up nearly five goals per game this month and his overall save percentage has dipped to a career-worst .895. Demko was a bit better on Thursday, but the Canucks’ goaltending situation is among the worst in the league.
- On the other side of the continent, Jaroslav Halak continues to look like the best backup goalie in the NHL, pitching a 21-save shutout on Friday as Boston won its fifth straight. He now has 51 career goose eggs, but at age 35 is showing no signs of slowing down with a 1.38 GAA and .938 save percentage through five games this season. Halak’s brilliance allows the Bruins to keep starter Tuukka Rask fresh, so small wonder they’ve surged to the top of the division with points in 10 straight games.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Known for their extended songs, here’s one of Pink Floyd‘s shorter tunes — especially since it’s the single version. The only single from 1975’s Wish You Were Here — the band’s ninth album — was “Have a Cigar,” which tears a new asshole into the music industry.