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The Wire Troll: Brandon Hagel Getting Big Minutes

October 30, 2021 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Brandon Hagel is getting his shot with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago is a land of opportunity for Brandon Hagel. (Twitter)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. We’re just about to wrap up the schedule’s opening month, with plenty of pucking goodness to go!

This week, Wild leading scorer Mats Zuccarello wound up in the NHL Covid protocol; Washington star T.J. Oshie suffered an LBI that will sideline him for weeks; and Lighting forward Nikita Kucherov is dealing with an LBI of his own that will cost him 8-10 weeks.

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks

Brandon Hagel, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (ESPN: 0.6 per cent; CBS: 4 per cent): Hagel, Buffalo’s sixth round pick in 2016, hasn’t really been a Fantasy factor up to this point, but he did open some eyes with the step forward he took in Chicago last season. Now, with Patrick Kane on the Covid list, Hagel finds himself playing on the top line with Jonathan Toews (just back from Covid himself) and Ryan Carpenter, and Hagel is already benefiting from Toews’ playmaking skills (see video below). It may be a short term situation, but Hagel deserves some attention right now. This dude was a big scorer in junior, so we’d suggest keeping an eye on him, even if he isn’t lighting the world on fire early on.

Juuso Valimaki, D, Calgary Flames (ESPN: 0.2 per cent; CBS: 4 per cent): Calgary’s 2017 first round pick came into his own last season, recording 11 points in 49 games despite seeing slightly less PT than he did in his rookie campaign. Valimaki isn’t likely to light up the scoresheet, yet he did actually lead Flames defensemen in A/60 last season, so there’s potential here. He’s getting solid third pairing minutes and twice this week in a three-game span he recorded four minutes in penalties, so can provide a boost in leagues that track that. Consider Valimaki in very deep formats for now, but don’t be shocked if he becomes a bigger asset as the season progresses.

Zack Kassian, RW, Edmonton Oilers (ESPN: 16.9 per cent; CBS: 28 per cent): It took some time for Kassian to find his game after getting dealt to Edmonton in 2015, but he ultimately settled in as a mid-teen scorer. Last season, however, was a real struggle for the tough veteran, and he dealt with an injury scare in the preseason. But the Oilers are off to a huge start and Kassian’s been a big part of that success, scoring three times (on only four shots on goal). Combine that offense with his usual hits and penalty minutes, and you really want to add this big, strong dude to your team. It’s become clear that Kassian will never justify his selection as the 13th overall pick in 2009, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a useful Fantasy asset.

Ice Chips

  • Ranger LW Chris Kreider is off to a brilliant start, sniping a pair of power play markers Friday to give him six goals already. His goals-per-game rate has risen four straight seasons, and he’s well on his way to a seventh 20-goal campaign.
  • Florida centre Eetu Luostarinen managed just three goals in 44 games in his first season as a Panther, but with goals in back-to-back contests, he’s already lit the lamp twice in five games — despite less PT. Could Florida have another offensive force on its hands?
  • Columbus netminder Elvis Merzlikins regressed a bit in his sophomore season last year, but man, is he ever back in a big way this season. He hadn’t surrendered more than two goals in any of his first four starts, but got touched up for four goals by the Rangers on Friday. Still, Merzlikins looks like he’s ready to join the goaltender elite in 2021-22.
  • It’s been several years since Sam Gagner was a Fantasy force, but after snapping a five-game scoreless streak with a goal on Friday, he now has a pair of markers in the first eight games. Maybe the old guy has a little value left.
  • Washington’s power play has been surprisingly ineffective recently, but now that John Carlson is starting to roll, things may change. He popped a goal on the man advantage on Friday — his second tally in three games — and added a helper, as he puts a slow start in the rear view mirror. Carlson’s PT is down for a third straight season, but he’ll remain a top point producer among blueliners.
  • Remember when centre William Karlsson had that magical first season in Vegas? Well, it’s been steadily downhill since, and that’s continued into this season. Karlsson did manage a goal and an assist over the first three games, but then endured a four-game drought before picking up another helper on Friday. Early on, he’s seeing more ice time than ever, so we’ll see if that can spur a turnaround.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

New Zealand new wavers Mi-Sex burst onto the scene in 1978 and really captured our attention — especially with its 1979 debut effort Graffiti Crimes. The second single from this album was “Computer Games,” which became a No. 1 hit in Australia.

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