The Wire Troll: Here We Go Again
Nicolas Roy is among Vegas’ leaders in xGF percentage. (NHL.com)
Merry Christmas and welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. With the NHL beginning its Christmas break early because of recent COVID-19 outbreaks, it feels like March 2020 all over again, with the season’s completion potentially in peril. Teams will be eligible to return to their facilities on Sunday (with Tuesdays’s games a go at this point, although it’s clearly a moving target), so we’ll hope for the best.
This week, it was pretty much all about COVID-19, but the Lightning has won three straight to move into first in the Atlantic Division and No. 1 overall in the NHL; Vegas, tied for first in the Pacific, had its five-game winning streak snapped; and Gabriel Fortier bagged his first NHL point (oh good, yet another promising young Tampa Bay forward to terrorize the league).
And now let’s get to this week’s…
Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks
Nicolas Roy, C, Vegas Golden Knights (ESPN: 3.5 per cent; CBS: 11 per cent): In the final game before the NHL pause, Roy scored once (check out the mad skills he flashes in the video below) on four shots and recorded three takeaways in 18:16 of ice time. He now has four goals and six points in 10 games this month despite a decrease in PT. Roy’s clearly enjoying a major breakout in his fifth NHL season, having already matched his career highs in goals, assists and points — in 21 fewer games — giving the Golden Knights’ bottom six a legitimate source of secondary scoring. He had never really provided a ton of offense before this season, but always had the size and power to make an impact. It’s great to see Roy tapping into his upside.
Noah Dobson, D, New York Islanders (ESPN: 16.3 per cent; CBS: 41 per cent): Not much has gone right for the Isles so far, but the development of Dobson — the team’s leader in Fantasy points — has been a very pleasant surprise. After picking up a PP assist on Sunday, he now leads all Isle blueliners in goals, helpers, points and shots on goal. Dobson had a quiet November offensively, but has gone off for six points in just nine games this month, while seeing a big boost in minutes. He should soar past his career best in points in no time.
Ivan Barbashev, C, St. Louis Blues (ESPN: 31.8 per cent; CBS: 50 per cent): We described Barbashev as a dynamic, but inconsistent talent when the Blues drafted him 33rd overall in 2014. Well, he seemed to get better every season, but took a bit of a step back in 2020-21. This season, however, he’s taken his game to a whole new level. Paired with fellow Russians Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tarasenko, Barbashev has been a revelation, potting three straight multi-point games, with points in seven of his last eight tilts. Going back further, Barbashev has put up 15 points over the last 12 games, so grab him now.
Matt Roy, D, Los Angeles Kings (ESPN: 3.5 per cent; CBS: 9 per cent): The Kings have dealt with some injuries on their blueline, providing an opportunity for Roy to step up. And step up he has. He showed great promise in 2019-20, but was somewhat of a disappointment last season. Well, Roy has turned things around this season, recording two assists Sunday, giving him four helpers over the last four games and five through nine games this month. Despite receiving a career high 21:45 per game, he’s yet to pot a goal this season, but with 11 helpers, he’s nearing his career best (through just 30 games).
Anthony Stolarz, G, Anaheim Ducks (ESPN: 10.2 per cent; CBS: 25 per cent): In April, we recommended Stolarz given John Gibson‘s difficulties staying healthy, and sure enough he racked up a shutout that month and then looked even sharper in May. Anaheim has a busy week coming up with a three-games-in-four-nights run, so expect to see Stolarz — now the official backup with Ryan Miller gone — get some action, and he’s been simply brilliant over his last four appearances as he closes in on his career high in games played. He doesn’t play a ton, but man, he’s a solid backup.
Alex Tuch, RW, Buffalo Sabres (ESPN: 47.9 per cent; CBS: 28 per cent): Three seasons ago, Tuch was a Wire Troll All-Star, but in 2019-20 his play dropped off a cliff, and while he was better last season, he was still nowhere near as good as he’d been in 2018-19. Now, he’s about to return from shoulder surgery with a fresh start on the Sabres. When Tuch is healthy, he has tremendous potential as a power forward, and now that he’s back practicing and expected to be activated shortly, this is the time to strike.
Tanner Jeannot, LW, Nashville Predators (ESPN: 7.4 per cent; CBS: 24 per cent): Nashville is red hot and Jeannot has been a big part of this run. He’s scored in back-to-back games, giving him six points over the last five. He’s averaging nearly a point per game this month, and while we’d like to see him shoot the puck more often, he’s really coming into his own. No wonder the Preds protected Jeannot from the Kraken even though he was undrafted and had only played 15 career games before this season.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Here’s a Chinese folk song, “The Moon Mirrored in the Pool,” performed by The Central Broadcasting Traditional Instruments Orchestra. Because nothing says Christmas like Chinese folk music.