The Wire Troll: Sam Steel Earns Big Promotion
Sam Steel (right) is flashing some skill lately. (NHL.com)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. With December here, it’s officially no longer “early in the season.” It’s time to step up your game with the waiver wire.
This week, Steven Stamkos — the top overall pick in 2008 — became the 95th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points; King “goalie of the future” Cal Peterson cleared waivers and was farmed out; and Mitch Marner etched himself into the Maple Leaf record book with points in 18 straight.
And now, let’s get to this week’s…
Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks
Sam Steel, C, Minnesota Wild (ESPN: 0.3 per cent; CBS: 3 per cent): Steel suddenly finds himself acting as the middleman for Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, a very promising place to be from a Fantasy perspective. Steel has rewarded the Wild’s faith, scoring in back-to-back games and earning the third star in Thursday’s win over the Oilers. Clearly stoked to be in Minny, he’s already just one goal shy of matching his career high, and while his elevation to the top line comes as a surprise — and may not last — he makes for an extremely worthwhile addition for now. Still, Steel was a first rounder in 2016 for the Ducks, and while he’s struggled to find his place, perhaps he’s simply a late bloomer who needed a change of scenery. Take a shot here and see how things play out. Hey, if nothing else, when he was with the Ducks, Steel showed the ability to piss people off (see video below).
Nicholas Paul, C, Tampa Bay Lightning (ESPN: 28.7 per cent; CBS: 43 per cent): Paul has quietly been filling the net for the Lightning, on Thursday enjoying his second multi-goal game over the last five (5-2-7, with a pair of power play markers). He averaged nearly a point per game last month, so this hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere, and with a +15 mark, he’s well on his way to topping last season’s career-best effort. Paul will be a popular waiver wire pickup this week, so grab him quick.
Mike Matheson, D, Montreal Canadiens (ESPN: 6.0 per cent; CBS: 30 per cent): Given that he’s bilingual, Matheson has quickly become a media darling in Montreal, but his play is also worth the attention of Fantasy owners. He began the season on the injured list (in the wake of an upper body injury last season), but wasted no time making an impact, scoring a goal with an assist over his first four games while logging heavy minutes. His plus-minus is not ideal, but he’s playing more than ever. Seeking blocks and plenty of TOI? Matheson’s your man.
- Ottawa blueliner Travis Hamonic had a rough November (-5), but ripped four shots on goal on Friday and can still help in very deep leagues thanks to his hits and blocks (four blocks and three hits over the last three games).
- While Stamkos is ensuring his place in history, he’s also proving that he’s pretty damn good in the present. That assist for point No. 1,000 gives him a nine-game scoring streak (6-9-15) stretching back to his monster month of November. Stamkos will be hard pressed to top what was arguably the best season of his career in 2021-22, but he could easily surpass 50 assists for the fourth non-COVID shortened season in a row.
- Tom Wilson (ACL surgery) started skating a couple of weeks ago. Given that his recovery timeline was 6-to-8 months, he could come back as soon as the end of this month. Coming off the best season of his career, Wilson’s return will provide a nice boost to a Washington club that’s been ravaged by injuries. Consider stashing him.
- After a hot week in mid-November, Neal Pionk has now gone seven games without a point, and given his unsustainable shooting percentage, he was due for regression after a great start. Still, he’s getting a ton of shifts and seeing his most ice time since his debut in Winnipeg back in 2019-20, so don’t give up on him unless your league is very shallow.
- The offense-starved Flyers got Travis Konency back on Thursday, and sure enough, he scored the team’s lone goal. He now has points in eight of the last nine games, with the game when he got hurt (Nov. 17) and played limited minutes the only one in which he was shut out. Konency averaged better than a point per game in each of the first two months this season, and even with the missed time, he’s on track for his finest campaign yet.
- Cale Makar just keeps getting better. With another two assists on Thursday, he’s now on pace to reach 90 points, a total achieved by blueliners just 26 times in history. Makar is absolutely feasting on the power play, currently tied for seventh in the league in points on the man advantage.
- Shane Pinto deserves some Fantasy love. He’d been losing traction given reduced PT lately, but on Wednesday he got his most ice time in three and a half weeks and responded with his ninth goal of the season. On Friday, he saw even more PT. Pinto cooled last month, and there could be further regression given his high shooting percentage, but he’s still on nearly a 35-goal pace, so why isn’t he owned in more leagues?
RotoRob Tune of the Day
California rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival got its start in 1959, remaining active until just 1972, yet leaving a treasure trove of classics over that time. In 1976, a greatest hits compilation was released entitled Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits. It’s also called Vol. 1 (as 10 years later, a Vol. II was released). From this package comes the band’s amazing cover of Screaming Jay Hawkins‘ “I Put a Spell on You.”