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The Wire Troll: UPL Taking Over in Buffalo?

December 2, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen's development is key to the Buffalo Sabres' future.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s play could be key to the Sabres’ playoff quest. (Dobber Hockey)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. December has arrived, meaning we’re closing in on the season’s one-third mark. It’ll be time to panic before you know it, so milk that wire now, my peeps.

This week, Montreal penned goalie Sam Montembeault to a three-year extension; Tristan Jarry got a goal — marking just the 17th time in NHL history that a goalie has done so; and Calgary has sent Nikita Zadorov west to Vancouver for a pair of draft picks.

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Buffalo Sabres (ESPN: 13.9 per cent; CBS: 46 per cent): Okay, so he looked crap on Thursday (six goals allowed on 20 shots faced… yikes!), but prior to that dud, Luukkonen had been hinting that he could be the long-awaited answer in net for Buffalo, racking up four straight games of two goals allowed or fewer. He was actually putting up better numbers in October, but had barely played; since then, he seems to have taken over as the starter, turning around a lousy start for the Sabres as the team is again looking like a Wild Card contender. If Buffalo is finally going to break its historic playoff drought this season, it will need more consistency between the pipes, and Luukkonen has the size, athleticism and quickness (not to mention propensity for grand larceny… see video below) to deliver that, so if you need help in goal, give him a long look.

Nick Seeler, D, Philadelphia Flyers (ESPN: 3.5 per cent; CBS: 6 per cent): Once upon a time, Seeler got our attention as a young blueliner with some potential, but since then, he’s mostly toiled in the AHL. However, since he arrived in Philadelphia in 2021, he’s seen his role increase every season and he’s now playing enough to be a useful addition should your team need blocks. Seeler is getting his body in front of 10.19 shots per 60, and since the beginning of last month, only four players have more total blocks. He’s also managed five helpers while pacing the Flyers in +/-. Seeler was a pleasant surprise last season (and, honestly, you could have made the argument he deserved to be named the team’s top blueliner) and he’s built on that so far in 2023-24.

Ice Chips

  • Curtis Lazar has proved to be a very astute trade acquisition by the Devils. He was a non-factor in the four games he appeared in after the deal last season, but this season has become a very valuable part of the club’s bottom six. On Tuesday, Lazar put up his second multi-point effort in five games and he’s seen his ice time rise while doing superb work in the faceoff dot and playing physical hockey (a team-high four hits on Friday). Yes, he’s been lucky (18.2 per cent shooting accuracy), but this journeyman deserves some kudos.
  • Boston forward Danton Heinen has been rolling lately. He scored the game-winner on Thursday, giving him points in five of the last six games and six of eight. Heinen won 60 per cent of his faceoffs last month and — given extra PT in his return to Boston this season — he’s turned back into a positive player, and deserves some attention in deeper formats.
  • Artturi Lehkonen (neck) is making progress, ditching his neck brace earlier this week. Soon, he’ll begin workouts, at which point we’ll likely get a clearer idea of when he’ll return to action. Lehkonen was going to be hard-pressed to duplicate what he did last season, but remains a valuable asset while active.
  • As recently as late in the 2021-22 season, Kaapo Kahkonen looked like a rising star among goalies, but oh man, has he ever struggled for the Sharks since the start of last season. However, he’s played much better in three of his last four outings, including a brilliant 44-save showing in a win over the Devils on Friday. Give Kahkonen a look in deeper leagues, because if he can stabilize his game further, he could be in line to get a bigger workload from here on out.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American soul rock band The Electric Flag was active from 1964 to 1967, briefly again in 1974 and finally for a reunion in 2007. It wasn’t until 1968 that the band’s first album was released, aptly titled A Long Time Comin’, and this effort featured their take on the classic Howlin’ Wolf tune “Killing Floor.” The track also showed up on the compilation Somethin’ Else Again.

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