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The Wire Troll: Brandon Saad Could Get a Boost

January 27, 2024 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Brandon Saad can still score for the St. Louis Blues.
Brandon Saad could be very valuable down the stretch. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. With January nearly complete, it’s time to start giving consideration to players who may gain value at the trade deadline. Naturally, we’ll do our best to guide you.

This week, Brendan Gallagher earned a five-game suspension because of a head hit; thanks to Connor McDavid, the Oilers just keep winning (15 straight); and Minnesota traded for former All-Rookie Team member Will Butcher from the Pens.

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks

Brandon Saad, LW, St. Louis Blues (ESPN: 0.5 per cent; CBS: 3 per cent): It’s been nearly three years since Saad last headlined our waiver wire picks, and sure enough he had a huge month before cooling a bit down the stretch. He’s been inconsistent at best since, but is one of those players that stands to gain at the trade deadline, assuming Pavel Buchnevich gets moved. Saad can still score — he fired home two goals on Tuesday, including the game-winner (see video below) — and while he’s currently playing on the second line with Brayden Schenn and Jake Neighbours, he could wind up on the top line after the deadline. Consider Saad a solid play driver with upside as a stash, depending how things shake out over the next few weeks.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Buffalo Sabres (ESPN: 14.6 per cent; CBS: 49 per cent): Just a few weeks ago, UPL headlined our waiver wire picks, but ownership has not risen much since, and frankly, we’re at a loss as to why. He’s clearly the Sabres’ top goalie now and had been on a major roll in January (1.45 GAA with two shutouts) until a couple of meh games this week. At the very least, Luukkonen has provided Buffalo with some much-needed stability in net while the team waits for heir apparent Devon Levi to develop. Luukkonen has as many Fantasy points as Andrei Svechnikov, yet nowhere near the ownership. Just sayin’…

Adam Henrique, C, Anaheim Ducks (ESPN: 21.5 per cent; CBS: 20 per cent): Henrique missed some time early on this season, but otherwise has been quite healthy and is currently producing enough to warrant consideration (4-2-6 over the last four). In fact, given his play since the beginning of December, it’s hard to believe his ownership is this low. Henrique isn’t scoring goals at the same pace as he did as last season, but has more than made up for that with his assist rate; he’s another player we’ll we watching closely at the trade deadline.

Calvin Pickard, G, Edmonton Oilers (ESPN: 2.4 per cent; CBS: 4 per cent): You’ve got to go back to the end of 2015 to find the last time we noted Pickard’s Fantasy value, but he really does look like a solid DFS/streaming option the way he’s going now. He doesn’t play much, and can still be inconsistent when he does, but the fact is his numbers haven’t looked this good since those first seasons of his career when he was in Colorado.

Others to Consider

David Rittich, G, Los Angeles Kings (ESPN: 6.3 per cent; CBS: 18 per cent): A former Wire Troll All-Star, Rittich is enjoying a tremendous bounce back effort as the backup for the Kings. He’s never had a save percentage anywhere near this high, so if he regained his reliability as a backup last season, he’s positioned himself for more this season (with the caveat that he’s looked a tad shaky in his last couple of outings).

Jordan Eberle, RW, Seattle Kraken (ESPN: 4.1 per cent; CBS: 36 per cent): The former first round pick is playing on the top line in Seattle and heating up (six points in four games before getting shut out on Friday). Eberle has been inconsistent this season, but is rolling now.

Michael Bunting, LW, Carolina Hurricanes (ESPN: 20.8 per cent; CBS: 39 per cent): The former fourth round pick by Arizona has managed to carve out a successful career to date, and while he’s sheltered to an extent (16th in NHL in shift starts in offensive zone at 23.5 per cent), he’s taking advantage. No, Bunting isn’t likely to match the back-to-back 23-goal seasons he put up in Toronto, but he’s still managed over 100 Fantasy points on the Canes’ top line.

Vladislav Gavrikov, D, Los Angeles Kings (ESPN: 2 per cent; CBS: 13 per cent): Gavrikov won’t help you much offensively, but he logs a ton of shifts (mostly starting in the defensive zone), draws as many penalties as he takes and drives play to the tune of a 51 per cent Corsi For rating. He’s a decent deep league option.

Zach Parise, LW, Colorado Avalanche (ESPN: 0.5 per cent; CBS: 2 per cent): Parise was still Fantasy relevant towards the end of 2021-22, and he managed 21 goals with the Isles last season — his best output since 2019-20. Colorado has signed him for the rest of the season, so it’s worth gambling on the 39-year-old to see what he has left to offer.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Styx made a habit of mixing synthesizers with acoustic piano. From their eighth album, Pieces of Eight, here’s the third single, “Renegade,” which has become the song the band usually plays to end most of its shows.

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