Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. We’re into February now, just a couple weeks shy of the trade deadline, so keep your ear to the ground and be ready to pounce on any opportunities that arise as a result of a deal.
This week, the Leafs dodged a bullet when Frederick Andersen came away unscathed after taking a skate to the head; Marc-Andre Fleury had an emotional return to Pittsburgh; and Nashville forward Filip Forsberg has been suspended for three games after a hitting Jimmy Vesey in the head.
And now let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations…
Ryan Spooner, C, Boston Bruins (ESPN: 13.2 per cent; CBS: 24 per cent): Considering how well he’s playing lately, Spooner seems underowned. He was +2 on Wednesday, and has gone +4 over the last four games to raise his season figure to +11. Don’t look for penalty minutes from Spooner, but with 16 points in 20 games between December and January, he’s been producing for some time. He dealt with several injuries earlier this season, and that kind of kept him off the Fantasy radar, but we’re bullish on him now — especially since he’s starting to get more shots on goal compared to the first few months. Spooner is seeing consistent top six time and plenty of action on the top power play unit making him a sneaky pickup for those seeking offense down the stretch. Better yet, the playmaking abilities he showed the past couple of seasons are beginning the return (not that he can’t pot some goals, too, as you can see in the video below). We’d highly recommend grabbing Spooner while you can.
Jake Virtanen, RW, Vancouver Canucks (ESPN: 0.5 per cent; CBS: 4 per cent): This is a deep league special, but it’s worth noting that Virtanen has seen a nice boost in PT since Sam Gagner (ankle) got hurt. Virtanen hasn’t yet done anything with these extra minutes, but an increased role does represent an opportunity, and that’s worth tracking at the very least. For what it’s worth, he enjoyed his highest shooting percentage of the season last month and has had a decent bounce back effort after spending most of last season in the minors. Keep in mind, Virtanen was the sixth overall pick in 2014, but we’re going to need to see improvement in his +/- before he begins to be a real Fantasy asset. If he can remain healthy and start doing something with this opportunity, perhaps we’ll finally get a chance to see why he was picked so high. We’ll be monitoring this kid closely in the second half.
- Islanders centre Brock Nelson is suddenly on fire. He compiled his second career hat trick on Friday, giving him four goals and three assists over the last four games. Expect him to be a hot commodity on the wire this weekend.
- Detroit winger Tyler Bertuzzi has mostly been off the Fantasy radar early in his career, but he made some waves Friday with 10 penalty minutes, while picking up his 10th point in 20 games. The boost in PM — 15 in his last three games — makes him intriguing.
- Henrik Lundqvist has not looked sharp at all lately, but turned in a fine effort Friday to help the Rangers snap a four-game skid. He took over after the first period, and stopped 28 of 30 shots to earn his first win in seven games, dating back to January 18. The 28 stops represents a new career high for Lundqvist in a relief outing.
- Tyler Seguin is absolutely on fire right now, helping Dallas earn five straight wins. He’s scored in all five games, racking up six goals and two assists all told, shaking off a lackluster (for him) January. Enjoy the ride.
- Matthew Tkachuk got a much-needed goal on Friday, snapping a four-game drought. He was red hot in January, but has cooled considerably so far this month. The sixth overall pick from 2016 should surpass his rookie totals — especially if this goal gets him going again.
- Chicago is in free fall, but centre Jonathan Toews continues to produce, with a goal and two assists over the last four games, giving him at least 15 goals and 20 assists for the 11th straight season. However, he’s gone -5 over this stretch, and that’s a concern.
- Over the last six games, Alex Ovechkin has settled into a pattern of trading multi-point games for getting shut out. He’s due for points Sunday afternoon against Detroit. Other than November, Ovie has averaged over a point per game in each month this season, and is just shy of a 50-goal pace as he seeks his eighth such campaign.
- If for some reason you had Ranger defenseman Brendan Smith in your extremely deep format, feel free to cut him. The Blueshirts waived him Friday — on his 29th birthday. Nice touch, New York. Remind us why the Rangers re-signed him to a four-year, $17 million deal last summer, please?
- Columbus winger Pierre-Luc Dubois seemed to hit a rookie wall in January and was extremely cold heading into the All-Star break, but now has a goal and an assist over the last three games. If he can regain his December or even November form, he’ll be a real asset down the stretch.
- Time to start paying attention to Kings’ defenceman Paul LaDue. He was shut out Friday, but had accumulated points in three straight games prior to that, including his first two goals of the season. LaDue was leading scorer among defensemen for the AHL’s Ontario Reign (36-8-10-18) before his recall. Sleeper alert.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.
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