Brandon Saad is lighting it up lately. (Wikipedia)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. We’re nearing the end of February now, so are clearly in the home stretch. Don’t ease up now, peeps!
This week, Alex Ovechkin snapped a drought with career goal No. 699; the Capitals have dropped out of the Metro division lead, prompting a deal for defenseman Brenden Dillon; and Vegas also made a move to shore up its blueline, acquiring Alec Martinez from the Kings for draft picks.
And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations…
Brandon Saad, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (ESPN: 26.4 per cent; CBS: 25 per cent): After spending a couple of seasons in Columbus where he put up some solid numbers playing with Alexander Wennberg and Scott Hartnell, Saad returned to Chicago in 2017-18 and his results have been mixed. In his first season back, Saad only managed 35 points, but he had better numbers last season. This season has been a mixed bag; he’s scoring more goals but hasn’t been getting nearly as many helpers, hurting his point total. Still, since returning from an ankle woe, Saad has been lighting it up with seven goals in the last 11 games (see video below for one of them, commented on in a rather bizarre fashion). He’s playing with Patrick Kane, and that’s always good news for a player’s production. Keep in mind that Saad is a trade candidate with the struggling Hawks falling well out of the Wild Card race recently. Still, given his two-way skill and hockey IQ, he’ll be an asset wherever he’s playing.
Josh Manson, D, Anaheim Ducks (ESPN: 1.1 per cent; CBS: 6 per cent): Manson is another player that could be moved by Monday’s trade deadline. Right now, he’s seeing extra minutes with Cam Fowler out day to day, and while Manson doesn’t offer much offensively, he does have a 51.01 CF percentage with 91 hits and 46 blocks. With his increased PT over the last couple of games, Manson has also put up three shots, and given that he’s often received top-pairing minutes, he’s a deep league asset at the very least.
Noel Acciari, RW, Florida Panthers (ESPN: 14.4 per cent; CBS: 16 per cent): We’ve already pimped Acciari this season, but he deserves a second look given what a good campaign he’s having. He picked up an assist on Thursday, was +1 for a third straight game and, with 10 shots over the last four, he’s been generating offense. Acciari ripped back-to-back hat tricks earlier this season, so he’s a dude capable of scoring in bunches. You’ll definitely want him on your team the next time he’s goes on a tear.
Joonas Donskoi, RW, Colorado Avalanche (ESPN: 21.5 per cent; CBS: 36 per cent): With Mikko Rantanen out for the next few weeks, Donskoi will move onto the second line and receive more responsibility. On Wednesday, Donskoi snapped a slump with his 15th goal of the season, so let’s hope this helps get him back on track. He began the season on fire, with 11 goals and 11 assists over the first 26 games, before slowing. At this stage, Donskoi is a solid fourth winger in a 10-team league, with some nice possible upside over the next few weeks.
- Jake Muzzin came up huge for the Leafs when they really needed a jolt, scoring once and adding two helpers on Thursday. He’s really heating up with points in four straight (2-4-6), while going +5. After being hurt last month, Muzzin has bounced back nicely in February.
- Gabriel Vilardi, the Kings’ 2017 first rounder (11th overall) has arrived with a bang. In his NHL debut on Thursday, he scored a goal (10 seconds into his opening shift) with an assist, went +2, had two shots and won 13 of 16 faceoffs. No King has ever scored a goal earlier in his debut.
- Matt Murray wasn’t sharp on Thursday, but otherwise he has looked pretty good recently. After struggling in November and not looking much better in December, he righted the ship last month (2.20 GAA, .929 save percentage), and has been solid in February. No, Murray hasn’t been as good as last season, but could narrow that gap with a strong finish, which looks like it’s going to happen.
- Sergei Bobrovsky, meanwhile, has been a tad better lately, but continues to struggle with his consistency in the Panther net. He seemed to be getting his act together in December, but it’s been downhill since. With a career-worst 3.29 GAA, Bobrovsky’s first season in Florida has really been a disaster.
- The Rangers are suddenly road warriors and a big part of that has been the recent play of Mika Zibanejad. He fired another goal and two assists Friday, giving him back-to-back multiple point games (seven total points) and a six-game scoring streak (5-7-12). After reaching 30 goals for the first time last season, Zibanejad is now on pace to score 40.
- Bobby Ryan, who struggled badly early this season before entering alcohol abuse treatment, is nearly ready to return to the Ottawa lineup. The author of 250 career goals, he may never get back to his 30-goal days as a Duck, but if he can stay healthy, he’s likely still a 20-goal man, so he deserves your attention down the stretch.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
One of my personal faves, the late great Lou Reed was an American singer who performed from 1958 until his death in 2013. In 1973, he released his third album, the classic Berlin, and from this effort the lead single was “How Do You Think it Feels.”
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.