Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. It’s a new year, but we’re smack dab in the middle of the NHL season, so strap yourself in for a wild second half.
This week, the injury issues keep piling up across the league as Buffalo has now lost captain Jack Eichel for at least the next two games with an upper body injury; Nick Schmaltz, who has provided some nice offense since being traded to Arizona, has a lower body injury that will sideline him week-to-week; and Vancouver super rookie Elias Pettersson is out indefinitely with a knee injury that will need an MRI.
And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations…
Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa Senators (ESPN: 0.3 per cent; CBS: 6 per cent): Ceci takes a lot of flack on social media, but with star blueliner Thomas Chabot out, Ceci is now the No. 1 man in Ottawa, thereby increasing his chances of putting up more offense. In 2015-16, Ceci scored 10 goals with 16 assists as he seemed on the cusp of breaking out, but he’s generally been a disappointment since then. Still, he’s already scored five goals this season (thanks to his highest shooting percentage ever), and as long as he’s on the top pairing, the minutes will come his way. With his size, Ceci should be a better overall defenseman, but he’s only 25, so don’t give up on him just yet. He’s shown he can jump into the rush from time to time (see video below).
Cody Eakin, C, Vegas Golden Knights (ESPN: 0.3 per cent; CBS: 21 per cent): Hard-working pivot Eakin is already enjoying a career season, but he has a chance to take it to the next level with Erik Haula hurt, and Brandon Pirri getting sent back down. Eakin was on a three-game point scoring streak, but was shut out Friday despite ripping four shots on net. Still, he failed to reach seven goals until February 21 last season, doing it three months faster this season, and with 12 already, should easily reach 20 goals for the first time.
Mackenzie Blackwood, G, New Jersey Devils (ESPN: 1.5 per cent; CBS: 41 per cent): With Cory Schneider out and Keith Kincaid struggling, the Devils have turned to Blackwood, with excellent results (just 11 goals against through eight games and six starts). However, Blackwood had to leave Friday’s game early, and it’s still unclear how serious this is, so wait for a report before making a claim here. This rookie has really shown something since his recall, so give him a look in dynasty formats.
Luke Kunin, C, Minnesota Wild (ESPN: unowned; CBS: 3 per cent): It’s taken Kunin a while to get going since his recall, but he has two assists over his last three games and is helping out in the faceoff circle when called upon. Currently playing with Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle, he has a chance to put up some nice numbers. Kunin captained Team USA at the 2016-17 WJC, so the pedigree is there for this kid to not only be a decent point producer, but also a leader.
Michael Hutchinson, G, Toronto Maple Leafs (ESPN: unowned; CBS: 6 per cent): With Frederik Andersen and Garret Sparks both still out, Hutchinson will start again for the Leafs against Vancouver on Saturday. He’s having a rough season, but was a bit better on Thursday in his debut for Toronto, so may be worth a look if you’re desperate for goaltending help. The Canucks’ offense is middling, so it’s not a bad matchup.
- The Penguins are red hot and have been getting offense from a surprising source lately. Forty-two-year-old Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist Friday, giving him four points and a +5 rating over the last three games. He’s now on pace to top his point total from last season.
- Recalled on an emergency basis on Friday, Carolina centre Greg McKegg made his case to stick, potting a goal and an assist while going +2 in his debut with the Hurricanes. Could the journeyman finally have found a home?
- Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck continues to struggle, giving up fewer than three goals just once in his last eight games. His GAA has reached a career high 2.89, opening the door for backup Laurent Brossoit to see more starts in the second half.
- Columbus winger Oliver Bjorkstrand has been seeing more ice time lately and has responded with three goals and an assist over the last five games. He’s been a disappointment in the first half after scoring 40 points in 2017-18, but could be poised for a second half recovery.
- Detroit has been really sliding lately, but Dylan Larkin‘s overtime goal on Friday to beat Nashville helped. After having his 14-game point scoring streak snapped on Wednesday, he began another one with the goal, putting him on pace for a career best 76 points this season.
- Florida has been making a move to get back into the Wild Card race lately and it may soon get a big boost as centre Vincent Trocheck is on the comeback trail. He broke his ankle six weeks ago, but on Friday skated for the first time since the injury.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Brian Eno, the English musician/producer who doubles as a visual artist, is much less known for his solo career than what he’s done for other artists as a producer. In 1978, he released Ambient 1: Music For Airports, his sixth solo effort. The album closes with “2/2,” performed with an ARP 2600 synthesizer, the same instrument used to create R2-D2‘s voice in Star Wars.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey pickup of the week is.