Shea Theodore is taking advantage of his chances on an expansion team. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA Today Sports)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. We hope you’re enjoying the 2018 WJC, but don’t forget to use this opportunity to raid the waiver wire while your league mates are distracted by the stars of tomorrow.
This week, Ottawa blueliner Fredrik Claesson earned himself a two-game suspension for an illegal head shot; the Jets, who have slowed down recently, will be without Mark Scheifele for 6-to-8 weeks because of an upper body injury; and the Rangers have lost Chris Kreider indefinitely thanks to a blood clot in his arm.
And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations…
Shea Theodore, D, Vegas Golden Knights (ESPN: 18.5 per cent; CBS: 50 per cent): This 2013 first round pick is another player that has taken advantage of the opportunities that come from playing for an expansion team. Theodore has picked up his offense lately, scoring two goals with three assists over the last four games (while going +4). He was starting to get more shots last month, but now they are going in with more frequency. Theodore does not have a single penalty this season, but has already matched or broken all his offensive highs — even more impressive when you consider he started the season in the AHL. This kid has some serious offensive chops (and apparently loves meat — see video below), and he’s finally getting a chance to show them, so pick him up while you can.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets (ESPN: 22.5 per cent; CBS: 50 per cent): Dubois has gained major Fantasy traction thanks to injuries to Brandon Dubinsky and Alexander Wennberg. Dubois has recorded four points over the last four games and the rookie has gotten better and better as the season has progressed. He’s seeing plenty of time on the second power play unit, helping him average nearly a point per game this month (11 points in 13 December games). It’s hard not to be thrilled with this kid, so jump on him before everyone else figures it out.
James Reimer, G, Florida Panthers (ESPN: 23.2 per cent; CBS: 39 per cent): With Roberto Luongo out, Reimer has been manning the Panther net, and doing a superb job of late, winning his last four starts while surrendering a total of six goals. After a couple of shaky months to begin the season, he’s really stepped up in December, recording a 2.55 GAA to lower this season mark to a more serviceable 3.10. Reimer now has 10 wins on the season, the seventh time he’s reached that plateau. With Luongo out another month at least, give Reimer a look if you need goaltending help.
Thomas Vanek, LW, Vancouver Canucks (ESPN: 22.9 per cent; CBS: 36 per cent): Vanek has been going hog wild lately, enjoying a four-point game last week, an assist last Saturday, and then a five-point explosion on Thursday. It’s the second time in his career he’s put up a five-point game and just the fourth time in the last 20 years a Canuck player has achieved this. Vanek is averaging nearly a point per game this month, and despite seeing less ice time this season, he looks headed for a nice bounce back effort. Of course, having said that, his minutes are rising as the season progresses, so he could be in line for an even bigger second half. Grab the veteran now.
- After breaking through for a career-high 45 points last season, it’s been a sluggish first half offensively for Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. However, the workhorse blueliner (currently third in the NHL in average ice time), came through big time Friday with an overtime goal for his first of the season after he picked up an assist on the tying goal. Looking for a buy-low candidate?
- Dallas winger Alexander Radulov snapped a three-game pointless streak with a pair of goals Friday, including a power play effort for his 11th point with the man advantage. He now has a season-best six goals this month and is starting to live up to the massive contract the Stars gave him in the offseason.
- The Devils’ five-game winning streak came to an end Friday as Taylor Hall’s go-ahead goal was reversed by a challenge. Hall came in hot, having picked up five assists over his previous three games after a somewhat slow December. He’s been fairly healthy so far this season and is on pace for the second highest shot total of his career.
- The Blues have struggled lately, mostly because of a lack of scoring. So it was a great sign to see Vladimir Tarasenko score on Friday as he had just one tally in the previous eight games. This dude loves playing Dallas as he’s now drilled 13 markers in just 21 career games against the Stars. Tarasenko has been cold this month, with just five assists in 15 games, but he remains on pace for 76 points — which would best his career high by one.
- Ottawa RW Mark Stone got his first goal in 12 games on Friday, adding an assist, as the Sens snapped a four-game skid. Lack of scoring has been an issue for this team, but Stone now has a goal and five assists over this last five games. Although after scoring 14 goals through November, his mere one goal this month sticks out. Even with the slump, Stone remains on track to score 34 goals, which would easily best his high of 26, set in 2014-15.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.