Fantasy hockey: Waiver pickups to target this week

New Jersey Devils star duo Nico Hischier and Mackenzie Blackwood headlines our fantasy hockey waiver wire pickups this week. (Getty Images)

Working the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week that can add points to your total is the number one way you can control the outcome of your matchup. In this weekly column, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of your roster so that you can fill out your fantasy squad with the best players available in your league. Let’s dig in.


Rostered in 41-50% of leagues: Rickard Rakell, LW/RW - PIT (41% rostered)

Rakell has fit right in with the Penguins, slotting in on the top line since Day 1. Riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby has been a valuable place to be for more than a decade now, and with Jake Guentzel out at the moment, Rakell’s role has never been more secure. Rakell skated a season-high 21:10 on Saturday against Columbus and that kind of deployment can be a tremendous boon to fantasy production. Pittsburgh also has a great schedule this upcoming week with four games, including two on off-nights. Combine that with the fact that Rakell currently ranks inside the top-50 in the league in shots and you have a recipe for success.

Honourable Mentions: Ryan Hartman, C - MIN (50%) & Jake DeBrusk, LW/RW - BOS (41%)

Rostered in 31-40% of leagues: Nico Hischier, C - NJD (35% rostered)

Let’s start with the Devils’ schedule this week: four games and three off-nights, tied for the best of the week with Vegas and Winnipeg. Hischier has had a very impressive start to his season, notching two goals and six points in four games. Hischier is generating scoring chances at a higher rate through these four games than he has at any point previously in his career, currently sitting 49th in the league in individual scoring chances for per 60 minutes (iSCF/60) per Natural Stat Trick. I’m interested in a lot of options from New Jersey this week based on the schedule alone, but Hischier in particular combines that schedule with terrific recent performance.

Honourable Mentions: Boone Jenner, C - CBJ (40%) & Chandler Stephenson, C/RW - VGK (38%)

Rostered in 21-30% of leagues: Nick Robertson, LW - TOR (24% rostered)

Robertson made his presence felt immediately when he got his chance Thursday night, scoring two goals, including the OT winner, while ensconcing himself on Toronto's second line alongside John Tavares and William Nylander. While Robertson didn’t find the scoresheet in his second game, he was entrusted with even more even strength minutes and his line dominated possession. Robertson has been a highly touted prospect for some time and has an NHL-caliber shot. With Toronto on a four-game, two off-night week, it’s a great time to pick up Robertson and see if he can parlay this top-six deployment into a breakout rookie season.

Honourable Mentions: Andrei Kuzmenko, LW - VAN (29%) & David Krejci, C - BOS (26%)

Rostered in 0-20% of leagues: Cole Perfetti, C/RW - WPG (15% rostered)

As with Hischier, the main thesis here with Perfetti is the schedule: the Jets play four games with three off-nights. But much like Robertson, Perfetti also has a high prospect pedigree as the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. His role in the top six established, Perfetti is in a great spot this week to put up some points and if he does, he might find a way to stay in your lineup beyond just this week. I love taking shots like this on high-upside, young players who haven’t reached their ceiling yet; worst case scenario, you got four games out of streaming spot on your roster and best case you walk right into a big time breakout that really helps you win your league.

Honourable Mentions: Dawson Mercer, C/RW - NJD (19%) & Oliver Wahlstrom, RW - NYI (12%)


Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Calen Addison - MIN (27% rostered)

Addison has been a bit of revelation in the early going, recording six assists in five games while hanging on to that valuable PP1 deployment in Minnesota. With the Wild playing four games this week, it’s a great time to bring Addison into the fold if he’s still available in your league. Keep in mind that Addison isn’t much of a hits or blocks specialist, so if your league has those categories he might not be the guy for you. While Addison’s time on ice has declined over the past couple of games, he seems pretty entrenched on the top power play, and as a young defenseman in the league, it’s not unusual that he would have to earn those extra even-strength minutes.

Honourable Mentions: K’Andre Miller - NYR (45%) & Sean Durzi - LAK (26%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Filip Hronek - DET (12% rostered)

One of the more interesting developments of the Red Wings’ young season has been their sudden breakup of the top power play unit, relegating Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider to the second group while Dominik Kubalik and Hronek move up. Hronek now has points in four straight games and he won’t hurt you in the peripheral categories either. Detroit’s schedule this week is just OK (three games, zero off-nights), but Hronek could be a long term hold if this power play gig holds up. If you’re in a deeper league, the time to strike with Hronek is right now.

Honourable Mentions: Brandon Montour - FLA (21%) & Matt Grzelcyk (4%)


Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Matt Murray - TOR (47% rostered)

This is an odd pickup, for sure. But Matt Murray being available in more than half of fantasy hockey leagues is crazy to me. Murray was clearly the top priority in net for Toronto GM Kyle Dubas this off-season, and while Ilya Samsonov has acquitted himself very well in the Leaf net in the early going, he also has a multi-year history of imploding in the mid-season. If you have an extra add at the end of the week and a free IR spot, you should absolutely be throwing Murray in there as his upside is a top-10 fantasy goalie when healthy on a strong Toronto squad.

Honourable Mentions: Jake Allen (42%) & James Reimer (28%)

Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Mackenzie Blackwood - NJD (13% rostered)

Blackwood has quietly run up three straight starts and three straight wins, while the Devils have some of the best underlying numbers across the league. Blackwood hasn’t been tested much but with the Devils’ four-game week upcoming, I’m excited to see if Blackwood can garner three of those starts and deliver a couple more wins with good rate stats. If you’re struggling at goalie in the early going, Blackwood represents a cheap dart throw you can take on an improving team. Whether he ends up being a one-week stream or a long-term hold, Blackwood is an easy add to make this week.

Honourable Mentions: Eric Comrie (20%) & Kaapo Kahkonen (7%)

Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter @applesginos.

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