Working the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week who can add points to your total is the best way to control the outcome of your matchup.
In this article every week, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of rostership so 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: Boone Jenner, C/LW - CBJ (49% rostered)
There have been some bad vibes out of Columbus recently including star Johnny Gaudreau getting benched in their latest contest. But captain Boone Jenner continues to fire shots on goal at a prodigious rate, averaging nearly five shots per game over his last seven outings.
I’m not too concerned that Jenner has just two goals and an assist in that span given he’s getting all these chances; his points will come. It’s a good week to bet on Columbus players you like as they play four games with two off-nights.
If you’ve got open starting spots for the Blue Jackets’ Thursday and Saturday tilts, Jenner becomes a no-brainer pick up.
Honorable Mentions: Bryan Rust, RW - PIT (47%) and Josh Norris, C - OTT (48%)
Rostered in 31-40% of leagues: Nick Schmaltz, C/RW - ARI (36% rostered)
I’m not sure what Nick Schmaltz has to do to get some more respect; he’s scored at a 76-point pace across the last three seasons going back to 2021. Schmaltz continues to be one of the biggest oversights in fantasy hockey and you can take advantage in some 64% of Yahoo leagues.
Keep in mind that Schmaltz’s center Barrett Hayton is mired in an 11-game pointless streak to start the season and it becomes all the more impressive that Schmaltz has put up 10 points in 11 games so far. Schmaltz is a perfect player to add if you’re looking for someone you can bank on for more than just this week.
Honorable Mentions: Owen Tippett, RW - PHI (38%) and Nicholas Paul, C/LW - TB (33%)
Rostered in 21-30% of leagues: Wyatt Johnston, C - DAL (21% rostered)
Dallas has the same schedule as Columbus this week playing four games including two off-nights. Johnston is pointless in his last three games but played a strong 18:45 in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Vancouver and fired five shots on goal. Johnston has all the earmarks of an ascending star in the league coming off an impressive 24-goal rookie season as a 19-year-old in 2022-23.
Johnston’s average time on ice has climbed from 15:28 last year to 17:01 through 10 games this season and he’s on a 57-point pace despite the recent cold stretch. I’d make good odds that Johnston gets at least a couple points for you this week and if he continues his ascension you could easily catch a boom week with the young center.
Honorable Mentions: Robert Thomas, C - STL (24%) and Adam Fantilli, C - CBJ (28%)
Rostered in 0-20% of leagues: Marco Rossi, C - MIN (13% rostered)
Rossi is hot right now with six points in his last six games, but it’s the recent change in deployment that has me most excited. Rossi has centered star wingers Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy on the Minnesota top line in both of the last two Wild games, with great results: Rossi has two goals and three points in those two contests with eight shots on goal while averaging 21:24 of ice time.
If that’s not enough to get you excited about Rossi, consider that he’s a former top-10 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft who has been the long-term plan at 1C for the Wild since the day he was selected.
To top it off, the Wild have a four-game, two off-night schedule that’s easy to fit into your streaming plans for the week. Rossi is a priority add for me right now.
Honorable Mentions: Anton Lundell, C - FLA (3%) and Quinton Byfield, C/LW - LAK (11%)
Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Bowen Byram - COL (36% rostered)
Byram is a player who checks a lot of boxes for me as a defenseman. He’s in a terrific offensive environment in Colorado, and he’s routinely put up strong underlying numbers in his young career.
Young defensemen often take three to four seasons to develop but Byram has unfortunately dealt with multiple significant injuries including concussion issues. Byram also happens to play for the team that has the best offensive defenseman of the 21st century on it in Cale Makar.
Still, Byram’s ability to contribute hits and blocks even when the points aren’t coming and that massive contingent upside he possesses if Makar were to ever miss time makes him a strong option if you need a defenseman to pick up this week.
Honorable Mentions: John Klingberg - TOR (37%) and Pavel Mintyukov - ANA (48%)
Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Oliver Ekman-Larsson - FLA (22% rostered)
OEL’s Florida Panthers hold the title of best streaming schedule this week, rocking four games all on off-nights. That means you’ll assuredly be able to fit Ekman-Larsson into your lineup for all four games. Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad are nearing their return, but we should be able to squeeze this one last week of fantasy relevance out of OEL given his top power-play usage and 23-plus minutes of ice time every night.
The Panthers take on Columbus, Washington, Carolina and Chicago this week, all bottom-half teams in terms of shots and chances allowed with the exception of the Hurricanes. OEL looks like a low-risk way to squeeze four extra games into your lineup.
Honorable Mentions: Jared Spurgeon - MIN (19%) and Jake Walman - DET (19%)
Rostered in 26-50% of leagues: Philipp Grubauer (34% rostered)
Seattle has flip-flopped back and forth between their goaltenders in the early going, giving Joey Daccord three straight starts before going back to Grubauer for all three of last week’s games. Grubauer played pretty well, winning two of three with a .910 save %.
I’ll continue to chase whoever’s currently got the lion’s share of the Kraken net as it’s shaping up to be a solid team context to get goaltending stats from. You won’t always feel comfortable rostering Grubauer, but he’s absolutely worth using while he’s getting this kind of run in the Seattle crease.
Honorable Mentions: John Gibson - ANA (33%) and Elvis Merzlikins - CBJ (29%)
Rostered in 0-25% of leagues: Jake Allen - MTL (25% rostered)
Allen has split starts with Sam Montembeault of late, but he’s performed much better on the season with a .927 save % to Montembeault’s .894. The Canadiens have put together a solid start to the season and any improvement in the team in front of him makes Allen’s fantasy prospects all the more appealing.
I’m not saying Allen is the kind of guy you can pick up and hold for the rest of the season, but if you need some goalie volume you can do much worse at the moment. Allen has sustained a save % of .905 or better in all but one of his pro seasons, so it seems reasonable to believe he can be fantasy relevant if Montreal does indeed take a step this season as a team.
Honorable Mentions: Anton Forsberg - OTT (9%) and Jack Campbell - EDM (23%)
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.