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Fantasy Hockey: Waiver wire pickups ahead of Week 8

·8 min read
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By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

You ate too much. And you're likely regretting it. But this is the time of year to focus on all the things for which you are grateful.

Health and stability? Maybe. Family and friends? Definitely. Jacob Markstrom more than living up to his $28 salary cap draft value? You better believe it.

As you've already partaken in the wide variety of ingestibles, come feast on the NHL smorgasbord at RotoWire with updated news and in-depth material.

We know you're probably stuffed, but how about a nice waiver addition to top it off?

(Rostered rates/stats as of Nov. 26.)

Forwards

Tim Stutzle, OTT (Yahoo: 31%)

Stutzle is receiving more responsibility compared to his rookie season. The 2020 third overall selection hasn't fully capitalized on this increase, yet there are signs of promise. He's only tallied one goal from 32 shots, so that's bound to improve. Stutzle also lines up on Ottawa's top power play, producing five points there. And he got the chance to center the second line Wednesday, which would hypothetically add faceoff wins to his fantasy repertoire. Stutzle might end up moving back to the wing, but that's irrelevant since he's so uber-talented.

Clayton Keller, ARI (Yahoo: 14%)

The point totals decreased each year since Keller's strong freshman showing, which is probably due to Arizona's overall quality of centers having trended in the same direction. Phil Kessel is still in the desert and the two present themselves as the Yotes' most dangerous duo. The club has generally found it difficult to score, though that hasn't stopped Keller from racking up two goals and five assists in his last four games. Add that to a lot of shots on net and a prime power-play position and that's plenty to get him on your roster.

Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller
Need forward help? Consider Clayton Keller. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Dawson Mercer, NJ (Yahoo: 14%)

There are some awfully loud whispers about Mercer within the Calder conversation, and for good reason. He's notched 12 points and is playing a strong two-way game en route to a plus-9. The 19-year-old is already being entrusted with major minutes, though that could change when Jack Hughes returns. For now, give Mercer a chance while he's hot and logging significant ice time.

Evan Rodrigues, PIT (Yahoo: 14%)

It's impressive to see what Rodrigues has achieved with more minutes, having already matched his goal and assist totals (both seven) from last season in only 19 games. With Sidney Crosby recently reappearing and Evgeni Malkin slated for his debut sometime in December, the former Sabre may soon lose significant offensive opportunities. But the coaches love Rodrigues' drive and effort and that should ensure he'll find a place somewhere in the lineup — even if it's not at center.

Denis Gurianov, DAL (Yahoo: 13%)

Gurianov had been struggling to start the season and was ultimately scratched at the beginning of the month. Since being reinserted to the lineup, he's posted five points — three on the power play — 21 shots, 10 hits and nine blocks. Gurianov has fared well alongside Jamie Benn on both even-strength and man-advantage and that should continue as long as the Stars don't revert to their earlier minimum scoring capacity.

Ryan Johansen, NSH (Yahoo: 13%)

Many were disappointed by Johansen's output the previous couple of seasons, so expectations were low heading into this campaign. He quickly came out of the gate with seven points from nine matchups working with perennial producer Filip Forsberg. It was thought Johansen's numbers would suffer when the Swede was sidelined earlier this month, yet he came through with three goals and three assists during the nine-game span. And when Forsberg came back Wednesday and potted two markers, there was Johansen with a PPA, a shot, two hits, a block and nine faceoff wins. Pretty solid for someone available in roughly six of every seven Yahoo leagues.

Valeri Nichushkin, COL (Yahoo: 10%)

Believe it or not, there's fantasy life in Colorado at forward outside of the first line/power play. Nichushkin suffered an upper-body injury after playing the opener and went on to miss nine games. In the six since returning, the 2013 first-rounder has racked up four goals, two helpers, 10 shots, six hits and a plus-8. The career-high 17:09 average is encouraging for Nichushkin's fantasy potential and so are places on both sides of the special-teams spectrum.

Rudolfs Balcers, SJ (Yahoo: 1%)

After being drafted by San Jose in 2015, Balcers would star in the AHL for two franchises while moving to Ottawa as part of the Erik Karlsson deal before returning to the Bay Area right before last season. The subsequent 17 points in 41 outings looked promising and he's maintained that progress with two goals and six helpers. And with Jonathan Dahlen day-to-day, Balcers was promoted to skate with Logan Couture and Timo Meier on the first line, posting an assist, two shots, three hits and two blocks Wednesday. Don't know how long this trio will last, but Balcers should at least be considered a flyer for his prominent hit content and serviceable scoring.

Defensemen

Vince Dunn, SEA (Yahoo: 34%)

Much was expected from Dunn when the Kraken selected him in the Expansion Draft. After all, he averaged 25 points in four years in St. Louis and was a relatively reliable power-play contributor. The 25-year-old has experienced varying results this season, though he's come on of late with four assists in the last six games, including two PPAs. There are the odd instances where Dunn grabs a few hits (five versus Chicago last Wednesday) or blocks (four against Buffalo on Nov. 4), but you're taking him for offensive upside.

Dmitry Orlov, WAS (Yahoo: 32%)

Might as well call Orlov Mr. Consistency based on at least 22 points and no more than 33 from the previous six campaigns. He's on pace to reach 40 and ultimately receives more regular fantasy attention for his cross-category achievements, having accumulated 31 shots, 22 PIM, a plus-15, 31 hits and 26 blocks. Orlov's special-teams minutes are minimal, but that shouldn't matter if the Caps keep filling the net.

Alex Goligoski, MIN (Yahoo: 19%)

Heading into Wednesday's action, Goligoski had piled up a goal and five assists in three games. Even though that sounds hard to reproduce over a longer haul, his coverage could continue to climb as a result of Jared Spurgeon's latest lower-body injury (described as "week-to-week"). After the lead blueliner went down Saturday, Goligoski was immediately installed on the Wild's top power play and resumed that role Wednesday. There's a chance Matt Dumba could eventually be preferred if Spurgeon's sidelined a few weeks, but Goligoski's the man now.

[So many reasons to play Yahoo DFS: Learn more now and get in on the fun]

Noah Hanifin, CGY (Yahoo: 10%)

Just when you think Hanifin is going to break out, he goes without a point in 10 of 11 appearances. Of course, it wasn't as if he just sat around during that time, considering he recorded 23 shots, 12 blocks and seven hits while skating more than 21 minutes a night. Hanifin is getting his due again thanks to a trio of helpers to inaugurate the Islanders' new arena Saturday. The scoring may not turn out to be plentiful, yet he's dependable across the board and operates on Calgary's backup man-advantage and lead PK.

Goaltenders

Stuart Skinner, EDM (Yahoo: 28%)

After three games on the bench, Mikko Koskinen earned the win Wednesday to improve to 4-1 since Nov. 5. During that same stretch, he's also produced an uninspiring 4.04 GAA and .970 save percentage. Getting pulled against Winnipeg a week ago Tuesday opened the door for Skinner, who went on to post a 2.06/.941 line over four outings. Mike Smith looks to be far from returning and Koskinen should provide a challenge for the top spot, but Skinner is worthy of an add based on his impressive recent run and the fact the Oilers can score enough goals to support any netminder.

Daniel Vladar, CGY (Yahoo: 17%)

Five appearances, four wins, two shutouts, a 1.57 GAA and a .946 save percentage. Sounds like the stats of a goalie who should definitely be relied upon for his team's upcoming games. That is, unless your No. 1 happens to be Jacob Markstrom (1.73/.940/five shutouts). The older Swede will hold the advantage based on form and experience, though the younger Czech will pick up a few starts along the way. And if Markstrom should falter or succumb to injury, Vladar will be ready.

(Players to consider from past columns: Nazem Kadri, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jared McCann, Jonathan Toews, Andrew Mangiapane, Ryan Hartman, Phillip Danault, Robert Thomas, Lucas Raymond, Nico Hischier, Reilly Smith, Trevor Zegras, Tage Thompson, Boone Jenner, Sean Monahan, Troy Terry, Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund, Anthony Cirelli, Cole Sillinger, Sonny Milano, Rasmus Andersson, Moritz Seider, Shayne Gostisbehere, Scott Perunovich, Evan Bouchard, Mario Ferraro, John Gibson, Jake Oettinger, James Reimer, Adin Hill)