Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Pickups for the playoffs

Yahoo Sports

By Evan BerofskyRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

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While NHL teams gear up for the playoffs, your final fantasy battle for 2018-19 should well be underway. Keeping track of recent news and trends are key to setting lineups. This obviously includes those who remain available in your leagues, which is where the following players may come in handy.

(Yahoo ownership rates as of March 14.)

Forwards

Clayton Keller, ARI (67 percent)

Keller impressed as a rookie by playing a full season and notching 65 points. He's attempted to prolong the magic as a sophomore, but he's struggled in stretches. Despite the dip in production, the seventh selection from 2017 still scores at a decent rate and regularly skates on the top line in all situations. Keller is also only one power-play point short of matching his first-year total of 20 while firing roughly two-and-a-half shots per game.

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Eric Staal, MIN (60 percent)

Many thought Staal was done in 2015-16 after a disappointing time split between Carolina and the Rangers. And while he's excelled in the Hockey State during his three seasons, people have been waiting for age to catch up. The 34 year old has disproved the doubters with his excellent scoring and leadership. Staal even enjoyed a recent run of eight straight with a point and continues to be a reliable fantasy source.

Patric Hornqvist, PIT (55 percent)

Hornqvist may be experiencing a slight drop-off this season, but he remains a power-play threat thanks to a spot beside Sidney Crosby on Pittsburgh's first unit. The solid Swede has spent a couple stints on the sidelines, including the last one for a concussion. And even though it took 15 contests to find the scoresheet following that setback, Hornqvist rediscovered his touch with six in the next eight while racking up 28 hits and 19 shots.

David Krejci, BOS (50 percent)

He may turn 33 next month, but Krejci may match or break his career-high of 73 set a decade ago. Even at an advanced age, he hasn't lost any skill and has mentored the Bruins' younger set — including his partnership with hotshot winger Jake DeBrusk. With Boston fighting for home ice in the opening round of the playoffs, Krejci has done his part by exploding for five goals over eight outings while racking up 19 points from the last 17.

Brady Tkachuk, OTT (30 percent)

The Senators appear destined to finish last in the league, but they hold so much talent up front to excite their fanbase for the future. One of their cornerstones appears to be Tkachuk, who went straight from college to the pro ranks as an 18-year old after being picked fourth overall last June. Despite a couple bumps along the way, the 6'3" forward already looks like a veteran and maintains a lead place on the depth chart. In addition to the 36 points in 59 appearances, Tkachuk has also recorded 65 PIM, 170 shots, and 138 hits.

Brady Tkachuk is showing the upside of the young Ottawa talent. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Brady Tkachuk is showing the upside of the young Ottawa talent. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Troy Terry, ANH (8 percent)

For someone who ripped through the NCAA and AHL, it's no surprise Terry has begun his Anaheim career in fine shape. The University of Denver standout didn't score in six games after training camp, but went off for 41-in 41-with San Diego before the January promotion. A few more zeroes have popped up over the last two months, but Terry also pulled off consecutive three-point efforts last week. The Ducks won't be playing past early April, so they'll gladly showcase their youth down the stretch.

Roope Hintz, DAL (1 percent)

His first name may elicit laughter, but Hintz's recent performances are no joke. Like Terry, the Finn found his inaugural NHL encounter to be overwhelming and returned to the minors. The nine goals and 13 assists from 21 matchups couldn't be ignored, but he couldn't settle down upon his return in Big D. Thanks to a move alongside Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov on both even-strength and power play, Hintz has gained confidence and potted four goals over his last seven outings.

Alexander Nylander, BUF (1 percent)

The younger Nylander possesses the pedigree and high draft position, but he's yet to show anything consistent since the 2016 Draft. 80 points in 170 AHL contests counts as a disappointment for a #8 pick, but he'll get the chance to complete his campaign with the parent club. Nylander joined fellow top-10 selection Casey Mittelstadt on the third line for his debut, so it would be best to monitor his playing situation before adding him to your roster.

Defensemen

Nate Schmidt, VGK (26 percent)

Vegas sure lucked out when it came to stocking their franchise with defensemen. Among their attack-minded recruits would be Schmidt, who was left unprotected by Washington for the expansion draft. The Minnesotan would make the Caps pay for their mistake by tallying 36 points last year. A letdown was assumed since no offensive precedent had been set, but Schmidt has gone the other way with nine goals and 18 assists in only 50 games. How can a competent blueliner be available in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues when he's logging over 22 minutes a night, including a healthy dose of power-play action?

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Nick Leddy, NYI (26 percent)

The Islanders are finding it difficult to hold onto the lead in the Metropolitan, but they're working as hard as possible to ensure a prime playoff seed. A league-leading defense has brought them this far, comprising of a mix of plucky youngsters and savvy veterans. Leddy, who would qualify within the second category, has slipped this season but is being counted upon to supply sufficient scoring from the back end. That's worked out the last two weeks for the former Blackhawk, who has posted five points over seven appearances.

Cam Fowler, ANH (21 percent)

Fowler missed almost two months after getting hit by a puck in the face. And while the nine-year pro severely disappointed after the return with two assists and a minus-18 in the first 23 outings, he's returned to form with four points — including three on the power play — over the last six. The Ducks may not possess the vaunted offense from their glory days, but their top man-advantage group of Fowler with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry can still do some damage.

Filip Hronek, DET (1 percent)

With Mike Green on the shelf until the fall and Dennis Cholowski failing to maintain his hot start, a vacancy for a quick, puck-moving D-man in Detroit became available. Hronek wouldn't immediately seize the opportunity, but would catch on after New Year's. In 2019, the 21 year old has managed a goal and 11 helpers through 19 contests while seeing his minutes increase to a top pairing in all situations.

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford, CHI (54 percent)

Winner of five of six since coming back from a lengthy absence following another concussion, Crawford was held out for the final period on Wednesday after stymying the Leafs for the first 40 minutes. It's unknown how long this issue will affect the two-time Cup champ, but Chicago should keep riding the hot hand when he becomes available again. However, if this keeps Crawford out for longer, someone like Edmonton's Mikko Koskinen (Yahoo: 49%) should serve as a fine fill-in.

Petr Mrazek, CAR (35 percent)

Curtis McElhinney once held the upper hand in the Carolina cage, but Mrazek wrested away the lead role and has run away with it. Since Feb. 1, the ex-Red Wing has led the Hurricanes' postseason charge by boasting an awesome 8-2 record to go with a 1.91 GAA and .936 save percentage. And if you go back to the beginning of the year, Mrazek has extended his excellence with a 12-4-1/2.48/.914 stat line.

Players to consider from past columns: Dylan Strome, James van Riemsdyk, Nino Niederreiter, Reilly Smith, Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Nico Hischier, Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, Yanni Gourde, Andreas Johnsson, Jakub Vrana, Colin White, Frank Vatrano, Kasperi Kapanen, Brendan Gallagher, Sam Reinhart, Brock Nelson, Kevin Fiala, Kevin Labanc, Andreas Athanasiou, Jimmy Vesey, Shea Theodore, Justin Schultz, Miro Heiskanen, Darnell Nurse, Jacob Trouba, Jared Spurgeon, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Ryan Pulock, Brandon Montour, David Rittich, Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner, Jordan Binnington, Darcy Kuemper, Alexandar Georgiev

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