Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups: Run, don't walk, to grab Bo Horvat

If he's still available, make the move. Mandatory Credit: Dom Gagne-USA TODAY Sports
If he's still available, make the move. Mandatory Credit: Dom Gagne-USA TODAY Sports

By Evan BerofskyRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

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Three weeks down, many more to go. How are your teams looking so far? Primed for success? Ready to rebuild? Just OK? A mix of all three?

Whatever the situation may be, there's always the need to stay proactive. Don't let others beat you to the waiver punch. And NEVER give up. Because the next player — or players — you add could be the key to a climb up the standings. And even if a transaction doesn't work out, keep trying.

Let's continue to help you on your way to glory by providing the most current batch of not-as-popular free agents:

(Yahoo rostership rates as of Oct. 24.)

FORWARDS

Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks (54 percent rostered)

If Horvat's still available in your Yahoo league by the time you read this, snap him up immediately. The Canucks' captain may not be the top center, but he's made his mark of late on the first power play. Over the last four games, Horvat has scored five goals — with three of those coming while up a man — and directed 20 shots on net. The ninth pick from 2013 netted 61 points last season, and there's no reason to think he won't at least match that total this year.

Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks (44 percent)

After being held off the scoresheet in the first two contests, Silfverberg posted five goals, three assists, 16 shots, and a plus-11 over the next seven. The Swede has developed chemistry with linemates Adam Henrique and Rickard Rakell, and the trio has combined for 21 points. They also share time on Anaheim's top man-advantage, although Silfverberg has yet to contribute there.

Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Maple Leafs (39%)

Even with the forward shakeup in the aftermath of John Tavares's injury, Johnsson has continued his role on the Leafs' first line with Auston Matthews. He may have not taken full advantage of the situation with only two goals, although the five assists counteract that supposed deficiency. Johnsson looks like a natural on the lead power play, with a goal and two assists to his name. He's also adjusted well to the time boost this season and should remain in his even-strength spot once Zach Hyman returns.

Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild (27%)

Minnesota struggled to start 2019-20 and frustration led to blaming others for the problem. Perhaps no one was more vocal than Zucker, but at least he moved forward and showed what he can do to help on the ice. After losing the first seven matchups, the Wild have taken the next two and can thank the 27 year old for motivating them to improve. Zucker may only have accumulated four points to date, but three of those are PPGs. Not to mention, he's been working hard and maintaining a lead attacking role in various situations.

Vladislav Namestnikov, Ottawa Senators (14%)

After a barren opening two games with the Rangers, Namestnikov was dealt to Ottawa and immediately received plenty of opportunities. In his second appearance, he potted a pair of goals while adding an assist and skating 21:47. The former Bolt has stayed within the Sens' top-six since and has added two more goals and an assist while averaging over three minutes of power-play duty. Namestnikov may eventually slump and fall down the depth chart, but enjoy it while the line placements are good.

Casey Mittelstadt, Buffalo Sabres (8%)

Mittelstadt endured growing pains during his first full season, with only 25 points in 77 outings. Sensing he was initially rushed in, the coaches instituted a lighter regimen to begin this year. The two helpers in Game 1 put him in the right direction, but the subsequent zeros across the next six couldn't have helped his confidence. In the most recent three encounters, however, Mittelstadt has exploded for three goals and two assists and has looked more like the star of consecutive WJCs than an intimidated 20 year old.

Alexander Wennberg, Columbus Blue Jackets (3%)

Wennberg peaked with 59 points in 2016-17, but then only combined for 60 over the next two campaigns. Following a successful training camp, the 2013 first-rounder was primed to make a fresh start. Wennberg hasn't dominated the scoresheet so far, but the five points are certainly encouraging. And anyone who skates over 19 minutes a night and lines up on the top power play should be worth consideration, no matter the club.

Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks (3%)

Soon after being taken by the Kings in the seventh round of 2013, Kubalik returned to his native Czech Republic. It wasn't until last year when people paid attention after he racked up 57 points in the Swiss League and then counted 12 more at the World Championships. Chicago jumped at the opportunity to sign Kubalik and promised big things. He may have dropped off the Hawks' first unit, but it's tough to ignore the fact he fired TEN SHOTS ON NET in only 14:15 on Sunday. Kubalik has only managed three points, but at least the 27 shots and 20 hits show someone who's ready to compete.

DEFENSEMEN

Alex Goligoski, Arizona Coyotes (10%)

It wasn't long ago when Goligoski was considered a significant contributor. The Dallas heydays and Desert debuts provide great memories, but they're now just history. The 13-year rearguard dropped under the 30-point plateau last season for the first time since 2012-13. That said, Goligoski looks like his former self with five points over his last three games, including a PPP in each. This streak will inevitably slow down, but there aren't many other lesser-rostered defensemen who can post these types of stats — let alone half of that.

You don't find defensemen like these too often on the waiver wire. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
You don't find defensemen like these too often on the waiver wire. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Matt Niskanen, Philadelphia Flyers (8%)

Like Goligoski, Niskanen used to produce decent point totals — like the 46 from his last year in Pittsburgh. He averaged just over 30 in five seasons with Washington, but the numbers dipped the last two. Philly decided to acquire the veteran to provide an experienced blueline presence for youngsters Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The bonus has come in the form of supplementing mentorship with an injection of offense, as three of his four points have come on the power play — a role mainly lost at the end of his Caps' run. Niskanen will never be considered a top-tier fantasy D-man but can serve as a decent lower-lineup option.

Marcus Pettersson, Pittsburgh Penguins (5%)

Pettersson gave us a preview of his abilities after arriving from Anaheim last season when he recorded 19 points, 72 shots, 85 hits, 76 blocks, and 49 PIM in 57 games. The Penguins liked what they saw and offered the 6'3" defender a larger attacking role, including a secondary spot on the man-advantage. He's already responded with a goal and four assists. Pettersson isn't skating with Pittsburgh's big guns, but he's realistically only one Kris Letang/Justin Schultz absence away from reaching that point.

Sami Vatanen, New Jersey Devils (3%)

Vatanen served as a steady scorer throughout his career, but injuries last season stopped that momentum. The arrival of P.K. Subban in the summer essentially ended the Finn's power-play involvement. But when Will Butcher was placed on IR Saturday, Vatanen moved up to the Devils' top unit. He's averaged 24 minutes — with 5:46 on the man-advantage — over the last two while notching a PPA. Vatanen should be safe even if Butcher is activated for Friday's game, as the latter only counted one goal in seven appearances before the injury.

GOALTENDERS

Robin Lehner, Chicago Blackhawks (57%)

All Lehner did last season was post a 2.13 GAA and .930 save percentage while earning a Vezina nomination and sharing the Jennings trophy with Thomas Greiss. Then the Islanders essentially let him walk during the offseason and the Blackhawks came swooping in for the prize. Sure, the Chicago D may look suspect. But Lehner has performed well within that setup (1.94 GAA, .943 save percentage in a win and two OT defeats) where he'd become an elite fantasy commodity if the backend situation improves. And Corey Crawford (3.59 GAA, .891 save percentage) hasn't posed any real competition yet.

Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers (15%)

We all know Henrik Lundqvist will keep starting well into his 70s, but Georgiev is currently being used enough as the Rangers' No. 2 to warrant additional rostership. The Bulgarian netminder has started three of seven contests, managing a 2.70 GAA and .923 save percentage while stopping at least 30 shots in each. He won't dethrone The King barring injury or a prolonged slump, but the coaches appear to trust his abilities.

Players to consider from past columns: Victor Olofsson, Brock Nelson, Nazem Kadri, Alex Kerfoot, Roope Hintz, Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Henrique, Andre Burakovsky, Paul Stastny, Jonathan Drouin, Travis Konecny, Jaden Schwartz, Erik Haula, Jeff Carter, Oscar Klefbom, Devon Toews, Vince Dunn, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Schultz, Samuel Girard, Carter Hutton, Craig Anderson, Jaroslav Halak, MacKenzie Blackwood

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