Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: The other Z-Man in New York leads pickups this week

Yahoo Sports

By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

The Habs and Hurricanes have proven they can do more with less. The Golden Knights and Wild are climbing the rankings after an initial slump, but what’s happening with the Kings? Enough about the real NHL teams, though — you’re here for the fantasy outlook, so that’s what we’ll provide.

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How long should you wait before you give up on an established name who isn’t performing? Even though he’s only recorded four points, you don’t need to worry about Steven Stamkos. Ditto for both Anze Kopitar or Nikolaj Ehlers, unless your league contains a limited number of teams/roster spots — or if the trade offer proves too good to refuse.

Is two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky with his 3.87 GAA and .872 through six appearances making you think about preparing him for a change of scenery? With Seth Jones making his season debut Tuesday, the Columbus D is set to improve. So don’t sob for Bob just yet. Give him more time and his numbers should head in the better direction.

As promised last week, you’ll find a list at the bottom from now on showing previous entries who can still make a difference and — more importantly — mainly remain available.

(Ownership rates/stats as of Oct. 25)

Forwards

Mika Zibanejad, NYR (46% owned on Yahoo) — The Rangers’ other Z-man was discussed last week, so it’s only fitting Zibanejad decided to heat up in time for this column. While the Ottawa first-rounder could only muster a single goal and assist over his first six outings, he’s gone off for seven points in the last three, with four coming in a Tuesday win over Florida.

Mika Zibanejad has had a slow start to the season, but he’s heated up as of late. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Mika Zibanejad has had a slow start to the season, but he’s heated up as of late. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Ondrej Palat, TB (17% owned on Yahoo) — A move back to the famed Triplets trio has done wonders for Palat’s stat line. Wednesday saw the end of his five-game point streak, which included a pair of power-play helpers. The 27-year old may never approach his 63 points from 2014-15, but he’s guaranteed to see chances if Nikita Kucherov remains by his side.

David Perron, STL (30% owned on Yahoo) — Now in his third stint with St. Louis, Perron finds himself skating with Ryan O’Reilly on the Blues’ second line and rotating between the man-advantage units. He broke out last year in Vegas with a career-high 66 points — 18 coming on the power play. Even though the sample size is small, the nine points in eight games — including four PPPs — qualify Perron as a worthy acquisition.

Max Domi, MON (39% owned on Yahoo) — There’s not a whole lot of attack in Montreal, but Domi has been providing enough of it by leading the club with six assists. Son of Tie skates over 3:30 a night on the power play, contributing to his four points in that category. While Domi is more offensively gifted than his dad, he has inherited the grit that adds bonus penalty minutes to his fantasy line.

Matt Duchene, OTT (41% owned on Yahoo) — It was almost a year ago when the Avalanche shipped Duchene to Canada’s Capital. While the center struggled to make an immediate impact with his new teammates, he ended up with a respectable 49 points in 68 appearances. Duchene has continued his positive output by notching a goal and seven assists while seeing action on Ottawa’s first line in most situations.

Mikael Backlund, CGY (15% owned on Yahoo) — Backlund has supplied solid scoring, averaging almost 50 points the last three campaigns. The Swede has benefitted from pairing with young stud Matthew Tkachuk; the duo have combined for 18 points. Backlund may only be second-line material, but that should suffice when it comes to favorable fantasy requirements.

Derek Stepan, ARI (15% owned on Yahoo) — His glory days on Broadway may seem like ages ago, but Stepan has retained the skills that made him a fan favorite in New York. Like a few of his Arizona teammates, he struggled in the early going but quickly turned it around. After finally opening his account with an assist on Saturday, Stepan immediately struck for three helpers on Tuesday. Several more talented centers will be available, but not many of them can provide the same reliability.

Mikko Koivu, MIN (11% owned on Yahoo) — Even at 35, Koivu still manages over 20 minutes per contest. His stats can only be enhanced by the support of Mikael Granlund and a rejuvenated Zach Parise. Like Stepan, Koivu may not be the flashiest pivot, but he can usually be trusted to get the job done, as his five points in seven contests show.

Defensemen

Vince Dunn, STL (6% owned on Yahoo) — Dunn served as a healthy scratch for two games earlier in the month, but he has countered by flashing his keen offensive talent. Two power-play goals from the last three games may provide a glimpse of the kid who averaged nearly a point per game during his last two junior years. Dunn’s ice time may not be plentiful, but he makes efficient use of it.

Vince Dunn definitely makes his limited minutes count. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Vince Dunn definitely makes his limited minutes count. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Neal Pionk, NYR (5% owned on Yahoo) — Although he was never drafted, Pionk compiled a decent NCAA career with a combined 51 points over two seasons. After a brief stint in the AHL, the Minnesotan impressed during his initial big league run by tallying 14 points in 28 contests. Thanks to Kevin Shattenkirk finding his way into head coach David Quinn’s doghouse, Pionk is on the road to becoming a household fantasy name with six assists in his last three; five of those have come via the man advantage.

Matt Grzelcyk, BOS (1% owned on Yahoo) — The Boston University alumnus may only be 5-foot-9, but he’s excelled at every level outside the NHL. Grzelcyk has only recorded 16 points over 72 total appearances last year, but he fared admirably during his first taste of postseason play. The Bruins are currently missing Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy, so Grzelcyk has moved into the top power-play quarterback role by default and also registered an assist in three straight.

Brent Seabrook, CHI (36% owned on Yahoo) — The stats severely dipped in 2017-18, but Seabrook has been asked to prolong his offensive duties among a relatively young blue-line core. Long gone are the days where he’d log 22-plus minutes, but the reduced workload has helped the lifelong Blackhawk rack up five assists over his last seven games.

Goaltenders

Juuse Saros, NSH (67% owned on Yahoo) — Saros’ current ownership numbers may be decent, but they should honestly be higher. With Pekka Rinne sidelined, the younger Finn has seamlessly fit in as the starter on an elite club. Saros has been groomed to eventually take over the top position and appears to have accepted the opportunity by posting a 4-1-1 record to go along with a 2.37 GAA and .919 save percentage. There’s been no reports of Rinne skating again, so the 23-year old should hold onto the starter’s role for at least another week.

David Rittich, CGY (13% owned on Yahoo) — Thanks to a few mediocre Mike Smith performances, the door has opened for Rittich to usurp the incumbent. The undrafted Czech netminder may have only started three times this year, but he’s looked impressive by only allowing a total of six goals on 111 shots.

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