As we discussed last week, fantasy playoffs are approaching, and for some leagues the first week begins on Monday.
By now, the strengths and weaknesses of each team is likely known, and you’ll need to strategize this weekend to set yourself up for success in the first week of playoffs.
We break down one waiver wire addition (35% rostered or less) that will boost each major stat category if you’re looking to make up some ground.
Goals – Connor Brown, LW/RW, OTT, 9% Rostered
He might only have 10 goals on the season, but Connor Brown has a six-game goal streak going for the Ottawa Senators. He’s averaging around 18 minutes a night and is featuring on the Sens’ top powerplay unit on the left flank. Brown isn’t a world breaker by any means, but when he’s hot, he can put the puck in the net. The Senators only have three games next week, but four the week after which bodes well for Brown. At just 9% rostered, he’s almost surely available in your league.
Assists – Craig Smith, RW, BOS, 11% Rostered
The second someone gets to play with two of the three members of the Perfection Line, they’re instantly worth a pickup in fantasy. We identified Craig Smith as a breakout candidate at the beginning of the season and while that hasn’t panned out as we expected, he’s definitely cashing in on his golden opportunity alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Smith is the 30th ranked player over the past 14 days (in my league) and has seven assists in his past seven games.
Points – Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN, 33% Rostered
Extra points from the blueline are always nice in fantasy. Jared Spurgeon, the captain of the surging Minnesota Wild, is a solid option to bank some D points this coming week. With nine points in his last 10 games, Spurgeon is doing an excellent job quarterbacking the Wild’s top power play unit and anchoring their first pairing. It used to be Ryan Suter, it looked like it would be Matt Dumba next, but Spurgeon is the Wild D you want to on your team.
Power play points – Jared McCann, C/LW, PIT, 35% Rostered
Spurgeon would be a good candidate here as well, but his namesake Jared McCann is putting up power play points at a strong pace lately. In his last eight games, McCann has scored nine points, seven of which have been on the power play. That ratio is amazing, and with Evgeni Malkin out for the foreseeable future, there’s no reason for McCann to get bumped out of the center role on the Penguins’ first power play unit.
Shorthanded points – Ilya Mikheyev, LW/RW, TOR, 2% Rostered
This may seem like a stretch considering Ilya Mikheyev only has one shorthanded point on the season, but when you dig deeper into Mikheyev’s offensive impact on the penalty kill, there are few in the league better than him. Mikheyev leads the league in shorthanded shot attempts with 18, 16 of which have been scoring chances (first in the NHL), and five high danger chances (second in the NHL). He’s due. Add in the fact that he’s currently on a line with John Tavares, and you’ve got some great value with Mikheyev.
Shots – Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, NSH, 31% Rostered
Once a must-have in fantasy, Viktor Arvidsson is finally turning the corner after a fairly mediocre start to the season. He’s up to 21 points on the year, and a whopping 128 shots on goal which ranks 12th in the NHL. Outside of Nazem Kadri who is 74% rostered, every player in the league with more shots than Arvidsson is at least 94% rostered. With a hat-trick in his last game and seven points in his last six games, there’s a lot of value to be had in Arvidsson.
Hits – Milan Lucic, LW, CGY, 5% Rostered
Milan Lucic has taken a massive step backwards since his dominating power forward days in Boston, but he’s having a renaissance type season in Calgary this year. With 112 hits this season, good for 16th in the NHL, Lucic is playing quality minutes for Darryl Sutter in Calgary alongside one of the best play-driving centers of the past decade in Mikael Backlund. Lucic also has seven goals, 16 points, 57 shots, and plays on the powerplay for the Flames. He’s a sneaky add, especially for Week 14 when the Flames have five games.
Blocks – Connor Murphy, D, CHI, 16% Rostered
It’s not a category that everyone has, but securing blocks can be very important if your defensemen don’t produce points in a given week. Having them chip in on the blocks category effectively can save you a week, and help ensure all your players are helping out despite their offense. Connor Murphy currently ranks fifth in the NHL with 86 blocks this season. Over the past 14 days which covers seven games, he has 21 blocks, an average of three per game, up from his overall season average. Murphy is an excellent pickup because he’ll easily cover blocks for you, but also brings 54 shots, 76 hits, and 12 points to the table. Talk about category coverage from the back end.
Wins – Adin Hill, G, ARI, 27% Rostered
He didn’t have a particularly great outing last night, but Adin Hill presents a rare late-season opportunity to pad your goalie wins category. The Coyotes are underrated this season, and are currently holding onto the final playoff spot in the West Division. With Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta both on injured reserve, Hill has the crease all to himself. It’s not an amazing option by any means, but Hill has played well of late with six wins in his past nine games.
Saves – Linus Ullmark, G, BUF, 26% Rostered
There are very few Buffalo Sabres players who are fantasy relevant right now. That being said, there is value to be had in the Sabres’ crease, especially since Linus Ullmark is back. The Sabres aren’t a very good team defensively, and they allow a ton of shots against every single night. Ullmark is, without a doubt, the starting goaltender in Buffalo. He’s played in six of the team’s last eight games and has faced at least 30 shots in all of them. Bad teams are a goldmine for goalie saves, and Ullmark owns the net in Buffalo.
GAA – Jeremy Swayman, G, BOS, 10% Rostered
The Boston Bruins have boasted some of the best goalie tandems in the NHL for what seems like forever. Now, with Tuukka Rask and Jarslav Halak out of action, rookie Jeremy Swayman has ascended to the Bruins’ crease, and is showing why he’s one of the best young goalies in the show. In two games, Swayman has two wins and a steallar 2.01 GAA, allowing just four combined goals on 71 shots against. The Bruins have a nice schedule coming up with six games against the Sabres in the next 13 games. Swayman could have himself quite a run to finish the season.
SV% – Thomas Greiss, G, DET, 6% Rostered
Finally, another goalie from a bad team, Thomas Greiss offers value when it comes to the SV% stat. Many of the goalies above can feature in this category as well, but Greiss is doing an incredible job tending the Red Wings’ net as of late. Over the past 14 days, Griess has played five times, and has a sparkling 1.86 GAA and .940 SV%. Out of all goalies with at least five games played in this period, only Juuse Saros has a better SV%. If you add a Detroit goalie you’re playing with fire, but it could pay off big time if Greiss can keep this up.