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Fantasy hockey waiver watch: Top available combo forwards

Every week, we’ll mine the waiver wire for lesser-rostered assets to help your squad, whether you favor dynasty or the redraft format, and we’ll also toss in some tips for DFS players out there. Finally, we will look at some former go-to fantasy assets who may be overvalued – in the short- or long-term – for one reason or another.


Forwards

Clayton Keller, C/LW/RW, Arizona Coyotes (36.6%): Following a largely uninspired January, the 22-year-old has six goals and eight assists in 14 contests, including three goals and two helpers in his past four. That point-per-game pace – a good number of them counting with the extra skater – merits more love across ESPN.com’s fantasy spectrum. Take advantage of Keller’s ability to put the puck in the net when he’s playing with such confidence. Remember, this (still) young lad potted 23 goals as a rookie only three years ago.

Rickard Rakell, C/LW, Anaheim Ducks (36.1%): He’s playing a ton of minutes and (finally) scoring again. Competing on a top-six scoring line and No. 1 power play, Rakell has three goals and six assists on 20 shots in his five most recent games. That’s more like it. Fantasy managers with lineup holes to plug should take advantage of this current flurry from the former 30-plus-goal scorer before it fizzles out.

Paul Stastny, C, Winnipeg Jets (16.3%): Stastny is exactly where fantasy managers want him, shifted to the wing on a top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. His four goals in five games only emphasize how much this shuffling is positively affecting the veteran’s production. Skating with Scheifele and Wheeler, Stastny is going to put up points relatively consistently – that’s a promise. Just make sure he doesn’t drop back to the Jets’ bottom six while holding a spot in your fantasy lineup.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C/LW, Montreal Canadiens (10.5%): There’s much to appreciate about coach Dominique Ducharme’s freshly shuffled forward line including Tyler Toffoli, a healthy-again Josh Anderson, and Kotkaniemi – particularly after Saturday’s 7-1 victory over the Jets. While the young center isn’t going to post scoring numbers equal to his wingers, there’s still plenty of potential for a healthy number of assists. The third-overall (2018) draft pick has a place in deeper leagues where helpers carry the same fantasy weight as goals. Still only 20 years old, he shouldn’t be disregarded as a dynasty asset either.

Evgeny Svechnikov, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings (5.5%): Let’s file Andrei’s big brother under “worth watching”, for now, as he fights to make the most of limited opportunities. Shuffled on and off Detroit’s taxi squad, the soon-to-be restricted free agent has two goals and two assists in four NHL contests, all in the span of last week. The second-worst team in the league has little to lose in offering Svechnikov – who has battled injuries throughout his young pro career – additional turns in the season’s latter half. Playing for his NHL future, the 24-year-old is unquestionably motivated.

Eeli Tolvanen, LW/RW, Nashville Predators (2.6%): At least Preds fans have the rookie forward to admire in what’s otherwise amounting to a gloomy 2020-21. Carving out a spot for himself on Nashville’s top powerplay, the 21-year-old has four goals and two assists in eight recent contests. He’s shooting on net more and more frequently. This all has worked out to an average of 2.33 fantasy games per contest since Feb. 23. And this kid is just getting started. Don’t sleep on him in dynasty leagues, in particular.

See also: Pavel Buchnevich, RW/LW, New York Rangers (46.7); Chandler Stephenson, C/LW, Vegas Golden Knights (18.7)

Defenders

Adam Boqvist, Chicago Blackhawks (13.7%): Returning in the latter half of February after recuperating from COVID-19, the sophomore defender has one goal and six assists in eight games, including four points on the power play. Anchoring a special teams unit that comprises Alex DeBrincat – 14 goals in 22 contests – and Patrick Kane is a nice job to hold. A must-roster in dynasty competition, Boqvist deserves attention in deeper re-draft leagues too.

Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers (6.4%): An improved defensive presence all around, the Philly blueliner, through a determined effort he’s talked about publicly, appears to be rediscovering his offensive touch as well. Not to the degree of production his first handful of NHL seasons, but promising nonetheless. Skating on the Flyers’ top pair with Ivan Provorov and the club’s No. 1 power play, Gostisbehere has averaged 4.2 shots per game since Feb. 24, including a total of 11 his past two contests alone. He has three goals and an assist to show for that seven-game span. And coach Alain Vigneault is reportedly happy with the defender’s play since he’s settled in, post-COVID recovery. Which is no small deal.

See also: Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild

Goaltenders

Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks (31.2%): The Canucks netminder is three-for-three in March, beating the Maple Leafs twice and pitching a 27-save shutout against the Jets. Only a superb performance by opposing netminder Mike Smith spoiled an otherwise strong showing his final game of February. Fact is, Demko has had one poor outing since mid-February, boasting a .947 SV% through six starts. Hurdling Braden Holtby as the club’s No. 1, he merits rostering in deeper leagues after this week’s two-game set with Montreal. That match-up doesn’t appeal at all.

Lowered expectations

Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils (75.7%): He’s spiralling. New Jersey’s No. 1 netminder is 1-6 with a .865 SV% since Feb. 19. His play is costing fantasy managers dearly. Also, the rest of the Devils aren’t providing much in terms of goal support. Shelve Blackwood until there is concrete evidence of a turnaround.

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