The fantasy hockey season is a marathon. Where the sprint happens though is early in the season. Every year, there’s somebody sitting on the wire that gets snatched up early and is never available again. Let’s take a look at who these waiver wire bargains could be.
Waiver Wire Bargains – Forwards
Joel Eriksson Ek
Joel Eriksson Ek is, as of this writing, 45 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. Through three games this season, he’s averaging over 20 minutes of ice time – three more than last season. His three goals may have come in the same game, but his intrigue goes beyond his early-season hat-trick. Eriksson Ek is skating on the top line and top powerplay unit next to Kirill Kaprizov. He’s also a frequent penalty killer and capable of piling up the hits with 476 in 269 career games. Eriksson Ek is going to sail past his career-high of 30 points.
The Montreal Canadiens are clearly struggling out of the gate. As bad as it is, it’s not going to be this ugly for very long. Their players are going to get it going soon. One of those players will be Christian Dvorak. After coming over in the offseason from Arizona, he’s opened up the season with just one assist in four games. Dvorak leads all Canadiens forwards in time on ice per game with 20 minutes and plays frequently on the powerplay and penalty kill. He’s just 22 percent owns and has the coveted centre/winger eligibility.
Jonathan Dahlen and William Eklund
Both Jonathan Dahlen and William Eklund are rookies getting opportunities with the San Jose Sharks. Both are playing a regular role in the top-six and on the powerplay, averaging just under 15 minutes of ice time. Dahlen has two goals and Eklund has two assists through two games. They are two percent and four percent owned, respectively.
Through three games, rookie forward Shane Pinto has only one assist, which came on the powerplay. What’s surprising about his start though is his ice time. Pinto ranks only second among Ottawa Senators forwards in even-strength and total time on ice per game behind Connor Brown. Ottawa’s top-six will get a boost with the return of Brady Tkachuk, giving Pinto more talent on his wings. He’s only 4 percent owned. His points will come.
The departure of Zach Hyman left the Maple Leafs weak on the left side. Enter Michael Bunting. He was brought in to do what Hyman did, and so far that’s exactly what’s happening. Through four games, Bunting has two goals and one assist while skating primarily with John Tavares and William Nylander. His production will keep him in the top six, and the top six will keep him putting up points. Don’t be surprised to see him next to Auston Matthews in the near future. Bunting is only 20 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.
Kevin Hayes is only a couple of weeks away from returning from an abdominal injury. He will slot in as the second-line centre and be a fixture on the Philadelphia Flyers‘ powerplay and penalty kill. If you’re in a deep league and can stash him now, do it. He’s only 7 percent owned.
Waiver Wire Bargains – Defensemen
Moritz Seider is three games into his National Hockey League career and he looks like a veteran. Head coach Jeff Blashill is playing him like one too. Seider trails only Filip Hronek in time on ice per game so far but leads the team with the man-advantage in that category. His four hits will keep his fantasy floor high while we find out how high his ceiling can be. The three points are a good start. Seider is only 26% owned in Yahoo leagues.
Rasmus Andersson is the top offensive option on the Calgary Flames blueline. Whether you like him or not in that role, he’s getting opportunities to produce offence. Through two games, Andersson has two points, one at even strength and the other on the powerplay. He leads all Flames defensemen in time on ice at even strength, with the man-advantage and overall. 17 percent ownership is too low.
Nobody can understand why Shayne Gostisbehere is getting more powerplay time than Jakob Chychrun, but he is. Through three games, Gostisbehere has four assists, with two of them coming on the powerplay. Arizona is an awful team, but if he’s getting opportunities, he has value. “The Ghost” is only 16 percent owned.
Noah Dobson isn’t going to wow you with his play nor his point total at the end of the year. What he will do though is be a solid depth defenseman for your fantasy teams. Through three games this season, Dobson leads the New York Islanders in powerplay time on ice. He also has one assist, five hits and seven blocks, the latter two of which banger league players will appreciate. Based on the opportunity he’s getting to produce and the multi-category coverage; Dobson warrants more than 17% ownership.
Waiver Wire Bargains – Goaltenders
The backup of a 39-year-old goalie that recently “tweaked” something for a team that’s 3-0 out of the gate should be more than 15 percent owned. It’s not inconceivable to believe that Mikko Koskinen could outplay Mike Smith this season either, even if Smith is at full health. In his one appearance this season, Koskinen saved 20 of 21 shots, earning a relief victory.
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