The fantasy hockey playoffs. There’s nothing quite like it.
While performing well in the regular season is important because you can’t make the postseason without doing so, everything that happened in the weeks leading up to the playoffs can be tossed right out the window and into a dumpster. Upsets are not uncommon and timing is everything.
If you are still kicking around in your league, congratulations. Here are some waiver wire targets that you should strongly consider ahead of this week.
Goals: LW/RW Denis Gurianov, Dallas Stars (25% rostered on Yahoo)
After scoring three goals in his first four games of the season, Denis Gurianov went very cold for the Dallas Stars. In the following 37 games, the 2015 first-round pick potted just three goals. Now with four markers in his last six contests, however, Gurianov is finding a little more puck luck. His 9.1 shooting percentage isn’t bad, but his 15.2 percent mark from last year shows he may have a little more goal scoring in him down the stretch. Scheduled to play four games this week, Gurianov is a worthwhile add if you need some more lamp-lighters.
Assists: C Josh Norris, Ottawa Senators (18% rostered on Yahoo)
Josh Norris may only play three games this week, but two of his three contests are scheduled to occur on quieter nights in the NHL. Playing on Monday (eight games) and Wednesday (seven games), Norris will be able to slide into your lineup. The 2017 first-round pick has been excelling recently on the Ottawa Senators’ top line alongside Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson with nine points, including six assists, over his last seven games. Also seeing time on the top power-play unit, Norris has registered five points on the man advantage during this hot stretch. Sitting third in the rookie points race with 30, Norris will play two of his three games this week against the Vancouver Canucks, who are allowing the eighth-most goals per game of any team in the league.
Plus-minus: LW/RW Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers (26% rostered on Yahoo)
If you need a plus-minus boost, look no further than Anthony Duclair. Over the last 14 days, the 25-year-old owns an NHL-best plus-13 rating, his plus-22 rating on the season is tied for 14th and he hasn’t been a “minus player” in any of his last 12 games, a stretch that spans back to March 23. Additionally, Duclair can help your team find the scoresheet. In the seven contests he’s played since returning from an upper-body injury, he’s recorded an impressive seven assists and nine points. With four games penciled in for the upcoming week, Duclair is one of the best adds in fantasy hockey.
Power-play points: LW/RW Andre Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche (34% rostered on Yahoo)
With Mikko Rantanen sidelined due to COVID protocols, Andre Burakovsky has stepped into the very fantasy-friendly position of playing on the Colorado Avalanche’s top power-play unit. In his last two games, Burakovsky has recorded four points, with three coming on the man advantage. With no clear return date yet for Rantanen, Burakovsky should continue to excel while seeing valuable minutes alongside Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, J.T. Compher and Cale Makar. The 26-year-old has four games this week, including contests on Monday, Wednesday and Friday — quieter nights in the NHL.
Shots on goal: C/LW Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils (45% rostered on Yahoo)
New Jersey Devils sophomore Jack Hughes remains the play for those in need of a shots on goal boost. I had Hughes labeled as the player to add in this category at the start of last week, and his performance over the last seven days has only strengthened the argument. In his four games this past week, the 19-year-old fired 16 pucks at the net, which tied for fourth in the league. Hughes is also starting to see some more puck luck, as he recorded a pair of goals this week, bringing his shooting percentage up to 8.8, a mark that can certainly increase over the remainder of the season. The Devils play three games this week.
Faceoff wins: C Phillip Danault, Montreal Canadiens (17% rostered on Yahoo)
If you’re looking for faceoff wins above all else, Phillip Danault is the only player you should have your eyes set on for this upcoming week. Over the last 14 days, Danault’s 83 draw victories rank third in the NHL and he plays a hearty four games in the next seven days. The issue with Danault, however, is he’s really struggled to find the score sheet recently. In his last seven games, the Montreal Canadiens middleman has recorded just one assist. Still, he has topped 18 minutes of ice time in three of his last four outings and is playing with Tomas Tatar and Josh Anderson. He may not provide great category coverage, but he will dominate at the dot.
Hits: C/LW/RW Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (44% rostered on Yahoo)
It’s truly amazing what a change of scenery can do for a player’s performance. Ever since Sam Bennett was dealt from the Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers, the 2014 fourth-overall pick has demonstrated the high-end offensive ability that made him such a well-regarded prospect. In five games with his new team, Bennett has tallied three goals and six points while leading the Cats in all-strengths high-danger chances with 12, according to Natural Stat Trick. Additionally, Bennett has continued to be a physical presence, throwing 19 checks since arriving in Florida. Logging 19-plus minutes in each of his last three games and playing with Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Huberdeau makes the 24-year-old the best player available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues.
Blocks: D Travis Hamonic, Vancouver Canucks (4% rostered on Yahoo)
Since the Vancouver Canucks’ return to action on April 18, Travis Hamonic’s 14 blocks are tied for the most in the NHL. Additionally, the blueliner has taken 12 shots during this span which is tied for fourth among all defensemen. The 30-year-old has produced two assists in his last four games, but with just four helpers and zero goals in 23 contests this season, I wouldn’t expect much point production. The Canucks have a busy schedule to close out this year, including four games this week.
Goaltending: G Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (37% rostered on Yahoo)
The latest update regarding Carey Price’s concussion wasn’t positive as head coach Dominique Ducharme stated, “I can’t say there’s been much progress there,” according to Eric Engels of Sportsnet. With Price likely sidelined for the upcoming week, Jake Allen will act as the team’s No. 1 netminder with four games scheduled.
Allen has been solid for the Montreal Canadiens this season, even though his 8-9-4 record would suggest otherwise. He’s bested Price in every single major goalie statistic and his 0.007 save percentage above expected sits seventh amongst all goaltenders, according to Money Puck. It wouldn’t be shocking if Allen started three of Montreal’s four contests this week.
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