Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Bryan Rust leads pickups to target this week
Rust headlines a number of waiver targets that are looking for a spark this season.
Working the waiver wire is a crucial part of any championship fantasy hockey season. Finding players to work into your lineup every single week that can add points to your total is the number one way you can control the outcome of your matchup. In this article every week, I’ll be going over players at every position and at different levels of rostership so that you can fill out your fantasy squad with the best players available in your league. Let’s dig in.
Rostered in 41-50% of Leagues: Bryan Rust, RW - PIT (50% rostered)
First things first: it’s okay to be feeling fed up with Rust. It’s been a disappointing season for the three-time 20-goal scorer, as Rust is pacing for just 19 goals and 49 points. But there’s no reason to think that Rust doesn’t fit the bill as a viable streamer this week. Pittsburgh plays four games this week, including two off-nights, so even if Rust isn’t at the top of his game currently, he could beat out a lot of other options based on volume alone. I’m not excited about Rust either, but it’s hard to overlook a name like his in a week where the Pens get the Islanders, Oilers, and Blues as the first three matchups.
Honourable Mentions: Kevin Hayes, C/LW - PHI (46%) & Andrei Kuzmenko, LW/RW - VAN (46%)
Rostered in 31-40% of Leagues: Andrew Mangiapane, LW/RW - CGY (32% rostered)
Mangiapane bears a lot of parallels to Rust as the former 35-goal scorer is also pacing for less than 20 goals and 50 points on the season so far. But Mangiapane’s chance generation numbers have remained strong and his 9.8 percent shooting percentage on the season is almost exactly one-half of his average from the previous two seasons. In summary, it seems like Mangiapane has been catastrophically unlucky this season and I’m willing to see if this is the week he finally busts out with a half-dozen points. Calgary plays four games with two off-nights to start the week on Monday and Wednesday, so there’s an opportunity to pick up Mangiapane and see if you can catch him on the upswing here.
Honourable Mentions: Nick Schmaltz, C/RW - ARI (39%) & Filip Chytil, C/RW - NYR (37%)
Rostered in 21-30% of Leagues: Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW - LAK (23% rostered)
Arvidsson has run hot and cold throughout the season, but he’s netted five points in his last three games while firing eleven shots on goal. Los Angeles plays (you guessed it) four games with two off-nights this week, and with Trevor Moore returning, the Kings are playing Arvidsson and Moore with Phillip Danault to reunite the dynamic trio. With the early returns promising and Arvidsson averaging over 18 minutes a game during this recent stretch, I’m getting in on this line now and seeing if they can reclaim their previous magic. The Kings have scored four or more goals in five straight games, meaning there should be plenty of scoring for Arvidsson to get a piece of this week.
Honourable Mentions: Ryan Hartman, C/RW - MIN (27%) & Dillon Dube, LW/RW - CGY (22%)
Rostered in 0-20% of Leagues: Anthony Cirelli, C/LW - TBL (16% rostered)
I’m interested in Cirelli at the moment for several reasons. First off, the Lightning are also one of the dozen teams to play four games this week. Second, Cirelli has been skating with Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos on the second line, resulting in increased ice time as well as exposure to Stamkos’ goal-scoring ability. Lastly, Cirelli has taken a step this year in terms of his shot production, registering 2.25 shots per game so far where he had never exceeded the 2.0 threshold before in his young career. Add it all up and you have the profile of a pretty interesting player for managers in deeper leagues, worth a look in anything deeper than a standard 12-team league.
Honourable Mentions: Cole Perfetti, C/LW/RW - WPG (14%) & Blake Coleman, LW/RW - CGY (15%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Neal Pionk - WPG (48%)
Pionk is another player who has put together an underwhelming season to date, but his two-point outing against New Jersey on Sunday has to give fantasy managers hope that there’s still some offense to be found here. Even if the offense doesn’t come, you can always count on Pionk to deliver more than his fair share of hits and blocks if you’re playing in a league with those categories. Winnipeg has a prime schedule this week with four games all on off-nights, meaning it’s a virtual guarantee that a Pionk add nets you all four games of potential production. That’s enough for me to make a one-week bet on him to net me some fantasy points.
Honourable Mentions: Erik Gustafsson - WSH (40%) & Shayne Gostisbehere - ARI (37%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Adam Boqvist - CBJ (8% rostered)
There are few defensemen across the league hotter right now than Boqvist, who has racked up five points in his last four games. The Blue Jackets have trended positively of late, winning three of their last five and losing the other two by a single goal. Boqvist is a points-only stream as the power play quarterback in Columbus, but it’s been a productive role of late and he’s clearly feeling it at the moment. The Blue Jackets play three games this week all from Thursday onwards, meaning you can use one add to get a streamer that plays two games from Monday to Wednesday before grabbing Boqvist and you’ll still be getting all three of his games.
Honourable Mentions: Michael Matheson - MTL (8%) & Cam Fowler - ANA (13%)
Rostered in 26-50% of Leagues: Philipp Grubauer - SEA (29% rostered)
Grubauer has started four straight for the Kraken and won three of them while allowing just nine goals in that span. I mentioned Grubauer as a potential add in last week’s article, but even then I wasn’t expecting him to take every start and perform this well. With Seattle locked in a four-way struggle for Pacific Division supremacy that looks destined to come all the way down to the wire, I expect Grubauer to get the majority of starts until he begins to underperform once again. He’s not a comfortable player to roster, but there’s plenty of value in running with Grubauer for the time being while keeping a close eye on his performance moving forward.
Honourable Mentions: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen - BUF (28%) & John Gibson - ANA (38%)
Rostered in 0-25% of Leagues: Joonas Korpisalo - CBJ (10% rostered)
Korpisalo has started two the last three games for the Blue Jackets and four of the last seven. Counterpart Elvis Merzlikins has been one of the single worst goaltenders in the entire league this season, opening the door for Korpisalo to step up. As mentioned with Boqvist above, Columbus has been a remarkably competitive team of late and Korpisalo has been a significant part of that success. His last two starts have each resulted in a single goal against while facing 67 total shots. The Blue Jackets are a good bet to allow a fair number of shots on goal every game, but if you’re in a league that rewards shot volume then Korpisalo is a pretty interesting streaming option that’s almost certainly on your waiver wire at the moment.
Honourable Mentions: Connor Ingram - ARI (17%) & Mads Sogaard - OTT (17%)
Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter @applesginos.