Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Pickups ahead of Week 11

·8-min read

By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

This column has recently focused on underperforming teams, so let's switch to those who have fared better than expected. We knew the Bolts and Golden Knights were stacked and the Canes and Leafs would be somewhere in the mix, but did anyone honestly believe the Panthers and Islanders would be this high in the overall standings? Or the Wild ranking second in the West?

We're roughly at the halfway point, so there's lots of time to either maintain fantasy strength or make a move. Be sure to check the latest player news on RotoWire and our related hockey content to set your lineups and manage your rosters.

There's no such thing as too much hockey. The only thing you should be worried about while watching three games simultaneously is why you're not watching four. No protocol-related delays to mention as of this writing.

(Yahoo rostered rates/stats as of March 18.)

Forwards

Jakub Voracek, PHI (45 percent rostered)

21 points in 24 games. That's probably all that needs to be said to convince you Voracek is worthy of being on more fantasy squads. Wait, you want more? OK, there's the six power-play assists and the almost three-minute average in that situation. And you can ignore the 9-0 thrashing to the Rangers on Wednesday as every Flyer underperformed. Voracek may be 31, but he's not showing any signs of old age with eight points and 22 shots through eight games this month.

Clayton Keller, ARI (42 percent)

Keller compiled a modest six-game point streak before striking out in the last three against Minnesota. But it's not as if the young winger wasn't trying since he fired eight shots overall and created four high-danger chances across 21 minutes of the last encounter. Don't be turned off by Keller's recent drop in coverage as he'll continue to be well positioned within the Coyotes' front line and has historically been able to quickly bounce back after a slump.

Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period during an NHL hockey game Friday, March 5, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. Minnesota won 5-1. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Don't get impatient and drop Clayton Keller as he's likley to rebound quickly. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Andre Burakovsky, COL (34 percent)

Burakovsky (no relation) showed promise during his Washington tenure, but never reached the next level until he moved to Colorado. A solid 45-in-58 debut has carried over to this season in the form of 19-in-24 — including six PPPs. The Swedish international skates with Nazem Kadri and Brandon Saad on the Avs' second line and has seen time on their top man-advantage but mainly works on the second group.

Reilly Smith, VGK (33 percent)

Not many NHL forwards have been as consistent the last three years as Smith with point totals of 60, 53 and 54. He's a bit off the pace this campaign with 11 in 27 outings, yet the ice time in all situations match previous seasons. And Smith remains with familiar linemates William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, though their totals are significantly higher. The 9.5 shooting percentage is below his norm, so you have to think the goal (and point) luck will eventually improve.

Viktor Arvidsson, NSH (32 percent)

Following three consecutive campaigns with excellent attacking numbers, Arvidsson slipped last season with only 28 points in 57 games. He started 2021 with a bang by recording a goal and four assists across the opening five, but found himself scoreless in 10 during February. There's hope again for Arvidsson since he racked up six points and 21 shots in the last seven games. Even though Eeli Tolvanen has usurped him as the main man the right side, Arvidsson offers the talent and output to qualify for your lineup.

Adam Henrique, ANH (6 percent)

Since March 5, Henrique has produced three goals, five assists, 16 shots and 62 faceoff wins. Not bad for someone who's often been overlooked throughout his career when it comes to centers. Henrique has only registered a single PPA, but participates on the Ducks' top unit. He may be in his 10th full NHL year and in danger of losing time to Anaheim's next wave, but being flanked by young talents like Trevor Zegras, Maxime Comtois and Troy Terry can only help.

Travis Zajac, NJ (2 percent)

Speaking of older pivots who don't get enough love, Zajac has quietly put together a nice week-and-a-half effort consisting of seven assists, 13 hits and 69 faceoff wins. The 35-year-old has apparently been rejuvenated on a line with freshmen Yegor Sharangovich and Janne Kuokkanen and has received more responsibility with the absence of Nico Hischier added onto his already prominent shorthanded duty.

Colin White, OTT (2 percent)

After posting 41 points at 21, plenty was promised for White's progression. Unfortunately, he regressed in 2019-20 with only 23. Things didn't go well for White when 2021 kicked off as he either found himself a healthy scratch, out with an injury, or receiving minor minutes. The ice time steadily increased and the 21st pick from 2015 finally took advantage across the board by scoring six goals while adding 21 shots and 14 hits in his last 11 appearances. Check White's status before picking him up since he exited Wednesday's contest early.

Defensemen

Jacob Trouba, NYR (40 percent)

Before Trouba missed eight games with a thumb injury, he only posted three assists from his first 14 but also added 27 shots, 48 hits and 33 blocks. Since returning, the former Jet has managed a goal, three helpers, eight shots, 12 hits and eight blocks while briefly inheriting the Rangers' top blueline PP role while Adam Fox was sidelined. That role has been diminished with Fox back in the fold, but there's longer-term hope for Trouba as someone who can contribute a few points and provide plenty of supplemental stats.

Brett Pesce, CAR (19 percent)

Pesce was mentioned along with Jake Bean three weeks ago as a decent offensive contributor. And while he's only tacked on five points since, three of those came on the Canes' backup man-advantage. Pesce has also chipped in with 17 shots and 15 blocks during that stretch while skating more than 23 minutes a night.

Jani Hakanpaa, ANH (16 percent)

Like Radko Gudas, Hakanpaa operates as a hits specialist. Sure, he's blocked 48 shots, delivered almost a shot per game, and picked up 20 PIM, but you're adding him for the NHL-second-best 132 bonecrushing checks — with an average of more than five since Feb. 11. You'd figure Hakanpaa could at least do better than one assist considering he's regularly paired with Cam Fowler on even-strength, but points are clearly not his forte.

Gustav Forsling, FLA (0 percent)

Forsling played in Chicago for three seasons before signing with Carolina but spent all of 2019-20 in the AHL. Florida jumped at the chance to get him off waivers in January and their gamble has recently paid off with a goal and three assists across four contests. Forsling is also a productive shooter with 15 from six and projects for a decent offensive haul as the QB of the Panthers' secondary PP unit.

Goaltenders

Cam Talbot, MIN (47 percent)

The Wild have been defensively stout lately only conceding four goals — including three shutouts — from their last five games. Kaapo Kahkonen has been in net for three of those and blanked the opposition twice while Talbot produced a pair of prominent performances against Arizona with a combined one goal allowed. Kahkonen carries the better record (12-4 vs. 6-4-1) and superior stats (2.05 GAA and .927 save percentage vs. 2.46/.916), but the veteran should still be given enough starts to continue his recent run.

Adin Hill, ARI (4 percent)

Last week, Antti Raanta was discussed as the most logical replacement for the injured Darcy Kuemper. Of course, Raanta went down before Tuesday's contest leaving Hill to start. The 24-year-old repeated his effort from last Friday by giving up three goals while his teammates produced nothing at the other end. The Coyotes' lack of scoring doesn't really help when trying to tout their goaltending, but they should pick up the pace with two upcoming matchups in Anaheim. Raanta's issue seems to be short-term, though they may not want to risk him right away and opt for Hill in both.

(Players to consider from past columns: Adrian Kempe, Jordan Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Trevor Zegras, Vincent Trocheck, Pavel Zacha, Drake Batherson, Eeli Tolvanen, Martin Necas, Jason Robertson, Carter Verhaeghe, Zach Hyman, Scott Laughton, Paul Stastny, Alex Iafallo, Alex Killorn, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Kasperi Kapanen, Tim Stutzle, Chandler Stephenson, Matt Grzelcyk, Matt Dumba, Mattias Ekholm, Josh Morrissey, Adam Boqvist, Devon Toews, Filip Hronek, Justin Schultz, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Leddy, Jake Bean, Thatcher Demko, Jake Oettinger, Kevin Lankinen, Mike Smith, Alex Nedeljkovic, Kaapo Kahkonen)