Although we find ourselves recovering from a shortened week and a prolonged hockey hangover, Crashing the Net returns in a big way. As most teams try to establish themselves as contenders rather than pretenders, the stretch drive has just began with plenty more surprises to come. Last week Reggie focused on players like Brian Boyle, Kyle Okposo and TJ Oshie. As I have previously explained, my leagues tend to run deeper so when I am tasked with this piece, most players apply to deeper surroundings. Regardless, and without further ado, here are your waiver wire picks for the week.
C, LW – Brandon McMillan, Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks love this kid’s speed and tenacity, elevating him over other wingers in their system like Dan Sexton, Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri. Not only has McMillan played with his current tandem of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, but he also pushed Jason Blake off the second line with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Although his statistics have yet to fully translate, he should remain on the top line for at least another week until Getzlaf returns. If you need a multiple-position plug, look no further as McMillan has speed to burn.
LW – Sergei Samsonov, Carolina Hurricanes
Right before the All-Star break the Canes sent top prospect Zach Boychuk down to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. While Boychuk owners likely found themselves discouraged, the move opened back up the top line left wing for Samsonov. With nine goals on the year, this 32-year-old still knows how to pot a few goals and should get ample opportunities with an elite center in Eric Staal.
RW – Jamie Langenbrunner, Dallas Stars
When the Stars acquired Langenbrunner they knew they could use a depth veteran, one who could play a scoring or checking role. He first began on the third line with Adam Burish and Steve Ott which combined grit and tenacity along with a savvy edge to the game. Now that youngster Jamie Benn looks to miss time, Langenbrunner clearly moves up to the second line and should fully replace the youngster on the powerplay. Only one year removed from consecutive 60+ point seasons, there are probably much worse options out on the wire.
C- Andrei Loktionov, Los Angeles Kings
The search for the top-line left wing continues in Los Angeles with the 20-year-old Loktionov the newest to audition, or re-audition rather. In four games on the top line he managed one goal with six shots and an even rating which clearly doesn’t wow but his pedigree speaks for itself. Not only is he rated the second-highest forward amongst Kings’ prospects (behind only Brayden Schenn) but he also held a point-per-game pace in the AHL. Consistency should not be an issue once the youngster gets going, managing to stay healthy should then be the next concern.
G – Kevin Poulin, New York Islanders
Nobody likes recommending a goaltender on a poor team but Poulin looks to be the real deal in Long Island. With a more-than-solid 2-2-1 record, 2.59 GAA and .925 SV%, this 20-year-old looks to be the second coming of Dwayne Roloson but roughly 21 years younger. Considering Rick DiPietro remains injured or unable to handle back-to-back games and Nathan Lawson will miss 2-4 weeks, Poulin gets an extended audition. If you need a netminder, there probably are no better options available this late in the season.
Others to Monitor
C – Cody Hodgson, Vancouver Canucks
Hodgson got the call today and automatically replaces Jeff Tambellini on the fourth line and on the second powerplay unit. Yes, the Canucks look stacked offensively but Hodgson holds elite skills as a blue-chip prospect and at one time was thought to challenge Ryan Kesler for the second line center position. While the latter seems far-fetched at this point, his offensive skills should be taken advantage of in deeper leagues as his potential knows no bounds.
D – Andrew MacDonald, New York Islanders
What do Chris Pronger, Lubomir Visnovsky, Keith Yandle and MacDonald have in common? They were the hottest defensemen in the League prior to the All-Star break, which seems to be pretty good company for the sophomore MacDonald. After a successful rookie campaign, the former 6th round pick continues to overachieve as he looks projects for 28 points in only 57 games. Playing first pairing minutes as well as tons of powerplay time make MacDonald an asset in any format– who likely remains available due to the team he plays for.