With the NHL fantasy season in full swing, let’s take a look at some waiver pickups who can not only help replenish your injured roster, but can also be long term options. Dropping a drafted player for a player with a “hot” hand early is a mistake made by fantasy owners in all sports during the early part of the season.
John Carlson – D, Washington Capitals (51% Yahoo! / 74% CBS)
“Captain America” has made all the right moves since hitting the scene in Washington. Carlson is an extremely talented defenseman who not only skates well, but has high-end offensive skills much like another Capitals’ blueliner. Coach Bruce Boudreau has high praise for the 20-year old and looks to include him in the powerplay more and more as the season moves along. It’s a perfect storm for Carlson, as he looks to have a breakout season.
Tyler Ennis – C/LW, Buffalo Sabers (57% Yahoo! / 59% CBS)
Ennis is another rookie who, like Carlson is projected to do great things with the Sabres this season. Through his first three games Ennis has four points, although he hasn’t found the back of net to this point. This kid has tremendous upside and playing with offensive studs such as Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek will only help his cause. If your league mates grabbed Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall, be sure not to miss out on Ennis.
Matt Moulson – LW, New York Islanders (19% Yahoo! / 60% CBS)
With the Isles suffering from the injury bug to start the season, they will look for offensive support from all positions. The Islanders appear to be “all or nothing” on the scoring front this season, and Moulson is a durable goal scorer who could post 45 points this season. Although Moulson will get the goals for your team, his +/- will certainly hurt.
Michal Neuvirth – G, Washington Capitals (40% Yahoo! / 64% CBS)
With Semyon Varlamov recovering from a groin injury, this Czech netminder has gone 2-1 with a .916 SV % and a 2.62 GAA over three consecutive starts for the Caps. Prior to the start of the season, there were rumors that Neuvirth and Varly could be involved in a goalie competition and it certainly appears that we are headed down that road. Varly resumed practice this week, but with Michal making a strong case as the starter to start the season, it’s going to be difficult for Varly to regain the top spot, especially given his injury history. Both netminders have terrific athletic ability, but predicting one as a starter will be tricky given Coach Boudreau’s history to go with the hot hand. If you own Varly, Michal is definitely worth a pick-up as a handcuff. Even if Varly receives a majority of the starts later in the season, Neuvirth is still a valuable backup for your squad.
Sergei Bobrovsky – G, Philadelphia Flyers (37% Yahoo! / 40% CBS)
Sticking with the goalie theme, “Bob” is gaining more and more value, especially with the news that Michael Leighton will miss significant time due to back surgery. Through the two games he’s started, Bobrovsky is 2-0 with a .931 SV % and a 2.00 GAA. If you had the opportunity to watch the guy play, you saw a quick glove and some fantastic saves. The Flyers will split goalie time between Bob and the veteran Brian Boucher to start the season, but so far, Bob has been impressive. If he continues to produce solid numbers, he will put the Flyers in a tough decision once Leighton returns. Regardless of what the future holds, Sergei is a solid pick up for the next month or two.
Alexander Steen – C/LW, St. Louis Blues (20% Yahoo! / 57% CBS )
Steen is picking up right where he left off last season, as he’s tallied two assists over his first two games to start the season. Steen is currently slotted with David Perron and David Backes on the first power play unit, but offers fantasy owners versatility with his ability to play multiple positions. He currently leads the Blues in total shots (12) and is 7th overall in the NHL.
Jeff Skinner – RW/C, Carolina Hurricanes (3% Yahoo! / 21% CBS)
The seventh overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft may get lost in the shuffle with all of the rookie talent this season, but the ‘Canes are excited about his terrific potential. Fellow center Brandon Sutter has impressed through his first two games playing on the top power play line with Eric Staal, but Skinner will make things happen on the second PP line. Carolina also gave Skinner a boost earlier in the week, as they announced he is likely to stay with Hurricanes the entire season. Certainly grab Sutter (16 % Yahoo / 63% CBS) if you can, but he may be taken in deeper leagues, so grab Skinner.
Others to Monitor
Nikolai Khabibulin – G, Edmonton Oilers
No one knew what to expect for ‘Bulin this season as he dealt with offseason issues, but with the hot start the Oilers are off to, keep an eye on this situation. This netminder is owned in about 50% of Yahoo! and CBS leagues.
Erik Christensen & Derek Stepan – C, New York Rangers
Both centers are owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! and CBS leagues, with owners flocking to Stepan after his huge three goal NHL debut. The Rangers are scoring buckets of goals to start the season and with Vinny Prospal out for some time, the Rangers seem to mixing these two between the top line of Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov.
Carlo Colaiacovo – D, St. Louis Blues
Yes, yes, you may be asking yourself who? Many did the same on draft day, including myself when my friend drafted him in later rounds. Carlo has been receiving a lot of time on the power play for the Blues, and as long as the team keeps scoring, his upside will continue to be there. He’s notched two points through his first two games including the game winner against the Flyers last week. The former first round pick has had injury concerns in the past, but if your team is in a pinch, he’s worth a look and could be an asset in deeper leagues. Colaiacovo is owned in less than 25% of Yahoo! and CBS leagues.
With week one of the NHL season in the books, who are you targeting for your next move?