Scouting The Wire: Four Forwards Worth Targeting

Updated: November 8, 2017 at 11:32 am by Michael Bondy

We seem to get to a point in every season where free agents owned percentages make absolutely zero sense in retrospect to what their play warrants. For this to happen, many players like Jason Spezza (54% owned, 245 ranked Yahoo Standard) end up on fantasy hockey rosters far longer than they should. Here are a few waiver options available in most leagues that can help stack the bottom of your fantasy roster before they are picked up and unavailable for good.

Bo Horvat – C – Canucks (37% Owned)

Games Goals Assists Points +/- SOG
15 6 7 13 +6 39 (15.4 SH%)

The Sedin twins are no longer the top offensive talents in Vancouver, this is not new news, but fantasy owners are still failing to pick up that Bo Horvat is the new number one offensive talent for the Canucks. With six goals and seven assists through 15 games, Horvat is on pace for 71 points, something that is by no means unrealistic after a very strong, 20-goal, 52-point breakout season last year.

Having played 20-plus minutes in three of his last five games, Horvat is only going to continue to increase his TOI as the Canucks new first line (Sven Baertschi-Horvat-Brock Boeser) continues to lead the team at both even-strength and on the powerplay. With 39 SOG and a plus-6 rating, Horvat looks prime to be a fantasy superstar and owners need to step up and roster him before it is too late.

Mikko Rantanen – LW/RW – Avalanche  (35% owned)

Games Goals Assists Points +/- SOG
14 5 7 12 -6 34 (14.7 SH%)

Colorado Avalanche’s No.10 overall pick in 2015 has yet to get the respect he deserves in the NHL, largely due to the Avalanches terrible play around him, especially in his impressive, but quiet 20-goal campaign a season ago. Towering at 6-foot-4 and the ripe age of 21, Rantanen has looked in no way out of sorts on the Avalanches top-line since earning his way up their roster in 2016-17 and is now a mainstay on what has become a very explosive and offensive first line alongside fellow fantasy sleeper Nathan Mackinnon.

Rantanen is a realistic 30-goal threat this season especially after his quick five goals and 12 points start to this season. Due to his surroundings, the young Finish forward may hurt you in the plus/minus category, but compared to other players with similar ownership, he is far and away in the best position offensively with little resistance to remove him from his top offensive spot in the lineup.

As a dual eligible winger in Yahoo leagues, Rantanen can be an extremely useful pick up that deserves a roster spot for the remainder of the season.

Sunday’s blockbuster departure of Matt Duchene should do little to affect Rantanen’s playing time, as he had essentially leaped Duchene on all forms of the depth chart, including PP1. Instead look for names like free agent offseason signing, Adam Kerfoot to gain fantasy relevance in deeper leagues due to the deal.

Mathew Barzal – C – Islanders (30% Owned)

Games Goals Assists Points +/- SOG
15 3 11 14 +4 33 (9.1 SH%)

After a five-assist performance last Sunday, Barzal has been one of the hottest waiver wire pickups this week, and deservedly so. Unlike many other fantasy one-hit wonders, Barzal may have been giving us a glimpse of major things to come for the future Islanders superstar. As the No.2 center in Brooklyn behind John Tavares, Barzal continues to find himself in fantasy relevant situations against opposing teams weaker defensive pairings and has been producing at a very nice pace with 13 points through his first 15 games to start his 2017 Calder trophy hopeful campaign.

Barzal should offer positives in both powerplay points, as well as an abundance of assists. A two-time, 60 assist earner while playing for Seattle in the WHL, Barzal is proving his elite playmaking skills can translate well into his NHL game. He is a waiver candidate that should be owned in almost all leagues going forward especially if you can afford to pick up a center in what is the most log jammed fantasy position.

Yanni Gourde – C/RW – Lightning (11% Owned)

Games Goals Assists Points +/- SOG
15 4 5 9 +7 29 (13.8 SH%)

It seems just about everyone on the Tampa Bay Lightning is having a breakout season so far in 2017, and that is no different for Yanni Gourde, who has 298 career AHL games under his belt. As a dual eligible RW and C, Gourde has worked his way into some extremely fantasy relevant ice-time as he solidifies himself as part of the Lightning’s top-6. With eight points (4G / 4A) in his last nine games and an average TOI above 18 minutes, Gourde is a great waiver option in deep leagues as he has also touched ice with the Lightning’s second PP unit.

Grabbing Gourde now could go a long way if you’re in need of immediate help along the wing and want a safe option that will not hurt your plus/minus. Tampa Bay currently leads the entire NHL scoring 3.87 goals for per game. A trend that fantasy owners should jump on now as the Lightning offensive firestorm looks like it is here to stay, and with that, comes fantasy production from all assets in the top-6, including Gourde.

Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal, Mikko Rantanen, Yanni Gourde