Before we get into this week’s picks, I want to briefly revisit Cam Ward from Corey Abbott’s Waiver Wired last week. Ward was owned in 27% of Yahoo leagues at the time and he’s now up to 39%, which means he might still be available for many of you. Ward endured some significant injuries and rough seasons over the past few years, which has caused many to sour to him, but he seems to have turned a corner this season. He’s not a great goaltender, but he a solid one and those are hard to find on the free agent market.
Derick Brassard (NYR) – C – Owned in 26% of Yahoo leagues
Brassard has gone from being a player that could provide you with 40-50 points in a good season to one that’s recorded six goals and seven assists in 16 games. With a jump like that, it’s naturally to assume he will regress, but there is a reason why he’s playing so well. Brassard is getting top-six minutes this season and that means he’ll usually be seen playing alongside Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, or both. With linemates like that, it’s not hard to envision him setting a new career-high this season.
Shane Doan (ARI) – LW/RW – Owned in 29% of Yahoo leagues
What you see is what you get with Doan, but that’s not a bad thing. People aren’t going to get enthusiastic over him, but he’s a fair bet to quietly put up 20 or so goals and 50-60 points this season. Given his eligibility with both wings, he’s not a bad forward to have on the bench in standard leagues or pick up as an injury replacement instead of one of the more exciting, but unpredictable options.
Mike Hoffman (OTT) – C/LW – Owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues
Hoffman’s turned some heads recently by scoring six goals in his last six games after a relatively quiet start to the season. His shooting percentage of 18.4 seems unsustainable, but for a player that’s only averaging 12:56 minutes per contest, he has been making great use of his time. In fact, going into the weekend he led the NHL in even strength shots per 60 minutes, per TSN. The fact that he excelled in the AHL last season too gives his breakout more credibility. He’s a huge gamble and I would caution against getting too excited about him, but if you can easily make room for him on your roster, he’s not a bad player to take at least a short-term chance on.
Steve Downie (PIT) – LW/RW – Owned in 28% of Yahoo leagues
Downie is a great source of penalty minutes, but what sets him apart among enforcers is his offensive contributions. He’s not going to dazzle you with his point total and the fact that he’s playing for the offensively gifted Penguins isn’t a big boost for him because he hasn’t been playing with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Still, if he can stay healthy this season then it’s likely he’ll get at least 200 penalty minutes. The 30-40 points he’ll get on top of that is just gravy.
Antoine Roussel (DAL) – LW – Owned in 23% of Yahoo leagues
If Downie’s taken in your league and you’re looking for a player in the same vein, then Roussel is a great alternative. In terms of potential for the 2014-15 campaign, Roussel is more-or-less Downie’s mirror. He might have mildly less offensive upside, but he’s certainly a contender to reach the 200-PIM milestone. The nice thing about Roussel though is that he doesn’t share Downie’s lengthy injury history, so he’s a bit of a safer bet. The bottom line is that, like Downie, Roussel can help you in the PIM category without killing you elsewhere.
Devan Dubnyk (ARI) – G – Owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues
If you’re feeling bold, you could do worse than picking up Dubnyk. He was horrible this season and truth be told, he’s been a mixed bag in 2014-15. At the same time, he’s not a terrible goaltender despite what his 2013-14 numbers would lead you to believe and with Mike Smith struggling mightily, there might be an opportunity for him in Arizona. The stage seems to be set for him to pleasantly surprise people as the season progresses, but only pick him up if you’re goaltending situation is tenuous to begin with.
Tyler Ennis (BUF) – C/LW – Owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues
I have mixed feelings about this one. Ennis doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he is a solid forward that has the potential to be a decent contributor in fantasy leagues. He’s also hot right now with two goals and five points in three games. At the same time, he plays for Buffalo and that matters a great deal. It limits the quality of his linemates and it will continue to pummel his plus/minus into submission. If Ennis was playing for literally any other team, I would feel far more comfortable recommending him. As it is, I’m throwing him out there as a player to pick up as a short-term injury replacement while he’s hot, but to not hesitate to dump at the first sign of trouble.
Jimmy Hayes (FLA) – RW – Owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues
Here’s one for deeper leagues. Hayes has only played in eight games this season and even when he does play, he’s only averaged 12:48 minutes per contest. He’s made the most of those minutes though, scoring three goals and six points in 2014-15. He does have some offensive upside, so while he’s not going to maintain his current point-per-game pace, he should continue to chip in occasionally. If you’re in a standard league, feel free to pick him up to ride his current hot streak, but his lack of ice time will probably lead to you dropping him eventually.