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Waiver Wired

Plenty To Play For

by Ryan Dadoun
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

With so little time left in the campaign, the question of what each player is competing for is worthy of note.  There's personal pride or a sense of professionalism of course, but obviously there's a lot of players that have more than that to draw on.  There are still some teams that are fighting for their playoff lives and might be doing so until the last day of the season.  Meanwhile, there are young players on bad teams that are fighting for jobs and recognition.

 

Those are the types of players that dominant this list because they're among the most likely to enjoy a strong finish to the 2014-15 campaign.

 

Marko Dano (CLM) - C/RW - Owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues

 

The Blue Jackets have been out of the playoff race for a while now, but these final games are still a big opportunity for young players like 20-year-old Dano to make a good impression.  Dano got a chance to make it with the Blue Jackets in October and early November, but he was used sparingly at the time and ended up instead working primarily with the AHL Springfield Falcons for a big chunk of the campaign.  That's not necessarily a bad thing as this is his first full season in North America.  He rejoined the Blue Jackets in mid-February though and while he's still not logging big minutes, he is starting to get a decent amount of ice time.  He's rewarded Columbus with six goals and 12 points in his last 18 contests.  Look for him to continue at that pace.

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov (WAS) - RW - Owned in 37% of Yahoo leagues

 

Kuznetsov entered the season amid high expectations given his years of dominance in the KHL and his solid debut in the NHL in 2013-14 (3-6-9, 17 games).  Capitals coach Barry Trotz used him sparingly out of the gate though and he consequently didn't do much offensively.  Kuznetsov has heated up lately though with three goals and five points in his last six contests.  It helps that he's starting to shoot the puck more as he's averaged 2.7 shots on goal per game in March compared to an average of 1.43 in 2014-15 through February.  With his development moving along nicely, he might be in for a strong finish to the campaign.

 

Mark Scheifele (WPG) - C - Owned in 21% of Yahoo league

 

The Jets have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since they moved to Winnipeg and simultaneously Scheifele is competing to reach the postseason for the first time in his career.  Under those circumstances, he's flourished with five goals and 13 points in his last 12 games.  Winnipeg has won four straight contests, but it still has a narrow edge in the battle for the second Wild Card spot.  This fight could go right down to the wire and that's just extra motivation for guys like Scheifele.  With that in mind, he's a good guy to grab for the final push.

 

Chris Stewart (MIN) - RW - Owned in 14% of Yahoo leagues

 

The Minnesota Wild acquired Stewart from the Buffalo Sabres on March 2 and since then he's recorded three goals, six points, 16 penalty minutes, and a plus-four rating.  Those kind of balanced numbers can help out plenty of fantasy owners in standard leagues and given that I expect more of that from him going forward, I naturally think he's worthy of consideration if you need a right winger.  His overall numbers have been dragged down by his time with Buffalo, but I advise against holding that against him.  The 2014-15 Sabres are a horrendous team that hasn't had anything to play for since the season opener.  Getting out of there was a big boost for him.

 

Drew Stafford (WPG) - RW - Owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues

 

And if you want another solid forward that recently obtained freedom from the Sabres, you need look no further than Stafford.  Like Stewart, Stafford has gotten a big boost via a trade, going from recording 24 points in 50 games with Buffalo to 13 points in 16 contests with Winnipeg.  As mentioned with Scheifele, the Jets fight for a playoff spot could go into the final days of the campaign, which will help keep the squad motivated going forward.  Also, while we're on the subject of Scheifele, it's worth highlighting that Stafford is his linemate and the two have meshed well together.  Look for Stafford to continue to excel now that he's out of Buffalo.

 

Elias Lindholm (CAR) - RW - Owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues

 

Like Dano, Lindholm is a young player with plenty of potential playing for a team that's not going to make the playoffs.  The difference is that Lindholm has been with Carolina all season.  He's been inconsistent offensively, which isn't uncommon for a 20-year-old, but lately he's been very good with seven goals and 15 points in his last 22 games.  He probably won't be able to keep up that pace, but he's not a bad bet to make meaningful offensive contributions for what's left of 2014-15.  The major drawback, as it has been all year, is his plus/minus rating.  He currently sits at minus-20 and it's likely to just keep getting worse.  Whether or not you can tolerate a hit in plus/minus is entirely based on your situation, but if you're in a position to tolerate that aspect of his game, then he's a nice blueliner to consider.

 

Marek Zidlicky (NJD) - D - Owned in 51% of Yahoo leagues

 

Then again, if Zidlicky is also an option in your league, then you should probably go with him over Lindholm.  Detroit acquired him from New Jersey on March 2, giving the Red Wings the right-hand shooting defenseman they were lacking.  He was having a bit of a down season with the Devils, but he's meshed in nicely with Detroit, scoring three goals and eight points in 10 contests.  A lot of his points in Detroit have come with the man advantage and that trend should continue going forward.  Like Lindholm, Zidlicky seems primed for a strong finish to the campaign and Zidlicky shouldn't have the same plus/minus issue going forward.  The only reason you should consider Lindholm over Zidlicky is if you're in a keeper league or Zidlicky is already taken.

 

Nail Yakupov (EDM) - RW - Owned in 32% of Yahoo leagues

 

I recommend Yakupov on Feb. 22 and since then the percentage of people that own him has only gone up by 1%, which is a little surprising given that he has three goals and seven points in his last eight contests.  I think a lot of people have written Yakupov off as a bust, but at the age of 21, I would argue it's too early to pass final judgment on him.  He's doing far better under coach Todd Nelson than he was under Dallas Eakins and has been getting more ice time as well.  When he had four points in 10 October games, he was averaging just 13:02 minutes per contest.  He shot up to 16:57 minutes per game in February and recorded nine points in 12 contests in that month.  So far he's averaging 17:52 in March.  With 182 games under his belt, I view him as a great breakout candidate for 2015-16, but an argument can be made that's already happened.  His overall numbers for 2014-15 will still look underwhelming given his quiet first half, but lately he has been a worthy addition to standard league teams.

Ryan Dadoun
Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.