Welcome back! The first edition of Waiver Wired looks at some rookies and other players in excellent situations to succeed early in the 2016-17 season.
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Mitch Marner (TOR) - C, RW - Owned in 26% of Yahoo leagues
Marner recently gained RW eligibility on Yahoo, which helps his value considerably. It’s harder to try to constantly squeeze centers into your lineup. That certainly has helped his spike in ownership recently, but his play on the ice is also a major reason behind that. Marner had plenty of chances to score in Ottawa on Wednesday and he got his first NHL goal in Saturday’s home opener versus Boston. He has amassed 10 shots in two games with the Leafs, while averaging 16:31 of ice time. The 19-year-old has been skating on a line with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, which puts him in a great situation to succeed. Don’t worry about a nine-game trial when it comes to Marner. He is in the NHL to stay.
Frans Nielsen (DET) - C - Owned in 22% of Yahoo leagues
Nielsen has been centering a line with Henrik Zetterberg in Detroit’s first two games of the season. They have been joined by Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou, as coach Jeff Blashill experiments with his forward combinations early in the year. However, it seems like the pairing of Nielsen and Zetterberg is here to stay. He nearly posted 60 points in 2013-14 when he finished with 58 and he registered 52 points last season. Nielsen should return to the 55-point range this campaign, while getting plenty of chances on the power play. He picked up a goal and an assist in the Red Wings’ opener on Thursday night.
Alex Killorn (TBL) - C, LW - Owned in 18% of Yahoo leagues
I hesitated before deciding to add Killorn to the list. He fits the criteria of a solid waiver add because of his role and his hot start, but his past struggles with scoring consistency have burned fantasy owners before. I like that he’s playing with Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson and that he has two goals and one assist after two outings. He has also picked up one goal and one helper on the power play. Perhaps this is finally the year that he breaks free of the 40-point plateau. Still, even if he doesn’t become a long-term fixture on your roster, he has been strong in spurts before and is worth owning now based on his productive start.
Richard Panik (CHI) - LW - Owned in 15% of Yahoo leagues
Panik became a player to watch after he landed a spot with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa out of training camp. He has enjoyed a great start to the year with four goals and one assist in three games. Panic generated one goal and one helper in his first two appearances before exploding for a hat trick performance versus Nashville on Saturday. Panik recorded just eight points in 30 games with the Blackhawks last season and he has 52 points in 184 career matches, so his current pace likely isn’t sustainable. Still, it is worth riding for however long it lasts. It should be noted that his ice time has increased from 10:50 last year to 15:11 this campaign in the early going. Panik has a career average of just 11:49 of playing time per contest, so his increased role is helping him greatly. It makes him an intriguing player to keep an eye on, but you should be cautious because coach Joel Quenneville is quick to change his combinations.
Victor Rask (CAR) - C - Owned in 11% of Yahoo leagues
Rask potted 21 goals and 48 points in 80 games last year. He found the back of the net on a Hurricanes power play to start the 2016-17 campaign. He also accounted for three shots, while winning eight of his 12 faceoffs. The 23-year-old center should surpass the 50-point plateau this year, while skating between Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak.
Zach Werenski (CBJ) - D - Owned in 10% of Yahoo leagues
Werenski has started the regular season on Columbus’ top defense pairing with Seth Jones and he has been logging ice time on the top power-play unit. He hasn’t looked out of place in either role. Werenski picked up an assist in his NHL debut and just missed out on another after nearly every player on the ice touched the puck on a tic-tac-toe power-play marker. He potted his first goal in his next game on Saturday versus San Jose when the Blue Jackets had the man advantage. The 19-year-old has compiled nine shots on goal and he has averaged 21:55 of ice time per contest. Werenski has the potential to become a must-own fantasy defender during his rookie year.
Travis Konecny (PHI) - C - Owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues
Konecny would benefit tremendously from getting winger status, but he is proving his worth early in his rookie year. The 19-year-old rookie has generated three primary assists in his first two games with the Philadelphia Flyers. He has been playing on the team’s second line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, but his lack of power-play time has him averaging 14:22 of ice time per game. Still, I am confident in his potential to be a valuable contributor this season.
Jonathan Marchessault (FLA) - Owned in 4% of Yahoo leagues
Marchessault was signed by Florida in the off-season to compete for a third-line spot alongside Nick Bjugstad. However, injuries to Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau gave Marchessault an opportunity to start the year on the top line with Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov. He has taken advantage of the promotion with two goals and two assists in his first two games with the Panthers. Marchessault has accounted for eight shots and a plus-4 rating as well. He is worth rostering until he loses the job or until Huberdeau comes back.
Alexander Wennberg (CBJ) - C - Owned in 4% of Yahoo leagues
Wennberg is off to a strong start this season with one goal and two assists after two games. Both of his helpers have come on Columbus power plays. He moved up to a line with Nick Foligno and Brandon Saad in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to San Jose after starting on a line between Scott Hartnell and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Wennberg has put an emphasis on shooting more this campaign. He has averaged 2.50 shots per match this year after posting 1.41 in 2015-16 and 1.25 in 2014-15. The 22-year-old Swede averaged 0.58 points per game last season, but has the potential to surpass the 50-mark in 2016-17.
Patrick Eaves (DAL) - RW - Owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues
Eaves typically receives chances to play with Dallas’ star players over the course of a season and he has begun 2016-17 on a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. He has remained with the Stars’ top duo on the power play along with Jason Spezza. Eaves has compiled three assists in the first two games, which included a two-point effort on Saturday. He helped set up both of Seguin’s goals versus Colorado. Take advantage of his increased role while it lasts.