Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Alex Killorn tops list of pickups ahead of playoffs
By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
In head-to-head fantasy matchups, every week is tough. The talent gap between opponents may be wide, but anyone can beat anyone over a seven-day stretch with a few hot streaks, a couple lucky breaks, and/or some unplanned injuries.
And no lead is safe. You could be up 20-plus points on Friday and end up crashing out after some players decide they're done for the weekend.
As there's no surefire protection against future underachievement or absences, some of the following recommendations can at least help based on recent form and positioning:
Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (41% rostered)
When Killorn was originally discussed back in November, it was implied his scoring success was mainly due to him lining up with Steven Stamkos. While that's sometimes true, the two have split at five-on-five the last few weeks, and all Killorn has done is post 13 points over 14 games to go with 30 shots. After a spell away from Tampa's top power play, he's back there and has chipped in with three points since the start of the month. As someone involved in all situations and on pace to record his first 60-plus-point campaign, Killorn should not be available in roughly 60 percent of leagues.
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals (42% rostered)
Washington has been decimated by injuries all season, so it's good to see the main forwards together again. The club has recently been rather anemic on offense with only 34 goals across 13 contests, though a few up front have still benefited. For his part, Oshie has registered seven points, 33 shots and 24 hits and managed his first PPP since Jan. 5 on Wednesday. Not skating with either Evgeny Kuznetsov or Nicklas Backstrom as an even-strength center may not be ideal, but Oshie still joins forces with them — and some guy named Alex Ovechkin — on the Caps' first man-advantage.
Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild (38% rostered)
Hartman received a boost when he was reunited with Kirill Kaprizov, which resulted in four goals, four assists, 30 shots, 13 blocks and 10 hits across 10 appearances. The star winger was sidelined and is scheduled to miss another two weeks, but that didn't stop Hartman from racking up a pair of helpers at San Jose on Saturday and a PPG, PPA and shorthanded tally against St. Louis on Wednesday. You might want to get him on your roster before someone else beats you to all that cross-category production.
Jakub Vrána, St. Louis Blues (26% rostered)
The fit just wasn't there in Detroit, so Vrána was sent to St. Louis. He's displayed tremendous talent throughout his relatively short career, yet injuries would materialize and halt whatever momentum had already built up. The Blues have struggled this season, but their lineup reshuffle has opened opportunities. Vrána has taken advantage of his new surroundings to post four goals and fire 19 pucks on net in only five matchups, with the last three of those markers coming as PPGs.
Owen Tippett, Philadelphia Flyers (12% rostered)
Players who can consistently accumulate stats from various areas are valuable in fantasy. It's the ones on weaker teams who often get overlooked, and Tippett's a prime example. The Flyers were never going anywhere this year, yet the ex-Florida forward has compiled a fairly decent haul by picking up 34 points, 179 shots, 107 hits and 57 blocks. And Tippett's been especially active the last nine games with 45 shots while averaging a hefty 21:47 — including 2:41 on the lead power play.
William Eklund, San Jose Sharks (3% rostered)
Eklund quickly shot out of the gate last season when he notched a PPA in his first three NHL outings before returning to Sweden where he posted 14 points over 29 contests. After going off for 41 in 52 in the AHL, he was summoned to the Sharks less than two weeks ago to fill one of the many vacancies resulting from trade activity. Eklund's prominent place in offensive situations since being recalled could've been predicted, though no one would've imagined him skating 20 minutes a night right away. The 20-year-old should keep receiving all the responsibilities he can handle, and that at least makes for a favorable fantasy pickup.
John-Jason Peterka, Buffalo Sabres (2% rostered)
This column has already reviewed a number of young Buffalo forwards, so there's probably no one left to cover. That is until Peterka got a placement upgrade beside fellow 22-and-unders Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn. And the scoring has recently been rolling in with a goal and four assists from his last four appearances in addition to eight shots. Peterka may not produce a lot in the short-term, but he's one to keep an eye on for the future.
Alex Chiasson, Detroit Red Wings (0% rostered)
Chiasson has never been a superb scorer, yet always holds value by finding his niche and taking advantage of that. Chiasson's area of expertise is as a net-front presence on the power play, something that's netted him 70 points heading into the current campaign. Detroit originally brought him onboard in October as part of a professional tryout, where he would go on to register 20 points over 29 AHL outings before getting promoted. The first three in Motown got Chiasson a total of 28 minutes, but it was the last of those in which he notched a PPA on the top unit. And that's led to a PPG in each of his last three. Let's assume Chiasson will remain in that prime position, though you shouldn't expect much else.
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues (46% rostered)
Krug's coverage numbers have plummeted thanks to injuries and the Blues trading away a couple of their stars having already fallen out of playoff contention. The ice time may be considerably lower than usual and that minus-34 doesn't help, but he's still quarterbacking a lead power play. Since Krug came back in late January, he's recorded 10 points — six of those PPAs — 37 shots and 26 blocks over three minutes a night on the man-advantage.
Mattias Ekholm, Edmonton Oilers (28% rostered)
The move to Edmonton at the deadline has resulted in less responsibilities for Ekholm, though that hasn't stopped him from producing with a goal, three assists, 13 shots, 13 hits, 14 blocks and a plus-13 across eight outings. There may be no spot anymore on the PP, but he continues to carry a major shorthanded role. The Oilers boast elite offensive weapons, and Ekholm should be a defensive rock who contributes at both ends.
Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes (23% rostered)
Slavin came into this season having managed at least 30 points in five of his last six years. He may once again reach that mark, but he hasn't been as prominent on the attack, as others have assumed the bulk of the load. Slavin has pretty much lost his place on the power play, and there's less minutes on the Carolina blueline to go around, yet he's seen a recent uptick, having registered six points, 25 shots and 11 blocks from nine contests. The scoring streak probably won't last, though he's generally reliable in the other categories.
Nick Blankenburg, Columbus Blue Jackets (1% rostered)
Blankenburg was first featured here seven weeks ago, so it may seem odd for such a quick repeat, but he's still not rostered in virtually any fantasy league. The Blue Jackets aren't exactly the hotbed of fantasy attraction based on their 29th ranked offense and defense, but Blankenburg has been more than serviceable since mid-February (five assists, 10 shots, 22 hits and 12 blocks). More importantly, two of those helpers have come while up a man. He's also been averaging close to 21 minutes during this stretch and operates as one of Columbus's primary defenders.
Pyotr Kochetkov, Carolina Hurricanes (28% rostered)
You may remember Kochetkov from his hot run earlier this season when Frederik Andersen was hurt, or more recently from his AHL scoring/dancing/fighting machine exploits. With Antti Raanta sidelined, Kochetkov was called up again last week and immediately notched a shutout. He would then give up three goals in Jersey on Sunday, though he didn't allow anything in the final 25-plus minutes. Raanta's return is unknown, but he probably won't be rushed back. And as Andersen carries a substantial injury history, Kochetkov could be in line for more starts the rest of the way.
Connor Ingram, Arizona Coyotes (7% rostered)
Ingram has spent most of his pro career in the minors, only making his NHL debut in late 2021 — five years after being drafted. He was eventually claimed off waivers by the Coyotes back in October and logged 10 appearances over the next two months where he posted a 4.24 GAA and .878 save percentage. This season has been much kinder to Ingram as he has a 2.84/.926 line through 15 games, a stretch that's seen him turn back 535 of 578 shots. He's also been taking more starts off Karel Vejmelka of late and makes for a decent fill-in since Arizona's defense hasn't looked as bad compared to recent campaigns.
Players to consider from past columns: Martin Necas, David Krejci, Dylan Cozens, Matty Beniers, Robert Thomas, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jeff Skinner, Andrei Kuzmenko, Dylan Strome, Nick Schmaltz, Logan Couture, Kevin Hayes, Dawson Mercer, Mason McTavish, Lucas Raymond, Brock Boeser, Filip Chytil, Bryan Rust, Jared McCann, J.T. Compher, Mikael Backlund, Anthony Beauvillier, Seth Jarvis, Boone Jenner, Cole Perfetti, Scott Laughton, Brandon Hagel, Gabriel Vilardi, Phillip Danault, Jordan Eberle, Ivan Barbashev, Evan Rodrigues, William Karlsson, Tom Wilson, Viktor Arvidsson, Eeli Tolvanen, Anton Lundell, Ondrej Palat, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Nick Paul, Tyler Bertuzzi, Kirill Marchenko, Seth Jones, Brandon Montour, Cam Fowler, Evan Bouchard, Dmitry Orlov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Noah Hanifin, Vince Dunn, Rasmus Sandin, Bowen Byram, Juuso Valimaki, John Klingberg, Adam Larsson, Samuel Girard, K'Andre Miller, Sean Durzi, Sebastian Aho, Mike Matheson, Janis Moser, Vitek Vanecek, Martin Jones, Karel Vejmelka, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Stuart Skinner, Pheonix Copley, Semyon Varlamov, Akira Schmid, Mads Sogaard, Philipp Grubauer, Joonas Korpisalo