Injuries are coming at a fast and furious pace. Whether it be Columbus, Edmonton, Minnesota, or just about any team, squads across the league are struggling with injuries. If they are, then that means fantasy hockey owners are as well by extension.
Being active on the waiver wire is crucial to sustaining fantasy success, be it in head to head leagues or roto leagues. Here are some guys who may be available on waiver wires that can help with these injuries.
Mark Scheifele (WPG) – Owned: 10-percent Yahoo, 11.9-percent ESPN
Scheifele was a top-10 pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, but has taken some time to develop. He was around for most of last season, but an injury limited him to just 63 games.
For those not familiar with him, Scheifele is a big and talented center who can play both distributor and finisher. His shot rate has increased from last year, and should continue to do so. That said, he doesn’t derive a lot of value from his shooting. He will derive his value from those around him.
Evander Kane had missed most of the year, playing just six games total so far and having returned last night. Kane returned on a line with Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. This is pretty important for Scheifele’s value, because now this makes a true first line for Winnipeg. Last year, Scheifele and Kane controlled 51-percent of total shot attempts when on the ice, the best mark that Scheifele had with any player he spent at least 200 minutes with.
The one drawback for Scheifele is that he’s for some reason being given really tough zone starts (via War On Ice). All the same, his line is back together, and I would expect his point rates to start increasing.
Patrick Maroon (ANA) – Owned: 7-percent Yahoo, 2.8-percent ESPN
Maroon suffered a knee injury earlier in the year that kept him out of the lineup until this week. It was a shame, as Maroon managed three assists in four games before he was knocked out of action.
His return came earlier this week, even though his ownership rates haven’t really reflected it. What was the most important part of his return is that he was immediately inserted on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Since his injury, it had been a revolving door including names like Matt Beleskey and Devante Smith-Pelly. When Maroon returned, he was placed on the top line, including top power play minutes.
If he can manage to stay on the top line, he’s a must-own in any fantasy format. Not only will he chip in goals and assists – though at a much lower rate than his line mates – he’s a power forward-type who should be able to rack up a decent amount of penalty minutes. The trio played well last year, and Maroon shouldn’t be left on waiver wires.
Craig Smith (NSH) – Owned: 20-percent Yahoo, 10.3-percent ESPN
Last year, there were 35 players with 20+ goals, 25+ assists, 20+ penalty minutes, and 210+ shots on goal. One of those guys was Craig Smith.
The Predators had an overhaul in the offseason. The team brought in James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen in an attempt to jump-start the offense. Even though they’re not racking up the goals, the team is taking over 41 unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 with the score close per 60 minutes (via War On Ice again). That number is top-10 in the NHL, and between San Jose and St. Louis. The team is more offensive than last year, when that number was under 39 per 60 minutes, and among the bottom-10. More shot attempts doesn’t guarantee more goals, but it’s a good start.
The leader on the team in shot attempts per minute at 5-on-5 is James Neal (via Hockey Analysis). Second on the Predators is Craig Smith. In fact, his mark of 19.25 shot attempts per 60 minutes is more than Jeff Carter, and just slightly less than Jamie Benn, making Smith top-12 in the league in this regard. More shot attempts can lead to more offense, and that should boost Smith’s offensive totals from this point moving forward.
Jake Muzzin (LAK) – Owned: 35-percent Yahoo, 17.1-percent ESPN
When fantasy hockey owners drop players, there are usually two reasons: either injury or under-performance. Jake Muzzin falls into the latter category, with just one point in his first eight games of the season.
This rate will not continue, though. Muzzin is last among Kings defensemen in PDO at 973, with no one else below 1010. That would indicate he’s been extremely unlucky so far this year, given the context of his team (advanced stats glossary here). There are some reasons for thinking he rebounds besides the low PDO number.
Muzzin so far this year is hitting the net with 2.38 shots per game (via Hockey Reference). Last year, that number was 2.3. In fact, there are only 21 defensemen since the start of last season with 80 games played and at least 2.3 shots on goal per game, one of them being Muzzin. He’s also playing more than three minutes a game more than he did last year, and that includes more power play time.
Muzzin is on an elite team, plays with Drew Doughty, shoots more than the vast majority of NHL defensemen, and is due to rebound. That makes him a nice waiver add.