Waiver Watch: Bullish on Tanner Pearson, down on Jordan Eberle

Tanner Pearson has a point in seven of his past nine games, including a pair of game-winning goals. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, we'll mine the waiver wire for lesser-owned assets to help your squad, whether you favor dynasty or the redraft format, and we'll also toss in some tips for DFS players out there. Categorized by position, the players are ranked in descending order by ownership percentage in ESPN.com leagues.

We'll also include some former go-to fantasy assets who may be overvalued -- in the short or long term -- for one reason or another.


Tanner Pearson, LW, Los Angeles Kings
Ownership percentage: 19.1

Picking up the some of the scoring slack in the absence of Tyler Toffoli, Pearson has four goals and four assists in his most recent nine games. That rate of production demands a greater percentage of fantasy love in the majority of leagues. While there isn't much to currently mine from the Kings' offense altogether, the Jeff Carter/Pearson forward duo remains pleasantly productive.

Zack Smith, C/LW, Ottawa Senators
Ownership percentage: 8.5

Before suffering an abdominal strain, Smith collected four goals and three assists in five contests. Since returning after a two-game absence, the 28-year-old winger rediscovered his scoring stride with a goal and assist versus the Edmonton Oilers Sunday. As a member of the Senators' top six and secondary power play, Smith deserves greater attention in deeper leagues and DFS play. He's hot.

Jiri Hudler, LW/RW, Dallas Stars
Ownership percentage: 6.4

Hudler is of use only while Jamie Benn is sidelined with an injury. Otherwise, refrain from investing in the former (and perpetually underrated) fantasy darling, at least until he shows signs of regaining his scoring step. Maybe skating with Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza proves general remedy in hoisting Hudler back on track, as suggested by Monday's goal and assist against the Los Angeles Kings. Keep an eye out.

Frank Vatrano, C/LW, Boston Bruins
Ownership percentage: 6.1

As long as he's competing in the Bruins' top six, the 22-year-old forward sports appetizing fantasy potential. And Vatrano was boosted back into a slot aside David Krejci and David Backes, who makes his first return to his former playing digs, ahead of Tuesday's tilt in St. Louis.

Andreas Athanasiou, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings
Ownership percentage: 2.4

While our growing admiration for Anthony Mantha has been well documented these past few weeks, let's turn to another promising young member of the Red Wings. Skating on a power play with Mantha -- and even-strength scoring line with Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek -- Athanasiou has two goals, three assists and eight shots in his past two games. Such success breeds confidence in these young guys, particularly in the short term. Look for a little extra spring in the 22-year-old's stride versus the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday.

Brian Boyle, C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Ownership percentage: 2.4

Back aboard the "Brian Boyle fantasy bandwagon." Fresh off injured reserve, the winger is tapped to rejoin linemates Valtteri Filppula and Jonathan Drouin, with whom he enjoyed much success last month. Boyle notched six goals and one assist in nine games before getting hurt New Year's Eve.

Drew Stafford, RW, Winnipeg Jets
Ownership percentage: 1.8

This veteran winger might be my favorite waiver-wire selection of the week. Replacing dynamite rookie Patrik Laine (concussion) on a scoring line with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers, Stafford is primed to enjoy a serious uptick in production for the Jets. As of yet, there's no timetable for Laine's return.

Brett Connolly, RW, Washington Capitals
Ownership percentage: 0.3

As long as T.J. Oshie remains out with an upper-body injury, Connolly serves as an inflated fantasy asset as a top-six plug with the Capitals. The 24-year-old scored a goal (plus-2) from that position against the Montreal Canadiens Monday. Just realize there's a chance Oshie returns for Wednesday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.


Matthew Benning, Edmonton Oilers
Ownership percentage: 0.8

Making up half of Edmonton's present-day top pair alongside Andrej Sekera, the 22-year-old has four points, including a goal, in his most recent six contests. With few other underdog D-men making noise this past week, Benning bears mentioning as a short-term, redraft-league substitute, or dark-horse daily fantasy asset.


Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks
Ownership percentage: 44.8

In recent interviews, Miller's renewed sense of self-assurance is almost palpable, rising from the veteran netminder like a cloud of steam. And why shouldn't he feel great? This run of five wins -- 1.38 goals-against average, .955 save percentage -- should bring about a significant boost in confidence. Never mind the Canucks' still-all-too-concerning shortcomings; ride the veteran netminder in all fantasy formats until he cools off.

Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs
Ownership percentage: 0.7

Claimed off waivers by the Maple Leafs, the former Blue Jacket should see increased action in Toronto, as compared with warming the bench behind Vezina favorite Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus. We'll see how his 2.39 goals against average and .924 save percentage -- earned in limited play this season -- fare as he tends net for a young Leafs squad. While Frederik Andersen appears in negligible danger of losing top-dog status, Leafs coach Mike Babcock should feel more comfortable in turning to McElhinney when needed.

Lowered expectations

James Neal, LW/RW, Nashville Predators
Ownership percentage: 88.7

Out at least another week with an upper-body injury, Neal should be comfortable tucked in on your own bench/injured reserve list. Also, Viktor Arvidsson remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. As such, our preferred top-six fantasy standby with the Preds is former first-rounder (2010) Austin Watson, aside centerman Mike Fisher.

Jordan Eberle, RW, Edmonton Oilers
Ownership percentage: 82.0

We're less despairing about Eberle's current fantasy value, now that the winger has -- just now -- ratcheted himself out of the Oilers' bottom six. Back to skating on a scoring line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic certainly provides a greater sense of optimism. Still, the three assists (zero goals) in a dozen games remain concerning.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning
Ownership percentage: 44.8

He's not performing well. He's not performing anywhere near well. Duffing an otherwise tremendous three-plus-week opportunity to establish himself as a No. 1 netminder with Ben Bishop out, Vasilevskiy has largely stumbled. Fortunately for the Lightning, Bishop is projected to return from a lower-body injury within the week.