Waiver Watch: Zajac, Vasilevskiy worth adding in fantasy hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy saw his fantasy stock increase with Tampa Bay trading Ben Bishop earlier this week. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

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.


Travis Zajac, C, New Jersey Devils
Ownership percentage: 30.8

Centering a top scoring line and power play with Taylor Hall and a red-hot Kyle Palmieri, Zajac is riding a five-game point streak, including three goals and five assists. If the veteran forward doesn't suit your seasonal roster, consider him an outside-the-box asset in DFS competition when the matchup appears favorable.

Martin Hanzal, C, Minnesota Wild
Ownership percentage: 28.4

Upon hearing the news, we immediately got a little excited about the trade sending Hanzal to Minnesota, with visions of the imposing centerman sliding in on a line with Zach Parise and Jason Pominville. One outbreak of the mumps later and we're forced to press pause on that potential configuration. So while Parise and Pominville convalesce on the sidelines over the next few days, we'll get a look at Hanzal alongside other forwards, such as the ever-versatile Charlie Coyle. However he fits in within the Wild's high-octane offense, it's undeniably an upgrade from his gig in Arizona.

Reilly Smith, RW, Florida Panthers
Ownership percentage: 15.9

Overshadowed by Jonathan Huberdeau's explosive reunion with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, the Panthers' second scoring line is contributing at a steady pace, night after night. Alongside Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen, Smith has seven assists in his past eight games, including two with the extra skater. Following last year's impressive 25-goal/50-point campaign, the 25-year-old winger is in position to end this season on the upswing.

Jake Guentzel, LW/RW, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ownership percentage: 7.4

The pending return of Conor Sheary (upper-body injury) is one concern; the potential pre-deadline addition of a top-line winger is another. However, Guentzel's current position on the right side of star center Sidney Crosby is too rich to ignore. Keep an eye on how Pittsburgh's top-six shakes out following Sheary's return, and the passing of Wednesday's deadline. For what it's worth, the Penguins have expressed their intention of keeping the rookie prospect for the remainder of 2016-17. There's some grey here; for instance, falling back to Evgeni Malkin's line would qualify as a soft landing for Guentzel and his fantasy owners.

Mathieu Perreault, C, Winnipeg Jets
Ownership percentage: 3.9

Running hot and cold this season, the perennially underrated Perreault is smoldering at present with two goals and four assists in four games. A top-six role alongside Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine provides promise of extending this happy trend.

Alex Burrows, RW, Ottawa Senators
Ownership percentage: 1.3

A top-six role in Ottawa is hardly out of the question for the newest member of the Senators. If so, anticipate an uptick in fantasy value -- encompassing points and PIM -- from the freshly inspired veteran. The Sens wouldn't have surrendered prospect Jonathan Dahlen if they didn't have high expectations of Burrows.


Alex Goligoski, Arizona Coyotes
Ownership percentage: 41.1

One of the West's leading shot-blockers (eighth in the Conference), Goligoski ranks second only to Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Coyotes' blue-line scoring (25 points). The recent run of six assists in six games further enamors us to the veteran defenseman. What's more, Goligoski's minus-five rating is relatively digestible, as compared to Ekman-Larsson's minus-20. Outside of deeper seasonal leagues, the 31-year-old merits DFS consideration when the matchup makes sense.

Eric Johnson, Colorado Avalanche
Ownership percentage: 19.8

He's back. Out since Dec. 3 with a broken leg, Johnson looked no worse for wear in his return Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, contributing an assist, a shot on goal, three hits, and two blocked-shots. Seasonal-league owners desperate for a defenseman might consider giving the power-play asset a whirl; before his injury, Johnson collected 12 points in 24 games, including five with the man advantage.


Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
Ownership percentage: 38.1

If there was any question about the Lightning's commitment to Vasilevskiy as the future of their franchise, the recent exodus of Ben Bishop slams the door on that conversation altogether. Currently five points out of a playoff spot, the Tampa club will likely ride their 22-year-old, come what may. And if Monday's emphatic 39-save victory over the Ottawa Senators hints at what Vasilevskiy has to offer in the waning weeks, newbie Peter Budaj -- in which the Lightning have zero invested beyond this spring -- might not see much action at all.

Lowered expectations

John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals
Ownership percentage: 90.1

New Capital Kevin Shattenkirk not only threatens to bump John Carlson from the club's top pair -- alongside Karl Alzner -- but from anchoring the No. 1 power play unit as well. Subsequently, fellow Washington defender Matt Niskanen could fall out of the man-advantage mix altogether. Back in St. Louis, Shattenkirk's departure conversely bolsters Alex Pietrangelo and RFA-to-be Colton Parayko as fantasy assets -- the latter in particular, for years to come.

Patrick Eaves, RW, Anaheim Ducks
Ownership percentage: 51.8

Skating on the Dallas Stars' top line and power play with Jamie Benn was a pretty good gig. So much so, Eaves managed to amass 21 goals and 16 assists -- including 16 points with the extra skater -- in 59 games. We don't anticipate seeing the 32-year-old maintain that scoring pace in a supporting role with the Ducks.

Ben Bishop/Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings
Ownership percentage: 90/80

A rare blessing for those in charge of the club in question, the presence of two top-tier netminders on the same NHL team is less thrilling for fantasy folk. If Quick's groin holds up, Bishop is projected to serve as second banana with his new squad. Not ideal. But the Kings aren't expected to run their No. 1 ragged either. This tandem arrangement -- however high quality -- leaves much to be desired for those of us trying to win our redraft and dynasty leagues.