Fantasy hockey waiver watch: Championship round pickups

Nino Niederreiter is on a productive line for the Carolina Hurricanes. Steven King/Icon Sportswire

Every week, we'll mine the waiver wire for lesser-rostered 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. Finally, we will look at some former go-to fantasy assets who may be overvalued - in the short- or long-term - for one reason or another.


Phil Kessel, RW, Arizona Coyotes (51.0%): The Coyotes need Kessel to be at his best if they're to hold realistic hope of keeping the Blues at bay for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West. Especially with Conor Garland out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Fortunately, "Phil the Thrill" is usually more effective with a little extra competitive fire in his belly. The Coyotes' upcoming schedule also appears favorable, including four contests against San Jose and a pair with the Kings (a two-game set with Vegas admittedly strikes as less advantageous). Kessel has seven goals in four games against the Sharks this season, including a hat-trick his last time out (Mar. 27). I'm all over the veteran sniper as a sneaky fantasy addition while the regular season winds down.

Nino Niederreiter, RW/LW, Carolina Hurricanes (49.9%): Planted on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas, Niederreiter has a pair of goals and an assist in his past three contests. They tend to come in bunches for this guy, which foreshadows a productive finish to the regular season. And, unlike Trocheck and Necas, Niederreiter is available in about half of ESPN.com leagues.

Tanner Pearson, LW, Vancouver Canucks (42.5%): The Canucks are scheduled to play 11 more games before May 13, the final date on the ESPN.com fantasy calendar. Only the Avalanche, Blues, and Kings have as many contests remaining on their respective slates (for comparison, the Red Wings and Blue Jackets have only six left). It adds up to a good number of on-ice minutes for Pearson to enjoy on a top line with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. And the compilation of three goals in three recent games suggests the slumping forward has perhaps finally rediscovered his scoring touch.

Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, Florida Panthers (41.1%): After highlighting Sam Bennett's rejuvenated fantasy value in this space only a week ago, I'm shifting attention to one of his current linemates. Since returning to the ice in mid-April, Duclair has two goals and seven assists (plus-13!) in seven games. That production works out to a wholly useful 2.1 fantasy points per contest. There's a lot to like right now about Florida's second scoring line - also including Jonathan Huberdeau - as the Panthers continue to battle Tampa Bay and Carolina for the Central Division crown. Particularly this week when the club faces the Predators and Blackhawks twice.

Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Edmonton Oilers (29.5%): Goodness knows how many times Puljujarvi has been acquired and then dropped again over the course of his reunion season with the Oilers, but maybe consider giving him one more go. Competing on a scoring line with Connor McDavid, the 22-year-old has scored in three-straight games (plus contributed an assist). McDavid - and this shouldn't register as even a minor surprise with anyone - assisted on all three of those goals. After a brief hiatus, the Oilers are back at it, facing a 10-game stretch before ESPN wraps up fantasy play on May 13. As long as he sticks beside one of the game's greatest, Puljujarvi could make a fair bit of scoring noise before we're through.

Eeli Tolvanen, LW/RW, Nashville Predators (22.0%): After losing most of April to a lower-body injury, Tolvanen appears to be picking up where he left off. Skating on a top Predators line with Victor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen, the 21-year-old is a goal and assist to the good through two games back. Promising, especially when recalling his collected three goals and six assists during Nashville's six-game win streak to wrap up March. The Preds need more of the same from their young forward if they're to fend off Dallas, or maybe even Chicago, for fourth spot in the Central.

Tyler Bozak, C, St. Louis Blues (3.0%): Without attracting much attention from the fantasy crowd, the Blues center has quietly strung together a six-game point streak comprising of one goal and seven assists. A that clip, he isn't likely to be shifted off a top-six line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz anytime soon. As mentioned above, the Blues - sitting one point out of fourth place in the West - are one of a small handful of teams with 11 games remaining on the schedule. After missing all of February and most of March, Bozak appears intent on making up for lost time. He has value in deeper leagues, without question.

See also: Nick Foligno, LW/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs; Josh Norris, C, Ottawa Senators; Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche


Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins (34.3%): Battling injuries all season, Grzelcyk is back at it once more, skating on Boston's top pair and anchoring the No. 1 power play. There's no point in expecting any real fantasy fireworks here, but the Bruins defender is a warm body who shoots, blocks shots, and contributes the odd point. When in best form, Grzelcyk is good for a couple of fantasy points a night.


Braden Holtby, Vancouver Canucks (42.9%): As mentioned above, the Canucks are scheduled to play a good number of games to wind down 2020-21, and Holtby appears poised to feature in most of them. He started three of Vancouver's most recent four - won them all in convincing fashion - and as is slated to face the Senators on Monday. If interested in a goalie who should garner plenty of opportunities in the next two-plus weeks, Holtby is as an option to consider.

See also: Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes; Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins; Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes

Lowered expectations

Kevin Lankinen, G, Chicago Blackhawks (70.5%): Malcolm Subban has been the busier of Chicago's two main netminders of late, starting three of the club's past four. In fact, Lankinen's last outing in Nashville was a particularly ugly affair, resulting in his receiving the hook after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Plus, there isn't much to love about what's left of the Blackhawks' schedule, including a tilt with Tampa, a pair versus Florida, and a three-game set in Carolina. It all adds up to six of eight remaining games against the cream of the Central Division's crop. Even if Lankinen starts half of them, they may not go well.