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Fantasy hockey waiver watch: Top eight free agents to boost your team

Damon Severson and Jesper Bratt should be the two New Jersey Devils you look to pick up this week. Jeanine Leech/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.


Forwards

Josh Anderson, RW, Montreal Canadiens (Rostered in 42% of ESPN.com leagues): Before taking a puck to the face against the Sabres on Wednesday, Anderson scored three goals and an assist on seven shots through his two previous games. Clearly no worse for wear, he was back in action in Ottawa on Saturday. A spot on the Canadiens' new top line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield -- featured in this space last week -- will help the power forward contribute at a more productive pace. Leading all Montreal forwards in hits, Anderson boasts even greater fantasy value in leagues that reward that category.

Jesper Bratt, RW, New Jersey Devils (40%): He's back and more productive than ever. After missing a couple of contests with an upper-body injury, Bratt retook the ice with a vengeance, scoring a total of four goals (two in each) and an assist on nine shots through a pair games in Pittsburgh and Chicago. That brings the top-six winger up to 48 points in 47 games on the season. The underappreciated asset averages 2 fantasy points per outing. Go get him.

Jakub Vrana, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (17.6%): Out of his non-contact jersey, and practicing on the squad's secondary power play, the Detroit forward could make his season debut before too long. Once he does, a top-six position and role with the extra skater is a given. After joining the Red Wings in last year's trade with Washington, Vrana erupted for eight goals and three assists in only 11 games. Sitting out all season in recovery from shoulder surgery, the former Capital will be extra revved up to make the most of the remaining calendar.

Jake DeBrusk, LW, Boston Bruins (2.9%): Maybe the Bruins are largely playing DeBrusk on their top line as means to showcase his potential with view to a trade. That's OK! His four goals and one assist on 13 shots in four recent games still count. What's also important to note is that the B's won all four of those contests. So there's no motivation to drop DeBrusk back down the lineup anytime soon. A trade to another interested team, willing to relinquish assets to get him, wouldn't be the worst thing either. Likely to benefit from a change of scenery, the 25-year-old hasn't been the same since scoring 27 goals in 68 games for Boston only three seasons ago. He's worth a flier in deeper fantasy leagues.

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DeBrusk's second goal comes in the form of OT game winner

Jake DeBrusk's second goal comes just 33 seconds into overtime as the Bruins defeat the Kraken 3-2.

See also: Tanner Pearson, LW, Vancouver Canucks (26.6%); Tanner Jeannot, RW/LW, Nashville Predators (28.6%)

Defenders

Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils (23.5%): I have to believe his station in New Jersey is what's turning off too many otherwise savvy fantasy managers. Because the raw numbers are there. Averaging 24:47/game, Severson has six goals and 20 assists in 30 contests since Dec. 3. Only forward Bratt (see above) has contributed more fantasy points for the Devils in 2021-22. Yet there the defender sits, available in more than three-quarters of ESPN.com leagues. If the return of Dougie Hamilton is of extra concern, know that Severson has a goal and two assists in the two games shared with the healthy-again blueliner. And, maybe not for long, but he's still anchoring the club's No. 1 power play.

Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets (6.6%): The 26-year-old has blocked 25 shots, thrown 20 hits, rifled 15 shots and contributed six assists in a dozen games this past month. That works out to an average of 1.8 fantasy points/game in ESPN.com standard leagues, making Gavrikov inarguably useful in deeper fantasy competition.

Goaltenders

Pavel Francouz, Colorado Avalanche (14%): The Avalanche's other netminder doesn't start as often as Darcy Kuemper, but when he does he usually wins. Francouz is 9-1-0 with a .925 SV% since Jan. 8 (he only suited up in one mid-December game before then). It's almost always worth streaming the club's No. 2, or utilizing him as a daily fantasy asset, when he's handed the goaltending reigns in Colorado.

Sam Montembeault, Montreal Canadiens (1.6%): The joy balloon is bound to pop soon enough, but right now the Canadiens are having a blast. Even more to our interest, they've won five straight under new head coach Martin St. Louis. Three of those victories, including Wednesday's shutout of the Sabres, earned by Montembeault. And the Montreal netminder held the Maple Leafs and Blues -- two imposing offenses -- to two goals each in the other wins.

Now, make no mistake, the Habs' upcoming four-game swing through Western Canada could be challenging, with stops in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. But, in my view, Montembeault is riding hot enough to earn a shot against all but the Flames. After that road trip, the Canadiens then play the less-scary Kraken, Flyers and Coyotes. That could go really well. I also like Montreal's other current goalie, Andrew Hammond, as a play in daily fantasy against whoever he's scheduled to face. Again, except the Flames. That Calgary offense terrifies me right now.

Lowered expectations

Jack Campbell, G, Toronto Maple Leafs (99.2%): "He's gotta be better," coach Sheldon Keefe said following Saturday's wild 10-7 win over Detroit. Indeed. Do I think Campbell can regain his impressive form from earlier this season? I do. But he's a mess right now, statistically and to anyone watching. That Petr Mrazek is expected to start Monday in Washington also speaks volumes. Bench Campbell until he shows real evidence of figuring a way out of his current inconsistent funk.