Waiver watch: Why your fantasy playoff roster needs Canadiens and Predators

Ryan Johansen of the Nashville Predators has four home games this week, where he sports a 24.4 shooting percentage. Rob Curtis/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.


Brendan Gallagher, RW, Montreal Canadiens (Rostered in 36.4% of ESPN.com leagues): Forced to sit out a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury, the scrappy winger now appears his best, refreshed, dirt-disturbing self. Competing on a line with Christian Dvorak, Gallagher has a goal and four assists in his three games back, plus a bonus 14 penalty minutes (where applicable). While this has been an altogether lousy year for the 10-year Canadien, here's his chance to make something of the final stretch. With zero pressure.

But what I appreciate most about Gallagher, or any other solid Montreal asset, is when the team plays this week - on daily cards where almost everyone else is idle: Monday (one NHL game), Wednesday (four), and Friday (two), before joining the bulk of the league on Saturday. There's much added fantasy value in being able to roll out commodities in daily adjustment leagues when most others are off.

Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville Predators (35.0%): The Predators have one of the most favorable schedules this week, particularly where scoring is concerned. Tuesday's tilt with the Sharks launches a series of four games, all at home, including visits from the Oilers, Blackhawks, and Blues. Nashville is 22-12-0 in Tennessee this season, which inspires my monthly reminder that Johansen, averaging 2.3 fantasy points/game this past month, is ridiculously underappreciated in ESPN.com leagues. The Preds center also has a total nine points in nine combined contests versus San Jose, Edmonton, Chicago, and St. Louis on the year. Four of them goals.

Jakub Vrana, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (32.9%): My favourite Free Agent pick up of the week, Vrana is quietly humming along with seven goals and four assists, including three power-play points, in 10 games. Lots of shots too.

The performance is only characterized as a bit hushed because the non-contending Red Wings aren't commanding as much attention as those in the playoff mix. But that's not Vrana's problem. Or a concern for his respective fantasy managers. Detroit plays four games this week, beginning Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. Plenty of opportunities for the top-six winger to add to his running total.

Matt Boldy, LW/RW, Minnesota Wild (15.7%): He's back. After sitting out four games with an upper-body injury, the rookie winger contributed a goal and power-play assist on five shots in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Kings. Skating on the Wild's second forward line and top special teams unit, Boldy is in good position to pile up more points when Minnesota faces the Oilers, Stars, Blues, and Sharks this week.

Jake DeBrusk, LW/RW, Boston Bruins (15.2%): You couldn't have convinced me earlier this season that DeBrusk would still be skating in Boston at this stage. Now the trade-demanding-winger-of-yesterday is lighting it up as a regular on Boston's top line and power play. Seven goals and three assists in seven contests, ahead of the Bruins' dreary team effort in Washington on Sunday, works out to a pleasing 3.1 fantasy points/game in standard ESPN.com leagues. Hard to find fault with that fantasy haul.

See also: Victor Olofsson, RW, Buffalo Sabres (14%)


Brayden McNabb, Vegas Golden Knights (27.5%): No need to figure out why McNabb has the hottest stick on the Golden Knights' blue line of late, just enjoy the ride. Usually coveted for his fantasy contributions via blocking shots (2.6/game) and throwing hits (2.1/game), the Vegas defender is also, now, on a mini scoring tear, with a goal and four assists in four games. That's five more points than the 11 total collected the previous six months. Ahead of a pivotal three-game journey across western Canada, McNabb is a must-roster asset in leagues that reward both scoring and the above-mentioned defensive categories.

Nick Leddy, St. Louis Blues (5.1%): The newest member of St. Louis' blue line is riding a five-game point streak, coinciding with his club's five-straight wins. After a slightly sluggish start to his fresh tenure in Missouri, following a near-deadline trade from Detroit, Leddy is rediscovering his scoring legs. Remember all those years with the Islanders? History suggests the puck-moving defenseman is clearly capable of contributing to the scoresheet on the regular.

While we're here, check on the availability of goalie Ville Husso (60.2%) and/or forward Robert Thomas (35.4%), ahead of a busy stretch of four games in six days. Both Blues commodities deserve much more attention than they're receiving across the ESPN.com fantasy spectrum.

Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres (2.1%): He's signed and ready to go. Gauging reports out of Buffalo, Power is projected to make his NHL debut Tuesday, in his home neighbourhood of Toronto (he's technically from Mississauga, but close enough). The 2021 top-overall draft pick is coming off a successful near point/game season with the Michigan Wolverines, falling just short of winning it all only days ago. Now the talented, towering teen is ready for his next (huge) chapter. For more on Power, and other up-and-coming fantasy-relevant prospects to target - especially, but not necessarily only, in keeper leagues - have a visit here.

See also: Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets (9.9%)


Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins (3.0%): The Penguins backup won Sunday's all-important tilt with the Predators, 3-2 in OT, following Tristan Jarry's run of four-straight losses. That probably earns DeSmith at least another start this week, against the Islanders (two games) or Bruins. While I don't adore this fantasy acquisition in net, there are worse streaming options out there. Especially if the match-up makes sense.

Lowered expectations

Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (93.4%): He's probably going to be suspended for cross-checking Mark Borowiecki in the face on Sunday. Monday's scheduled meeting with the Department of Player Safety certainly suggests as much. A three-gamer would mean the Penguins center won't dress again until the following Thursday (Apr. 21) against the Bruins. With only four regular-season games to follow. Malkin's individual fantasy managers must decide whether he's worth rostering through that idle stretch, depending on the sentence handed down, of course.