Waiver Wednesday: Barkov hype machine is back

In a week that saw Pittsburgh score 20 goals in 5 games, three Penguins players are joined by Cam Talbot and Mark Scheifele as this week's hottest players.

We’ve reached a point in the season where you’re either in the midst, or on the cusp, of the playoffs in your head-to-head leagues.

Playing points-only or rotisserie formats instead? Your late-season races will still be decided by what takes place over the next month. It’s paramount that you do everything possible to maximize the last remaining days of the season. That means diving deep into the schedule to pick out the players with the most favourable upcoming week.

Here are six widely available options (all ownership figures based on Yahoo! leagues) for you to grab off your waiver wire.

Aleksander Barkov – C – 48 per cent owned

It’s time to start the Barkov hype machine again. He has 42 points in 50 games and only injuries have slowed him down. Barkov has four goals and seven points in seven games since returning from his latest injury, despite being without his usual setup man Jonathan Huberdeau for the majority of those games.

Huberdeau is back healthy, meaning the Panthers are now fully operational. With four games in the next seven days, starting with a visit from the scoring friendly Senators on Thursday, the Panthers are a team to watch for fantasy purposes and it starts with Barkov.

Frans Nielsen – C – 28 per cent owned

The Islanders have 18 games left on the schedule -- the most of any team. New York's upcoming schedule is favourable with four games in the next seven days starting with a matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Nielsen is always a good option if you need a spot or if you're looking for someone to fill a void while you deal with injuries. He's a solid No. 2 centreman behind John Tavares, who also sees top unit power-play time. Nielsen fires over two shots per game, won’t hurt your plus/minus, and stands a decent chance of scoring some points as he's on pace for 55 this season.

Thomas Greiss – G – 48 per cent owned

Greiss is heavily owned but is still available for plenty of fantasy owners. He’ll almost certainly get tonight’s start against the Maple Leafs and could run with the starting gig given Jaroslav Halak’s recent injury. Make note of this for next season: Halak’s backup is mandatory to own given his injury history. Greiss also happens to be putting up some stellar numbers with a league leading .930 save percentage.

Drew Stafford – LW/RW – 25 per cent owned

The guy I’d really like to pump up here is Nikolaj Ehlers, but he's been out of the lineup after taking a puck to the visor last week. His loss is Stafford’s gain as it's Stafford who now skates on the Jets' top line with the red hot Mark Scheifele (only 60 per cent owned, himself) and the consistently great Blake Wheeler. Stafford has proven that he can score in bunches and has three points in the last four games. Most important of all, the Jets have four games in the next week.

Nikita Soshnikov – RW – 8 per cent owned

Soshnikov has been the surprise from Toronto's call ups following the trade deadline. Soshnikov has skated on the Leafs’ top line with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov. The result has been three points in five games for Soshnikov. What’s really exciting about Soshnikov is that he has levelled 19 hits and fired 17 shots in his five games. He's playing the sort of physical, high volume game that will endear him to fantasy owners in multi-category settings. The Leafs have four games in the next week so give this guy a look.

Jori Lehtera – C – 8 per cent owned

This is for real deep leagues and desperate fantasy owners. Even while he has skated with Vladimir Tarasenko we just haven’t gotten a ton out of Lehtera this season. He did score a goal in his return to the lineup after a brief injury absence. Perhaps he can keep that rolling. More importantly, while the Blues don’t have many games left, they do have four games in the next week, making this the opportune time to grab Lehtera if you need to.

Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of Dobber Hockey. Follow him @SteveLaidlaw.