This week’s Waiver Wednesday is more about correcting some injustices than anything else.
The first two names on this list are ones that MUST be added if still floating on the waiver wire. You know how every year the guy who wins the league is the one who jumped all over the breakout players and road them to championship glory? Well these are two of those breakout players and that championship glory can still be yours.
Act fast, they won’t be flying under the radar forever.
Mikkel Boedker – LW/RW – 20 per cent owned
Boedker’s ownership nearly doubled after last weekend’s hat-trick against the Senators but it is still woefully low. Boedker is on pace for 65 points, which should have value in every single league out there and there is not much of an argument against him reaching that level. The Coyotes are a high-flying bunch, more than willing to get into a shootout if that’s what it takes to overcome their suspect goaltending.
I know some folks are weary of injuries after Boedker missed just under half of last season but that ignores the three previous seasons where he didn’t miss a single game. You might also argue that Boedker’s shooting percentage is too high at 14.5 per cent. It is high but Boedker is an elite shooter carrying an 11.9 per cent career average. Even if Boedker’s shooting regresses to career average over the rest of the season, he will still pile on another 18 goals to finish with 27 on the year.
What’s exciting about Boedker is he seems to be hitting another level thanks to some huge power-play minutes. How many players are seeing more time on the power play per game than Boedker’s 4:40?
Two. Just two players. Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. With this added power-play time, Boedker has punched up his shot rate to almost three per game. He is on pace for 212 SOG, which would be a career high. This is the breakout season we have been waiting a long time to see but at 25 years old, Boedker is finally emerging. Too bad so many folks are sleeping on him. If you have only one move to make this week, make it Boedker. You won’t regret it.
Rasmus Ristolainen – D – 48 per cent owned
Plenty of folks caught on to our early pleas to get him onto their fantasy squads and yet Ristolainen remains available in over half the leagues out there. After three assists last night Ristolainen is on pace for 56 points. No really, the Sabres’ #1 defenseman is crushing any projections anyone might have had for him while breaking out huge.
Will he finish with 56 points? Unlikely. But while we were calling for a baseline of 40 earlier this year, suddenly 45-50 is looking very possible. We have quoted this stat a number of times in this space but it bears repeating: only 27 defensemen scored 40 or more last season. Ristolainen is getting there for sure, which makes him an excellent fantasy option. You absolutely cannot let him linger on the waiver wire any longer.
Leo Komarov – C/LW – 20 per cent owned
If your league counts hits he is a stud. The league’s #2 hitter (behind only Matt Martin) is landing nearly five per game and is on pace for a gaudy 390 hits.
Komarov is not all brawn, however. With 10 goals already, Komarov is flashing a deft touch as a net-front presence. He is like a poor man’s Wayne Simmonds. Will Komarov continue to score at a 22.7 per cent clip? Probably not, but skating on the top line and top power-play unit does seem to buoy shooting percentages, for net-front guys, at rates you wouldn’t otherwise suspect possible.
Ryan Strome – C/RW – 19 per cent owned
Strome is back, baby! He has scored in all three games since getting recalled by the Islanders and is looking much less timid than he did before the demotion. Strome is only skating on the third line, with second power-play unit minutes so the upside is not huge. He certainly won’t be having that breakout so many projected him for when Strome was slated to ride shotgun with John Tavares all season. However, if a guy scoring at a 50-point rate has value in your pool then you should pick him up.
More likely, Strome’s value lies in the form of temporary pick-ups. You snag him when he is running hot and his schedule is dense. It just so happens that time is now for Strome. He is riding a three-game scoring streak and skates four games in the next week.
Victor Rask – C – Nine per cent owned
Rask’s claim to fame is being the No. 1 centre on the league’s worst team as far as fantasy hockey value goes. Not exactly an inspiring place to be. That said, being a big fish in a small pond has its perks. With the benefit of some big minutes at even strength and on the power play, Rask is having a mini-breakout, on pace for nearly 30 goals and over 50 points. Will he reach either landmark? It seems unlikely but if you need some help Rask is there slowly plugging away.
Thomas Greiss – G – 22 per cent owned
You know how the Stars’ tandem was basically a duelling banjos situation with no real separation between Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi? Well the Islanders goaltending is trending dangerously close to that territory.
With 11 starts on the year, Greiss is hot on the heels of No. 1 Jaroslav Halak. Part of that owes to Halak’s injury to open the season, but if we know anything about Halak it is that overuse springs leaks. If he starts too many games Halak will either get hurt or start letting in some real softies.
Greiss is keeping Halak honest while also having a great bounce-back season with a .925 save percentage. Greiss probably isn’t No. 1 material but that’s just fine. Given the way they have been deployed thus far, Greiss should get 30 starts on the year and if he keeps playing well that would make him one of the most useful backups in fantasy hockey.
Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of Dobber Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.