Fantasy Mailbag: Waiver targets on teams with the best remaining schedules

Calgary Flames' Dillon Dube moves in on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen during third period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, January 30, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Kudos to those of you who jumped at the opportunity to grab Anthony Mantha off waivers.

Indisputably, the Mantha blockbuster was the silver lining of an otherwise underwhelming trade deadline day in the NHL.

Believe it or not, it’s the subtle pickups like Mantha that could help put your fantasy roster over the top. Before the trade, the winger’s ownership in standard leagues was hovering around 15 per cent. Now, it’s above 60 per cent and climbing. The 26-year-old has two goals and an assist in two games so far for the Washington Capitals.

Bottom line, you need to act swiftly this time of year. Whether your playoffs have already begun or are just around the corner, every move you make from here on out could make or break your fantasy season.

That advice certainly applies to the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool, too. For what it’s worth, Mantha’s two-point value is a no-brainer to roster, provided Washington has a busy slate, of course. In general, it would be wise to target players with a new lease on life. It’s amazing what a change of scenery could do for a player.

Now to your questions:

Obviously, the Vancouver Canucks have the most games remaining (19). We’ll see if they can get them all in, however.

Here are some other teams to look at and one corresponding waiver play to contemplate making:

16 games remaining: Montreal (Jake Allen).
15 games remaining: Boston (Craig Smith), Minnesota (Mats Zuccarello).
14 games remaining: Carolina (Jaccob Slavin), Dallas (Denis Gurianov), New Jersey (Jesper Bratt), L.A. (Alex Iafallo), San Jose (Kevin Labanc), St. Louis (Vince Dunn), Vegas (Chandler Stephenson).

Hope that helps.

It’s very close, but I’d side with Morgan Rielly, especially considering the fact that he’ll likely be entering a contract year for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The most encouraging thing is that both players are set up favourably to succeed in fantasy hockey next season. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong, regardless of the player you end up choosing.

One of my only reservations when it comes to owning Theodore is the fact that Alex Pietrangelo isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The Vegas Golden Knights paid him to be the guy and with that, should come high leverage opportunities. It’ll be intriguing to see how they’re utilized moving forward.

In Toronto, there are no restrictions for Rielly. He’s the No. 1 puck mover and the attachment to all the big boys, especially on the power play, continues to make him a very attractive fantasy option. Additionally, the Maple Leafs are cap-strapped and an extension this summer, at least at this point, looks very unlikely.

I’d take my chances with contract year Rielly.

Let’s take a look at this from a fantasy perspective.

For starters, whether he moves on from the Buffalo Sabres or not, I think Eichel is primed for a massive bounce-back season. He’s an exceptional talent, and on top of that, he’s been an elite fantasy contributor for several years now. I have faith in a return to prominence.

As for your question, I do think Eichel has played his final game as a Sabre. At the very least, I’m guessing Buffalo has a decent understanding of what a potential price tag for the all-star centre might look like. Considering how rare it is for a player of Eichel’s ilk to become available on the trade market, I’m sure teams with quality assets and cap space will be lining up in the off-season to at least make a pitch. Right away, the New York Rangers come to mind.

Simply put, the return on a deal might be too rich for the Sabres to pass up on. It’s time for a culture change in Buffalo, anyways.

Despite the lack of production this season, I’d side with Alexis Lafrenière.

For a variety of reasons, I’m giving him a mulligan this year. I think a nice, long off-season of training and preparation will put the 2021 first-overall pick in sound position to hit the ground running in September.

Simply put, I much prefer what Lafrenière has around him as opposed to what Stützle does. The Rangers are ready to compete now, Ottawa is still probably still a couple of years away. New York has seasoned studs like Artemi Panarin and Mike Zibanejad, among others, in New York. Meantime, spearheaded by Brady Tkachuk, resources are much scarcer for Stützle with the Senators.

Despite Philadelphia’s overall struggles, I’d keep Carter Hart for the rest of the season. Bottom line, you’re not going to find a better option on the waiver wire right now.

Additionally, the 22-year-old has actually been pretty decent since returning from a mini-sabbatical. Over his past five appearances, Hart has surrendered 12 goals. Yeah, I’d say he’s starting to turn a corner. Also, five of the Philadelphia Flyers' remaining 13 games are against the New Jersey Devils, a bottom-five team in the NHL. The Devils have dropped four in a row. Keep the faith.

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