Fantasy Hockey

Waiver watch – Tyler Toffoli’s trade reaction to fantasy hockey and more

Each week, we’ll be mining the waiver thread for lesser-listed assets to help your team, whether you prefer Dynasty or the Replay format, and we’ll also give some advice to DFS players out there. Finally, we’ll look at some old must-have gimmicky assets that may be overvalued – in the short or long term – for one reason or another.

Attackers

Tyler Toffoli, LW/RW, Calgary Flames (registered in 25.3% of ESPN.com leagues): Reunited with coach Darryl Sutter, the new member of the Flames should benefit generously from his new lease in 2021-22. Just like his fantastic managers. Traded to Calgary by the Canadiens for a package that includes picks, a prospect and Tyler Pitlick, Toffoli is destined to be given plenty of opportunities to contribute on even strength and with the extra skater. Given that the scoreline of Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman has been buzzing well lately, the 29-year-old winger could first equip himself with a third unit alongside center Sean Monahan. But don’t be too surprised if he soon replaces Coleman in that top-six role. A top position on the Flames’ power play is also a given. The organization does not send such a large package to Montreal just to play its new striker 13 minutes/evening.

The element of familiarity is also a plus here. Toffoli enjoyed several productive seasons under Sutter’s tutelage in Los Angeles, scoring a career-high 31 goals in 2015-16. He will know exactly what to expect from his new bench boss in Calgary. Finding good pal Milan Lucic will make the transition even smoother. Then there’s the happy factor of competing for a (probably) playoff-bound club over a club that isn’t at all.

Just days ago, I was touting Toffoli as a thriving asset under new Montreal head coach Martin St. Louis. Already on a recent upsurge, the top winger was set to benefit from a new voice alongside No.1 center Nick Suzuki. It doesn’t matter now. The situation in Calgary is much better. Go and get it.

Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche (31.4%): Even with his recent run on the Avalanche’s first line coming to an end, the 26-year-old forward remains a popular commodity in the majority of ESPN.com leagues. The return to skating on a scoring unit with Nazem Kadri (62 points) and André Burakovsky can hardly be considered a significant demotion. Since exiting the league’s COVID-19 protocol on Jan. 22, Nichushkin has three goals and five assists on 30 shots in eight games.

Jeff Skinner, LW, Buffalo Sabers (11.8%): Sunday’s four-goal/one-assist performance certainly isn’t a turnoff, of course. But Skinner’s solid fantasy value stems from more than one play. As discussed in this space earlier, the Sabers’ front line – also featuring Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch – has been the most productive since the former Vegas skater made his Buffalo debut just before New Years. Most productive of many. While the Sabers will lose more games than they win, this unit will still score. Skinner and Thompson (18.4%), incidentally, should be considered in a much larger fraction of ESPN.com leagues.

See also: Viktor Arvidsson, RW/LW, Los Angeles Kings (22.3%); Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Edmonton Oilers (44.1%)

Defenders

Calvin de Haan, Chicago Blackhawks (8.9%): Only four defenders average more fantasy points/game than de Haan in ESPN’s default contest last month, and good luck snagging Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, Kris Letang or Victor Hedman as a free agent. Ranked third in the league in blocked shots (117) this season – having played in fewer games than leaders Brayden McNabb and teammate Connor Murphy – the Chicago defenseman is also good for a solid number of hits and a scoring stat odd. But blocked shots are the fantastic bread and butter of this asset. If your league rewards this defensive category, take a good, long look at De Haan.

See also: Oliver Kylington, Calgary Flames (10.6%)

Goalkeepers

Ville Husso, St. Louis Blues (40.4%): The current number one for the Blues is one of the best goalkeepers in the league this calendar year. Boasting a .954 SV% and 1.33 GAA, Husso is 7-1-0 since launching in 2022. Providing a stark contrast, St. Louis’ other netminder is 2-4-0 with 0.862 SV% and 5.03 GAA over the same span. No wonder coach Craig Berube chooses to run with the club’s perceived backup on Jordan Binnington, more often than not. Only seven points ahead of the Dallas Stars in the Central Division, the fourth-placed Blues have no choice but to lean on their $750,000/year market (a pending UFA, to boot ). If you’re interested in a goalie who’s been averaging 6.1 fantasy points/game since New Year’s, give Husso a whirl.

Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild (19.6%): The Minnesota backup is currently working in tandem with Cam Talbot, the split is starting off pretty evenly. That’s not shocking, considering both keepers work well for the scorching Wild. But unlike Talbot, Kahkonen isn’t mentioned in 90% of ESPN.com leagues. If you’re looking for a high-performing part-timer, Minnesota’s current 1B is a great fit. Since Jan. 1 (when Talbot went down injured/now recovered), Kahkonen is 6-1-1 with 0.937 SV% and 2.19 GAA. He will start again against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

See also: Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs (17.1%); Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (30.8%)

Reduced expectations

Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights (94.4%): His chronic back problem is becoming a growing concern. After returning for a five-game streak in late January, Stone is sidelined again. In all, he has only managed 28 contests to date. Then there are the talks of the winger possibly moving into LTIR until the playoffs, helping to clear salary cap space for Jack Eichel’s upcoming inclusion. It’s still just a rumor, but it’s worth planning if you have the popular striker on your own roster.