The fantasy hockey season is more than one-quarter over. If you have a fantasy team and have not checked your league’s waiver wire for some upgrades, you are probably missing out on some very helpful players.
The waiver wire is normally loaded with solid players in the first part of the season in most leagues, which is perfect for fantasy owners whose teams are riddled with injuries, or stuck with terrible players thanks to poor drafting.
So who are some of the top waiver wire choices for fantasy owners who need to fill holes on their rosters? Here are four players who should be picked up ASAP on the waiver wire in fantasy hockey leagues:
Ben Scrivens, Los Angeles Kings (G)
Maybe Jonathan Quick is not God’s gift to goaltending after all. Quick, known as one of the top-10 goalies in fantasy hockey (if not top-five), is out for several weeks with a severe groin injury. But his understudy has skated right in and actually outperformed him.
Scrivens has been a brick wall, posting a 1.44 goals-against-average and a .947 save percentage while filling in for Quick. He has given up two goals or fewer in each of his last seven starts and has been a fantasy godsend for Quick owners who already picked him up on the waiver wire.
Los Angeles’ staunch defensive corps deserves some of the credit for Scrivens’ surprising stretch. Drew Doughty and Co. have kept the shots on goal to a minimum, allowing less than 30 shots on goal on five different occasions while Scrivens was between the pipes.
If Scrivens is still available in your league, pick him up faster than Sidney Crosby can skate. Scrivens will probably be L.A.’s starting netminder through the holidays and could very well keep posting top-10 fantasy numbers throughout his run.
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes (D)
Sekera was never confused with Paul Coffey during his six-plus seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. His best year was when he scored 29 points and was plus-11 in the 2010-11 campaign. He was as useful to fantasy hockey owners as the paparazzi are to Alec Baldwin.
But Sekera has suddenly found a surprising scoring touch in his first season with Carolina. He has scored five goals, which is already a career-high for him. And with 11 points in 23 contests, he is well on his way to easily topping the 30-point plateau for the first time in his NHL career.
Sekera is benefiting from more power-play time than he has ever received before. The extra minutes on the man-advantage are creating more scoring opportunities for him, and he is cashing in on them.
Sekera is probably still available on many waiver wires, so feel free to pick him up if you need help on defense. Maybe he will keep up the good work throughout the season and finish with 10 goals and 35 points.
Justin Braun, San Jose Sharks (D)
If you are languishing near the bottom of your fantasy league in plus-minus and need a quick fix on the waiver wire, grabbing Braun is not a bad idea.
Braun is a defensive defenseman who had never scored more than 11 points in a season during his brief NHL career entering 2013-14. But he is now playing the best hockey of his pro life, registering seven points and a plus-16 rating in 23 contests.
San Jose is playing excellent hockey right now, so Braun’s plus-minus is being boosted because of his Sharks winning most of their games. While the Sharks might be hard-pressed to continue winning at the high clip they currently are, Braun is showing signs that he is turning into an above-average defender with some all-around abilities.
Take a flyer on Braun for his plus-minus, and maybe he will throw in some more goals and assists than you expect. He is a young talent who should improve as season progresses.
Steve Downie, Philadelphia Flyers (RW)
I know Downie does not look like a sexy pickup because he has only netted one goal this season. But his goal scoring will not be that horrendous all season long, and he is contributing in big ways in other major fantasy categories.
Downie is one of the few fighters who has some offensive ability. He has 55 penalty minutes in 19 games, and he also has 12 assists in those contests. He is no Adam Oates when it comes to his passing, but he does more than most roughhousers who can pile up 150-200 PIM.
Downie is not a detriment on defense, either. He is plus-10 this season, so his lack of goal scoring and power-play points are more than evened out by his PIM, plus-minus and assists. If Downie remains a fantasy free agent in your league, by all means sign him up!