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Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Pickups to make for Week 3

·8 min read
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By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

If there's one thing we can be sure of so far this season, it's that we can't be sure of anything. Just when you think you've got a team or a player pegged, they go and change course ...

... And then quickly go back to whatever they were doing before.

Even though there are plenty of unknowns, they just make fantasy hockey that much more interesting. It would be boring if everything were predictable and we knew exactly which players to select on any day and for any situation. C'mon, where's the fun in that?

As always, be sure to check the latest player news on RotoWire and our current hockey material to set your lineups and manage your rosters.

Teams caught in a slide? These NHLers can get you back in stride.

(Yahoo! rostered rates/stats as of Jan. 28.)

FORWARDS

Zach Hyman, TOR (45 percent rostered)

Hyman parlayed a 54-point collegiate effort in 2014-15 at Michigan into significant interest from the Maple Leafs, who acquired the hometown kid the following summer from Florida, the team that drafted him. He was in show the next year and has gone on to be a decent — but not exceptional — scorer. On the surface, it might seem Hyman's three points would be a repeat of past offensive achievements. But other information tells a story of someone who skates alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner 5-on-5 and who receives significantly more power-play duty than previous seasons. With Hyman, you get a few goals and assists but also get a hard worker averaging two hits per game.

Denis Gurianov, DAL (29 percent)

The Stars might have only played three times, but they've managed an astonishing nine power-play goals from 16 attempts. The usual suspects are leading the way, but a guy like Gurianov appears to be flying under the radar — even though he tallied 12 PPPs last season. He's already registered two goals and an assist while up a man and has also fired 12 shots on net. Dallas will eventually have to face tougher Central Division opponents, but Gurianov remains an excellent add as one of the key members of a potent attack.

James van Riemsdyk, PHI (23 percent)

Van Riemsdyk has generally been reliable as a power forward with good hands and a net-front presence, but he's turned those skills up a notch this year with five goals. He's also moved up with Philly's other big guns on the first power play and scored twice there Tuesday. Not to get too excited, but JVR's season-high in PPGs is 11 and he's already at four. He's not the most consistent stat filler, but you have to like someone well-positioned on the Flyers' front line.

Adrian Kempe, LA (18 percent)

Following three defeats to start the season, the Kings promoted middle-six center Kempe to Anze Kopitar's wing and he's reciprocated with two goals, two assists, and 11 shots in the last four games. The 2014 first-round pick is also a regular power-play performer with more than four minutes a night and is being used more while shorthanded. For a squad billed as young and rebuilding, LA has improved its offensive output from last year, and Kempe should be highlighted for his contributions.

Jordan Kyrou, STL (16 percent)

Kudos to those who've been holding on to Kyrou and patiently waiting for him to break out. For everyone else, you may want to grab the young winger while he's still available. Kyrou has always displayed talent, but he's finally transferring it to the scoresheet with seven points in the first seven games. Imagine what he could do if provided with additional responsibility. Actually, don't imagine — just get Kyrou. Now.

St. Louis Blues center Jordan Kyrou (25)
Jordan Kyrou is delivering on his potential. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Brandon Saad, COL (11 percent)

The fantasy world experienced a meltdown when it was announced Saad was a minus-8 after six outings. I mean, how dare a 28-year-old in new surroundings struggle early just by being on the ice for eight more goals against? Fortunately, the crisis was averted when it was revealed Avs' coach Jared Bednar was confident the ex-Blackhawk could turn it around. And so Saad did Tuesday, potting two goals and looking like a general attacking threat. Will he revert to poor play in the coming weeks? Maybe. Would it be a good idea to add someone in Colorado's top-six because it tends to score a lot? Definitely.

Nick Ritchie, BOS (9 percent)

If you're considering lesser-known wingers in favorable spots, look no further than Ritchie. You may remember the Bruins from their second-best power play from last season, though you might not be aware the power forward has already supplied five PPPs this campaign. Things may switch around on the man-advantage when David Pastrnak and others return, but Ritchie should retain his place having been heavily involved up to now.

Ryan Donato, SJ (1 percent)

The Sharks aren't expected to do much in the wild West, but they carry enough value to be worth your fantasy time. After Donato debuted in Boston at the tail end of the 2017-18 season and put up nine points in 12 games, big expectations followed. Unfortunately, he was unable to prolong that promise and has since moved teams twice. Donato not only finds himself with a fresh start, but he's also been paired with Logan Couture on the first line, and he seems to have responded to the prime billing by entering Thursday's action with back-to-back multi-point displays.

DEFENSEMEN

Ty Smith, NJ (30 percent)

At 20, Smith has made the leap straight from junior to Jersey. Even with a first-round pedigree, it was thought he'd require time to adjust. That hasn't been the case, as Smith registered a point in each of his first five pro appearances before the streak ended Tuesday. He's not getting major ice time yet, but a recent bump up to the Devils' first power play can only boost his value. And Smith is trusted enough by the coaches that a former producer like Will Butcher still hasn't been included in the lineup.

Duncan Keith, CHI (28 percent)

At the opposite end of the age spectrum, we find Keith trying to turn back time — more specifically, to any of the seven seasons when he exceeded 40 points. The veteran isn't really doing much in peripheral categories, but his offense has returned with five assists. And with Adam Boqvist set to be out for at least two weeks, Keith remains the only reliable scoring defender, meaning he'll QB a dangerous Blackhawks' man-advantage.

Filip Hronek, DET (25 percent)

Plenty of hype followed Hronek to the NHL after he posted 63 points in 98 AHL games. He'd immediately deliver at the top level with 23 in 46 and then 31 in 65. The 23-year-old sits at four assists through seven games while being heavily involved on both special-teams units. Detroit wouldn't normally be considered a decent waiver destination, but Hronek is clearly positioned as its lead fantasy blueliner and should continue to do so all season.

Alec Martinez, VGK (21 percent)

Martinez is a steady two-way defender not known for his offense, though he peaked at a respectable 39 points in nine seasons in LA and achieved double-digit PPPs three consecutive years. He's already racked up five helpers — all at even strength — across seven games while registering a regular role on Vegas's second power play. Martinez's man-advantage numbers should improve if he maintains his place, but qualifies as a worthy add due to top-four status skating almost 23 minutes a night while chipping in with 25 blocks and nine hits.

GOALTENDERS

Kaapo Kahkonen, MIN (32 percent)

Cam Talbot performed well in his first three appearances (2.27 GAA, .926 save percentage) but was forced out early from last Friday's game with a lower-body injury. Kahkonen stepped in and shut out the Sharks for the final 40 minutes, but followed that by letting in four during the rematch. He looked solid in his most recent effort, though the Wild could only muster a single goal. Even when Talbot (54 percent in Yahoo) returns, you figure Kahkonen has done enough to warrant a significant share of the starts.

Linus Ullmark, BUF (25 percent)

When looking at the Sabres' netminding situation, it's clear Ullmark should be the No. 1, as Carter Hutton hasn't fared well since arriving in Buffalo and is eight years older. Poolies seem to agree, as the Swede tops the Canadian by 17 percent in Yahoo coverage. Ullmark was excellent last season and has continued to impress with a 2.42/.912 line. The Sabres don't boast a great defensive side, but they can at least score enough to improve a goalie's win totals.

(Players to consider from past columns: Nolan Patrick, Paul Stastny, Kevin Labanc, Joshua Norris, Dylan Strome, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Kevin Hayes, Pavel Buchnevich, Alexandre Texier, Rasmus Andersson, Devon Toews, Josh Morrissey, Noah Dobson, MacKenzie Blackwood).