Every week, we’ll mine the waiver wire for lesser-rostered assets to help your squad, whether you favor dynasty or the redraft format, and we’ll also toss in some tips for DFS players out there. Finally, we will look at some former go-to fantasy assets who may be overvalued – in the short- or long-term – for one reason or another.
Mats Zuccarello, RW, Minnesota Wild (47.4%): One of my perennial favorites as far as underappreciated fantasy assets go, Zuccarello is already off to a strong – and predictably undervalued – start. Skating on a top line and power play with Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek, the diminutive skater leads the Wild with six points, including a pair with the extra skater. As is usual, he should be spoken for in a much greater percentage of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
Lucas Raymond, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings (19.9%): Skating on a Red Wings’ top line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi in Sunday’s tilt with Chicago, the teen forward earned his first hat trick of what portends to be a long and successful NHL career. (According to the Detroit Free Press, the last skater 19 or younger to do so for Detroit was Steve Yzerman back in 1985.) This is just the beginning for the 2020 fourth-overall draft pick. Accustomed to competing with grown-ups following two pro seasons in Sweden, Raymond should be rostered all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues. Keep in mind, the gifted winger is at his most dangerous when a still-yet unvaccinated Bertuzzi is eligible to travel and play.
Lucas Raymond picks up the hat trick leading the Red Wings to a 6-3 win over the Blackhawks.
Rickard Rakell, C/RW, Anaheim Ducks (16.3%): So far, I like the looks of the Ducks’ new forward line consisting of Rakell, rookie Trevor Zegras, and veteran Adam Henrique. Putting in hefty on-ice minutes, that trio appears to have some pop. I also appreciate Rakell’s four goals on 24 shots through six games to date. Not a stranger to scoring, the 28-year-old has two 30-plus goal campaigns to his credit. I propose we might be in for a third.
Zack Kassian, RW, Edmonton Oilers (11.7%): Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl aren’t the only ones putting up points for the red-hot Oilers (although to be fair, those two are scoring a lot). This Edmonton club remains undefeated also due to contributions from others on the roster, including the third-line winger. While three goals and two assists though four games is slightly out of character for Kassian, the physical play is not. Already boasting 23 hits and 18 penalty minutes, the gritty winger is making his presence felt otherwise. He’s a must-roster in fantasy leagues that also reward the rough stuff.
Jonathan Dahlen, C, San Jose Sharks (5.3%): After navigating a rather bumpy road to launch his pro career in North America, and following two much more successful seasons in Sweden, Dahlen is fitting in just fine with the Sharks in his first NHL campaign. Three goals and one assist through five contests, and the 23-year-old is skating on a top line and power play with Logan Couture and Timo Meier. Team captain in Sweden, Ulf Dahlen’s kid has matured and evolved into a significant scoring threat, largely via hard work, in the years following his 2016 draft selection by the Ottawa Senators. He’s easy to root for and roster in deeper ESPN.com leagues.
Evan Rodrigues, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (2.9%): Even before Jeff Carter was sidelined (COVID-19), Rodrigues contributed a pair of goals and assist on 12 shots over four contests. Then, when slotted in as top-line substitute, the reserve center potted a goal and assist on five shots in Saturday’s wholehearted drubbing of the Maple Leafs. While Rodrigues loses fantasy value once the club’s other centers – Carter, Sidney Crosby, eventually Evgeni Malkin – fully recover, we’ve likely got a few games to go. Competing with Jake Guentzel and a speedy Kasperi Kapanen, the 28-year-old serves as a fabulous temporary asset this week, versus the Lightning, Flames, and Devils.
Tony DeAngelo, Carolina Hurricanes (48.0%): The former Ranger has four assists thus far, every one of them counting with the extra skater. Anchoring one of the NHL’s most lethal (third-best) special teams units, DeAngelo should be rostered in any league that rewards production from the backend. Particularly where power-play points count for extra.
Nate Schmidt, Winnipeg Jets (10.2%): Schmidt – not Josh Morrissey nor Neal Pionk – is currently leading the Jets’ blue line with three power-play points. Serving as Morrissey’s top-pair partner, he has another three helpers at even-strength. Unless your blue line is stacked, the nine-year veteran deserves consideration in most standard fantasy leagues. Before lumbering a bit in Vancouver last season, Schmidt averaged half a point per game through three years in Vegas. His role in Winnipeg feels equally promising.
Brayden McNabb, Vegas Golden Knights (6.6%): While he won’t put up the spiciest production numbers, the Vegas defender has a fantasy role to fill in leagues that reward more than just scoring. Sporting 12 blocked-shots and a dozen hits, McNabb is averaging 1.9 fantasy points per game in ESPN’s standard league – more than Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, and Alex Pietrangelo. And, unlike his three blue-line colleagues, he’s widely available.
Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers (25.3%): The Oilers’ other netminder looked just fine in recent back-to-back starts with Mike Smith shelved on injured reserve. He appeared equally good as last week’s mid-game substitute when Smith suffered his lower-body injury. Koskinen has allowed five total goals through three appearances, earning the victory in each. Take advantage of his confident play – and Edmonton’s relentlessness in putting the puck in the opposition’s net – from now until Smith heals up and reclaims the starter’s gig. Coach Dave Tippett has no reason to rush the veteran back at present.
Sean Monahan, F, Calgary Flames (61.5%): Not exactly an impressive launch to what was supposed to round out into a so-promised redemption campaign. Following his least-productive season since competing as a rookie, Monahan has already been demoted to the Flames’ fourth line. (He is still a member of Calgary’s power play.) Playing fewer than 15 minutes a game, Monahan has zero goals or assists to start. Bench the former 80-plus point producer until matters turn around. Or drop him outright, if there are superior options available.