Fantasy NHL – Erik Gustafsson jumps into fantasy relevance, joins this week’s waiver adds

NHL


Every week, we’ll mine the waiver wire for widely available assets to help your fantasy hockey squad, whether you favor dynasty or the re-draft format, and we’ll toss in some tips for DFS players out there. Then, we will look at some former go-to fantasy assets who might be overvalued — in the short or long term — for one reason or another, and provide a list of players we now deem droppable in standard fantasy leagues.


Forwards

Zach Parise, LW, Minnesota Wild (rostered in 39.3 percent of ESPN leagues)

Feeling fresher and better than he has in a long time, Parise is finally rediscovering his scoring touch. Four goals on 22 shots in six games strikes stark contrast to the measly three collected in his previous 24 contests following a lengthy back surgery recovery period. Not the worst timing from the 33-year-old sniper though, with the Wild endeavoring to keep a grip on third place in the Central Division, ahead of what they hope stretches into a productive playoff run. He’s worth grabbing if available.

Ryan Spooner, C, New York Rangers (29.0 percent)

Making yet another appearance in this space since his trade from Boston, Spooner clearly merits a little more fantasy cheerleading in the season’s concluding weeks. Competing on a Rangers’ second scoring line with Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, the former Bruin has two goals and 11 assists in his eight games with the Rangers. With his current contract expiring after the season, the 26-year-old RFA-to-be would do well to maintain that torrid pace as best he can.

Carl Soderberg, C, Colorado Avalanche (5.9 percent)

Another former Bruin is on a tear of his own in Colorado with eight points in six games, including three goals in his past two contests. Centering the Avalanche’s third line, Soderberg isn’t likely to light it up for much longer and should be exploited ASAP, perhaps as a fleeting injury stand-in in deeper leagues or an unconventional daily fantasy asset in Grand Prize Pool play.

Frank Vatrano, RW, Florida Panthers (1.5 percent)

Last bit on a ex-Boston skater, I promise. Making his post-ankle injury Panthers debut on a scoring line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck, the 23-year-old scored a goal on five shots (plus-one) in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Rangers. After that striking introduction, it’s a bit curious that Denis Malgin is instead earning another shot aside Huberdeau and Trocheck. Keep an eye to how it shakes out in the next few days. In any case, Vatrano remains in place on Florida’s secondary power play.

Tyler Bertuzzi, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (1.0 percent)

Skating on a top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist, Bertuzzi collected three assists in Monday’s 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. He also logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time. In that spot, the 23-year-old rookie has the potential to finish up strong on a team already looking forward to what’s next.


Defensemen

Erik Gustafsson, Chicago Blackhawks (2.9 percent)

Skating on the top pair and recently seeing minutes with the Blackhawks’ No. 1 power play, Gustafsson has two goals and four assists in four games, including two helpers with the extra skater. If you have a blue-line hole to plug, the tuned-in 25-year-old deserves more than a passing glance with a non-contending club that has little to lose.

Mike Reilly, Montreal Canadiens (2.6 percent)

The former Minnesota part-timer is carving out a late-season role for himself on the Canadiens’ top pair alongside Jeff Petry and secondary power play. He has five assists to show it, including one with the man advantage. No chance Reilly fills either position with a healthy Shea Weber and Victor Mete in the mix, but that should matter little to deeper league fantasy managers in need of a blue-line body right now.


Goaltenders

Christopher Gibson, New York Islanders (3.1 percent)

Oh, why not. Following up Thursday’s remarkable 35-save effort in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the 25-year-old stopped 50 of 52 shots in Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Not bad at all. Seven games into his NHL career (four of them taking place two years ago), Gibson doesn’t seem the least bit bothered by his own lack of experience or that he’s competing for the team allowing a league high in shots against per game. Consider giving him a whirl in daily fantasy play.

Michael Hutchinson, Winnipeg Jets (2.0 percent)

With Steve Mason shelved, again, for another two to three weeks, Hutchinson is called upon to spell off Connor Hellebuyck as the Jets march towards the playoffs, starting Tuesday in Nashville. Despite starting only two contests for the NHL club this season, the 28-year-old was solid enough to win both. More than just good through 21 AHL appearances since the fall — .942 save percentage, 1.95 goals-against average — Hutchinson sports fantasy value in deeper leagues and DFS play as the Jets likely lean toward giving their No. 1 a bit of rest in their final few games.


Lowered expectations

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets (97.7 percent)

Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Jets will take a more conservative approach to Scheifele’s recovery from a recent upper-body injury. Sitting second, somewhat comfortably, in the Central, the Winnipeg club has the luxury of resting their top center while skating Bryan Little (or maybe shifting Blake Wheeler back to the middle) on the top line for now. Scheifele’s fantasy managers may want to move some players around in the meanwhile.

Mark Stone, RW, Ottawa Senators (88.3 percent)

Coach Guy Boucher speaking to Stone’s absence with a leg injury: “It could be short, it could be a little longer, it could be very long. We don’t know.” The “It could be very long” morsel is more than a little concerning. As long as the Senators’ leader in goals per game remains sidelined, Marian Gaborik is favored to fill in on a second scoring line with Bobby Ryan. That shouldn’t thrill Ryan’s fantasy managers much either.

Droppable: The following players are deemed worthy of letting go altogether in re-draft leagues only because of serious injury, reduced role or some other significant factor:



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