Fantasy hockey waiver watch: Nick Schmaltz and Max Comtois lead weekly pickups

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 hockey assets who may be overvalued – in the short- or long-term – for one reason or another.


Forwards

Nick Schmaltz, C/LW/RW, Arizona Coyotes (33.5%): Somewhat quietly, the Coyotes’ top center has amassed six goals and six assists in 14 games – a third of those points counting with the man-advantage. Competing with Conor Garland and Clayton Keller, Schmaltz will continue to produce with regularity. Useful in all but the shallowest of standard ESPN.com leagues, his multi-positional eligibility only adds to his fantasy charm.

Max Comtois, LW, Anaheim Ducks (9.3%): It took 15 games, but I’m finally crawling aboard the Comtois fantasy bandwagon. After a two-week dry spell, the 22-year-old is back in rhythm with three goals and a helper in four contests. With twice as many goals as any other member of the Ducks – sadly illustrating how ineffective the squad is at scoring right now – the young forward looks to be coming into his own as an NHL full-timer. Comtois has a place in deeper leagues, particularly of the keeper variety. The young lad isn’t shy to throw a hit either. I’m only a bit surprised he hasn’t accumulated more penalty minutes to date. But there’s still plenty of season left.

Joe Thornton, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (9.1%): He’s back healthy, plugged in a top line and power play with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. With Wayne Simmonds out for weeks (broken wrist), there’s even greater pressure on Thornton to be more than just a leader and veteran presence in the room. The Leafs need him to contribute to the scoresheet as well. Or those top assignments will be doled out to others.

Robby Fabbri, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (4.0%): Absorb this fantasy endorsement with a healthy side serving of wary skepticism. Often through no fault of his own (injuries/bad luck), Fabbri has burned me following commendations in years past. But three goals and an assist (plus-six) in four games can’t be ignored. Plus there’s his role on a scoring line with Anthony Mantha and spot on the Red Wings’ top power play. Fabbri is competing like someone who deserved to be drafted 21st overall in 2014. If needing a roster plug, get the most of him before he breaks your fantasy-managing heart.

Mats Zuccarello, RW, Minnesota Wild (2.1%): Recovered from offseason arm surgery, Zuccarello is expected to make his 2020-21 debut against the Kings on Tuesday. Having enjoyed a good number of productive spells in years’ past, the former Ranger is worth watching as he settles back into Minnesota’s lineup. Ranking 22nd in league scoring, the club could certainly use a boost in that department. Depending on where he eventually slots in, the veteran winger might be worth grabbing in deeper leagues. No rush though.

Ivan Barbashev, C/LW, St. Louis Blues (1.8%): Seemingly inspired by a recent motivational chat with coach Craig Berube, Barbashev has two goals and an assist (plus-four) to show for consecutive victories over Arizona. After a lethargic start to the campaign, the 25-year-old appears to have rediscovered his scoring groove. Seeing heavy minutes on a top line with David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly doesn’t hurt either. Roster Barbashev while he’s not. The Blues face the Coyotes once and Sharks twice this week.

Defenders

David Savard, Columbus Blue Jackets (15.7%): The Columbus blueliner is emerging as a steady fantasy asset in any league that rewards a commitment to physical and defensive play. Fourth in the league in blocked-shots (37), the veteran ranks seventh among defensemen in hits (41). The odd assist – Savard hasn’t scored a goal since 2018-19 – serves as bonus.

Dante Fabbro, Nashville Predators (5.2%): The 22-year-old presents as one bright spot on an underachieving Predators’ squad that isn’t performing well enough. Filling a role in the top-four and competing on the secondary power play, Fabbro has two goals and two assists in his most recent four games. Drafted 17th overall in 2016, the young defenseman appears more comfortable in his second full NHL season. With Mattias Ekholm listed as week-to-week, Nashville will need everything they can get out of the Boston University Alumnus. Fabbro merits at least a look in deep leagues.

See also: Justin Schultz, Washington Capitals

Goaltenders

Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets (46.4%): Activated off injured reserve, Merzlikins is back in Columbus’ goaltending mix. Another shaky performance from Joonas Korpisalo – we’ll see how he fares against Carolina on Monday – and we’re almost sure to see the Blue Jackets’ other netminder between the pipes versus the Predators Thursday. If truly feeling fit, there’s a good chance he starts regardless. And coach John Tortorella won’t hesitate in offering Merzlikins, who posted good numbers before falling hurt, more opportunities going forward if he serves as the steadier presence.

Lowered expectations

Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers (68.9%): Veteran Mike Smith is earning his second-straight start after shutting out the Canadiens on Thursday. The veteran netminder looked nearly as good in holding the Senators to one goal in a win earlier that week. If Smith – who appears brimming with confidence at present – keeps up with such dominating performances, we’ll see less of Koskinen over the next while.

ESPL

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