Fantasy Hockey Pickups: Phillip Danault leads waiver wire adds

By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

It's that time of year when we give thanks. So why not also praise those who've brought joy to fantasy lineups? Jeff Skinner and Dominik Kubalik became great early pickups. Erik Karlsson and Brandon Montour significantly exceeded draft/salary cap rates. Linus Ullmark may be the goaltending prize so far, but who would've expected Martin Jones — and the Kraken — to ascend to new heights?

While you remember the players who've helped up to now, let's look at others who could potentially enhance your rosters.

(Rostered rates as of Nov. 25)


Joel Eriksson Ek, MIN (Yahoo: 49 percent)

Eriksson Ek became a prominent producer last season with 49 points — including 17 on the power play — along with 223 shots and 138 hits. He's a middle-six center who skates major minutes and can regularly be spotted on both of Minnesota's top special-teams units. Eriksson Ek may not score as much as others at his position, but he's extremely active and holds lots of responsibilities. He's also performed well since Oct. 30 with eight points, 31 shots and 17 hits in 11 games while averaging 19:05.

Phillip Danault, LA (Yahoo: 34%)

In his first year with the Kings, Danault managed 27 goals and 24 assists supplemented by 194 shots, 74 hits and 49 blocks. After failing to score in the first three games, he's posted six tallies and nine helpers and is averaging nearly two shots, a hit and a block. And you know Danault is good because he's joined on LA's second even-strength and power-play lines by Trevor Moore and Viktor Arvidsson, who were both recent waiver wire subjects and are included at the bottom of this column as past recommendations.

Mason Marchment, DAL (Yahoo: 32%)

Following a breakout campaign in Florida, Marchment came flying out of the gate with six points, 11 shots and eight hits from the opening four matchups. The pucks would continue to be directed on net through the next 11, though the offense went cold. Marchment has fortunately duplicated his initial blistering run with three goals, six assists, 16 shots and a bonus 19 PIM over the last five. With decent placement on the Dallas depth chart and a sizable man-advantage role, he's sure to get enough attacking chances and should eventually challenge his career-high of 47 points.

Nick Schmaltz, ARI (Yahoo: 15%)

Schmaltz just returned to action Monday after being sidelined with a rib injury since Opening Night. He was fairly successful the previous three seasons, averaging 0.74 points a game, and is expected to maintain a lead offensive role. And it's almost like he never missed five weeks, skating 19-plus minutes in both outings and contributing a goal with 11 shots. Schmaltz has also slotted back on the Coyotes' top units, including a dangerous man-advantage that has also welcomed back Jakob Chychrun.

Adam Henrique, ANH (Yahoo: 8%)

With so many excellent centers, Henrique often gets overlooked in fantasy, because he's mainly operated in that spot and has never recorded huge numbers. A move to the wing has really helped, as it's allowed him to join Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry on the lead line. Henrique has responded with six goals, four assists, 26 shots and 83 faceoff wins in his last 10 games while logging 19:27 per matchup, with 2:38 of that coming on the power play. He's bound to regress, but there must be more than eight percent of fantasy participants who like what he's doing now.

Noel Acciari, STL (Yahoo: 6%)

Acciari has carried short-term value during stints with the Bruins and Panthers, and he's repeating that trend in St. Louis, recording four points, 11 shots and 10 hits across three contests. He's also snuck his way into a power-play position while remaining a primary penalty-kill performer. Acciari's current gig with Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev won't last forever and his minutes could plummet, but there's enough production in multiple categories to warrant significantly higher coverage.

Fabian Zetterlund, NJ (Yahoo: 2%)

Fifty-two points in 58 AHL appearances last year earned Zetterlund a call-up to Jersey, where he would tack on another eight in 11. Five scratches from the first six this season didn't look promising, but he's handled a regular role the last month while registering nine points and 26 shots. Zetterlund has posted three PPPs, though he's only briefly experienced the first unit and his other ice time isn't substantial. With the balanced Devils' attack ranking fourth in the league, many of the team's forwards are worth a look, so why not take a shot at someone who's doing above average offensively?

Noah Cates, PHI (Yahoo: 1%)

Like Zetterlund, Cates is in his first full NHL campaign and started it slowly, managing a goal and not much else over 11 outings. A slew of injuries up front allowed additional opportunities in the latter part of that dry run, and he's finally come through, notching two goals, four assists, 18 shots and 17 hits while averaging over 18 minutes since Nov. 8. Owen Tippett was highlighted last week and maintains an elevated role, and it shouldn't be any different for Cates, who joins Tippett on the lead PP.


Mark Giordano, TOR (Yahoo: 19%)

Morgan Rielly (knee) will be out the next few weeks, dealing another blow to a Leafs' blueline already without Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie. Rasmus Sandin naturally moves up to assume Rielly's place on the first man-advantage. Giordano was barely getting any power-play time this campaign but now leads the point on the second unit. His playing time has substantially increased in the last six games, a run in which he's averaging just under 22 minutes while supplying a shorthanded goal, an assist, six hits and 21 blocks. And if Sandin doesn't work out on the top PP group, Giordano can offer his experience as an alternative, as he has 182 PPPs across the previous 13 years.

Mike Matheson, MON (Yahoo: 17%)

Matheson missed the opening 17 games with his new club while recovering from an abdominal strain. Upon returning Saturday, he was immediately installed on the top power play and skated 23:57 while tallying a goal and firing three pucks on net. Matheson set a career high last season with 31 points in a significantly lighter workload in Pittsburgh.

As long as he consistently receives sufficient ice time and remains involved enough in the offense, he can supply enough fantasy stats to fit somewhere on your roster.

Marcus Pettersson, PIT (Yahoo: 11%)

Pettersson doesn't see any power-play duty, though he features alongside Kris Letang at five-on-five and that's often sufficient for a fantasy defender. That's been the case in the last eight matchups, as he's racked up five helpers, 14 shots, 17 hits and 16 blocks. Pettersson isn't flashy, but he receives plenty of responsibility and is solid enough if you're looking for peripheral stats.

Mattias Ekholm, NSH (Yahoo: 9%)

We conclude our look at defensemen whose first names start with M in Nashville. Ekholm is behind in offensive pace when compared to recent seasons and his ice time is down a bit, yet he remains an active special-teams performer, including 1:34 a night on the Preds' backup man-advantage. His numbers of late haven't been too encouraging, with just an assist, 11 shots, nine hits and eight blocks from the last two weeks. But as is a common theme in this column, the promise of a legitimate blueline power-play role — especially in deeper leagues — qualifies Ekholm as a recommendation.


Karel Vejmelka, ARI (Yahoo: 38%)

Vejmelka has been a consideration for this column almost every week this season, though others ended up slotting in due either to personal form or the team they play for. No more excuses to leave him out, especially after he stonewalled the Canes on the road Wednesday for his second shutout in four appearances.

Vejmelka used to get noticed in fantasy for shot/start volume, but his 2.06 GAA and .939 save percentage in November has poolies giving him a longer look, and you should too.

Pyotr Kochetkov, CAR (Yahoo: 29%)

Frederik Andersen has been out since the beginning of the month with a lower-body injury and his return date is unknown. Antti Raanta was assumed to be the main fill-in based on his already existing backup status, yet Kochetkov has taken five of the last seven starts while producing a respectable 2.22/.908 line. The 23-year-old was just rewarded with a four-year extension and looks to be Carolina's future No. 1. With Andersen still hurting and Kochetkov preferred over Raanta, expect the youngster to continue to operate as the short-term lead.

Players to consider from past columns: Logan Couture, Martin Necas, Gabriel Vilardi, Boone Jenner, Jeff Skinner, Andrei Kuzmenko, Dylan Strome, Kevin Hayes, David Krejci, Trevor Moore, Max Domi, Kent Johnson, Mikael Granlund, Alex Killorn, Jake DeBrusk, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Owen Tippett, Brandon Hagel, Kirby Dach, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Jordan Eberle, William Karlsson, Viktor Arvidsson, Jason Zucker, Nick Paul, Alexander Barabanov, Brandon Montour, Jake Sanderson, Calen Addison, Noah Hanifin, Cam Fowler, Sean Durzi, Vince Dunn, Janis Moser, Rasmus Sandin, Justin Schultz, Vitek Vanecek, James Reimer, Martin Jones, Stuart Skinner, Filip Gustavsson, Spencer Martin