By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
NHL Waiver Wire: Pickups of the Week
The introduction of Frozen Frenzy on Tuesday may have been a little too hectic for viewers. There were 16 games in one night. So many choices, not enough screens to watch all of them. (And yes, there was a broadcast that moved around the arenas throughout the evening. I'm referring more to those who prefer the old-fashioned channel-changing option.)
Fantasy can also be daunting at times. You may be deciding on what player to pick up, but the options seem endless. The key is to focus on categories you're looking to improve and then move on to other areas of concern. To help you with your search, here's a current condensed crop of lesser-appreciated fantasy NHLers.
(Rostered rates as of Oct. 27)
Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild (Yahoo: 46%)
There's a decent chance Hartman won't be available in your league by the time you read this, because that tends to happen when someone goes off for five points — including a hat trick — in one game. He got off to a slow start offensively, but managed to direct a number of pucks on net. And Hartman's still the center who plays between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello at five-on-five. That on its own is enough of a reason to grab him ASAP.
Adam Fantilli, Columbus Blue Jackets (Yahoo: 33%)
If it weren't for some fellow named Connor Bedard, Fantilli's name could've been the first one called at the most recent draft. He dominated the USHL as a 16- and 17-year-old, won the Hobey Baker Award at Michigan as a freshman while leading the NCAA in scoring and claimed gold for Canada at both the WJC and WHC in 2023. Fantilli landed with Columbus at No. 3 and unsurprisingly made the Opening Night roster. The production didn't immediately materialize, but he's picked it up with two goals, an assist and 10 shots from his last three contests. As the opportunities improve, Fantilli's stock will only increase.
Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals (Yahoo: 27%)
This column assumed in Week 1 that Nicklas Backstrom would return to full-time duties alongside Alex Ovechkin. That placement never really held, as the Swede dropped down the depth chart. Strome currently occupies the top center spot and has potted four goals, with two of those having been set up by the captain. He's also a regular on Washington's top power play (a unit that's bound to improve) and has accumulated 13 shots and 39 faceoff wins.
William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights (Yahoo: 27%)
Karlsson has been perennially underappreciated in fantasy, yet he regularly seems to get the job done. The Golden Knights are off to a 7-0 start thanks to the same strong team approach that helped them win a Cup. Karlsson is a big part of that plan, as he's tied for second in club scoring with seven points — even as the third center at even-strength and the backup on the man-advantage. There are other forwards who can boast more ice time and superior stats in a wider variety of categories, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a steadier scorer available in three out of every four Yahoo leagues.
Casey Mittelstadt, Buffalo Sabres (Yahoo: 19%)
After a few years of underachievement and injuries, Mittelstadt finally got the chance to display his talent last season en route to 59 points. The Sabres couldn't get their attack going with only 13 goals over their first six outings and opted to swap out Tage Thompson for Mittelstadt between Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch. The trio has gone on to combine for four of Buffalo's last seven five-on-five markers. That would be a great spot for Mittelstadt if it holds, which appears likely to continue based on recent results.
Trevor Moore, Los Angeles Kings (Yahoo: 11%)
Moore, like Karlsson, is often overlooked due to a bottom-six placement. He should garner more interest, as LA's frontline is fairly deep and he's already racked up five goals, an assist and 16 shots as a member of the third line and backup power play. Moore has also developed a solid rapport with Phillip Danault that goes back to the start of last season. Add in responsibilities on both special-teams units and he's at least someone to consider for the lower end of your roster.
Matias Maccelli, Arizona Coyotes (Yahoo: 5%)
Maccelli shocked many as a rookie by posting 49 points to finish fourth in Calder Trophy voting. Despite doing nothing in the first three games, he's turned it around with four helpers in his last three. Maccelli has also resumed his power-play prowess, as three of those were PPAs. He's not a high-volume shooter and hardly contributes elsewhere, but there's enough merit for a rising 24-year-old maintaining a regular man-advantage role on a solid second group.
Gustav Nyquist, Nashville Predators (Yahoo: 3%)
At 34 and on his fifth franchise, Nyquist shouldn't realistically be hoping to get back to the 50-point plateau. After all, the Preds' forward contingent mainly consists of youngsters looking to make their first mark. And yet they've completed seven contests with Nyquist on pace for a mid-40s output on the strength of three PPAs split between the two units. That sounds acceptable for someone at three percent rostership who also chips in with 15 shots, nine hits and four blocks.
Filip Hronek, Vancouver Canucks (Yahoo: 46%)
Hronek has been a workhorse for most of his career, but is receiving exceptionally elevated ice time in Vancouver. He's converted those 25-plus minutes a night into major cross-category activity with four assists, 12 shots, 10 blocks, five hits and six PIM. Hronek may lose some fantasy draw as he only carries a secondary power-play role, though teaming up with Quinn Hughes at even strength can't hurt his offensive prospects.
Neal Pionk, Winnipeg Jets (Yahoo: 28%)
Times have been tougher for Pionk since Josh Morrissey took over as the lead attacking defenseman in Winnipeg, yet one can't complain about four straight seasons of at least 32 points. He's gone scoreless in five of seven outings with three helpers from the other two, including a pair versus St. Louis on Tuesday. Pionk also contributes on the physical side, having averaged roughly two hits and a block. Not a lot of pucks on net, but the combination from the rest of the portfolio and a strong history should earn him more coverage.
Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers (Yahoo: 24%)
What was discussed for Hronek could be repeated for Sanheim, though the latter receives more responsibility while up a man. He's already excelling with a goal, seven assists, 16 shots and 13 blocks while averaging a whopping 26:12, which includes almost six special-teams minutes. The Flyers have been competitive this season and Sanheim is a key part of that, yet he comes at a significant discount when compared to similar fantasy blueliners.
Juuso Valimaki, Arizona Coyotes (Yahoo: 5%)
It's not often that a defenseman who notched 34 points last year — with 12 on the power play — goes under the radar, but that's happened to Valimaki after Arizona acquired Sean Durzi and Matt Dumba over the summer. Three assists so far isn't an impressive total, yet all three are PPPs. Valimaki isn't doing much elsewhere and his ice time isn't outstanding, but he's producing where it counts and looks to be part of the Coyotes' long-term plans.
Petr Mrazek, Chicago Blackhawks (Yahoo: 17%)
The Blackhawks weren't expected to do well defensively based on a 28th-ranked GAA and an offseason that didn't see any significant back-end additions. It may be early, but they've "only" averaged three goals against. Mrazek and Arvid Soderblom have alternated starts so far with both posting decent numbers, yet the former has been busier having seen no less than 36 shots through four appearances while stopping 92.5 percent of them. Chicago may not be a preferred destination to get goalies, but Mrazek could help short term (as could Soderblom in the future).
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (Yahoo: 16%)
Like the previous entry, Montreal finished last year 29th in goals allowed and kept things status quo defensively. Sam Montembeault entered as the presumed No. 1 and started back-to-back outings. Allen followed that up by beating the Caps at home and stonewalling the Sabres in Buffalo. Cayden Primeau is also in the mix, though he struggled in his season debut Tuesday. Even with Montembeault bouncing back to win on Thursday, Allen should continue as the lead and represents a serviceable candidate in formats counting saves.
Players to consider from past columns: Seth Jarvis, Ryan O'Reilly, Logan Cooley, Bryan Rust, Josh Norris, Nick Paul, Evan Rodrigues, Ryan Johansen, Andrew Copp, Sean Couturier, Jake Sanderson, Mike Matheson, Calen Addison, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Pavel Mintyukov, Arber Xhekaj, Karel Vejmelka, Anton Forsberg, Jack Campbell, Elvis Merzlikins