Fantasy Hockey Pickups for Week 18: Don't leave Bjorkstrand on the waiver wire

By Evan BerofskyRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

After the crazy breaks in play the last couple weeks, the NHL schedule is starting to look normal again. Go ahead and roll out the usual lineups without worrying about sitting stars and hoping the fill-ins can adequately produce.

(Unless all your big names happen to be injured. In that case, better luck next season!)

We're getting down to the important part of the fantasy season. It's time to solidify your success — or make that push for a higher position. What better way to achieve either objective than to grab a couple recruits. Here's the latest batch, fresh off the wire.

(Yahoo roster rates/stats as of Jan. 30.)


Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus Blue Jackets (34 percent rostered)

In late November, Bjorkstrand was rostered in six percent of Yahoo leagues. Then he went on a run of 10 points and 56 (!) shots in 13 games before injury took him out for the next 13. Hope you stashed Bjorkstrand during his absence, as he returned last week and fired home a pair of goals in back-to-back appearances. And if he's still available, add him before Columbus's next game Saturday.

Paul Stastny, Vegas Golden Knights (21 percent)

Due to William Karlsson's latest setback, Stastny's once again centering Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty on even-strength. Karlsson could be back when Vegas plays Friday and that could kick Stastny back to the No. 3 pivot spot, but he should stick with the top power play — where he's produced eight points. The veteran has also been solid in January with four goals, five assists and 23 shots in nine games.

Pavel Buchnevich, New York Rangers (8%)

Following a sizzling start, Buchnevich cooled off with only a pair of points to show from the closing 15 outings of 2019. The 24-year-old has begun to turn it around by registering five points, 21 shots and 20 hits during the most recent nine — including the latest monster 24:18 effort when he tallied a PPG while directing six pucks on net. That kind of ice time isn't sustainable, but Buch qualifies as a decent immediate target thanks to the Rangers' home-and-home versus the bottom-dwelling Red Wings this weekend.

Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings (4%)

In addition to owning the league's worst penalty kill, goal output, GAA and save percentage, Detroit is last in the standings, 13 points behind the 30th-ranked Kings. But hey, there's a bright light somewhere down the road — and Zadina represents one of those rays. The uber-talented winger has split this season between the Wings and the AHL and has combined for 31 points in 47 games. He's even checked in with seven NHL PPPs and should return for the big club's upcoming schedule. If you're searching for a sniper but are willing to overlook the negative numbers, Zadina's your man.

Tyler Ennis, Ottawa Senators (2%)

Once upon a time, a dynamo from Edmonton burst onto the scene and produced 49 points as a rookie. The next eight years were filled with injuries and disappointment, but the skills have always been available. It took a few weeks for Ennis to get going following the move from Toronto — and then the stats took off. Since the beginning of December, he has notched seven goals and 11 assists while contributing seven points on the Sens' second man-advantage. That kind of production should translate to a roster-rate significantly higher than two percent, but it seems most poolies haven't caught on yet.

Ennis should be rostered in more leagues. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Joel Farabee, Philadelphia Flyers (1%)

Since Farabee was drafted with the 14th pick in 2018, he has quickly advanced through the ranks. He isn't short on talent, but it's hard to produce at the top level if you're receiving minimal minutes. Thankfully, Farabee recently moved up alongside Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. The kid has responded to the increase in opportunities with points in the last three. Monitor his situation the next week or so to see how he handles the extra attention.

Drake Caggiula, Chicago Blackhawks (1%)

Caggiula missed nearly two months due to a concussion. He was slowly worked back in earlier this month, but then recorded consecutive multi-point showings and struck for a PPG during the Blackhawks' last contest. As long as Caggiula can keep this partnership with Jonathan Toews going — or at least hold down a steady top-six role — then the fantasy attention will grow. And the injection of power-play time cannot be overlooked, especially considering he's never achieved much in that department since 2017-18.

Zach Sanford, St. Louis Blues (0%)

Speaking of forwards with favorable linemates, Sanford rolls with Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron. There's not much in the way of special-teams action, but the power forward has posted two goals, three assists, eight shots, 12 hits and a plus-5 in three appearances. Sanford's generally been more of a secondary supplier since turning pro, but anyone who skates with two above-average, attacking players is bound to find the scoresheet.


Nikita Zadorov, Colorado Avalanche (18%)

Despite the lack of offense, Zadorov remains a key contributor on the Avs' blueline. The giant Russian followed up his league-leading 278 hits from 2017-18 with 228 last season and has dished out another 131 in 45 games this season. Zadorov fills out his physical profile with sufficient helpings of blocks (51) and PIM (49). His recent allure comes from the goal and three assists over four, but consider those an anomaly as he only offers value based on how he stops the opponent from scoring.

Devon Toews, New York Islanders (8%)

Toews excelled throughout his AHL career, totaling 86 points in 130 outings. The jump to the Islanders hasn't generated any eye-popping figures, but a .371 point-per-game mark qualifies as decent. The Quinnipiac standout quarterbacks the No. 1 power play and averages nearly two minutes there, though he's only struck for four PPPs. Perhaps Noah Dobson will eventually replace him on the top unit, but if Toews can come up with more performances like the goal and two assists he notched on Jan. 18 versus the Caps, maybe there's enough room for both hotshots to succeed.

Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers (3%)

Sanheim broke out last year with 35 points in 82 games. Sixteen in 50 appears to be a step down, but the 23-year-old has matured on the defensive end. Unfortunately, that side of the game doesn't count for fantasy consideration. And while the two power-play assists might not look like much, the Flyers' second group — namely, the three mentioned in the previous section — is dangerous enough to move Sanheim's stats in the right direction.

Erik Gudbranson, Anaheim Ducks (3%)

Like Zadorov, Gudbranson isn't known for his point prowess. His most recent 12 contests have yielded an adequate two goals and two assists, but that's been supplemented by 26 shots, 27 hits, and 12 blocks. The 2010 third overall selection is also adept at killing penalties, but he's better known for taking them — as the 93 PIM prove. Gudbranson just recorded points in back-to-back contests, but scoring won't be the reason you'll use him in your lineup. 

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MacKenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils (38%)

Considering the Devils are positioned second from the bottom in the East, Blackwood's 2.95 GAA and .906 save percentage doesn't seem so terrible. That is, until you realize there are only five NHL regular netminders with higher GAAs and six with lower save percentages. But considering Blackwood's competition in Jersey consists of an underwhelming Louis Domingue and a never-healthy Cory Schneider, you might as well consider the Thunder Bay native for his top-10 saves ranking.

Carter Hutton, Buffalo Sabres (22%)

This season was supposed to be a return to form for Hutton. And even though he won his opening six — including two shutouts — the campaign quickly spiraled down from there. The former St. Louis surprise turned in three stinkers in November and then only appeared in five of the next 29 games. His fortunes could improve, as Linus Ullmark went down late in Tuesday's game and is scheduled to be out for up to a month. Hutton should be given the bulk of the starts, but a poor showing from him or an impressive display from call-up Jonas Johansson could spoil the opportunity.

Players to consider from past columns: Brock Nelson, Bo Horvat, Clayton Keller, Andre Burakovsky, Sam Reinhart, Patric Hornqvist, Nazem Kadri, Zach Parise, Nico Hischier, Ondrej Palat, Phillip Danault, Anthony Cirelli, Josh Bailey, David Krejci, Christian Dvorak, Blake Coleman, Charlie Coyle, Frank Vatrano, Zach Hyman, Alex Killorn, Ilya Kovalchuk, Ryan Strome, Bryan Rust, Jordan Eberle, Nikita Gusev, Christian Dvorak, Martin Necas, Oscar Klefbom, Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, Jaccob Slavin, Jared Spurgeon, John Marino, Filip Hronek, Adam Fox, Tristan Jarry, Jaroslav Halak, Ilya Samsonov, Elvis Merzlikins, Robin Lehner, James Reimer.

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