2020 Fantasy Hockey Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups: Elvis has entered the building

By Evan BerofskyRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Welcome to 2020. May all your fantasy (hockey) dreams come true.

Just because you might have celebrated too much, that's no excuse to avoid improving your lineups. We're back with more waiver suggestions to help. And as the calendar has flipped to the new year, you may see previous examples from earlier this season who still aren't receiving enough coverage — and, unless necessary, no one who's been mentioned in the last month.

(Yahoo rostership rates/stats as of Jan. 2.)

Forwards

Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins (46 percent rostered)

Hornqvist returned Saturday from a 10-game absence with a lower-body injury and immediately found his way back onto Pittsburgh's elite power play. In his second game Monday, the power forward notched a goal, an assist, and five shots. He's positioned on the third line, but should eventually return to the top six. And with Sidney Crosby projected to reappear sometime this month, Hornqvist could end up reuniting with his favorite center.

Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning (36 percent)

Our first repeat entry was originally discussed in November during a slight resurgence. Since then, Palat has racked up 15 points — including six on the man-advantage — while firing 56 pucks on net and dishing out 65 hits. The career Bolt's value has skyrocketed due to a regular role with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point during even-strength situations. Palat might have been injury-prone at one time, but he's too solid a performer to pass up.

Zach Hyman, Toronto Maple Leafs (27%)

Hyman also made this column after returning from offseason surgery. He's generally served as a steady scorer but has taken his offensive game to another level the last five weeks thanks to the addition of semi-regular power-play duty. In his last 12 appearances, Hyman has recorded seven goals, five assists, 34 shots, and a plus-10 while skating almost 19 minutes a night. You know what else isn't bad? The opportunity to play with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on Toronto's top unit.

Zach Hyman has turned it up a notch. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Erik Haula, Carolina Hurricanes (23%)

Haula was featured early in the season for his hot start. He continued to produce until a knee problem forced him out of 19 of the next 21 games. He's back and has registered six points and 13 shots in five contests. Haula remains the Canes' No. 3 center during five-on-five but has recently gotten a chance on the first power play — and he delivered the primary assist on Sebastian Aho's tally Tuesday. 

Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers (18%)

With Nolan Patrick missing all year, the Flyers have needed another decent pivot besides Sean Couturier. Philly splashed a bunch of cash on Hayes last summer after arriving from Winnipeg, so it was assumed he would contribute immediately. Unfortunately, the Boston College product looked inconsistent in the opening quarter and concluded that stretch with 10 consecutive zero-point efforts. But Hayes has turned it around with eight goals, eight assists and 51 shots from his last 20 while cementing his place as the club's second option down the middle.

Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks (10%)

We've seen a few performers this season who've put up excellent numbers without a lot of ice time. Virtanen is no different. The 23 year old seems to have capitalized on nearly every opportunity since late November with 14 points in 15 matchups — with five PPPs. Virtanen has an impressive 12 goals and 11 assists while only averaging 12:19. His 15.4 shooting percentage is bound to regress, but you can't ignore the output.

Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils (1%)

Bratt burst onto the NHL scene as a teenager with 35 points, but injuries in Year 2 would prevent him from eclipsing that mark. Nothing much clicked for the young Swede during the first two months of the current campaign, with his minutes greatly reduced and a couple healthy scratches thrown in. But since John Hynes was fired as head coach, Bratt once again looks like a dynamic performer. This includes a run of five points in four games, all while teaming up with Nico Hischier as part of the Devils' first trio.

Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings (1%)

Based on him being drafted 29th overall in 2014, more has been expected from Kempe. Sure, he suited up 81 times in each of the previous two seasons, but scoring has been lacking. It appeared the same pattern was set to follow with only four points from the first 17 (and a subsequent benching). However, Kempe has corrected his ways with 13 points highlighted by a three-game goal streak. And if his latest sharpshooting isn't enticing enough, then a spot on the Kings' top power play and a significant shorthanded presence should at least get you interested.

Defensemen

Connor Murphy, Chicago Blackhawks (5%)

Others have brought up Murphy in recent weeks, but now might be the perfect time to add him to your roster. With the news of Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan out for the season, the 2011 Coyotes first-rounder should further enhance his stat line. Murphy has already averaged more than 22 minutes since the start of December while accumulating eight points, 32 shots, 34 hits, and 40 blocks. Just don't expect him to do anything on special teams.

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Nick Leddy, New York Islanders (5%)

Leddy appeared in this spot opening week based on his power-play pedigree. And while the four PPPs are OK, he's lagging behind younger teammates Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews with respect to offensive opportunities. Leddy's case hasn't been helped by his streakiness, though the latest string of six points from five games might tempt you. Depending on the depth of your league, it might be tough to find many better available blueline candidates. At least give him a shot.

Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins (2%)

Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy went down last week, and that left a major hole at the point on Boston's man-advantage. Considering how dangerous the top group has been, who wouldn't want to join? Grzelcyk earned the promotion and chipped in with a PPA on Tuesday while receiving a significant boost in ice time. Krug is reported to return Thursday and McAvoy could be joining him, but Grzelcyk should still be able to contribute.

Adam Boqvist, Chicago Blackhawks (1%)

We return to the Windy City to talk about one of the league's most exciting D prospects. After moving to North America and dominating the OHL for 60 points, Boqvist has split this season between the AHL and the Blackhawks. The points haven't been flowing for the eighth pick from 2018, but the coaches have seen enough to insert him over Erik Gustafsson on the first power play. With the backline losses described in the Connor Murphy section, one would think Boqvist will get enough chances to show what he can do.

Goaltenders

Jaroslav Halak, Boston Bruins (54%)

After Halak's first mention in mid-October, he only appeared in five of the next 17 games. But since then, he's pretty much been alternating the net work with Tuukka Rask. Over this 36-day span of nine starts, Halak has produced a 5-2-2 record along with a sparkling 1.87 GAA, .936 save percentage and two shutouts. Even though Rask has registered a slightly worse 4-2-3/2.53/.914 line over the same period, he's in no trouble of losing the No. 1 gig, but Halak will continue to get in plenty of action until the postseason.

Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets (17%)

Joonas Korpisalo left Sunday's shootout with a knee injury, and Elvis entered the building. With the Finn sidelined for at least a month, Merzlikins will be offered the bulk of the Blue Jackets' starts. The Latvian stepped in and earned his first NHL win Tuesday, stopping 36 of 37 Florida shots. Columbus has only allowed 14 goals in the last eight games, so Merzlikins will do if you're looking for a hunka hunka burning glove.

Players to consider from past columns: Brock Nelson, Bo Horvat, Clayton Keller, Victor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, Nazem Kadri, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zach Parise, Andre Burakovsky, Anthony Duclair, Ondrej Palat, Phillip Danault, Carl Soderberg, Alex Killorn, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Strome, Bryan Rust, Jordan Eberle, Gustav Nyquist, Nikita Gusev, Christian Dvorak, Martin Necas, Nick Suzuki, Oscar Klefbom, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, John Marino, Alex Goligoski, Anthony DeAngelo, Samuel Girard, Tristan Jarry, Pavel Francouz, Jonathan Quick, Jaroslav Halak, Anders Nilsson, Linus Ullmark.

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