Fantasy Hockey waiver wire: Top pickups to get on the ice

It’s easy to overlook reliable veterans like Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan in fantasy, but don’t make that mistake. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

By Neil Parker, RotoWire Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports

While researching for this week’s recommendations, a number of Coyotes stood out and found their way into this space. Arizona has won three of its past four contests starts a seven-game homestand Thursday.

After failing to live up to expectations of improvement early this season, and already all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Desert Dogs could surprise over the next few weeks with little to play for. It wouldn’t be the first time a young team gained momentum late in the year.

While it’s still far from a favorable fantasy setup, there are pieces in place who can contribute. Additionally, past results aren’t predictive of future outcomes, which is easy to forget at this point of the season.

Here’s the schedule for the next scoring period, Feb. 12-18:

Two games: Hurricanes, Penguins

Four games: Ducks, Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Oilers, Kings, Wild, Predators, Senators, Sharks, Capitals

All other teams play three games.

It’s important to keep an eye on who is cut in your leagues because potential upgrades come in all forms. Also, remember to check the players previously covered in this space listed below.

(Yahoo ownership rates as of Feb. 15).

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FORWARD

Travis Konecny, PHI (49 percent): It’s close to last call for Konecny. He’s piled up 10 goals, 10 assists, 51 shots, 15 PIM and a plus-10 rating through his past 21 games, and the heater aligns with his promotion to the No. 1 line. He’s combined with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier for a high-end 4.12 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, so the trio should stick moving forward.

Sam Reinhart, BUF (36 percent): While there’s a risk that Reinhart’s production will dip with Jack Eichel (ankle) out of action, it’s difficult to ignore his high-end numbers over the past month. The 22-year-old forward has recorded six goals, 10 assists, 10 power-play points and 31 shots through his past 13 outings, and should remain in a go-to scoring role moving forward.

Timo Meier, SAN (6 percent): Skating primarily with Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi of late, Meier has collected three goals, five points and 18 shots through his past six outings. Meier is a high-volume shooter who projects to stick in a scoring role, and his offensive numbers in the QMJHL are impressive.

Derek Stepan, ARI (27 percent): It’s easy to overlook reliable veterans, and in Stepan’s case, playing with Arizona has kept his ownership in check. Still, with 16 points — four goals — through his past 20 games, the No. 1 center has provided consistent offense. Stepan’s even plus-minus rating during the stretch shouldn’t go unnoticed, either.

Denis Malgin, FLA (1 percent): The Swiss native has collected four goals and four assists through his past nine games and appears to have solidified a top-six role moving forward. Malgin has been skating on an intriguing line with Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau of late, and considering his linemates rank first and second in points per 60 minutes on the Panthers, it’s a cushy fantasy setup for the 21-year-old winger.

Zach Aston-Reese, PIT (1 percent): While currently nothing more than a speculative flier, Aston-Reese landed on Sidney Crosby’s line to finish Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Ottawa and remained there during Thursday’s morning skate. Obviously, there’s no guarantee the rookie sticks on No. 87’s flank for any length of time, but if he does, this wouldn’t be the first time a youngster’s value skyrocketed alongside Crosby. In most settings, this is probably a wait-and-see situation, but Aston-Reese is definitely a player to watch in all setups.

DEFENSE

Alex Goligoski, ARI (15 percent): The veteran sports a five-game point streak consisting of three goals and four assists, and he’s now well on his way to a fifth consecutive 35-point season. Goligoski offers a solid cross-category profile with his only shortcoming in the plus-minus column. However, there is potential for him to skate close to an even rating moving forward.

Travis Dermott, TOR (2 percent): With two more helpers in Wednesday’s win over Columbus, Dermott’s stock continues to rise. His 1.57 points per 60 minutes is a respectable mark, and his skating ability and vision have been on full display since his promotion to Toronto. He’s not a universal add yet, but there are plenty of settings where he’s moving the fantasy needle.

Vince Dunn, STL (1 percent): The promotion to quarterbacking the No. 1 power-play unit hasn’t translated to the scoresheet yet, but it shouldn’t be ignored. Dunn recorded 45 points through 72 games in the AHL last season, and he’s collected a respectable four goals and 10 assists in a sheltered role this year. The rookie’s upside skyrockets with his new role on the power play, and he’s worth a look in deeper settings.

Kevin Connauton, ARI (1 percent): While there’s no chance Connauton keeps up his current offensive surge (four goals and six points through his past seven games), it has him on the fantasy radar in deep settings. There’s a chance the 27-year-old defenseman is finally putting it all together, so he’s worth a look in cavernous leagues. He’s flashed offensive upside in the past, too.

GOALIE

Antti Raanta, ARI (25 percent): Wins will continue to be tough to come by, but Raanta continues to post solid ratios. Since returning from an upper-body injury Dec. 9, the Finn has posted a .922 save percentage and 2.40 GAA through 20 games. Those numbers carry value in all but the shallowest settings, and Arizona has seven consecutive home games lined up on the schedule.

Darcy Kuemper, LOS (26 percent): Jonathan Quick has won just two of his past 11 starts with an .884 save percentage and 3.68 GAA, which should open the door for Kuemper to receive a few more starts moving forward. After all, the first-year King boasts a 9-1-3, .934 and 2.04 stat line, and Los Angeles is battling for a playoff spot.

Anton Khudobin, BOS (23 percent): The Bruins are rolling, and Khudobin sports a 12-3-4 record, .925 save percentage and 2.32 GAA for the campaign. He’ll receive a handful of starts through the end of the season and projects to continue providing strong numbers. At this stage of the game, he’s a must-own for Tuukka Rask owners, but non-Rask owners can also benefit.

David Rittich, CGY (16 percent): Starting again against the Predators on Thursday, Rittich should continue to see an uptick in work while Mike Smith is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Smith projects to see the majority of starts once healthy, so Rittich’s fantasy window is likely fleeting. However, the Czech netminder has posted a respectable 5-2-2 record, .923 save percentage and 2.41 GAA, so he’s capable of contributing.

Players to consider from past columns: Evgenii Dadonov, Bo Horvat, Micheal Ferland, Ondrej Kase, Tomas Hertl, Matt Duchene, Teuvo Teravainen, Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu, Mathieu Perreault, Ryan Spooner, Kevin Fiala, Alex DeBrincat, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Zach Hyman, Kyle Palmieri, Elias Lindholm, Shea Theodore, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Mike Matheson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jeff Petry, Esa Lindell, Jordan Oesterle, Alexander Edler, Aaron Dell, Jacob Markstrom, Ryan Miller, Juuse Saros, Philipp Grubauer, Kari Lehtonen, Petr Mrazek.