It's Week 9 of the fantasy hockey season and it's time for managers to go duck hunting on the waiver wire.
The Anaheim Ducks are scheduled to undergo the elusive, mythical five-game week that should have fantasy managers tripping over themselves as they head to the waiver wire to add members of the team.
While the Ducks are the focus for the upcoming week, a number of players from other teams are also worth adding for the next seven days.
Here's one player for each category fantasy managers should target.
Goals: LW/RW Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche (22 percent rostered on Yahoo)
Valeri Nichushkin has missed some time this season while dealing with an upper-body injury and an illness, but now that he's settled back into the Colorado Avalanche's lineup, he's been an impressive producer.
Over his last eight games, the 26-year-old has posted five goals. This is a result of the quality chances Nichushkin has been creating when healthy, as his 10.27 even-strength scoring chances per-60 mark sits tied with Mikko Rantanen for tops on the Avs, according to Natural Stat Trick. Additionally, he's been shooting the puck a fair bit, as he's totalled three shots or more in four of his last seven outings.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 3, 2021
Beyond goals, Nichushkin has also delivered in the hits department. Across 12 games, he's dished out an impressive 19 body checks.
Playing inside Colorado's top-six and on the second power-play unit, fantasy managers would be wise to ride the two-way Russian forward while he's hot. He and the Avalanche play four games in Week 9.
Assists: RW Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (16 percent rostered on Yahoo)
I mentioned it in my 10 fantasy hockey takeaways last Friday, but if you don't scoop up Kaapo Kakko soon, you're going to be too late.
The 2019 second-overall pick is starting to come into his own in the NHL, which is great news for fantasy hockey managers. In his last nine contests, Kakko has recorded three goals and five assists, averaging nearly a point per game since seeing an expanded role following Sammy Blais's torn ACL.
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) December 2, 2021
Player development takes time for most — look no further than Kakko's teammate, Alexis Lafreniere, who in his second year is still adjusting to the pros. Kakko in his third year, however, seems to be growing comfortable and is playing with some stellar linemates in Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on the New York Rangers' first line. He's a must-add right now.
Plus-minus: LW Michael Bunting, Toronto Maple Leafs (40 percent rostered on Yahoo)
Playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Michael Bunting is in an absolute dream spot for fantasy hockey and is seizing his opportunity.
In his last seven games, Bunting has supplied three goals and 10 points, while posting an extremely helpful plus-five rating during that stretch. With the Toronto Maple Leafs rolling as one of the best teams in the NHL currently and his status on the Buds' top line, more "plus-outings" should be expected from the 26-year-old.
Additionally, he's also averaged a hit per game with 26 body checks in 26 contests.
Toronto only plays three games this upcoming week, which is actually tied for the fewest in the league. The volume of games doesn't matter too much with plus-minus, however, and with all three games at home, the Maple Leafs should be favoured in each.
Power-play points: D Jamie Drysdale, Anaheim Ducks (21 percent rostered on Yahoo)
Jamie Drysdale hasn't exactly hit the ground running for the Anaheim Ducks, but with a highly sought-after five-game week coming up, fantasy managers should scoop him up.
It hasn't been a Moritz Seider-esque breakout for the Ducks defender, but he's still been solid. Through 25 games, Drysdale has produced 13 points which puts him on a 43-point pace this season. He's been a decent contributor on the power play this year, as his five points on the man advantage tie him for 22nd amongst all blueliners.
Watch #34 Jamie Drysdale the entire shift. pic.twitter.com/ItAGTJwmlf
— b su (@b_su27) December 2, 2021
Still deployed on Anaheim's top power-play unit, I'm in on Drysdale for the next seven days.
Shots on goal: LW/RW Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks (26 percent rostered on Yahoo)
With a stat like shots on goal, you're just looking for someone who can provide some counting stats. Again, because the Ducks play five games this upcoming week, Rickard Rakell is someone I'd try to add if in need of a shots boost.
The forward has dealt with an upper-body injury this season, but when on the ice, he's been a solid source of pucks on net. In 15 games, he's fired off 52 shots which is nearly 3.5 per game. His shot-heavy style has also resulted in some solid goal production, as Rakell's buried eight goals this year.
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) December 4, 2021
Playing on Anaheim's first power-play unit and second line, the Swede should be a very useful player for Week 9.
Faceoff wins: C/RW Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues (32 percent rostered on Yahoo)
The St. Louis Blues have really been leaning on Robert Thomas as their second-line centre this season, and fantasy managers can feel comfortable scooping the 22-year-old off the waiver wire.
At the dot specifically, Thomas has been a great source of wins. His 206 draw victories are 22nd in the NHL, and he's won at least seven faceoffs in each of his last seven games. In addition to faceoff wins, Thomas has been a helping hand this year. In 24 games, he's registered 20 assists, tied for the eighth-most in the NHL. Of those, seven have come on the player advantage, which has made him valuable in the power-play points category, too.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) November 28, 2021
The Blues play four games this upcoming week, and with Thomas averaging 19:18 in time-on-ice, he's become a very dependable player in fantasy hockey.
Hits: LW/RW Nicolas Deslauriers, Anaheim Ducks (7 percent rostered on Yahoo)
I can't promise you that Nicolas Deslauriers will give you some elite category coverage, but if you're just looking to win the hits category this upcoming week, this guy may be able to single-handedly do that for you.
Deslauriers's game can be simply described as bruising. His 109 hits are the most in the NHL this season, and that's pretty much all you need to know about the power forward.
Anaheim plays five games this week, so Deslauriers must be considered the favourite to lead all players in this category in Week 9.
Blocks: D Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks (7 percent rostered on Yahoo)
With the ultra-rare five-game week, it's hard to look anywhere other than the Ducks for help on the waiver wire.
Hampus Lindholm has been a quality shot-blocker for the team, as his 33 blocks rank second on his squad. The 27-year-old has actually provided some decent category coverage in addition to blocked shots, as he owns a respectable plus-seven rating, 48 shots on goal which are tied for 32nd amongst rearguards, and even a little bit of offence recently as he's buried two goals and three points in his last three outings.
Given the busy schedule, Lindholm should finish amongst the league leaders in this category for the week.
Goaltending: Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers (28 percent rostered on Yahoo)
New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant has stated that the team "feels comfortable" that starting netminder Igor Shesterkin will be ready in a week.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 4, 2021
The squad has placed the netminder on injured reserve ahead of Saturday's game, which means he will now miss two more contests at least.
If NHL coaches disclosed even the slightest bit of relevant information when it comes to injuries, maybe I'd believe him. Not knowing what Shesterkin is going through, however, makes the timeline Gallant has provided meaningless, and fantasy managers should continue to roll with Alexandar Georgiev.
Since stepping in after Shesterkin left Friday's contest against the San Jose Sharks, Georgiev has been sharp. The Bulgarian puckstopper has turned aside 34 of the 36 shots he faced, and he picked up a win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Operating as the clear No. 1 while Shesterkin deals with a lower-body injury, Georgiev should be added by all goalie-needy fantasy managers. The Blueshirts play three games this week, and I'd be stunned if Georgiev didn't start in two of those matchups.
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