Waiver wire pickups for Week 26

Special to Yahoo Sports

Remember last week when I seemingly gave up on my fantasy hockey playoff matchup after losing a pair of big names – and later, a third – to injury? Well, you’ll be glad to know I managed to eke out a win and advance to the semifinals of the RotoWire Staff Keeper Hockey League.

And right into a head-to-head against the top seed where I’m projected to get obliterated. Or not.

Regardless of format or activity, RotoWire can fill you in on the latest news and offer plenty of in-depth material.

We’re down to the last couple of weeks. Below are a few names to help you through.

(Rostered rates / stats as of April 14.)

Forwards

Trevor Zegras, ANH (Yahoo: 49%)

If you said before the season that Zegras would be hovering around 50 percent rostered by April, it would probably be assumed he’d be struggling or injured. Looking at his recent returns explains neither is the case with 11 points and 29 shots in 11 games while averaging 20:40, including 2:40 on the power play. None of the Ducks’ final seven opponents are elite when it comes to GAA, so Zegras could accumulate plenty of offense.

Last call for Trevor Zegras in fantasy hockey leagues. (AP Photo / Derik Hamilton)

Ivan Barbashev, STL (Yahoo: 42%)

Despite already eclipsing career highs with 23 goals, 30 assists and 108 shots along with 141 hits (three away from matching a peak), Barbashev remains available in most leagues. And it’s not as though he’s struggled lately since he just had a six-game scoring streak snapped that was accompanied by 23 hits. Skating on the third line might sound like a deterrent, but the Blues’ front line is strong. Barbashev also has you covered if you’re searching for special teams help as he’s significantly involved on both sides.

Paul Stastny, WPG (Yahoo: 27%)

Stastny’s stats have slid in previous years, but he’s back in the flow with eight points and 19 shots in eight outings. Most of that success came on the wing with either Mark Scheifele or Pierre-Luc Dubois down the middle. Scheifele missed Monday’s game and Stastny was returned to center, where he potted a goal, fired four pucks on net and won 10 faceoffs. That placement may only be temporary, though Stastny’s position really doesn’t matter unless he drops out of the top six.

Matthew Boldy, MIN (Yahoo: 14%)

Boldy went on a tear after getting promoted by reeling off 12 goals and 15 assists in his first 35 NHL appearances. That momentum was briefly halted due to injury but he seems to have picked up where he left off with three points in two. And though Boldy hasn’t been around long, he’s already up to double-digits in power-play points and finds himself on the Wild’s top unit. Add him before another heat wave comes.

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Conor Sheary, WAS (Yahoo: 2%)

When it comes to favorable placement, Sheary benefited after being paired with Sidney Crosby way back when. That hasn’t generally been the case since, but the latest lines have him alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov at even-strength and that’s resulted in three points in two games. That status probably won’t last too long with TJ Oshie and Tom Wilson lurking on the right side, so enjoy Sheary’s uptick while it lasts.

Alex Chiasson, VAN (Yahoo: 1%)

On the subject of being in the right place at the right time, Chiasson can’t complain about his current spot on Vancouver’s top power play. Getting to work with four talented teammates has directly led to four PPPs in the last four games. That alone could cement someone’s fantasy case, but Chiasson further increases in value having tacked on 16 shots and six hits during the same stretch. As long as that unit stays hot, he’s probably not going anywhere.

Matty Beniers, SEA (Yahoo: 1%)

Beniers led the University of Michigan in scoring this season on a stacked lineup and immediately jumped to the Kraken for his first game Tuesday where he recorded an assist in 17-plus minutes. The second selection from last summer also centered Seattle’s first man-advantage while taking 12 faceoffs. While the team won’t necessarily rush Beniers into a starring role, there’s no reason to hold him back since he’s clearly ready for NHL competition.

Bobby Brink, PHI (Yahoo: 1%)

Brink’s University of Denver spoiled Michigan’s Frozen Four hopes in the semis and went on to take the title. The former second-rounder also led the NCAA in scoring with 57 points and was a Hobey Baker finalist. And like Beniers, Brink debuted Tuesday and managed a helper – though his came on the power play – while adding two shots, two hits and two blocks. The Flyers could surely use some offensive firepower up front and Brink should provide that spark.

Defensemen

Alec Martinez, VGK (Yahoo: 35%)

Martinez spent most of the season on the shelf and only returned two weeks ago. He impressed last year with 31 points, a plus-26 and 168 hits and seems to be getting back to form with a goal, two assists and 21 hits from seven games. Martinez could see his ice time increase as Vegas continues its surge for a playoff berth. And with all the big names available again, he’s in line to increase his offensive contributions.

Owen Power, BUF (Yahoo: 14%)

Beniers wasn’t the only UofM skater who made his NHL introduction Tuesday as Power started off his career in Toronto with friends and family at the stands. The first overall pick from the 2021 Draft didn’t find the scoresheet but held its own in less than 20 minutes en route to a 5-2 win against their cross-border rivals. With the Sabers not having much to play for, expect Power to receive a longer look and get involved on the power play.

Vladislav Gavrikov, CLS (Yahoo: 8%)

Raise your hand if you know Gavrikov has 32 points – and you don’t live in Ohio. That number is only a fraction of the fantasy equation considering he’s also racked up 89 shots, 60 PIM, 117 hits and 125 blocks. Gavrikov only appears on special teams as lead on the penalty kill, though he’ll keep getting chances to build upon his totals as he averages 22 minutes a night within a relatively decent scoring Columbus attack.

Timothy Liljegren TOR (Yahoo: 1%)

Offensive upside doesn’t guarantee one a place in the lineup, and Liljegren is recent proof of that with four healthy scratches since the beginning of March. However, he’s also registered three goals, seven assists, 22 shots, 31 hits and a plus-11 over the same period. Liljegren had been paired with Mark Giordano after the latter arrived in Toronto, but was moved alongside Morgan Rielly on Tuesday and immediately paid dividends with a goal, four shots and four hits. Probably best to monitor his progress over the next couple games before bringing him aboard.

Goaltenders

Kaapo Kahkonen, SJ (Yahoo: 27%)

Since James Reimer was discussed a week ago, he left last Thursday’s game and Kahkonen finished up. The Finn ultimately started the next two and combined for 77 saves, including all 40 in regulation against the Preds on Tuesday before they scored on their lone shot in OT. Kahkonen was pretty solid while in Minnesota and is almost nine years younger than Reimer, so the Sharks should provide him more of a run the rest of the season if they believe he’s their No. 1 future.

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Nico Daws, NJ (Yahoo: 5%)

Quick turnaround for Daws here after first being mentioned in early March. The 3.52 GAA, .886 save percentage and three hooks since don’t look great, but the fact is he’s started 15 of 17 during that stretch. That’s a clear sign the coaches trust Daws and think he could be part of Jersey’s long-term plans. If you’re looking for another reason to add him, consider he’s won his last two. And as has been repeated in this column, sometimes all you need is the assurance of volume to pick up a goalie – especially late in the season and in formats that count saves.

(Players to consider from past columns: Nazem Kadri, Joel Eriksson Ek, Nick Schmaltz, Dylan Strome, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Tim Stutzle, Nico Hischier, Robert Thomas, Brock Nelson, Lucas Raymond, Valeri Nichushkin, Michael Bunting, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Hartman , Andrew Copp, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Johansen, Tyler Toffoli, Jesper Bratt, Alex Tuch, Alexander Barabanov, Kevin Hayes, Cole Caufield, Andrew Mangiapane, Jakub Voracek, Mason Marchment, Victor Olofsson, Rickard Rakell, Anthony Cirelli, Chandler Stephenson, Mathieu Joseph, Jack Roslovic, Tage Thompson, Seth Jarvis, Josh Norris, Jake DeBrusk, Boone Jenner, Troy Terry, Matt Duchene, Yegor Sharangovich, Nick Ritchie, Evan Bouchard, Jared Spurgeon, Damon Severson, Noah Hanifin, Noah Dobson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Vince Dunn, Moritz Seider, Rasmus Andersson, Josh Morrissey, Ryan Pulock, Cam Fowler, Erik Brannstrom, Bowen Byram, Sean Durzi, Ville Husso, Logan Thompson, Jonathan Quick, Jake Oettinger, Anton Forsberg, Mike Smith, Spencer Knigh t, Antti Raanta)

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