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The Wire Troll: Alex Lyon Saves Philly’s Bacon

March 24, 2018 | by RotoRob | Comments Comments Off
Alex Lyon is taking advantage of his chances for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Alex Lyon has been a revelation in the Flyer net. (nbcsports.com)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. This will be the final NHL Wire Troll of the season, given that the season ends in just over two weeks. We hope that our Fantasy hockey waiver wire recommendations have helped you get deep into your playoffs or remain in contention in your roto format.

This week, Florida Panthers founding owner Wayne Huizenga passed away just as his hockey team is red hot and pushing for a playoff spot; Detroit defenseman Mike Green is done for the season as he needs cervical spine surgery, so time to dump him (we’ve got some replacement suggestions below); and former NHL forward and current broadcaster Eddie Olczyk is now cancer-free.

And now for our final set of Fantasy hockey waiver wire picks for the 2017-18 season…

Alex Lyon, G, Philadelphia Flyers (ESPN: 2.5 per cent; CBS: 4 per cent): With both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth nursing injuries, the Flyers made a low-cost acquisition to bring in Petr Mrazek to tend net. However, Mrazek has been spotty as best, often needing to be pulled early. Perhaps Lyon has been Philly’s temporary solution in net all along, as he’s been very steady of late, recording at least a .917 save percentage in each of his last four games. Through 10 games (six starts), the rookie now has a sub-2.50 GAA, leading us to believe he’ll be in net Sunday in the huge matchup against Pittsburgh. Neuvirth hopes to rejoin the team on its upcoming road trip, so that could further cloud the situation, but Lyon has shown a strong goaltending technique, proving he can get the job done despite the fact that when he was originally recalled, he was expected to pretty much ride the pine. But after a rough start, Lyon has really turned things around, very infrequently letting in softies like the one in the video below, making him an intriguing short-term addition.

Bryan Little, C, Winnipeg Jets (ESPN: 34.4 per cent; CBS: 43 per cent): Little’s had a tough season, but he’s coming on a bit now (1-2-3 in the last three games) and could be in line for a nice short-term boost in productivity as he’s expected to take Patrik Laine’s place on the top line with the sniper out up to two weeks. Playing for such a solid team, Little’s plus-minus numbers have been a tad disappointing, especially lately (he’s only even in March), so hopefully that will trend up, too. The eight-time 40-point man has a chance to finish strong, so give him a look. The fesity Little is a real leader on the young Jets, and with an assumed increase in PP time, this could be the exact spark he needs to regain his goal scoring touch.

Neal Pionk, D, New York Rangers (ESPN: 16.4 per cent; CBS: 11 per cent): As discussed in our intro, if you lost Green, perhaps consider Pionk as a replacement. Pionk has been rolling lately, picking up an assist Thursday — his sixth straight game with at least one helper (eight in total over this stretch). He’s averaging nearly a point per game in March and really opening up some eyes with his rookie effort. Pionk is also unafraid to play a physical game (he knocked Vladimir Tarasenko out last week and has 31 total hits in 20 games).

Ryan Donato, C, Boston Bruins (ESPN: 8.6 per cent; CBS: 13 per cent): Donato has wasted no time in making an impact, scoring two goals and adding two assists in his first two NHL games. The Boston-born youngster has instantly announced himself as a rising star. Donato first came on our radar after a brilliant high school career prompted the Bruins to pick him 56th overall in 2014. You’d be wise to follow suit and add him to your Fantasy roster.

Keith Kinkaid, G, New Jersey Devils (ESPN: 22.2 per cent; CBS: 26 per cent): With starter Cory Schneider struggling, Kinkaid is making in-roads in the Devil net. On Friday, Kinkaid stopped 40 shots to earn his 20th win of the season. After putting up his first shutout of the season last week, he now has a .929 save percentage over his last five outings while going 7-2-0 over his last nine. Kinkaid is rolling in March, having racked up five wins with a 2.66 GAA, and overall this season, he’s more than doubled his previous career high in wins.

Anthony Beauvillier, LW, New York Islanders (ESPN: 5 per cent; CBS: 24 per cent): Beauvillier was on fire in January before slumping in recent weeks. However, he potted two goals on Thursday and given his seeming propensity for scoring goals in bunches, it may be time to jump on him again. Beauvillier has already surpassed his shot total from all of last season, and with seven combined shots over the last three, it’s clear he’s again getting his chances. He also picked up an assist Thursday, playing 16:24 — his most action in a week.

Ryan Pulock, D, New York Islanders (ESPN: 14.5 per cent; CBS: 30 per cent): Still with the Isles, Pulock is another option for those of you that got burned by Green’s injury. Pulock fired home a pair of goals Thursday, giving him three goals and five assists over the last five games. The 23-year-old blueliner has nine goals and 20 assists in 60 games, offering a nice positive in an otherwise lost season for the Islanders.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.

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Interview: Bernie Nicholls

March 20, 2018 | by RotoRob | Comments Comments Off
We recently had the opportunity to talk to former NHL star Bernie Nicholls, who scored 1,209 points in 1,127 career games over 17 seasons with six different teams, mostly with the Los Angeles Kings.
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The Wire Troll: Nick Bjugstad on Fire in Florida

March 10, 2018 | by RotoRob | Comments Comments Off
Playing on the top line with Panthers, who are red hot, has helped Bjugstad turn it on of late. He’s recorded points in every game so far this month, scoring four goals (all in the last two) and four assists with a whopping +10 rating. Bjugstad started ramping up his play in February, matching his season high with nine points, but he’s taken that to a whole new level this month, making him a must grab player. He’s already surpassed his game total from last season and looks poised to set a new career high in points. Bjugstad has ripped 11 shots on goal over the last two games, but his ice time has fluctuated. If he can regularly start seeing over 19 minutes of action as he did Tuesday (albeit, in an overtime game), he’ll really take off. It’s clear that Bjugstad is starting to use his massive frame (6′6″, 218) — especially large for a centre — to his advantage.
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The Wire Troll: Ondrej Kase on the Rise in Anaheim

February 24, 2018 | by RotoRob | Comments Comments Off
In his return to the lineup Friday after missing over two weeks, Rutta wasted little time making an impact, scoring one goal and adding an assist while going +2. His penalty minute total has dipped each month, but he’s enjoying a very fine rookie campaign and a few more games like Friday will take him out of the minus (he’s currently -5). An UFA this summer, Rutta has plenty of incentive to finish strong, so if you need a blueliner, give him a look.
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The Wire Troll: Ryan Spooner Boiling Up in Boston

February 10, 2018 | by RotoRob | Comments Comments Off
Virtanen hasn’t yet done anything with these extra minutes, but an increased role does represent an opportunity, and that’s worth tracking at the very least. For what it’s worth, he enjoyed his highest shooting percentage of the season last month and has had a decent bounce back effort after spending most of last season in the minors. Keep in mind, Virtanen was the sixth overall pick in 2014, but we’re going to need to see improvement in his +/- before he begins to be a real Fantasy asset. If he can remain healthy and start doing something with this opportunity, perhaps we’ll finally get a chance to see why he was picked so high. We’ll be monitoring this kid closely in the second half.
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