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Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Adrian Kempe leads pickups

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By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

The absences and postponements continue to clear and fantasy hockey life is looking more stable. And fewer moans when it comes to roster depletion. Heh, just kidding — people will complain about anything.

Take a breath. Go with the flow. Stay the course. Give it 110 percent. And all the other inspirational cliches.

If you want to maintain a winning situation or reclaim glory, head to RotoWire for the latest hockey news and in-depth material.

Still no repeat waiver recommendations from previous columns this season, though there could be ones in the coming weeks.

(Rostered rates/stats as of Jan. 13.)

Forwards

Adrian Kempe, LA (Yahoo: 39 percent rostered)

Kempe is on pace to shatter his career-high in points (37) with 22 so far and goals in five of his last seven games. He's also been active, averaging more than 18 minutes and roughly three shots on net. Playing beside Anze Kopitar has its advantages and Kempe is reaping the rewards. And with a prime role on both special-teams units, he's destined to find the scoresheet more often than not.

Jeff Carter, PIT (Yahoo: 39 percent)

The recently turned 37-year-old has enjoyed his time since arriving in Pittsburgh and it could get better if Tuesday's contest is any indication. While Evgeni Malkin's reappearance dropped Carter to the second power play, the duo combined on the second line and contributed all four goals. Carter even operated as the center and won nine of 12 faceoffs. If this partnership continues, expect excellent numbers from Carter.

Erik Haula, BOS (Yahoo: 18%)

Since Haula racked up 55 points for Vegas in 2017-18, he's mainly been a fantasy afterthought. That seemed to be the case again this season until David Pastrnak was moved to his right side. Those two along with Taylor Hall have been dynamic lately as the Bruins' second even-strength line. Heading into Wednesday, Haula was on a five-game scoring streak that also featured eight shots, 11 hits and 30 faceoff wins. Based on the trio's chemistry and success, the Finn has earned an extended run with his star wingers.

Luke Kunin, NSH (Yahoo: 6%)

Filip Forsberg landed in COVID protocol Saturday, leaving the Preds with a sizable hole up front. Someone like Kunin can't fill that void, though he's capable of producing stats in many categories. This skill was on full display Tuesday when he posted two goals, six shots, three hits and two blocks. Kunin's stock has also been enhanced by a budding rapport with Ryan Johansen within Nashville's top-six along with sizable roles on the man-advantage and penalty kill.

Conor Sheary, WAS (Yahoo: 5%)

For someone who was part of the Caps' top power play for so long, it's incredible Sheary only managed a pair of PPPs — and both were within the first few weeks. The two-time Cup winner occasionally lined up with Washington's top forwards, but now finds himself in the lower half of the depth chart. That didn't stop Sheary from potting two goals and firing four pucks on net Monday. And if we go back to Dec. 10, he's accumulated 10 points and 28 shots. Sounds respectable enough as a lower-roster addition.

Jack Quinn, BUF (Yahoo: 2%)

There was nothing left for Quinn to do in the minors after posting 12 goals and 14 assists in 20 games, so he was summoned to make his NHL debut Tuesday. The Sabres were obliterated on the scoreboard, yet the eighth pick from 2020 showed promise over 16:30 — including 3:07 on the lead man-advantage — with three shots and a couple of scoring chances. Quinn was quickly returned to the AHL, but that may only be temporary considering Buffalo could really use a spark up front with a few players still out.

Jack Quinn #22 of the Buffalo Sabres is an intriguing fantasy hockey pickup
It's only a matter of time for Jack Quinn to start filling up the fantasy hockey sheet when he's called up again. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, COL (Yahoo: 2%)

Aube-Kubel has operated as a grinder over his three-and-a-half-year career with a combined 272 hits, 96 PIM and 146 shots. The Flyers placed him on waivers in mid-November and the Avs scooped him up. And despite minimal minutes, NAK immediately found his groove. It's only recently being matched up with Nazem Kadri where he's gotten increased attention. If we go back five contests, Aube-Kubel has produced six points, 10 shots, 22 hits and a plus-5. There's a question whether he'll stick with Kadri, but enjoy the ride for now.

Dylan Strome, CHI (Yahoo: 2%)

The talent has always been present, though consistency and injuries have hurt Strome's fantasy profile in recent years. His outlook didn't appear any brighter this campaign when he sat for seven of the opening 11 games. By December, Strome's ice time rose to a respectable level and was eventually added to Chicago's lead power play. And with a regular spot alongside Patrick Kane, the former No. 3 selection is receiving plenty of offensive opportunities. The non-scoring stats are negligible, but that's not what you're expecting from Strome.

Defensemen

Matt Grzelcyk, BOS (Yahoo: 33%)

You wouldn't have guessed it, but going off for five points in one game can really boost one's coverage. That's exactly what Grzelcyk accomplished Monday, with two of them PPAs. There's the obvious warning since he only had eight in his previous 31 appearances, though perhaps this is a sign of better things to come. On the other hand, Charlie McAvoy just returned and should take back most of Boston's blueline offense. Based on Wednesday's effort of an assist and five shots, it looks like Grzelcyk will deliver adequate fantasy output.

Gustav Forsling, FLA (Yahoo: 22%)

Forsling began the season on a blistering run of nine assists through 10 appearances, though a slowdown and two brief unavailable stints would destroy his momentum. Since returning from the latest setback, he's tacked on another five helpers while skating more than 21 minutes. Forsling hasn't registered a goal yet and his former power-play role seems non-existent, but he'll supply a decent number of shots, hits and blocks while chipping in as part of the league's second-best attack.

[So many reasons to play Yahoo DFS: Learn more now and get in on the fun]

Alexandre Carrier, NSH (Yahoo: 1%)

13 points and 28 PIM may not appear to be special stats for a defender, yet there's one major recent detail that will pique your interest in Carrier and that is his assist with Roman Josi on the Preds' top man-advantage Tuesday. Unknown players who've recently come into prominence have usually climbed the ranks thanks to others being out, but that doesn't apply to Carrier since Nashville boasts a full blueline. That means the coaches obviously like what he's been doing, which should count as a solid fantasy endorsement.

Erik Brannstrom, OTT (Yahoo: 1%)

Including Brannstrom is more of a hunch than anything else since we haven't seen the Sens play since New Year's Day. There's no telling how the lines will look or how they'll fare following an extended layoff. Also, Ottawa will be on the road this weekend facing two daunting opponents in Calgary and Edmonton. But if we're looking at their D beyond Thomas Chabot, there's really no one else who offers upside besides Brannstrom. And if he ends up not providing much, you can always throw him back on the wire.

Goaltenders

Pavel Francouz, COL (Yahoo: 30%)

Following a stellar debut in 2019-20, Francouz had all last season and most of the current one wiped out by injury. He finally made his first appearance in 473 days on Dec. 16 and allowed four goals in Nashville while making 30 saves. Francouz has won his last two, including stopping 18 of 19 shots versus the Leafs after Darcy Kuemper was pulled in the first period. Even though Kuemper has recently struggled, he'll probably remain the Avs' lead netminder. But if Francouz stays healthy and puts together more strong performances, there's a chance for a larger chunk of the workload.

Anthony Stolarz, ANH (Yahoo: 29%)

Stolarz's pro career has been highlighted by a bunch of AHL games and not much at the top level. While he won't become Anaheim's No. 1 as long as John Gibson is available, he's at least cemented his place as the primary backup with a 2.29 GAA, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 12 outings. Even when Gibson returns — which could be as soon as Friday — Stolarz should receive enough starts the rest of the way behind a top-10 D to qualify as a solid fantasy fill-in.

(Players to consider from past columns: Nazem Kadri, Brandon Saad, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jared McCann, Tage Thompson, Lucas Raymond, Ryan Hartman, Ondrej Kase, Anthony Cirelli, Ryan Johansen, Trevor Zegras, Nino Niederreiter, Ivan Barbashev, Mats Zuccarello, Evgenii Dadonov, Robert Thomas, Anton Lundell, Evan Rodrigues, Boone Jenner, Craig Smith, Troy Terry, Matt Duchene, Tanner Jeannot, Alex Kerfoot, Mikael Granlund, J.T. Compher, Sonny Milano, Jonathan Dahlen, Jamie Drysdale, Moritz Seider, Shayne Gostisbehere, Adam Boqvist, Damon Severson, Evan Bouchard, Mattias Ekholm, Bowen Byram, Tuukka Rask, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jake Oettinger, Kaapo Kahkonen, James Reimer, Karel Vejmelka)

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