In this edition of Waiver Wired we will highlight some surprises on the blueline and in goal who could help your fantasy squads as we head into December.
- D - Vancouver Canucks - The Vancouver blueline lost a sizable chunk of their offensive output when Christian Ehrhoff
decided he would test the market as a free agent. Alexander Edler
has done an admirable job of picking up the slack, but the contributions of Hamhuis have been a pleasant surprise from the back end. The 28-year-old rearguard has surpassed the 30-point mark one time since joining the big league in 2003-04 even though he displayed plenty of offensive flair in junior with a pair of 60-point campaigns. He has adopted a more defensive role since entering the NHL, but his game has gone to another level in 2011-12 with 14 points after 25 games. He failed to record a point just four times in 13 contests during the month of November, while collecting two goals and eight assists over that span. Hamhuis is currently on pace for 45 points, but it's more likely that he ends up scoring between 35-40, which, when added to 60-plus penalty minutes and a double digit plus-minus rating, makes for a strong year. He is owned in less than half of most fantasy leagues, so he's probably available if you are seeking a solid depth option.
- G - New York Islanders - The Islanders made a few jaws drop earlier in the year when they played Montoya in their first three games of the season despite the fact Evgeni Nabokov
and Rick DiPietro
were on the roster. There likely aren't as many critics scratching their heads now because Montoya has proven to be the team's best netminder statistically through the first two months of 2011-12. He had started the past four games for the Islanders (prior to Saturday’s game) and has compiled a 2-1-1 record over that time. Montoya has posted four of the team's seven wins this campaign, while recording a .928 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average in 10 appearances. Considering how much the team has struggled, those numbers are very impressive. With Nabokov out with a groin injury and DiPietro still unable to establish himself, Montoya should see the bulk of the action on Long Island for the time being and if you need some help in the crease then he may be one of the better choices available.
- C, LW - Detroit Red Wings - Very quietly, Filppula is off to a great start this season with eight goals and 21 points in 24 games. He has been played at center and on the wing during his career, but he is flourishing this year with Henrik Zetterberg
skating as his pivot. He is currently enjoying a five-game point streak, which has seen him register five goals and two assists. Filppula has displayed flashes of his skill during his career before, but this may finally be the year that he breaks out offensively. If he's available then he should be grabbed off the waiver wire immediately.
- D - Columbus Blue Jackets - Nikitin has seen heavy minutes and has played well for Columbus since being acquired from St. Louis last month. He has averaged slightly over 23 minutes per game, while posting eight points in 11 contests as a member of the Jackets, despite not getting as much power-play time as fellow blueliners Fedor Tyutin
and James Wisniewski
. His plus-minus rating, which is presently a plus-1 since the trade, will probably suffer long-term, but Nikitin has fit in well as a top-four defenseman in Columbus and is worthy of your consideration.
- G - Dallas Stars - As mentioned in Friday's edition of the Dailey Dose, Raycroft is slated to see the majority of the starts in Dallas with number one goalie Kari Lehtonen
sidelined for the foreseeable future with a groin injury. Lehtonen was playing among the league's top goaltenders prior to getting hurt and Raycroft will be called upon to help maintain the Stars' excellent start to the 2011-12 campaign in his absence. He defeated Colorado and Ottawa earlier this week with a pair of rock solid performances, but those were very winnable matches and he'll need more support from his teammates once the competition gets tougher. Raycroft should be regarded as potential filler for Lehtonen owners and as a depth option because at the very least he should give you points in games played.
- D - Colorado Avalanche - Elliott made his debut on the NHL scene last week exactly as advertised. The former Western Hockey League defenseman of the year scored the game-winning goal in his first game with the Avalanche on Nov. 26 against Edmonton and he has added another marker and an assist in three matches since then. Elliott played over 22 minutes in Friday's shootout win over St. Louis and appears to be a budding talent on the blueline due to his excellent wrist shot and his ability to make plays up the ice. The problem that Colorado will face when Erik Johnson
is ready to return from a groin injury is what to do with their 20-year-old defender. Elliott may steal a spot from Ryan O'Byrne
or Shane O'Brien
, but that's a decision coach Joe Sacco
hasn't made yet. His play is reminiscent of Kevin Shattenkirk
's opening season in the NHL last year and that turned into a permanent stay for him. If you don't want to gamble on him right now, keep an eye on what happens when Johnson returns and snatch him up in keeper formats in the meantime.