Waiver watch: Jesse Puljujarvi, Joe Thornton among top players to add

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Every week, we’ll mine the waiver wire for lesser-rostered assets to help your squad, whether you favor dynasty or the redraft format, and we’ll also toss in some tips for DFS players out there. Finally, we will look at some former go-to fantasy assets who may be overvalued — in the short- or long-term — for one reason or another.

Update (Monday, 12pm ET) on this week’s game postponements in accordance with the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol: The New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins are off until Thursday, at the earliest. The Minnesota Wild are also scheduled to resume play Thursday, but that could change in light of additional players joining the league’s protocol list. The Colorado Avalanche are inactive until Sunday, Feb. 14. The Arizona Coyotes play the Blues Monday, but then sit idle until Saturday.


Forwards

David Krejci, C, Boston Bruins (34.0%): The veteran forward should be rostered in all but the shallowest of leagues that value assists equally to goals. Centering a second scoring line with Nick Ritchie, Krejci has nine helpers to show for 11 contests, including five with the extra skater. Perennially underrated, the 34-year-old never gets the fantasy love he deserves — at least never to open a season. He earned 73 points in 81 games only two years ago, including 20 goals. Pick him up before he starts potting them in the net too.

Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Edmonton Oilers (37.8%): Only four weeks into the season and Puljujarvi has already featured a few times in ESPN’s fantasy department space. The once-again Oiler looks great. He’s playing on a top line with Connor McDavid. He has three goals in two recent games, two of which were set up by McDavid. The 22-year-old is making the most of his renewed NHL career. As long as he sticks alongside you-know-who, Puljujarvi boasts a lot of fantasy shine.

Jack Roslovic, C/RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (8.4%): The former Jet is having quite a time since being dealt to his hometown club. Collecting a goal and five assists in his past quartet of contests, Roslovic is now centering a Blue Jackets’ top line with Patrick Laine and Cam Atkinson and competing on the club’s top power play. The 24-year-old first-round draft pick (2015) should continue to pile up the points in filling those plum roles. He won’t be widely available across the fantasy spectrum for long.

Joe Thornton, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (7.6%): Not yet, but keep the veteran in mind ahead of next week. Recovering from a fractured rib, Thornton could be ready to go when the Leafs open a three-game home set against the Senators on Feb. 15. He returned to practice on Monday. Losing Wayne Simmonds for six weeks to a broken wrist, Toronto will certainly benefit from having Thornton back in action, particularly on the power play.

Scott Laughton, C, Philadelphia Flyers (7.5%): As illustrated by Laughton’s first career hat-trick versus the Capitals on Sunday, the Flyers’ third line provides more scoring pop than most other bottom-six units around the league. The 26-year-old has steadily improved upon his numbers over the past three years and should take another significant stride forward this season. So long as he sticks on a unit with current scoring engine James van Riemsdyk. Leading the Flyers in hits (30), Laughton merits extra consideration in deeper leagues that also reward physical play.

See also: Tim Stutzle, LW, Ottawa Senators; Dylan Strome, C, Chicago Blackhawks; Tyler Johnson, C/RW/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning

Defenders

Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Pittsburgh Penguins (7.1%): Sleeper-city, but fantasy managers in need could do much worse than roll the dice on the 21-year-old rookie. Joseph scored his first NHL goal versus the Islanders over the weekend, bumping his points total to five in seven games. In light of Pittsburgh’s banged-up blue line, the young skater has been recently assigned to heavy minutes on the team’s top pair alongside Kris Letang and plugged onto the club’s secondary power play. Don’t forget, the Coyotes drafted Joseph 23rd overall only four years ago. Perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised by his impressive play to date.

See also: Erik Gustafsson, Philadelphia Flyers

Goaltenders

Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (26.7%): The Canadiens backup has played nearly as much as Carey Price these past two weeks and he’s performed superbly. While there’s no disputing who steers the goaltending ship in Montreal, Allen has been good-to-great — actually better than Price — whenever called upon this campaign. And unlike the club’s franchise netminder, the best backup in the biz is widely available in ESPN fantasy leagues. He deserves a spot in any league that allows for daily lineup shuffling.

Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (4.4%): We’ll soon find out how much blame for the Oilers’ defensive struggles can be justifiably heaped on Mikko Koskinen. Activated off injured reserve, Smith is apparently jazzed to make his season debut against the Senators on Monday. The 38-year-old says he feels great physically and mentally. Again, we’ll see. An inconsistent fantasy asset in years past, Smith has unarguably enjoyed stretches of dominant play, here and there. Fantasy managers with issues in net may want to at least gauge whether he’s about to enjoy such a stretch now. Hopefully with improved defensive support out front.

See also: James Reimer, Carolina Hurricanes

Lowered expectations

Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals (54.1%): The Capitals’ current starting netminder has allowed a total of 11 goals in three straight losses (.855 save percentage), culminating with getting the hook against the Flyers on Sunday. That isn’t going to cut it for a team with its sights on the playoffs. Plus, Ilya Samsonov is back to working out after sitting three weeks in accordance with the league’s COVID-19 protocol. Washington’s true No. 1 should be back at it relatively soon.

See also: Timo Meier, RW/LW, San Jose Sharks