Here are some waiver wire suggestions for the desperate fantasy owner in a deep league whose team is ravaged by key injuries. Those same injuries have opened the door for other players to shine - and here are the guys to key on for as long as the bigger-named player is sidelined. The percentages given represent ownership in Yahoo leagues.
Reilly Smith, Boston Bruins, 9%
Fantasy hockey's best-kept secret? Poolies have been reluctant to add Smith because they don't believe the production will continue. But it hasn't stopped, especially with Loui Eriksson sidelined. In the three games since Eriksson suffered his latest concussion (including the game he was injured, since he only played 21 seconds), Smith has four points.
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes, 26%
With Joni Pitkanen out for the season, it hasn't been Justin Faulk who has filled the void. Nor has it been hot shot prospect Ryan Murphy. No, it's been Sekera. And fantasy owners are taking a while to catch on. He has 10 points in his past nine games, including three on the power play and his ice time is consistently above 22 minutes. His production is not without precedent, as he had 29 points for Buffalo in 2010-11 - most of that happened in the last 25 games. However, the Sabres signed Christian Ehrhoff that summer and Sekera wasn't given the chance to pick up where he left off in 2011-12. Now in Carolina, he is getting that opportunity. He's the real deal, folks. The only risk with him is injury, as he tends to miss about a dozen games every season.
Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets, 8%
As long as Nathan Horton and Marian Gaborik are sidelined, the Blue Jackets are turning to Atkinson. Prior to Tuesday, he had merely been chipping in points sporadically, trying to get into "the zone" that skilled players find every so often. Tuesday's four-point outburst indicates he's found that zone and I wouldn't be surprised to see a nice little run. He's tied for 25th in the league in shots on goal (96), so at worst he'll only help you in that one category.
Antti Raanta, Chicago Blackhawks, 29%
Fantasy owners are catching on quickly to the fact that it doesn't matter who is in net for the Blackhawks - he'll get the W and his numbers will be solid, whether it's Raanta or Corey Crawford, Adam Proteau or Rory Boylen. Doesn't matter. The stats will be solid. So with Crawford out for three weeks, that's nine or 10 games for Raanta to play.
Ben Scrivens/Martin Jones, Los Angeles Kings, 69% and 11%
Your league likely has Scrivens belonging to a team already, but Jones is starting to elbow his way into the picture. With back-to-back shutouts Saturday and Tuesday, it will be hard for coach Darryl Sutter to keep him off the ice. Scrivens owners are starting to panic, as his starts that seemed to be guaranteed just one week ago, are now being cannibalized. Starting goaltender Jonathan Quick is still about two to three weeks away from returning from a serious groin injury.
Derick Brassard, New York Rangers, 25%
Brassard has had a disappointing season, but he really started to struggle when Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin returned to the lineup. There is only so much ice time and power play time to go around. But when Callahan was injured again in Tuesday's game (knee sprain), Brassard was moved to the wing on the first line with Rick Nash. He chipped in an assist while seeing his ice time increase by seven or eight minutes.
Reid Boucher, New Jersey Devils, 0%
This one is a stretch, and only for the truly desperate as Boucher will only help - and even then, just marginally - for the next couple of weeks while Ryane Clowe and Ryan Carter get healthy. Boucher has two points in four games so far, but his ice time is increasing. His American League debut has been a smashing success, with 10 goals and 18 points in 21 games. This, after tallying 62 goals in the Ontario League last season. If Boucher plays another eight games before the inevitable demotion, he could chip in five points.
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers, 15%
Couturier has almost been a stranger to the power play this year, but has seen an uptick lately thanks to the injury to Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier was seeing 3:12 of PP time per game, so that's a lot of minutes to spread around and Couturier is benefitting the most. In the four games that Lecavalier has been absent, Couturier has five points. Lecavalier's back injury will keep him sidelined until the New Year.
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning, 3%
When Steven Stamkos suffered a broken leg, my analysis over on DobberHockey listed possible beneficiaries. I said about Johnson and his chances on the Martin St-Louis line:
"My favorite (beneficiary), but due to his inexperience Johnson will likely not get an audition on this line until the other options are exhausted. He's on pace for 36 points, but I think he is going to top 45. However, sustained ice time with St-Louis would see him push 65."
So far so good. Johnson was indeed the last option to try and yes he has so far been the most successful. In the 13 games that Stamkos has missed, Johnson has 10 points, including four in three games playing with the ageless St-Louis.
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks, 34%
Hamhuis has been a disappointment this year after breaking out with 24 points in 47 games last season. The career plus-77 rearguard is better known for his defense, but with 61 points in 129 games leading into this campaign, more was expected. However, with Alexander Edler sidelined, Hamhuis has two points in three games. Edler is out indefinitely, so watch Hamhuis get back to the level he was at in early 2013.