NHL Fantasy Hockey Pool Strategy Guide

Pick 'Em Up! Waiver Wire Report

In our Pick 'Em Up column, we mine the fantasy hockey waiver wire for overlooked talent and hidden gems.  Striking gold with a key free agent can be the difference between a championship season or mediocrity, so whether you're scrambling to replace an injured starter, or just looking to infuse your bench with some upside, Pick' Em Up gives you options to help reshuffle the deck.  

Top of the Heap

Jiri Tlusty C, LW CAR: Tlusty is on fire this week.  He's recorded six points in his last two games, including a four point outburst against the Islanders, and he's notched at least one point in five of his last six starts.  He's a former first rounder (13th, 2006) who arguably stuck in the NHL a little before he was ready, but the 24-year old seems to have found a comfort zone in 2013.  He's adept at finding space and getting off quick shots, and he's making the most of his chances.  Grab him while he's hot.

Alex Steen STL C, LW: Tarasenko is the name on the lips of most fantasy owners, but Alex Steen is actually the top-scoring forward for the Blues.  Up to now Steen has been a perennial underachiever, always on the verge of something bigger, but he's never quite put it together for a full season.  This year it seems he's finally turned a long, wide corner toward better things.  He's posted 12 points in 13 games, including six on the power-play, and he's top-10 in the NHL in shots (51).  He's also available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues, so it's not too late to snag him.

Victor Hedman D TB: Hedman was taken second overall in the 2009 entry draft, and after three mediocre seasons he was one step away from being labeled a bust.  But hold the phone... in his last nine games, Hedman has eight points (4G, 4A), and he's suddenly a big factor for one of the NHL's highest-scoring teams.  Roto-owners will also love his plus-10 rating and his 26 blocks, although you're more likely to find him on the wire in a points-only format.

Jonathan Huberdeau C FLA: The Panthers rookie has been a little uneven through his first 12 starts, but he's slowly getting more comfortable.  He notched his first two-goal game at the NHL level on Tuesday against the Capitals, giving him eight points (5G3A) on the season.  He looks slick with the puck and the skill is there for a breakout (check out this shootout goal), it's just a matter of when.  

Scouring the Depths

Viktor Fasth G ANA: Fasth got his chance thanks to an injury to Anaheim's starter Jonas Hiller, and he's taken the job and ran with it.  He's a perfect 6-0-0, with a 2.07 GAA and a .933 SV%, and he's only allowed more than two goals in a game once this season.  With Hiller due back this weekend, there are no guarantees for Fasth's future production, but he's earned the right to a greater share of the workload, and he's worth stashing on the bench to see how it plays out.

Carl Hagelin LW NYR: Hagelin is only a factor is deep leagues, but the second-year winger is producing as of late.  He was bitten early in the season by a sophomore slump - pointless through his first seven starts - but he's now recorded six points in his last five games.  If you're searching the fantasy depths for players with upside, Hagelin is worth a look. 

Fedor Tyutin D CLB: Tyutin is one of the few bright spots in the fantasy wasteland of Columbus.  In spite of a dearth of goals in Ohio, he's managed ten points through 13 games - three on the power-play.  He won't give you much in the other categories, and his plus-minus will weigh you down over the year, but if you're strictly looking for points, Tyutin is proving to be a productive option.

Patrick Bordeleau LW COL: What the heck, let's finish off with an enforcer this week.  You won't be picking him up in basic leagues, but if you need a goon, Bordeleau fits the bill.  He's fought in back to back games - three fights overall - and he's notched 35 PIMs on the year.  Needless to say, he knows what he needs to do to remain in the big leagues.

***

We've now reached the quarter pole in this condensed 2013 NHL season, and the standings in most fantasy leagues are beginning to spread out.  It's the time of year when the contenders are rising to the top, while the pretenders are sinking or trying to stay afloat.  Regardless of your situation, the names we've provided will hopefully help keep you on track through the critical middle portion of the season.  Good luck on the wire this week!