When the stretch run of the fantasy hockey season rolls around, waiver-wire pickups can simply mean the difference between your squad staying in playoff contention or being eliminated altogether.
Available players in promising situations that touch on more than one fantasy category should always be given thoughtful consideration -- especially if they remain under the radar despite a hot streak. For those reasons, Vancouver Canucks center Jordan Schroeder deserves to be on your team's radar in deep leagues.
The Canucks top-line center, Henrik Sedin, has put forth another top-tier fantasy campaign with consistent production (29 points, plus-16 in 32 games), but Vancouver's laundry list of injuries has dismantled its deep arsenal at the center position. David Booth is out for the season with an ankle injury and goal-scorer Ryan Kesler -- mired by multiple injuries over the last two seasons -- only played seven games before being sidelined again due to a fractured bone in his foot.
But since Booth went down, Schroeder has held down the fort on the team's second line alongside 27-year-olds Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. The rookie center has emerged from a nine-game dry spell with points in four consecutive games, including the tie-breaking goal in the Canucks' 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. Schroeder has been a plus-minus asset of late as well, accumulating a plus-5 over that four-game stretch.
Fantasy owners in deep leagues may be wondering: "Why would I consider a forward with only nine points in 27 games at such a crucial point in the season?" The reasoning is simple: This 22-year-old has provided a first-place team with uplifting production in two offensive categories.
Most importantly, he's a highly-regarded prospect with a high fantasy ceiling that's finding his groove at the right time.
With the NHL Trade Deadline rapidly approaching, it's certainly possible the Canucks will seek reinforcement at center if the right deal presents itself. But, for now, Schroeder (owned in less than 1% of Yahoo! leagues) has proven he has potential as the team's second-line center.
Schroeder has already seen notable power-play ice time (2:38 per game) for a rookie, and could certainly contribute more points in such situations as the season lingers on if he keeps finding the score sheet. If your fantasy roster is too jam-packed to add Schroeder at the moment, be sure to keep him on your team's watch list at the very least.