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Fantasy waiver wire: Zach Werenski rising

Blue Jackets rookie defenseman playing on top pair, first power-play unit

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Throughout the NHL season, the waiver wire will be a one-stop shop for your fantasy roster needs. It's important even if you don't necessarily have any needs to remain active on the waiver wire. Due diligence is key in maintaining an advantage against your opponents. Whether an injury forces you to find a replacement or one of your players is underperforming, waiver claims can be the difference between winning and losing a championship, especially after Week 1.

Less than one week into the season, it's safe to call 2016-17 the season of the rookie. The crop of young players this season is astounding, and while forwards Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Patrik Laine (Winnipeg Jets) have dominated the talk, you won't be able to find either on the waiver wire. Two rookies you should be able to put in a claim for are defensemen Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Video: SJS@CBJ: Werenski snipes first NHL goal on power play

Provorov (22 percent ownership in Yahoo) ranks third on the Flyers in average ice time (19:54) and has one assist, a plus-1 and one shot on goal in two games this season. He also has played on the second power-play unit, averaging 1:38 on the man-advantage. Provorov's playing time hasn't translated into much production yet, but it's still very early in the season. The big minutes are encouraging and it's only a matter of time before Provorov starts racking up more points.

On the other hand Werenski (17 percent owned) has shown the same promise as Provorov but with better production thus far. He's second on the Blue Jackets in ice time per game at 21:55, behind Seth Jones (24:47), and has a power-play goal and an assist with nine shots on goal in two games. The Blue Jackets have struggled early, but Werenski has been a bright spot and warrants fantasy consideration in all formats.

Each defensemen is talented and worth adding, but Werenski has the edge on Provorov because of his greater usage and shot total through two games. Though it should be noted Provorov plays for the more talented offensive team in Philadelphia with forwards Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and rookie Travis Konecny. Provorov has added value in leagues that count hits (five) and blocked shots (five).

 

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Mitchell Marner, C/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs (28 percent owned)

The Maple Leafs have plenty of talented rookies in Matthews, William Nylander, Nikita Zaitsev and Zach Hyman, but Marner has turned heads with his play-making ability. He leads the Maple Leafs with 10 shots on goal and scored his first NHL goal in a 4-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Maple Leafs have two favorable matchups, at the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday and Minnesota Wild on Thursday, and Marner is a solid pickup if you're looking for shots on goal and the potential for power-play points with dual-position eligibility.

Video: BOS@TOR: Marner fires wrister for first career goal

 

Alex Killorn, C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning (20 percent owned)

No longer skating with Steven Stamkos on the Lightning's top line might be a blessing in disguise for Killorn. He has two goals, one assist, two power-play points and four shots on goal in two games playing with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov on the second line. It's a small sample size, but it seems the Lightning have solved their power-play woes, which helps considering Killorn plays regularly on a loaded unit featuring Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin and Victor Hedman.

 

Chad Johnson, G, Calgary Flames (8 percent owned)

The Flames acquired Brian Elliott in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on June 24 to be their No. 1 goalie, but his struggles during the first two games of the season created an opportunity for Johnson, who made 30 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. The 30-year-old proved he can handle a bigger workload with the Buffalo Sabres last season, going 22-16-4 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 45 games. Johnson is a necessary handcuff for Elliott owners and could force more of a time-share situation should he perform well enough.

 

Jonathan Marchessault, C, Florida Panthers (11 percent owned)

When left wing Jonathan Huberdeau was ruled out 3-4 months because of a leg injury sustained during the preseason, it was unclear who would replace him. Marchessault got the first crack on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr and has proved worthy of the promotion. He leads the Panthers in scoring with four points (two goals, two assists) and is plus-4 with eight shots on goal while averaging 18:37 of ice time in two games. Marchessault has had solid category coverage so far and his usage on the Panthers' power play increases his ceiling.

Video: NJD@FLA: Marchessault puts home goal on deflection

 

Mathieu Perreault, C/LW, Winnipeg Jets (6 percent owned)

Center Bryan Little was injured in the Jets' season opener and is out indefinitely, which gave Perreault a boost from third-line to second-line center. He has one goal, one assist and five shots on goal while averaging 17:17 of ice time (2:36 on the power play) per game in two games. Perreault gains extra value in a hits league and the Jets have a very favorable schedule in October, including three straight home games, against the Boston Bruins, Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers before a home-and-home against the Dallas Stars. His exposure to skilled forwards like Laine, rookie Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers should help him sustain production.

Other candidates: Kris Russell, D, Oilers (31 percent owned); Richard Panik, left wing, Chicago Blackhawks (30 percent owned); Jake Gardiner, D, Maple Leafs (16 percent owned); Kyle Connor, left wing, Jets (7 percent owned)

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