Last week we discussed two rookie defensemen who warranted waiver wire attention. Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers has each provided value and should continue to do so throughout the season.
In keeping with the trend of rookies on the rise, we look at two forwards who have emerged this past week as players who shouldn't be left on the waiver wire much longer. One you may have heard of, Jimmy Vesey of the New York Rangers. The other is lesser known, Tyler Motte of the Chicago Blackhawks. Each has ascended to his respective teams top line and will be hot commodities should they maintain that status.
Vesey (17 percent owned in Yahoo) has three goals in his past four games and is playing left wing on the Rangers' top line with center Derek Stepan and right wing Rick Nash bodes well for his future prospects. Vesey, 23, has 10 shots on goal in four games after having one in his first two. Vesey plays on the second power-play unit (2:21 per game), but the Rangers' 3rd-ranked offense has been much better at even strength. It's also encouraging that Vesey's time on ice has become more consistent; he's averaged 17:18 over the past three games.
Video: NYR@WSH: Vesey buries a feed from Nash for PPG
Motte (2 percent owned) has scored in his past two games playing with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Richard Panik. The 21-year-old has four points, a plus-3 rating, four penalty minutes and 10 SOG in six games. The injury to Marian Hossa prompted Motte's promotion, but it appears he will stay with Toews and Panik for now. With rookies, there's always a chance they could be bumped back down the depth chart, but even if Motte were to return to the third line, he should still get consistent minutes.
If you're going back and forth on which forward to pick up, Vesey has the slight upper-hand because of his chances of remaining in the Rangers' top-six forward group. His power-play time should translate to more scoring opportunities, and he has an edge over Motte in overall time on ice.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Lee Stempniak, LW/RW, CAR (27 percent owned)
The Carolina Hurricanes' top line of Stempniak, Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner has combined for nine goals and nine assists in six games this season. Stempniak leads Carolina with four goals (two assists) and has had nice category coverage with a plus-1 rating, eight PIM and nine SOG. His dual eligibility at wing makes him more appealing so long as the Hurricanes continue to score (3.20 goals per game; 11th in NHL).
Marcus Johansson, LW/RW, WSH (25 percent owned)
If you're looking for someone to get you power-play points, Johansson is a solid claim. He's playing on the Washington Capitals' first power-play unit with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson, and has two PPP in his past three games. Johansson also played with Backstrom at even-strength (with Andre Burakovsky), so his value extends further than the man-advantage.
Peter Budaj, G, LAK (14 percent owned)
With Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff each on the shelf, Budaj is thrust into the No. 1 role (at least temporarily) for the Los Angeles Kings. He hasn't been great in his first two starts of the season (2.46 goals-against average, .889 save percentage), but he has two wins. You've got to assume the Kings will make a trade for a more-established goaltender, which would bump Budaj into a backup role. But until that happens, he's the guy for Los Angeles and should be owned in most standard formats.
Video: VAN@LAK: Budaj sprawls to make save on the doorstep
Sam Bennett, C, CGY (13 percent owned)
In Yahoo standard leagues, you will still have to pay attention to PIM. Bennett has been a steady provider of the category (14 PIM in six games) and the Calgary Flames center flashed some of his offensive potential Saturday with two assists against the St. Louis Blues in a 6-4 loss. If the Flames offense starts to turn things around, Bennett will start getting points in bunches, making him more than just a PIM specialist early in the season.
Patrick Wiercioch, D, COL (1 percent owned)
The Colorado Avalanche defenseman has at least a point in four of five games this season and has been very productive despite his playing time; Wiercioch has a goal, four assists, nine PIM and seven SOG while averaging 15:52 of ice time. He's clearly beginning to gain the trust of new coach Jared Bednar and is tied for the Avalanche lead in scoring with Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. Wiercioch doesn't play on the man-advantage, but if he were to land on the second unit he'd become a nice sleeper to scoop up.
Other candidates: Victor Rask, C, CAR (15 percent); Tanner Pearson, LW, LAK (13 percent); Nikita Zaitsev, D, TOR (8 percent); Brandon Sutter, C, VAN (7 percent); Matt Read, RW, PHI (6 percent); Michael Matheson, D, FLA (5 percent).