Line watching can be a useful practice while managing your fantasy hockey teams, particularly when it comes to putting in waiver wire claims. We'd all like certain players to stick on a certain line for a certain team, but that isn't always the case, especially when new faces are in new places.
Before the season started, the Edmonton Oilers threw a lot of money at left wing Milan Lucic to play on the top line with Connor McDavid. Plenty of owners drafted Lucic accordingly, hoping to cash in on a big season with the shining young star centering him. Unfortunately, the Lucic-McDavid combination didn't last for 15 games and the veteran left wing was dumped to the third line in favor of Patrick Maroon (22 percent owned in Yahoo).
Maroon entered Sunday with four goals and two assists with six penalty minutes and 16 shots on goal in his past five games. This isn't exactly surprising considering Maroon and McDavid built up a nice rapport last season playing with each other. As long as Maroon sticks on the top line with McDavid and keeps getting time on the power play, he'll be worth owning in almost all formats.
Video: EDM@PIT: Maroon buries McDavid's perfect feed
There are two other notable first line forwards that could land you a hidden gem from the waiver wire. The Montreal Canadiens have rewarded LW/RW Paul Byron (6 percent owned) with a spot on the top line next to Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Radulov. He entered Sunday on a three-game goal streak and has three goals, two assists with a plus-4 rating and seven SOG in his past four games. It will be hard for Byron to sustain this production considering his shooting percentage (27.8) is bound to regress, but if he stays in the good graces of coach Michel Therrien, it could lead to a career season. Byron is worth adding in deeper leagues and points-only formats.
The other is a name you may have heard of, right wing Radim Vrbata (7 percent owned), who has been a bright spot for the struggling Arizona Coyotes. Vrbata has two goals, three assists (two power-play points) and 14 SOG on a four-game point streak. He leads Arizona in goals (six) and is tied for the lead in points (11) with Max Domi. The Coyotes have a favorable schedule coming up with games this week against the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks. Arizona's lineup is riddled with inconsistent youth, so the resident veteran scorer should be the lone constant providing goals, assists, PP points and SOG.
Video: BOS@ARI: Vrbata's shot deflects in off Rask for PPG
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Alexander Wennberg, C, CBJ (30 percent owned)
What's going on? How is Wennberg, who is enters Sunday in the top 50 overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings (42nd), still available in 70 percent of leagues? The Columbus Blue Jackets' top-line center is tied for first in the NHL with 13 assists. He has 15 points with a plus-7 rating and is tied for third in the League with eight PP points. The Blue Jackets have scored 27 goals in six games in November and are second in scoring (3.46 goals per game). As long as Columbus keeps up the scoring, Wennberg will get plenty of assists and PP points and chances are you have someone on your roster who is expendable if it means landing the Nicklas Backstrom clone.
Video: BOS@CBJ: Wennberg lights lamp with sneaky wrist shot
Jacob Trouba, D, WPG (28 percent owned)
Since signing a two-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 7, Trouba has played in two games, averaging 25:33 of ice time with five SOG. There isn't much to take away from those two performances, but the playing time is encouraging and Trouba most likely has the highest upside of any defenseman on your waiver wire. He'll likely need a few more games to get going, but once he does, Trouba could take off playing at even strength with talented forwards like Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine. Trouba is worth adding if you're dealing with an injury on defense or have someone who is struggling.
Jordan Staal, C/LW, CAR (19 percent owned)
Staal had a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday, but injured his hand and is considered day-to-day. It's probably safe to see what Staal's status is going forward, but if the veteran center is fine, he should be on your waiver radar. Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters stuck Staal between Finnish forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and the line clicked, combining for four goals and seven assists against the Capitals. If Staal can avoid missing time and the line continues to grow its chemistry, the center would be worth a look.
Video: WSH@CAR: Staal deposits a rebound for PPG
Conor Sheary, LW/RW, PIT (6 percent owned)
Since being activated off injured reserve, Sheary has two goals, three assists, a plus-6 rating and eight SOG in four games. He's another underrated forward who is skating on a top line, for the Pittsburgh Penguins with Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist. Any time you can pick up a linemate of Crosby it's a good thing, and Sheary's usage on the Penguins' second PP unit is encouraging. Sheary is looking more like the player who helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup last season with 10 points in 23 games and his ability to slot in at either wing position is a plus. Exposure to the Penguins' top six would be wise and Sheary would be a nice get in deeper formats.
Anthony Stolarz, G, PHI (1 percent owned)
Nothing is official yet, but Stolarz is expected to be recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League to back up Steve Mason for the Philadelphia Flyers with Michal Neuvirth expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Stolarz, 22, is 6-2-0 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in eight starts for Lehigh Valley and has played 86 AHL games in his career, so he's had plenty of seasoning. Mason has struggled this season (3-5-2, 3.41 GAA, .880 SV%) and Neuvirth didn't fare any better before being injured (4-2-0, 3.54 GAA, .859 SV%). Stolarz doesn't even have to perform that great to be better than the Flyers' goaltending thus far, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him steal the starting job. The Flyers will provide Stolarz with plenty of goal support (3.31 per game) and he could turn out to be a steal if you need help at goaltender.
Other candidates: Antoine Roussel, LW, DAL (28 percent); Charlie Coyle, C/RW, MIN (25 percent); Trevor Daley, D, PIT (13 percent); Michael Del Zotto, D, PHI (5 percent); Andrew Cogliano, LW, ANA (5 percent)