Cole Caufield leads our fantasy hockey waiver wire pickups this week

Special to Yahoo Sports

Hope you’ve been keeping up with your studies because it’s time for finals! It doesn’t matter whether you’re battling for first or for second-to-last. You have to be ready throughout the week — or in some cases, two weeks — to come out on top.

Since we’re approaching the end of fantasy play, it should come as no surprise this will be the last Waiver Wire. But we’ll be back next season with more weeks (hopefully) and more fun (debatable). I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read the column and/or provide feedback. I hope you enjoyed the material and it helped you in some way this year.

If you’re looking for that last push, head to RotoWire for the latest news. For analysis, stats, and other helpful tips, check our related hockey material to set your lineups and manage your rosters.

(Yahoo! rostered rates/stats as of April 29.)


Jakub Vrana, DET (50 percent rostered)

I’d like to start by apologizing for this entry, as Vrana could be higher than 50 percent coverage by the time this gets posted and that would go against inclusion criteria. But honestly, how can you not go with him? Besides Filip Zadina, there aren’t any healthy Detroit forwards worth considering. Having a Red Wing might not be the most enticing fantasy proposition these days, but you could do much worse from other teams. And did you hear Vrana fired home four goals against Dallas last Thursday? Because he did.

Victor Olofsson, BUF (36 percent)

This column has featured front-liners from the Sabres the previous two weeks, so let’s make it three straight with Olofsson. The Swede enjoyed life alongside Jack Eichel until the star went down, which resulted in four points in the next 13 games. But like his teammates, Olofsson has recovered to the tune of four goals and four assists from the last 14. Top line, top power play, high-volume shooter. What more could you ask for?

(A better team? Nice try.)

Jaden Schwartz, STL (30 percent)

Schwartz netted 50-plus points in three of the last four seasons, but a significant injury and poor output are set to leave him with the worst average offensive total of his career. The good news for poolies is that the veteran has recently improved with five points and 19 shots over the last nine. Schwartz also benefits from plenty of minutes, including a top-six job and a double-dip of special-teams duty.

Alexis Lafreniere, NYR (29 percent)

Kudos to those who have been patient with Lafreniere after he started with eight goals in 31 appearances, though you honestly would’ve been better off with decent performers during that time. Or maybe you snagged the most recent No. 1 overall pick a week ago on a hunch he would be promoted to play with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich on the top line. Congrats to those who are clairvoyant, but there’s still time for others to add Lafreniere and see if he can build off the goal and two assists from the most recent two.

Cole Caufield, MON (14 percent)

Speaking of exceptional talents, there’s one ready to grow in Montreal. Caufield tore apart the NCAA this past season en route to the Hobey Baker Award and fit in four points in two AHL games before getting the call to join the Habs. A not-memorable opener Monday didn’t do a lot to help Caufield’s cause while different positioning Wednesday amounted to nothing. You may have to wait for the 20-year-old to consistently score, though upcoming matchups this week against the Jets and Senators seem primed to unlock his potential.

Cole Caufield will have chances to make the most of his opportunity. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

Jason Zucker, PIT (10 percent)

Zucker carries value as a one-time 64-point producer and someone who has generally been reliable in finding the scoresheet. The former Wild forward found success with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin after arriving in Pittsburgh, though a lower-body injury eventually sidelined him for 18 matches. Results have been mixed since Zucker returned March 29, but he’s collected three goals in nine games with 16 shots and 13 hits within a middle-six position and secondary PP role.

Miles Wood, NJ (7 percent)

He may not log tons of ice time, but Wood can get things done. In the last 11 games, he’s accumulated six goals, three assists, 26 shots, 12 hits, and nine blocks. It might be tough to notice Wood among Jersey’s exciting young forward contingent, yet he’s performing just as well — if not better — than most of his teammates. One could point to his 14.3 shooting percentage and predict regression there, though he’ll provide enough to meet your fantasy needs.

Luke Kunin, NSH (4 percent)

Following three years in Minnesota, Kunin was dealt to Nashville. He potted a puck in each of the first two outings with his new club, but soon hit a drought and endured a subsequent absence that left him out until the end of March. Over 17 appearances, Kunin has gone on to post 12 points, 39 shots, and 46 hits. He’s also built a solid rapport with fellow column subjects Mikael Granlund and Calle Jarnkrok on the Preds’ second line.


Travis Hamonic, VAN (12 percent)

It shouldn’t come as a shock to find out Hamonic isn’t much of a scorer. Sure, there are the two assists from the last five games, but that’s half his overall haul and probably happened through osmosis being paired with Quinn Hughes 5-on-5. What you’re getting from Hamonic is stability in other areas, as shown in the 13 shots, 22 PIM, nine hits, and 17 blocks during that same stretch. Look elsewhere if points are your target.

Travis Sanheim, PHI (3 percent)

We continue our tour of Travises with a better offensive blueliner, albeit one whose totals have considerably dropped from previous years. In fact, Sanheim has only recorded a goal and assist from the past 10 games. But over that span, he’s also racked up 29 shots and 18 blocks. And with Shayne Gostisbehere out, Sanheim saw his PP time skyrocket Tuesday. Regardless of whether that role remains, he’s still useful as a multi-category defender.

Wyatt Kalynuk, CHI (0 percent)

Kalynuk made his debut with the Blackhawks in early March and then didn’t see Game 2 for another three weeks. He only registered one point from his opening six but has since exploded for four goals and two helpers over the last eight. Kalynuk spent three years at the University of Wisconsin (teammate of Cole Caufield in 2019-20) and produced 78 points, so there’s no doubting his attacking skills. He also gets a boost as the QB of Chicago’s second man-advantage, though he hasn’t counted there yet.

Dennis Cholowski, DET (0 percent)

Some may remember Cholowski from his initial outburst in 2018-19 when he managed 12 points — including seven PPPs — across the first two months. Unfortunately, the only offense he achieved after came in the AHL. And following another successful stint in Grand Rapids, Cholowski is back with the Wings and has been reinstalled on the power play. A single goal from 11 outings isn’t the greatest of restarts, though he’s receiving enough ice time to be considered an add with upside.


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, BUF (4 percent)

With the playoffs in sight, some NHL clubs will rely on top performers while others will provide more opportunities for up-and-comers. The Sabres are once again in the latter description and have been keen to get their youth in the lineup. Luukkonen has been highly touted since leading Finland to the 2019 WJC, but his lower-level stats have proven unspectacular. The 22-year-old made his debut Friday versus the Bruins, stopping 36 of 40 shots to earn his first big-league win and following up on Tuesday with 38 saves against the Rangers. One could make a case for Dustin Tokarski to earn most of the remaining starts based on recent efforts, but he’s 31 and Buffalo would be wise to take an extended look at its future in Luukkonen.

Marcus Hogberg, OTT (3 percent)

Much like the Sabres, the Sens have nothing left to play for this season. Matt Murray represents Ottawa’s longer-term netminding option based on the multiyear deal he signed last year, though he hasn’t done great and is once again injured. Hogberg has posted a 4-7 record this campaign along with a 3.74 GAA and .876 save percentage, but only allowed six combined goals in the three recent contests against Vancouver — with the last two wins. As Murray’s return is unknown, expect Hogberg to keep making regular appearances.

(Players to consider from past columns: Jared McCann, Jordan Staal, Roope Hintz, Sam Reinhart, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Foligno, Chandler Stephenson, Viktor Arvidsson, Jack Hughes, Clayton Keller, Sam Bennett, Martin Necas, Jason Robertson, Alex Tuch, Tim Stutzle, Casey Mittelstadt, Josh Norris, Calle Jarnkrok, Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith, Kirby Dach, Josh Morrissey, Alex Goligoski, Nick Leddy, Brandon Montour, Ryan Ellis, K’Andre Miller, Jared Spurgeon, Erik Brannstrom, Jake Allen, Jake Oettinger, MacKenzie Blackwood, Juuse Saros, Alex Nedeljkovic, Cam Talbot, Kaapo Kahkonen)

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