We're heading into mid-February and toward the 20-game mark of the condensed NHL regular-season schedule. Normally I wouldn't advise the flavor-of-the-month, or Johnny-Come-Lately, off the waiver wire, but if you see a guy out there who has been hot over the past two weeks, and you have dead weight on your roster that is not producing, you can't afford to dig too deep of a hole in this sprint of a fantasy season, especially in rotisserie formats.
Mark Fraser, defenseman, Toronto Maple Leafs
Fraser is a guy who is endearing himself to fantasy owners, mainly in rotisserie formats. He has no goals and just one assist through the first 10 games, but he has racked up an impressive plus-10 rating, which is actually tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference, and just one off the top spot in the NHL. He also visits the sin bin frequently, collecting 24 PIM in his 10 outings. Add in the fact he has 32 hits and 12 blocked shots, and he can be a boon to fantasy owners, especially in advanced scoring systems.
Wayne Simmonds, right wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Simmonds has played two games since returning from concussion, and he has already lit the lamp. He scored a goal in Philadelphia's lopsided loss at Toronto, and racked up five shots while increasing his ice time to around 17 minutes. His ice time should continue to increase as the team feels more comfortable with his health. Before he suffered a concussion, which cost him three games, Simmonds had managed two goals and five points in eight games. He isn't a prolific scorer, but he is an adequate No. 4 or 5 winger on the rise for fantasy owners.
Jiri Tlusty, center, Carolina Hurricanes
Tlusty has really come alive on the team's current road trip. For whatever reason, he is scoreless in four home games this season, although he has a plus-4 rating at PNC Arena in Raleigh. However, during the team's current road trip, he has managed three goals and seven points with a plus-3 rating and 14 shots on goal. He has re-emerged as a strong No. 3 fantasy center in most formats as long as he is throwing points on the board.
Patrik Berglund, center, St. Louis Blues
Berglund had been humming right along, posting five goals with two assists through the first eight games. However, he has a minus-6 rating over his past five games, he has been even or negative in that category in seven straight outings dating back to Jan. 26, and he is scoreless in four straight. While he shouldn't be jettisoned from fantasy rosters, at least yet, his stock is way down. Berglund should be reserved in most pools.
Erik Cole, left wing, Montreal Canadiens
Cole has built a reputation for being a gritty, hard-nosed player willing to do whatever it takes for his team. He is a fan favorite, but lately, not so much a fantasy favorite. He is scoreless in three straight games with a minus-3 rating, and he has been blanked in five of his past six outings. Cole's ice time was dropped to 11:09 (TOI) Saturday against Toronto, the second straight game he has had a season-low in TOI. As such, he should be avoided in most fantasy pools until he gets back in the good graces of his bench boss.
Kyle Okposo, right wing, New York Islanders
Okposo came into this league with a lot of fanfare, selected No. 7 overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. However, he never really has lived up to expectations. He started off the season good enough, posting a goal, two assists and 10 shots on goal (SOG) through his first five games, averaging around 20 minutes of ice time per game. However, his ice time has been slashed, he hasn't scored a goal in 10 straight games dating back to Jan. 21, and he has a minus-2 rating in each of his past three outings.