Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: Quinton Byfield is a crown jewel among pickups

By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

The holiday season has officially started. But that doesn't mean you can think about taking a break from fantasy hockey. No way. You signed up for the madness, and you're not allowed to look away until the last puck drop of the final Stanley Cup game.

This column continues to roll with recommendations. So while you're recovering from food overload, here's a cornucopia of more-available-than-not players.

(Rostered rates as of Nov. 24)


Quinton Byfield, Los Angeles Kings (Yahoo: 39%)

It was a slow burn for Byfield for most of his first two-plus NHL seasons. Even though his current ice time is comparable to last year, his opportunities have significantly increased, which has led to a jump in production with two goals and 11 assists over 11 games. Byfield has benefited from teaming up with Anze Kopitar on the top even-strength and power-play unit. As long as those placements continue and further progression occurs, there's no reason he can't eventually fulfill the promise that came with being selected second overall in 2020.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seattle Kraken (Yahoo: 36%) 

It always seems the Kraken are loaded with solid secondary scorers. At least, that's what the stats have shown since their inception. We featured one of them last week in Eeli Tolvanen, and he's gone on to notch four more points across three contests. So guess who's leading the team in offense? It's Bjorkstrand with 19 points, four of which came Wednesday during a rout of the Sharks. The spot on the third line or (technically) second power play obviously doesn't matter since Seattle runs a fairly fluid setup. One can't expect Bjorkstrand to keep this pace going, though there's enough in the attacking departments to earn him additional coverage.

Tyler Bertuzzi, Toronto Maple Leafs (Yahoo: 31%)

Bertuzzi initially received the chance to team up with Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, though that didn't last long. Then he was hit by a brief scoreless drought through the end of October and the beginning of November. Bertuzzi has since clicked with John Tavares and William Nylander as he's recorded five points from five games to go with 18 shots, nine hits and five blocks. Considering his previous offensive totals and ability to help in a few fantasy categories, there's more than enough reason to add him. And if Bertuzzi happens to suffer another slump, you can always toss him back.

Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Yahoo: 24%) 

Coyle has been on fire all season, and a lot of that is due to an elevated attacking role. Just when you think there's no way he can keep it going, there's the hat trick and assist from two weeks ago or the fact he's only been held off the scoresheet five times across 18 outings. Coyle has even recently received a taste of Boston's top man-advantage, though both of his PPGs have come on the second group. He's also been more active firing pucks and can help with faceoffs since he's totaled 173 wins — an average of about 10 per game — on 54.4%.

Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (Yahoo: 16%)

We don't have much data to work with on Bennett this year as he only played his first full game on Nov. 12 and has resumed his usual workload by logging over 17 minutes a night. He's only posted a goal in his six games since returning while adding 12 shots, 10 PIM and 11 hits. If we look at Bennett's recent history — more specifically, his time with Florida — there's evidence he can produce. Getting a chance to line up with Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe should help him build up his numbers to respectable levels.

Adam Lowry, Winnipeg Jets (Yahoo: 10%)

Role players have a place in fantasy, especially those who can impact in various ways. Lowry has mainly operated on the periphery over his 10 seasons in Winnipeg without ever accumulating more than 36 points, yet he's also offered double digits in other areas, most prominently shots and hits. He's upped his achievements the last month by producing three goals, seven assists, 17 shots, 16 PIM, a plus-8, 23 hits and 10 blocks alongside the equally hot Nino Niederreiter and Mason Appleton. As this space regularly states, the center position is deep. You may not rate Lowry among the multitude of pivots, but he's helpful in certain categories where the bigger names can't.

Mason Marchment, Dallas Stars (Yahoo: 4%)

We're back to the concept of secondary scoring and how it's boosted a few clubs. There's no way the Stars could possibly rely exclusively on their Big 3 forwards and still be successful. That leaves those like Marchment — or linemate Tyler Seguin from the previous column — to pick up the slack. Those two skate with Matt Duchene to form a potent second line at both five-on-five and on the power play that's combined for 39 points. Marchment may be the lowest of the three, though one can't ignore 10 points, 26 shots and 17 PIM between Oct. 26 and Nov. 20. Give him a look now or when Dallas' schedule gets busier over the next week.

Alex Newhook, Montreal Canadiens (Yahoo: 3%)

Things never really worked out for Newhook in Colorado as he never saw a lot of ice time, so a move to Montreal during the summer was considered a real opportunity to grow his career. Two goals on Opening Night hinted at his talent, yet he's been inconsistent overall. The good news is that Newhook has done well of late by registering five points and eight shots over three matchups. He's also started joining forces with Nick Suzuki, so monitor that situation to see if that becomes a longer-term thing.


Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets (Yahoo: 48%)

I had planned to slip Werenski under the radar as he's slightly under 50% coverage, but that's tougher to do after he racked up four helpers on Wednesday. And in the previous outing, he had his five-game assist streak snapped, during which he also contributed 11 shots and 13 blocks on an average of 24:17. Werenski represents the Blue Jackets' top offensive blueliner and the quarterback on their first power play, though he only managed his first power play point Wednesday. He's bound to be more popular by the time you read this, so check your leagues and see if he remains available.

Noah Hanifin, Calgary Flames (Yahoo: 36%)

Over two seasons, 86 points is a nice haul for any defenseman, let alone one who also chips in with sufficient shots and a decent dose of blocks and hits. And Hanifin is doing it again with four goals and six assists overall and two of each in the last four games, supplemented by 12 shots and four blocks. He was even briefly installed on the lead man advantage, though he's done decently on the backup group having tallied three PPPs. As someone who skates in all situations and provides enough cross-category stats, Hanifin is definitely worth considering.

Jake Walman, Detroit Red Wings (Yahoo: 24%)

Walman received praise last year for improving Moritz Seider's game on Detroit's top duo. The offensive numbers have never been his forte, though he's generally reliable elsewhere. Walman has continued his partnership with Seider while upping his attacking stats thanks to an increased power play role which has seen him post four points. Throw in 34 shots, 18 PIM and 49 blocks at over 20 minutes per appearance and that sounds like a defender you can fit somewhere in your lineups.

J.J Moser, Arizona Coyotes (Yahoo: 4%)

Despite coming off a 31-point campaign that included 11 on the power play, Moser didn't get any love from poolies when draft time rolled around. Nothing much has changed even though he's registered two goals, eight assists, 13 shots, 13 hits and 27 blocks from the 13 most recent matchups. Moser hasn't played a lot while up a man, yet his value is increased by skating on Arizona's first even-strength pairing with Sean Durzi while logging enough ice time. And there's no way he should still be out there in over 95% of Yahoo formats.


Pyotr Kochetkov, Carolina Hurricanes (Yahoo: 36%)

Since Frederik Andersen has been injured at times and is now sidelined indefinitely, there's been a regular temptation to suggest Kochetkov and/or Antti Raanta. The problem is you don't really know which of the two will take over or if the pair ends up working as a tandem. Things may have cleared up on that front, as Raanta left Wednesday's contest with an undisclosed issue. Kochetkov filled in for the final two periods and appeared in five of the previous eight games. He's also performed well when promoted and could get an extended run depending on Raanta's status. As Andersen won't be returning anytime soon and with the Canes playing nine times over the next 15 days, Kochetkov should be called upon to handle most of the work. And that's not a bad thing behind a strong squad.

Sam Montembeault, Montreal Canadiens (Yahoo: 13%) 

Montreal goalies haven't been a popular choice post-Carey Price, and the club currently sits 25th in GAA (and somehow 13th in save percentage). Jake Allen gained traction early on by winning three in a row, though that's faded with a 4.73/.878 line in the last two weeks. Montembeault has endured a couple of poor performances, yet he's clearly been the Habs' best recent option at 2.12/.929 across four outings. Cayden Primeau remains in the mix and is slated to start Friday, but he isn't expected to receive much action. With the team on a pair of upcoming back-to-backs and an extended homestand with some favorable opposition, Montembeault is primed to earn a significant share, stop some pucks and perhaps pick up a few wins.

Players to consider from past columns: Pavel Zacha, Seth Jarvis, Ryan O'Reilly, Logan Cooley, William Karlsson, Wyatt Johnston, Bryan Rust, Ryan Hartman, Jaden Schwartz, Josh Norris, Robert Thomas, Nazem Kadri, Cole Perfetti, Ryan Johansen, Adam Fantilli, Alex Iafallo, Dylan Strome, Brayden Schenn, Anton Lundell, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Trevor Moore, Lawson Crouse, Ryan Strome, John-Jason Peterka, Tyler Seguin, Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, Eeli Tolvanen, Kirill Marchenko, Leo Carlsson, Matthew Knies, Jake Sanderson, Owen Power, Mike Matheson, Filip Hronek, Erik Gustafsson, Bowen Byram, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Pavel Mintyukov, Travis Sanheim, Jared Spurgeon, Mattias Ekholm, Ivan Provorov, Elvis Merzlikins, Connor Ingram, Petr Mrazek, Joel Hofer, Charlie Lindgren, Anton Forsberg