Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire: New Flame Andrei Kuzmenko leads pickups to make before NHL action returns

Troy Terry #19 of the Anaheim Ducks

Troy Terry has had a lot to be happy about with 15 points on 35 shots in his last 12 appearances, and fantasy managers can ride that hot run by picking him up off the waiver wire. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

All-Star week is fun for head-to-head fantasy in that it combines two weeks into one due to the lack of games around the midseason event. More matchups = more potential excitement.

Of course, some of those thrills won’t elicit joy or relaxation. The NHL has designed the schedule during this period to allow teams no more than 10 days off (except for those lucky Sharks, who get 13), roughly done in two batches. To alleviate the anxiety, be sure to check out the full list so you’re not left with too many inactive players at the same time.

This column will help set you up for the second half by listing 14 candidates trending in the right direction coming out of the break.

(Rostered rates as of Feb. 2)


Dylan Cozens, Buffalo Sabres (49% rostered)

Cozens broke out in his sophomore season as he produced 68 points and 211 shots while participating on the top power play. His current haul of 29 and 116 more or less match his previous totals, though his shooting percentage is significantly down while he’s only recorded five PPPs as Buffalo ranked 28th while up a man. Cozens has picked it up of late with three goals, four assists, 12 shots and 32 faceoff wins in his last four games. Based on the special-teams placement and a strong even-strength trio alongside John-Jason Peterka and Zach Benson (and not Jack Quinn, who’ll be out for a while after I jinxed him last week by including him here), Cozens should keep the stats flowing.

Andrei Kuzmenko, Calgary Flames (47% rostered)

Racking up 74 points on your North American debut is an awesome achievement, yet Kuzmenko’s 39 goals on a league-leading 27.3% shooting screamed obvious regression. He also didn’t seem to be in sync with head coach Rick Tocchet after the latter arrived last January. That led to a reduction in responsibility with a demotion off the Canucks’ elite power play and top six. Kuzmenko fared well for the first month and a half until he became a frequent healthy scratch. With only two points coming from his first 12 contests of 2024 — both assists on Jan. 22 — a change of scenery was inevitable.

And on Wednesday, Kuzmenko was dealt to Calgary as part of a package that landed Elias Lindholm. We may not know where he’ll be in the lineup until closer to Tuesday’s trip to Boston, but the latest projections have him skating somewhere within the first two lines at five-on-five and on the top man-advantage.

Troy Terry, Anaheim Ducks (46% rostered)

Like Cozens, Terry came off a 60-plus point performance and started off slowly. And like Cozens, he’s turned it around with 15 points from 12 appearances that also involved 35 shots. Terry has averaged over 19 minutes during this stretch, including 2:29 on the lead man-advantage where he’s accumulated 10 points overall. The Ducks have surged offensively the last month and will be facing a few sub-par defenses until the end of February, so Terry and teammates will have more opportunities to add to their totals.

Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes (33% rostered)

Teravainen’s production dropped last year by 28 points. The PPPs also fell by 20, though trying to replicate the career-high 31 from 2021-22 seemed unrealistic. Teravainen has occasionally moved around the lineup, yet has generally carried a long-standing partnership with Sebastian Aho. He’s also been reunited with his fellow Finn on the lead power play and has potted two PPGs over the last three games. There’s the possibility that Teravainen gets bumped down the depth chart or is restored to the backup power play, but he’s due for more coverage due to favorable positioning.

Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators (12% rostered)

Pinto didn’t waste any time getting on the board after missing the opening 41 matchups, finding the scoresheet in his first two games back. And on Wednesday, he doubled his output with a goal and assist while supplying four shots, a hit and a block. Pinto has been immediately thrown on Ottawa’s top power play, though he’s yet to count there. It may be a bit early, but he’s already won 35 of 57 faceoffs (61.4%). Operating as the Sens’ third-line center may not be glamorous, yet Pinto offers enough skills to be worthy of addition.

James van Riemsdyk, Boston Bruins (8% rostered)

When van Riemsdyk was initially discussed in November, we were impressed with his stats while attributing some of that to him lining up on the Bruins’ lead man-advantage. Over two months later, he remains a mainstay on that unit, with his value further increasing having recently been inserted next to Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak at even-strength. JVR would be a fine recruit even if he only held one of those two high-chance situations, but he’s currently doing both and went off for three points and four shots last time out. So, yeah, go and get him.

Dmitri Voronkov, Columbus Blue Jackets (6% rostered)

Voronkov represents the seventh Columbus forward brought up this season, and that’s no surprise considering the club’s extensive youth contingent loaded with potential. Adam Fantilli will be sidelined until at least the end of March, leaving a sizable vacancy in the top six, which Voronkov is set to take advantage of. He arrived stateside after four years in the KHL, where he posted modest numbers. Voronkov has tallied five goals over his last seven appearances to go with 24 shots, nine blocks and eight hits. The season-long ice time is on the low side at 13:21 per night, though he’s received an uptick of late in all scoring situations.

William Eklund, San Jose Sharks (4% rostered)

The Sharks weren’t expected to do well, and they’ve mainly stayed in form despite the fact they’re not the lowest team in the standings. Tomas Hertl and Mikael Granlund did their best to lead the attack before getting hurt, though both should return soon. Logan Couture finally made his debut almost two weeks ago but has only registered an assist. That leaves Eklund as their leading healthy scorer at 24 points. The 21-year-old has been touted since being selected seventh overall in 2021, yet he only managed a total of 17 NHL appearances coming into the current campaign. Eklund excelled in the AHL last season by notching 17 goals and 24 assists, and has somewhat fulfilled his promise in a full-time gig. Five helpers in the last three with a place on the first power play are promising signs, enough to pick him up as a flier or stash for the future.


Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Florida Panthers (28% rostered)

Ekman-Larsson covered as Florida’s lead defenseman while Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad missed the opening month, helping him collect 10 points — with five of those on the top power play — 30 shots and 25 blocks. And while he hasn’t been as consistent in a smaller role, six more PPPs have come as part of the backup unit. OEL also ended the first half by contributing two assists — both PPAs — last Friday and followed that up the next night with a goal on seven shots alongside three hits.

Kaiden Guhle, Montreal Canadiens (8% rostered)

A player often gets noticed in fantasy after a collection of positive results and/or situation upgrade. And then there are times when one stat from one game grabs your attention. In Guhle’s case, it’s the 10 (!) blocks at Philly on Jan. 10. Guhle’s scoring was decent in junior hockey, though the totals weren’t eye-popping and he isn’t really being asked to contribute on that end with Montreal. Guhle’s two goals and one assist over six weeks won’t do much to enhance his profile, but the 56 blocks, 26 shots and 25 hits over that period should net the 22-year-old a few more adds. He partners with Mike Matheson at even-strength and occasionally appears on the Habs’ second man-advantage.

Simon Nemec, New Jersey Devils (6% rostered)

If you didn’t grab Nemec when he originally appeared here soon after being promoted in early December, now’s your chance. Even though he’s only been part of 26 contests for the Devils, he’s already become their best two-way defender in the absence of Dougie Hamilton. Nemec’s 13 points are the obvious draw, yet the 22 blocks and the things you don’t see in a box score project him as a future star. And we haven’t even talked about his already-sufficient workload, which includes quarterbacking Jersey’s secondary PP.

Olen Zellweger, Anaheim Ducks (3% rostered)

The Ducks have been stockpiling young blueline talent the past few seasons. Pavel Mintyukov came out on fire to start this season before slowing down and then getting injured. Tristan Luneau even received a brief look until he was loaned out to represent Canada at the WJC, which he missed due to a knee issue. And now there’s Zellweger, who was called up last week after racking up eight goals and 17 assists across 34 AHL outings. He earned gold for the Great White North in three consecutive major junior events between 2021-23 (two WJCs, one U18), where he would often run the man-advantage. Zellweger is being asked to occupy the same responsibility in Anaheim, though that may eventually end up back with Cam Fowler or Mintyukov after he returns. He may have just been sent back to the minors, though he should be back following the break as he’s proved too good for that level.


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Buffalo Sabres (46% rostered)

Luukkonen was first featured here in mid-November after making the majority of the starts as Devon Levi was struggling. Despite losing three of the next six, he’d post decent numbers (2.56 GAA, .914 save percentage). A few bumps in December would briefly open the door for Levi, but it’s been all UPL since. In fact, he’s the top-ranked goalie in Yahoo standard leagues the last month with a 1.52/.944 line that includes two shutouts. Expect Luukkonen to continue leading the way while Levi tries to get back on track in the AHL.

Petr Mrazek, Chicago Blackhawks (32% rostered)

The Blackhawks currently sit last in the standings and 28th in goals against, so you probably wouldn’t have guessed Mrazek has posted some solid stats unless he’s on your team. Going back to Jan. 7, the veteran has pulled off a sparkling 2.02 GAA and .931 save percentage, with Chicago only winning three of nine during that stretch. With the club looking to the future and Arvid Soderblom next in line, there’s the possibility Mrazek won’t see as much action the rest of the way. And there’s also the possibility he gets traded to a contender looking for a backup. But for now, Mrazek represents a suitable fantasy addition — especially in formats that count saves.

Players to consider from past columns: Pavel Zacha, Seth Jarvis, Ryan O’Reilly, William Karlsson, Wyatt Johnston, Jonathan Huberdeau, Johnny Gaudreau, Quinton Byfield, Cam Atkinson, Gustav Nyquist, Josh Norris, Robert Thomas, Nazem Kadri, Joel Farabee, Cole Perfetti, Nikolaj Ehlers, Chandler Stephenson, Mason McTavish, Dylan Strome, Brayden Schenn, Ivan Barbashev, Charlie Coyle, Jordan Eberle, Jonathan Drouin, Marco Rossi, Nicolas Roy, Nick Paul, Trevor Moore, Sam Bennett, T.J. Oshie, John-Jason Peterka, Blake Coleman, Morgan Geekie, Yegor Sharangovich, Sean Couturier, Eeli Tolvanen, Ross Colton, David Perron, Pius Suter, Rickard Rakell, Dakota Joshua, Michael Bunting, Matias Maccelli, Alex Kerfoot, Alex Killorn, Daniel Sprong, Jake Sanderson, Owen Power, Mike Matheson, Brock Faber, Filip Hronek, Thomas Harley, Jamie Drysdale, Cam Fowler, Neal Pionk, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Darren Raddysh, Will Borgen, Colton Parayko, Connor Ingram, Alex Lyon, Joey Daccord, Ilya Samsonov, Lukas Dostal, Anthony Stolarz, Charlie Lindgren, Laurent Brossoit, Antti Raanta, Joel Hofer, Elvis Merzlikins