Waiver wire pickups for Week 22

Special to Yahoo Sports

While the ultimate purpose in fantasy is to win your league, it’s important to maintain focus every step of the way. Don’t let your daily/weekly rosters and transactions slip. An injured or struggling skater left in your starting lineup or a missed pickup could be the difference.

RotoWire has you covered with the latest news and in-depth material to help you meet your goals.

We’re bringing back a popularly added player who’s recently gone off the charts along with goalies who coincidentally were first featured in the same edition.

(Rostered rates/stats as of March 10.)

forwards

Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLS (Yahoo: 48%)

Other than a horrendous plus-minus, there’s little to complain about Bjorkstrand’s contributions this season: 20 goals, 20 assists, 13 power-play points, 143 shots and 65 hits. The Blue Jackets have racked up the goals and the Dane has been a big part of that effort with 12 points and 40 shots since the start of February. Lining up with recent column subjects Jakub Voracek and Jack Roslović has benefited Bjorkstrand and should keep him productive.

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Mikael Granlund, NSH (Yahoo: 41%)

While Granlund’s offense has cooled off the last month, he remains an integral part of Nashville’s front line as a top-two center occupying major roles on both special-teams units. Even with only four points from the last 10 games, he’s also collected 21 shots, 18 hits, and 82 faceoff wins during that stretch. The Preds are locked in a tight playoff battle in the West and they’ll keep rolling out prime performers like Granlund to help them qualify.

Reilly Smith, VGK (Yahoo: 38%)

Smith’s stats dipped last season and that continued to kick off the current campaign, yet he’s still registered 38 points in 56 appearances. The chemistry with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlson powers the trio’s production and ensures a solid place in the lineup. With all the star recruits since Smith arrived way back when, he’s not relied upon for lead man-advantage work. That’s hardly a concern, though, considering he’s generated two goals, three assists and 19 shots in six outings.

Nick Schmaltz, ARI (Yahoo: 28%)

And now for the portion of the column where we feature the flavor of the week, albeit someone who was mentioned in late January. But Schmaltz isn’t just a one- or two-hit wonder as the 11 combined points Saturday and Tuesday would imply. If we go back 10 games, the Wisconsinite has reeled off an eye-popping 11 goals, 10 assists, 25 shots and a plus-14. That type of output isn’t just excellent, it’s top-five Yahoo material.

Asking Schmaltz to prolong that pace much longer sounds unreasonable, and it probably is, but that shouldn’t prevent you from including him on your rosters now.

Nick Schmaltz has been setting the fantasy hockey world on fire of late. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Alexis Lafreniere, NYR (Yahoo: 27%)

First-overall picks since 2013 have proven successful, with some requiring a couple of years to get going. Lafreniere wasn’t given a lot of ice time or responsibility for most of his rookie season, though he finished on a nice run. It appears the same pattern is repeating itself with 11 points from the first 43 games and seven from the last 12. Lafreniere’s latest surge can be attributed to a place besides Mika Zibanejad and Chris Creeder at even-strength. That combination might not last, but you have to figure the coaches will give the kid a longer look as the Rangers are rather light on the right side.

Jakub Vrana, DET (Yahoo: 27%)

It took five months for Vrana to debut after offseason shoulder surgery and he didn’t look out of place Tuesday with 15:44 of ice time — including more than three on the power play — that resulted in a PPG, three shots and four hits . It might take him more time to truly get back to full speed, but it looks like he’ll be provided plenty of offensive chances. After all, Vrana’s coming off three solid years and immediately scored after arriving from Washington in April.

Casey Mittelstadt, BUF (Yahoo: 1%)

Maybe too much was expected from Mittelstadt right away, based on talent and draft pedigree. Whatever it was, he couldn’t get it going in Buffalo and found his way to the minors. Last season’s 22 points in 41 appearances seemed to be a step in the right direction, though injuries halted that development. Mittlestadt’s goal and three helpers since returning might not look like much, but three of those have come on the man-advantage while averaging almost 17 minutes and more than two shots on net.

Colin White, OTT (Yahoo: 1%)

Like Vrana, White missed significant time recovering from shoulder surgery. And the Detroit winger wasn’t the only one to fire home a PPG in Game 1, with White eventually being promoted to Ottawa’s first power play and registering another three PPPs in his last two outings. He centers the third line while also Yahoo-eligible at RW. Keep an eye on his progress from him to see if he can stick with the lead group and hold down a significant attacking role before acquiring his services from him.

Defensemen

Cam Fowler, ANH (Yahoo: 39%)

Fowler is logging heavy minutes this season, which has led to 32 points — including 15 PPPs. He’s also excelled in the most recent 10 games with nine assists, 18 shots and 16 blocks on 24:47 a night. Fowler even delivered five hits Tuesday, though anything from that category is more of a bonus than a regular occurrence. Just be happy with his solid offensive production from him.

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Shayne Gostisbehere, ARI (Yahoo: 38%)

Ghost Bear was referenced last week when discussing Jakob Chychrun as a possible trade target for contenders. After a couple difficult years in Philly, he’s become one of Arizona’s nicest surprises with 10 goals, 26 assists, 108 shots and 79 blocks. The Coyotes have put 17 pucks in the opposing net in their last two matchups and Gostisbehere has been involved in five of those to go with a plus-8. His numbers from him most likely will take a hit should he end up elsewhere, but he’s accumulating enough to warrant more coverage.

Ryan Suter, DAL (Yahoo: 22%)

As a Canadian, I don’t really feel comfortable listing three consecutive American blueliners — and six in a row if we go back to the forwards — but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it. Suter has turned back the clock with six points in six games while regularly skating more than 25 minutes. He’s not the lead power-play quarterback anymore, yet 10 PPPs is pretty impressive for a 37-year-old. Add in a decent helping of shots, blocks and hits and Suter works as a complementary fantasy defender.

Dante Fabbro, NSH (Yahoo: 1%)

And we’re back with a citizen of the Great White North. Following a first-round selection in 2016, many international events representing his country and three successful NCAA campaigns, Fabbro has gradually developed in Nashville. He hasn’t often put his name on the scoresheet, though that’s changed alongside roman josi with helpers in six of the last eight games. Fabbro’s clearly being entrusted with more responsibility and should pick up more scoring opportunities while being paired with the captain.

goaltenders

Pavel Francouz, COL (Yahoo: 42%)

Since Feb. 21, Francouz and Darcy Kümper have each appeared five times. Over that span, the former posted a 2.59 GAA and .920 save percentage while the latter managed a 3.94 and .899. That’s a relatively small sample size, and Kuemper can be forgiven for a couple hiccups considering his stellar play from him the rest of the season. That said, Francouz has done all right for himself with a run of seven consecutive wins in January and has at least earned the right to be provided more starts behind the league’s second highest-scoring attack.

Anthony Stolarz, ANH (Yahoo: 10%)

Stolarz is in a similar situation to Francouz with the lead netminder amid a downturn, though the difference here is that John Gibson has experienced a more prolonged slump, going 2-6 with a 5.69/.829 line while being pulled three times in the last month. Stolarz hasn’t exactly wowed anyone with 2.80 and .907 marks during that period, but he’s at least looked better in comparison to Gibson and the Ducks could opt to provide the backup with additional opportunities with the club still chasing a wild card.

(Players to consider from past columns: Nazem Kadri, Tim Stutzle, Joel Eriksson Ek, Nico Hischier, Robert Thomas, Lucas Raymond, Michael Bunting, Ryan Hartman, Tyler Toffoli, Nino Niederreiter, Brock Nelson, Jesper Bratt, Cole Caufield, Andrew Mangiapane , Jakub Voracek, Mason Marchment, Rickard Rakell, Lawson Crouse, Anthony Cirelli, Matthew Boldy, Anthony Mantha, Ryan Johansen, Trevor Zegras, Josh Anderson, Jack Roslovic, Tage Thompson, Sonny Milano, Ivan Barbashev, Alex Tuch, Jake DeBrusk, Boone Jenner, William Karlsson, Troy Terry, Matt Duchene, Yegor Sharangovich, Jakob Chychrun, Evan Bouchard, Jared Spurgeon, Damon Severson, Noah Hanifin, Noah Dobson, Nate Schmidt, Moritz Seider, Rasmus Andersson, Josh Morrissey, Ryan Pulock, Oliver Kylington, Mikko Koskinen, Ville Husso, Nico Daws, Kaapo Kahkonen, Jeremy Swayman, Jake Oettinger, Anton Forsberg, Cal Petersen)

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