Waiver watch: Lafreniere, Drouin lead fantasy playoff performers

Jason Robertson nets his second goal of the game (0:44)

Jason Robertson nets his second goal of the game (0:44)

Whether you've lost a player to injury, or your still-contending team could use a boost otherwise, there remain some valuable-right-now fantasy assets that are widely available. Here's a handful that could immediately help your squad as the regular season winds to a close, with a pressing look to next week's schedule in particular. As we all know, in fantasy playoff hockey, there's no time like the here and now.

Jonathan Drouin, F, Colorado Avalanche (Available in 89% of ESPN.com leagues): Last spotted on a top Colorado line with fellow junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon, Drouin is stringing together another productive run. Before Monday's anomalous 2-1 loss to the Canadiens, the former Halifax Moosehead collected eight points in four games, capped off with an explosive performance against the Penguins. He's in a groove.

Next week: @CLS, @MIN, @EDM, DAL

Alexis Lafreniere, F, New York Rangers (Available in 80% of ESPN.com leagues): Competing on a forward unit with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, Lafreniere has four goals and four assists on 20 shots through seven recent games. Unlike his linemates, the (finally) blossoming 22-year-old remains overwhelmingly available in ESPN.com leagues.

Next week: PIT, NJ, @DET, MON

Anthony Duclair, F, Tampa Bay Lightning (Available in 70% of ESPN.com leagues): For the first time since joining the Lightning pre-deadline, Duclair failed to score for his new squad Wednesday (Tampa still beat the Bruins 3-1). A rather forgivable offense, considering the ex-Shark banged out five goals and four assists in his previous seven games. I don't imagine it'll be long before he dents the scoresheet once more, especially when skating on a top line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Perhaps Saturday when the Lightning host the Islanders.

Next week: DET, @TOR, @MON, @PIT

Kyle Palmieri, F, New York Islanders (Available in 88% of ESPN.com leagues) Admittedly this fantasy recommendation is a little leftfield, but hear me out: Palmieri is scoring goals consistently - more this past month than any other Islander. Still harboring some slim hope of securing a playoff spot, the Isles now need to make the most of every opportunity. After this weekend's tour through Florida, New York faces the Flyers, Blackhawks, and Blue Jackets, before hosting the Predators. We could see a fair bit of scoring. And, looking to history, this is often when the top-line veteran winger shines brightest.

Next week: @PHI, CHI, @CLS, NSH

Philipp Kurashev, F, Chicago Blackhawks (Available in 90% of ESPN.com leagues): There are few (three, really) fantasy assets with the Blackhawks worth considering at this stage of the season. Connor Bedard is obviously one, his regular linemate another. Skating with the league's best young center, Kurashev is averaging 2.5 fantasy points/contest in March, largely thanks to his six goals and nine assists in 12 games. And playing with Bedard, of course.

Next week: @NYI, DAL, MIN

Kaiden Guhle, D, Montreal Canadiens (Available in 59% of ESPN.com leagues): A consistent shot-blocker at minimum, the Sophomore defender is finding a productive groove of late, along with earning more ice-time. With the Canadiens well outside of playoff contention, the 16th overall draft pick (2020) can benefit from competing, and stretching himself, without that extra pressure. Not the first time we've seen younger players bloom as the season winds down. Collecting a pair of goals and three assists his past four games, Guhle is averaging 2.0 fantasy points/contest this past month altogether.

Next week: FLA, TB, TOR, @NYR

Charlie Lindgren, G, Washington Capitals (Available in 70% of ESPN.com leagues): There's little question the play of the present-day starting netminder for the Capitals is a significant reason they're sitting in a Wild Card spot. Victorious in six of his last seven, Lindgren is averaging 4.0 fantasy points/game in ESPN.com standard leagues, and that includes one truly detrimental performance (-9.6) against the Maple Leafs. Nearly 28 total points over two weeks ain't too shabby at all. Again, it's Lindgren's net in Washington right now, while Darcy Kuemper lingers as backup.

Next week: @BUF, PIT, @CAR, OTT

Casey DeSmith, G, Vancouver Canucks (Available in 84% of ESPN.com leagues): With Thatcher Demko placed on LTIR, DeSmith should start almost every game from now until Apr. 6, at minimum. Some match-ups present as more friendly (say, Anaheim this Sunday) than others. But if you're desperate for goalie fantasy points, there's comfort in knowing he's going to play, a lot, and for a team that intends to keep a grip on top spot in the Pacific before all is said and done.

Next week: @VGK, @ARI, @LA