Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: How much would a trade to the Leafs improve Patrick Kane’s value? 

The most frustrating words in fantasy hockey right now are “trade-related reasons.” 

Vladislav Gavrikov has joined Jakob Chychrun as players that aren’t in the lineup right now as they await a trade. That’s great for their respective teams in terms of protecting their asset while a deal gets worked out, but not ideal if you’re rostering either in fantasy. Chychrun’s loss is an especially tough blow, as he was coming off three points in two games and the Arizona Coyotes play four times this week.  

At least both players have received an out designation, meaning you could put them on IR+ if your league allows and pick up a temporary replacement, but it’s still costing you a waiver add and congesting your roster.  

This likely isn’t the last we’ve heard of players sitting out while waiting for a trade, as the likes of Timo Meier, Ryan O’Reilly and Patrick Kane could eventually follow suit. Start planning ahead and look for fill-ins if you’re carrying a player that’s likely to be traded.  

Now let’s get to your questions: 

Jakub Vrana is an interesting case, as I’m not sure his recent callup is much more than a showcase by the Detroit Red Wings to try and prove his trade value. That said, Vrana is a capable offensive talent and has scored at a good rate since joining the Wings, so there’s definitely some value there. If he gets traded, though, there’s no telling what team might acquire him and how his value will be impacted. So Vrana is a bit of a gamble.  

As for sleepers, someone like Nick Schmaltz or Barrett Hayton might be worth a look. That top line with the Arizona Coyotes, along with Clayton Keller, is really clicking right now and producing big numbers.  

What is your opinion on Barrett Hayton? Bangers league counting about everything. He is centering a pretty hot line! 

Great minds think alike. As mentioned above, I do think Hayton is an effective option right now. It sounds strange to say because it’s the Coyotes, but their top line is one of the hottest in hockey at the moment and the trio have combined for 19 points in the past five games. Now Hayton has seen the least of that production, but he should still be worth rostering as long as Schmaltz and Keller continue to roll. 

My guess is they try to acquire someone at the deadline. They’ve been getting shockingly low production from players like Sam Steel and Ryan Hartman in that spot, which is hard to believe because you’d think playing with Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov would simply lead to some points by default. The challenge for the Minnesota Wild is they have so much dead cap space because of the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise buyouts, so bringing in someone significant will be tough.  

Minnesota could always try Joel Eriksson Ek there, but they’ve always resisted that to keep their lines balanced. Right now, I would avoid Steel, Hartman or Frederick Gaudreau if they get looks in that spot. You’re simply better off streaming someone until an option proves they can produce consistently on Minnesota’s top unit.  

If it isn’t impacting your roster, I’d just keep them both. But if you need the spot and have to drop one, I’d go with John Carlson. I think Gabriel Landeskog’s upside is much higher and the Colorado Avalanche have a great playoff schedule. If Landeskog is healthy in time for the fantasy playoffs, he could be a huge boost to your squad.  

If Kane ends up going to the Leafs, do you immediately see a huge upsurge in points with the guy? 

No question about it. If he ends up with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s still a big if at this point, he’ll either be playing with Auston Matthews and William Nylander or John Tavares and Mitch Marner. That’s a massive step up from who he is playing with now. Matthews is an elite scorer and few can finish around the net like Tavares, so a play-making winger like Kane should fit seamlessly on either line and have little trouble posting solid numbers.  

There is concern, however, that Kane has lost a step or two and is dealing with a hip issue, but he still has 35 points in 50 games. Even in a worst-case scenario you’d think he could improve those numbers in a high-octane Leaf offence. Keep in mind, Kane is just a year removed from a 92-point season, and it’s not like Chicago’s roster was stacked last year. Sure, he got to play with Alex DeBrincat, but on either of the top two lines in Toronto he’ll be playing with two elite linemates. Maybe a 92-point pace is a lot to ask, but it seems plausible Kane could score at a point per game for the final 20 games or so on the Leafs.  

I thought the New York Rangers would’ve been the best fit for Kane just because of the familiarity of playing with Artemi Panarin in the past, though the Leafs would be a close second. There aren’t many teams that can boast a top six like Toronto can and their need for another offensive winger is evident. If you’ve been clinging to Kane this whole time, a trade to the Leafs is what you should be hoping for now.  

It’s really all up to Kane at this point and we know one of his preferred destinations are out in the Rangers. Toronto would be a great fit from a fantasy perspective, but Kane has to want to go there since he has a no-trade clause. If he doesn’t end up going anywhere, I think you could make the argument he’s droppable. The Chicago Blackhawks are likely going to get worse following the deadline and Kane’s numbers up to this point have just been okay. There will likely be better options on your waiver wire after March 3 if Kane is still in Chicago.

Is it just me or is streaming a goalie the craziest it has ever been this season? 

It has been very difficult and I think it’s a trend we’re going to see continue. Scoring is up and the list of ultra-consistent goalies is a short one. Plus, there are quite a few teams rebuilding right now and hoping to land Connor Bedard, so the amount of quality matchups you see on a night-to-night basis are few and far between. I find the best option is to target 1Bs from strong teams that will play at least once a week. You typically get a decent matchup and it avoids you from having to scramble every weekend to grab someone and cross your fingers in hopes they won’t ruin your stats.  

I’ve been beating the drum for Bo Byram since he returned from injury and I think he’ll be very valuable down the stretch. He’s playing huge minutes and taking advantage of extra opportunities with Cale Makar sidelined. We’ve also talked a lot about Colorado’s good fantasy playoff schedule, as the Avalanche play a bunch of games in the middle of March, including a couple of four-game weeks against some friendly opponents.  

What will be the top 5 of the best goaltenders in 5 years? 

This question is almost impossible to answer. It’s hard enough to predict which goalies will be good next week sometimes, let alone in five years. In all seriousness though, there are a few standouts that should still be strong in five years. Goalies like Jake Oettinger, Thatcher Demko, and Ilya Sorokin come to mind and it’s not like Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin are that old either. There’s also some young up and coming goalies that have a lot of potential, like Pyotr Kochetkov or Jesper Wallstedt.  

At the end of the day, so much of a goalie’s value depends on the team in front of them. Predicting what shape teams are going to be in five years is very challenging. When it comes to fantasy, I’d look at goaltending more on a yearly basis than trying to forecast too far down the road.  

Colorado’s strong playoff schedule has been well publicized, but there are a couple of other teams I’d look at. The Nashville Predators play four games in each of the first two weeks of your playoffs with a few favourable opponents on the schedule. I wonder if someone like Cody Glass might be a good streamer during one of those weeks if Filip Forsberg is healthy. Glass has been centering the top line and might be worth a shot in a short-term scenario.  

If you’re looking for a goalie, give Semyon Varlamov some consideration. The New York Islanders play a back-to-back in each of the first two weeks of your playoffs, with Anaheim and Columbus as opponents. If Varlamov gets both of those games, he’d be pretty valuable to have on your roster.  

We had a similar question to this not too along ago and I wouldn’t be too worried about it. This doesn’t happen very often in the NHL and is more of an NBA thing. I would be more worried about players sitting out for trade-related reasons. As mentioned earlier, players are being held out a lot longer this year it seems while waiting to be dealt.  

Besides, most fantasy leagues will be over with a week or two still remaining in the NHL regular season. So even if a team did want to rest one of their star players for a game or two, it likely won’t impact the fantasy hockey season.  

What to do with Wilson? Is he worth keeping? Really need his hits and points in 12 teams league, all cats 

If he’s occupying a roster spot and preventing someone else from getting in your lineup, you may have to drop him at this point in the season. However, if you can stash Tom Wilson on IR without it being a detriment to your team, why not hold him to see if he comes back at some point? He might be a difference maker down the stretch.  

It’s close, but I’ll say Trevor Zegras. He’s already shown to be capable of scoring at around a 70-point pace and I like the combination of him and Troy Terry up front. Plus, the Anaheim Ducks figure to be adding another very talented player in a deep draft this summer and in a best-case scenario it could even be Connor Bedard. There’s nothing wrong with Matty Beniers and he’s probably going to be a great player sooner rather than later, but I’d give a slight edge to Zegras.  

I know you would put Jenner jut over Palat, but how do you see Gaudreau v. Jenner ROS? Can both be relied upon on a bottom dweller or one more than the other? Thanks! 

You have to give the edge to Johnny Gaudreau here. Boone Jenner is a fine option, but Gaudreau is an elite talent with a much higher ceiling. Even though it’s been an awful year for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Gaudreau is still scoring at almost a point per game, while Jenner has struggled to stay healthy. Gaudreau is a safer bet.  

• I think I’d take my chances with Philipp Grubauer right now. He’s been the better goalie in Seattle lately and Dan Vladar still isn’t getting enough playing time, while there’s too much uncertainty around Thatcher Demko.  

• Beniers for me. He has the highest ceiling of the three.  

• Unusually bad slump but don’t overreact. The Boston Bruins top six is potent and Patrice Bergeron picked up a couple of points Thursday. 

It’s likely just a cold streak for both. Both players are too talented to really be too concerned about, but that said, you could always see what offers might be out there for either of them. Very few players should be deemed untradeable, so if you get a really good offer for either Brad Marchand or Aleksander Barkov, there’s nothing wrong with considering it.  

Is Grubauer gonna take control of the Seattle crease? 

He certainly is the Seattle Kraken goalie to roster at this point. Martin Jones’ play has really fallen off as of late and he is struggling to find wins, while Grubauer has posted seven quality starts in his past eight outings. Grubauer hasn’t shown any kind of consistency over the past year and a half, though, so it’s probably a bit early to get too excited about him. That said, it’s better to be too early than too late with goalie pickups on the waiver wire. There are worse gambles than Grubauer.  

Someone I might look at is Aaron Ekblad if you can get him for a very cheap price. Ekblad’s shot volume has been great over the past dozen games or so and the Florida Panthers have started to score a lot more than they were earlier in the season. The Panthers are all the way up to 7th in the league in goals for. Ekblad’s value is pretty low right now and you might be able to pry him away for not too much at all. The only direction he can go is up after the first half he’s had.  

I think if it’s just a one-year league you could do that. Tyler Toffoli has really exceeded expectations this season and he’s now recorded 28 points in his past 26 games. Long term you’d obviously prefer Beniers, but I think you’ll get more value out of Toffoli for the final two months of this fantasy campaign.  

Do you expect Landeskog back for the fantasy playoffs? 

It sounds like that’s when the Avs are targeting for a Landeskog return, though injuries can be unpredictable and it’s hard to know for sure. I also have a conspiracy theory that the longer this goes maybe Colorado just decides to keep him on LTIR until the playoffs and use his cap space to load up at the deadline. Of course, they’d need to go on a win streak to be more confident of their playoff position to make that happen. If you’ve held onto Landeskog this long I’d say just keep riding it out and hope he returns in March to put your team over the top.  

Last I heard he was week-to-week, so without an IR designation it makes him tough to carry. Logan Thompson would be nice to have for the fantasy playoffs, though, if he’s back by then. You might be able to survive with the goalies you’ve listed there, but it won’t be easy. There’s a lot of uncertainty around Grubauer, Semyon Varlamov will only play once a week, and Hill may not have much value in a few weeks if Thompson is back. It’s certainly a risk and if you go this route, you may have to end up streaming a goalie in the playoffs.  

That’s a really tough call. I can see the argument for the three defencemen, but I might lean towards keeping Tage Thompson, Artemi Panarin, Roman Josi and Rasmus Dahlin. I think those four will give you the most value. That said, if your league has hits and blocks, Mo Seider suddenly becomes a more intriguing option. Too many good players is a good problem to have.  

Hey Mike, With Duclair close to a return would you drop any of the following to make room for him? Nichushkin, Lindholm, Kadri, Raymond 

I personally wouldn’t drop any of those for Anthony Duclair, unless it’s a one-year league and we get news that Lucas Raymond is going to be out for a few weeks or something with his injury. It remains to be seen where Duclair will slot into the Florida Panthers lineup and we’ve seen other players that have missed significant time this season struggle to stay healthy upon their returns. I think the options you have are much safer right now.  

I’d go with Thatcher Demko, Jeremy Swayman and Filip Gustavsson. It will be tough to get a lot of value out of Jake Allen and I’m a bit worried about Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen down the stretch. The Buffalo Sabres have been giving up a bunch of goals lately. 

Swayman is great because the team in front of him is so strong and it looks like Gustavsson has a chance to take over the net in Minnesota. Plus, Demko is the most talented out of these five I would say. I’d take my chances with these three.  


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