Trades, trades and more trades.
Deadline week is always the most volatile for fantasy hockey and this year was no exception. I’m always hesitant about making waiver adds or trades in the days leading up to the deadline, as things can change in an instant. Could you imagine if you acquired Tyson Barrie for a fantasy playoff run, only to watch his value plummet after getting traded to the Nashville Predators?
Barrie would have been a critical piece to have for the playoffs, quarterbacking the league’s best power play and playing big minutes on the league’s highest scoring team. Now he’s going to one of the league’s worst power plays and a much lower-scoring team, with Roman Josi in front of him on the depth chart.
I find taking a wait and see approach for fantasy around the NHL trade deadline is usually best. This allows you to pivot quickly if anyone sees a boost in value because of a trade and not waste assets adding someone, only be disappointed shortly after if their outlook changes entirely.
Sometimes the moves you don’t make are the best ones.
1. I’m not as excited as some others about Jonathan Quick’s move to the Vegas Golden Knights. Sure, Vegas is a strong team but so were the Los Angeles Kings, and Quick, with his .876 save percentage, lost the job to a career AHLer there this year. If he couldn’t outplay Pheonix Copley, what are the chances he overtakes Adin Hill and then can steal starts from Logan Thompson when he’s healthy? The odds seem slim to me.
2. I must confess, I didn’t see Dmitry Orlov being this productive offensively with the Boston Bruins. Nine points in five games certainly seems like an unsustainable pace, but if Orlov is even anywhere close to a point per game during the fantasy playoffs, he’ll definitely be worth rostering. Sticking on the first pair with Charlie McAvoy will be key for Orlov to continue to produce points.
3. If you’re in a good position in the standings and have the luxury of rolling the dice on any player that was just dealt, your best bet might be Jakub Vrana. He’s only 17 per cent rostered and scored at a great rate with the Detroit Red Wings. A fresh start with the St. Louis Blues and a potential shot in the top six could prove fruitful for Vrana.
4. What a tough break if you’ve been utilizing Erik Gustafsson. He goes from replacing John Carlson on the top power-play unit for the Washington Capitals to likely fighting for a spot in the lineup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gustafsson had five power-play points in his final six games with the Caps before heading North, and now he might be droppable. How quickly things can change.
5. I’m very curious to see how the New Jersey Devils utilize Timo Meier when he’s healthy. He’ll no doubt be in the top six, but where does he slot in? Dawson Mercer’s line has been incredible lately, so it’s unlikely they’ll break that up, which might leave Meier to replace Yegor Sharangovich and play with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt. That could be one of the most potent lines down the stretch for fantasy and a perfect landing spot for Meier.
6. I’d keep my eye on Ivan Barbashev. It was a bit of an under-the-radar move when he was shipped to the Vegas Golden Knights and he now finds himself on the top line with Jack Eichel. Barbashev has already picked up three points in his new home and is very useful if your league has hits. Put him on your watch list.
7. Every time a goalie gets traded at the deadline, I immediately think of Ryan Miller going from the Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14. Miller’s numbers were great in Buffalo that year, but his save percentage dropped 20 points even though he ended up on a better team. That, and the fact I think goalies have the hardest time adjusting to a new team at the deadline, has always given me pause before racing to grab a goalie on waivers who’s just been traded. There are so many small nuances that a goalie needs to account for with the team in front of him. How do his new defencemen play 2-on-1s? What type of defensive structure does the team play? What does the penalty kill look like? These are just a few things a goalie must account for that won’t be ironed out overnight, which is why I’m being cautious where Joonas Korpisalo is concerned. I understand waiver wires are thin and he looks to have good upside, so he’s worth taking a chance on if you’re desperate. It just wouldn’t shock me if his numbers slip a bit in his new environment.
8. The Minnesota Wild just beat the buzzer by acquiring John Klingberg before the deadline expired. It’s been a nightmare season for Klingberg, who hoped to boost his value on a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. At least he’s joining a top-10 power play now and Klingberg’s presence should probably concern you if you’re rostering Calen Addison. The Wild defender’s value has been dropping with the odd healthy scratch and if he loses his power play spot to Klingberg, then Addison won’t be worth holding at all.
9. I don’t really see Tanner Jeannot’s offence coming alive with the Tampa Bay Lightning, even though he’s picked up a couple of assists since joining them. In his first three games with his new team, Jeannot’s ice time is down a fair bit from what it was in Nashville and he isn’t getting power play time. He’s also managed just a single shot. Jeannot should be rostered for hits and nothing else at this point.
10. With Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakob Chychrun both now gone, that leaves Juuso Valimaki all alone as the Arizona Coyotes’ number one defenceman. He’s getting big minutes and top power play time. Valimaki could be a good add in deep leagues where you need help on defence.
11. I’ve always had Nino Niederreiter on my list of players that are better in real life than fantasy. Niederreiter is in a great spot with the Winnipeg Jets and I know people love him for his underlying numbers, so maybe he’s got a chance to get on a run here down the stretch. Two points since joining the Jets is encouraging and he is on the top line and number one power play unit at the moment. There are worse bets to make than Niederreiter if you’re in search of offence.
12. The Colorado Avalanche did not make a major move Friday, which is good news if you’ve been stashing Gabriel Landeskog. I have no idea how close he is to returning, but there don’t seem to be any significant cap roadblocks to activating him if the Avs wanted to. I was worried Colorado might hold him out for the rest of the regular season and use his cap space to add at the deadline.
13. It felt like Anthony Beauvillier was more of a throw in for the Bo Horvat trade, but he’s been anything but an afterthought since arriving in Vancouver. Beauvillier is up to 11 points in 13 games and has three-multi point efforts. He’s really fit well with Elias Pettersson on the Canucks top line and to put things in perspective, Horvat only has nine points in 11 games since joining the New York Islanders.
14. Speaking of Pettersson, his offensive prowess is well documented, but he’s taken his category coverage to a new level this year with blocked shots. Pettersson ranks second among all forwards in blocks and had a whopping 11 in three games this week. That’s a tremendous bonus from a player that’s also in the top 10 in league scoring. Pettersson and Auston Matthews are in a category all to themselves when it comes to elite offense and blocks at the forward position.
15. It seems like the Calgary Flames give up a goal on the first shot of the game so often. It happened in back-to-back games recently and someone messaged me to say it’s been eight times this season. That’s wild. The Flames actually allow the second fewest shots against in the league and rank fifth when it comes to high-danger chances allowed, making those early goals so much more deflating. If you don’t face a lot of shots, it’s tough for Jacob Markstrom or Dan Vladar to dig themselves out of an early hole and improve their stats. I’d still avoid each as it’s too risky to count on them in an important fantasy playoff matchup.
16. What a heater Claude Giroux is on right now. He’s up to 10 points in his past five games and is powering the Ottawa Senators back into the playoff race. Giroux has a couple of friendly matchups coming up next week, with Chicago and Seattle on deck. Both of those teams are in the bottom half of the league in goals against, so there’s a good chance Giroux can continue this run and hopefully carry your team to the playoffs.
17. Don’t look now, but Tom Wilson is becoming a very valuable commodity once again. Wilson is picking up the offence, recording five goals in his past seven games. He’s also got 18 penalty minutes over that stretch, and his shots and hits are trending up. Wilson is available in over half of leagues and I would grab him while you can.
18. Jared McCann is a 30-goal scorer. Four goals in his past three games has propelled him to a new career high with about six weeks still to go in the season. At less than 40 per cent rostered, with decent shot volume and dual eligibility, there’s a lot to like about McCann if your team needs some offensive punch.
19. He’s getting overshadowed in a big way by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but Ryan-Nugent Hopkins is having a tremendous season of his own. Nugent-Hopkins is up to 10th in league scoring after a big four-point night Friday and has a career-high in points and goals already. It’s rare you see a team with three of the league’s top 10 scorers and they have four in the top 20 if you include Zach Hyman.
20. The player who benefitted the most at the trade deadline might be someone who wasn’t dealt at all. Evan Bouchard is suddenly relevant again, after Barrie’s departure gives him a new opportunity on the top power play unit for the Oilers. It can’t be understated how important that role is in fantasy, as we’ve already talked about just how lethal the Edmonton power play is. It’s already starting to show, as Bouchard notched three points Saturday night, two of which came on the man advantage. Those were his first points in eight games. Bouchard has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments this season, coming nowhere close to the breakout season that many had been banking on. All that could be forgotten, though, if he can close this campaign with a big fantasy playoffs.