Fantasy Hockey Trade Tips: It’s time to cash in on your reputation while you can
Especially for Yahoo Sports
Injuries are a major concern this time of year. October can be hectic as it’s the first month of the fantasy season and teams are excited to get going, but the winter months are usually when things slow down and the hustle and bustle begins.
This is also the time when team depth is really tested, with the Leafs and Stars recently having to sign goaltenders – Keith Petruzzelli and others Matt Murray, that is — because they ran out of options. Note that all players listed in this column must be listed in at least 50% of Yahoo leagues, but players like Erik Kallgren (35% composite) i Scott Wedgewood (32% composed) should be included in the list due to their large volume of work.
This week’s Trade Tips feature two players whose roles could change drastically due to injuries, as well as a couple of top picks that should be traded while their reputation remains higher than their actual value.
Brock Nelson, C (53% of lineup), and Anders Lee, LW, Islanders (64% of lineup)
Nelson and Lee both scored Tuesday against the Rangers, giving Nelson six goals in seven games and Lee four goals in five. The two veterans usually play on the line together, but are split up in an effort to even out the scoring lines. It will hurt their even production, but the separation should only be temporary, and it clearly didn’t bother either of them. Both Nelson and Lee were good for less than 50 points Barry Trotzand it’s reasonable to think the floor will be closer to 60 below Lane Lambert’s more free system.
Carter Verhaeghe, LW, Panthers (57% composed)
If there’s a player who goes undrafted every season but ends up on the roster in most leagues, Verhaeghe is that guy. The upper left wing of the Panther is attached Aleksandra Barkov whines all the time, and he’s really heating up with six goals and 11 points in his last seven games. That includes two power-play points, which is a good sign as the Panthers have struggled all season on the man advantage. They ranked 30th in the league at just 13.0% entering Tuesday’s games, but it goes without saying that they should be much better than that. Verhaeghe should be relatively easy to acquire because he’s under the radar, but his 0.78 points per game since joining the Panthers ranks in the top 30 among left wings. The Panthers are really snakebitten with Barkov and Sam Bennett both shoot below 5%; it shouldn’t be long before pucks start bouncing, and Verhaeghe will surely benefit.
Travis Konecny, RW, Flyers (60% assembled)
Konecny is one of 33 forwards to average more than 20 minutes per game this season, quickly becoming one of John Tortorella’s favorites. Last season, Konecny emerged as a high-volume shooter averaging 2.78 shots per game, but finished with just 16 goals on 220 total shots due to a career-low 7.3 shooting percentage. This season, not only has he increased his shooting frequency, but his shooting percentage is back to where it should be at roughly 12%, which puts him on pace for a career-high 30-goal season. Given his role in all situations (including on the penalty kill) and Konecny’s ability to set up points, shoot, hit and block shots with no signs of slowing down, he’s shaping up to be a very well-rounded contributor in roto leagues.
Owen Power, D, Sabers (69% composed)
There was a lot of interest in Power at the start of the season, but with just two assists in seven games and middling peripherals, he quickly fell off the fantasy radar. It’s coming back again Mattias Samuelsson injury and went a career-high 28:14 on Saturday against the Lightning. He was far more active with the puck, dishing out five assists in four games against the Coyotes on Tuesday while adding seven goals and three blocks.
Power’s game isn’t flashy, but he’s only scratching the surface of what he can do. Paired with Kale Claguewho was called because of the injured Ilya Lyubushkin, the duo has arguably been the Sabres’ best pairing so far this season, generating a 63 xGoals% and 3.13 expected goals per 60 minutes, according to moneypuck.com. Acquiring the Power now while he’s still flying under the radar is also a great move for the future, as the 2021 first overall pick shows he’ll be a franchise pillar for at least the next decade in Buffalo. As he gains experience and becomes more comfortable in the NHL, his numbers will only increase.
Vitek Vaneček, G, Devils (63% of the lineup)
Mackenzie Blackwood (knee) will miss three to six weeks, which puts Vaneček firmly in the starting spot. He has won six straight games and limited the Flames to just two goals on 35 shots, and looks to be a workhorse on a very good team. The Devils’ young backups are unlikely to see any action, and with a soft schedule coming up — Ottawa, Arizona, Montreal — that’s probably three more wins for Vanecek. If Vanecek can produce consistent performances during Blackwood’s absence, he could solidify himself as a top-15 fantasy goaltender and worth signing up for throughout the season even when Blackwood returns.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Flames (99% complete)
Huberdeau missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury, but it is not believed to be serious. That means the Huberdeau trade window is still open. This season, he was very disappointing, scoring only six points on 20 shots, and in the past five games, he registered only one assist. Huberdeau’s rough patch can be attributed to the Flames’ losing streak, but this could be the new norm for him, averaging barely 17 minutes per game as part of a deeper, more balanced lineup. It is understood that he is unlikely to match last season’s total of 115 points, and has dropped to the second tier of top left wings behind the likes of Artemi Panarin and Kirill Kaprizov.
Roman Josi, D, Predators (100% squad)
If Josi was one of the first two defenders selected in your league, that manager will surely regret that choice. Entering the season, Josi was seen as one of the safest and best options, even considering the regression after a career year, but the Presocs have looked terrible so far this season.
While Josi is the biggest driver of the Preds offense with a record 55.6 5v5 CF% this season according to naturalstattrick.com, replicating what he accomplished last season would also require Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg to maintain their sky-high shooting percentages. That clearly hasn’t happened this season, and both are far from last season’s 40-goal pace. Josi looks like a 65-point defender — which is still great — but he should no longer be considered head and shoulders above everyone else. Perhaps the time is right to trade Josi while his fantasy remains high due to his reputation.
Hampus Lindholm, D, Bruins (87% of lineup)
Lindholm has been great for the Bruins as their interim No. 1 defenseman, but with Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) soon to return — he was cleared to make contact in practice and traveled with the Bruins on their recent road trip but did not play — it’s time to rethink Lindholm’s fantasy value. Last season, McAvoy was the most preferred player on the power play, averaging 3:07 PP TOI/GP to Lindholm’s 2:06, so he will jump to the top of the depth chart upon his return.
Additionally, keep in mind that the Bruins currently play five forwards on their top unit, while Lindholm is the only defenseman on the second unit. This means that when McAvoy returns, there will be a domino effect with McAvoy rushing forward to the second unit – likely Jake DeBrusk – and if Jim Montgomery decides to go with five forwards on the second unit, it will completely take Lindholm off the power play.
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