Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 10

Kris Versteeg and Matt Niskanen are featured in this week’s edition of Changing on the Fly. But should you buy or sell them?

When I sat down to write this article, I thought it was going to be just another edition of Changing on the Fly. However, during my research, I found out that CapGeek.com has ceased operations due to the ill-health of founder and director Matthew Wuest. This is a sad time for hockey fans and writers; CapGeek was unanimously the best resource for NHL player salary information, pending free agents and team salary cap numbers. Here at numberFire we’d like to take a moment and wish Matthew and his family our thoughts and the best of luck in their upcoming journey. May the best come of this.

In case you are new here and missed earlier volumes, this is a weekly article based on JJ Zachariason's "15 Transactions for Week X" and Russell Peddle's "Dozen Dimes," which focus on football and basketball, respectively.

All percent owned stats will be used from Yahoo! leagues, and we’ll assume a standard 6x4 scoring system (Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Power Play Points, Penalties in Minutes, Shots on Goal; Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, Shutouts). Transactions are listed in relative order of importance.

Add/Buy David Perron, LW/RW – Pittsburgh Penguins (60% owned)

In case you missed it, the Edmonton Oilers made a move last week by trading David Perron to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Rob Klinkhammer and the Penguins’ 2015 first-round draft pick. The fantasy hockey fallout of this transaction is Perron has gone from struggling in Edmonton with the perennially underachieving Oilers to playing with Sidney Crosby on the Penguins’ first line Saturday night.

Since the move, Perron has made an immediate impact; he registered six shots on goal and potted the Pens’ only tally in their 4-1 loss in Montreal on Saturday. Perron’s ownership has already skyrocketed since the transaction, but if he is still available in your fantasy league grab him now.

Sell/Drop Matt Niskanen, D – Washington Capitals (72%)

Since signing with the Washington Capitals this offseason, Matt Niskanen has seen his offensive numbers slip. Offensively, Niskanen has take the fewest 5-on-5 shots attempts in five years, and his scoring has suffered as a result.

Niskanen 5-on-5Points/60Shots/60iCorsi/60

Niskanen’s production on the power play is actually better than it was with Pittsburgh. Though he is not taking as many shots, fewer shots are being blocked or are missing the net.

Niskanen (5-on-4)Points/60Shots/60iCorsi/60

The problem for Niskanen is the power play. While in Pittsburgh, Niskanen was the primary blueliner for the Penguins man-advantage, but now with the Capitals, he has taken a backseat to both Mike Green and John Carlson.

Player 5-on-4TOIPoints/60Shots/60iCorsi/60
Mike Green79:042.2812.9025.80
John Carlson56:217.4512.7827.68
Matt Niskanen47:405.0417.6222.66

Unless Niskanen starts seeing more time on the Capitals’ formidable power play (fifth-most efficient in the league with 7.97 goals for per 60 minutes), there will be better options in your fantasy hockey team.

Drop Kris Versteeg LW/RW – Chicago Blackhawks (41%)

For the time being Kris Versteeg is listed day-to-day. However, the reality is that the Blackhawk is going to be out of the lineup for an extended period of time. Versteeg hurt his hand blacking a shot during the Winter Classic; while it appears he doesn’t need surgery, coach Joel Quenneville has indicated that his winger will be out for about a month.

While Versteeg has had a bounce back year with 9 goal and 18 assists, he is not a player worth holding onto for a month of inaction unless you have space on your injured reserve.

Add Ryan Strome, C/RW (36%)
Sell Brock Nelson, C (67%) – New York Islanders

After spending the majority of the season being paired up, Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson find themselves on separate lines. At first glance, Nelson’s numbers are more rounded than Strome’s, and he is about 10 spots higher in the Yahoo! rankings.


However, in 5-on-5 play, it seems that Strome has been the better player.

5-on-5 SituationTOIGF20GF%CF20CF%
Strome/Nelson together251:211.19471.4%20.9355.0%
Strome apart144:552.20855.2%20.7053.7%
Nelson apart160:320.87241.2%19.6848.0%

The one spot where Nelson has more value over Strome is power play time where Nelson is on the first unit with John Tavares and Strome plays with the second team. While a case can be made for Nelson, due to his power play time, it is becoming more and more apparent that Strome is the better player. Act accordingly.

Drop Joffrey Lupul, LW/RW – Toronto Maple Leafs (56%)

Some players just cannot stay healthy, and Joffrey Lupul is one of them; Lupul hasn’t played more than 70 games in a season since 2008-09. The Leafs’ forward went down with another injury and left the team on their road trip to get a MRI in Toronto.

When healthy, this season Lupul has been scoring at a rate of 0.65 points per game, which closely mirrors his career average 0.64, but the problem is that he just can’t seem to stay on the ice. The Leafs will be without Lupul for approximately four weeks, and unless you have an empty injured reserve spot for your fantasy team, he probably isn’t worth hanging onto.

Buy T.J. Oshie, C/RW – St. Louis Blues (75%)

T.J Oshie seems to have awakened from his early season nap and has started scoring again. Before the holidays, Oshie had 5 goals and 7 assists through 26 games. Since the Christmas break, the Blues forward has exploded for another five goals, including a hat trick Saturday, and three more assists in only five games.

A closer look at Oshie’s career shows that he is traditionally a slow starter and picks up his scoring pace when the calendar flips over.

MonthPoints per Game

Buying Oshie may be a tough task after his hat trick, but some owners may think that it is their “sell high” moment; let them think that.

Drop Justin William, RW – Los Angeles Kings (43%)

Justin Williams has provided owners with a respectable amount of value this year, registering 20 points in 39 games for about a half point per game. The Los Angeles Kings have a light schedule this coming week and play only two games, Thursday against the Rangers and Saturday against the Jets. With not many opportunities to add fantasy value, Justin Williams can be placed on waiver wire this week in head-to-head formats. There are plenty of other players in the 40-45% owned range that will most likely be able to contribute to the stat sheet more than Williams.

Add/Hold Tommy Wingels, RW – San Jose Sharks (41%)

As I mentioned last week, Tommy Wingels is in a scoring slump and hasn’t put the puck in the back of the net since December 4th. While he is testing the patience of some owners and losing the confidence of others, the Sharks have four games this week and play in Winnipeg Monday, the only game in the league that night.

In leagues that count hits, Wingels in golden, placing second in the league with 152 hits.

Matt Martin647170
Tommy Wingels2328152
Cal Clutterbuck836151
Brooks Orpik834141
Alex Ovechkin3230135

While it is tempting to give up on Wingels, give it another week. Maybe he can turn it around during this busy week.

Add Mathieu Perreault, C – Winnipeg Jets (11%)

Another under-the-radar pick this week would be Mathieu Perreault. Pearreault is on a hot streak and has registered 14 points in his last 14 games while playing with Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik. The Jets have a busy schedule this week, hosting San Jose (Monday) before hitting the road and travelling to Arizona (Thursday), Los Angeles (Saturday), and Anaheim (Sunday). Grab Perreault this week in weekly or deeper leagues to maximize your games played.

Sell Zemgus Girgensons, C/LW – Buffalo Sabres (12%)

Does your league include any Latvian owners? Or you have a gullible owner that you can manipulate. If so, and you own Zemgus Girgensons for some reason, sell him now; his stock may never be higher this year. Girgensons just won the NHL fan All-Star vote with much help from his native Latvia. This selection bring up memories of the failed but hilarious 2007 “Rory Fitzpatrick for All-Star” campaign.

Girgensons has exceeded expectations this year with 11 goals and 9 assists but has only a single powerplay point, and his selection as an All-Star starter has made a mockery of the selection process. If you can take advantage of his new-found fame, move him now.

Add Teuvo Teravainen, LW – Chicago Blackhawks (4%)

Unless you are playing in a very deep or keeper league, Teuvo Teravainen isn’t an “add” just yet -- more like “add to watch list.” The young Finnish forward, Chicago’s first-round draft pick (18th overall) in the 2012 Entry Draft, has earned praise from scouts as the next upcoming star in the organization.

Last year playing in his native Finland, Teravainen registered 44 points in 49 games. This year with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, he has 23 points in 33 games. Teravainen is a highly touted playmaker and could fit in well with Chicago’s talented forward group.

In his season debut Sunday, Teravainen played 10:50 of ice time, skating on Chicago's fourth line with Ben Smith and Joakim Nordstrom. Throughout the contest Teravainen registered only three shots and has remained pointless so far in his young career. As the top prospect in the Blackhawks system, Teravainen is a player to follow; his immediate fantasy value is limited but an injury or line shuffle and he could land a top-six forward position in a very potent offence.