Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 15
This week, there is an obvious move, and that is to drop Evander Kane, who is out for the year.
But there are plenty of other under-the-radar moves that should be made in your fantasy hockey leagues, including players to buy and players to sell.
Also, 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. Football is over, but if you are into basketball, go see what Russ is saying. It is well worth it.
Drop Evander Kane, LW – Winnipeg Jets (58% owned)
Even before it was announced that Kane was undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, the outlook was looking perilous for his owners. Coach Paul Maurice had sat Kane Tuesday night as a “coach’s decision,” and the young forward seemed to be at ends with his teammates.
Even when healthy, Kane had been producing at a reduced rate this season and was not living up to the standards that fantasy owners expected of him after drafting him, on average, 90th overall in Yahoo! drafts.
Kane’s season is over, and his future is Winnipeg is in doubt. At this point, the only owners who should be holding onto him are managers in keeper or dynasty leagues who are not competing for a championship this year. Kane is still young, 24, and has a high pedigree of being selected fourth overall in the 2009 Entry Draft; at the right price, he could be a steal for next year. In redraft leagues, Kane should have been dropped by now, without hesitation and anyone with aspirations for winning their league shouldn’t be wasting the roster spot.
Hold/Buy Devan Dubnyk, G Minnesota Wild (58%)
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Devan Dubnyk was toiling in the minors after being traded from Edmonton to Nashville; he would eventually end up in Hamilton, playing for the Canadiens’ farm team before signing as a free agent in Arizona this offseason. Over 19 games for the Coyotes, Dubnyk posted a 2.72 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage and almost stole Mike Smith’s starting gig.
That led to his getting traded north to the Minnesota Wild, who had fallen out of favor with Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom. Since joining the Wild, Dubnyk has been lights out and posted an unreal 1.31 goals-against average and .948 save percentage and added shutouts in three of his last four games.
While these number scream unsustainable and it could be an ideal “sell high” period for Dubnyk, the market place for a tender like Dubnyk may be sparse. His recent history with the Oilers are still fresh in people’s memories, and there are probably many skeptics out there. Dubnyk was also waiver wire fodder in most leagues, and managers will be hesitant to give up anything substantial for a player with his resume.
Give Dubnyk a bye on last year. The Oilers were and are a terrible defensive team, and no keeper can seem to succeed with that group. His numbers this year have been fantasy-worthy pretty much all season, and being traded from Arizona to Minnesota has led to him being on a superior defensive team.
The story here is that, while Dubnyk has performed well in Minnesota, his team has helped him and should continue to do so through the end of the season.
Add Cam Talbot, G – New York Rangers (36%)
Unfortunately for everyone involved, the New York Rangers will be without Henrik Lundqvist for about a month after the star netminders to a puck to the throat last Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Lundqvist played Monday and started Wednesday of this week before complaining of headaches.
Filling in for Lundqvist, at least for the time being, will be Cam Talbot. We haven’t seen a lot of Talbot this season, or ever really. With only 34 games to his NHL career, Talbot is about as green as they come but has impressed in that short time.
The opportunity is now here for Talbot the to prove himself as a capable NHL goalie. If his early numbers are indicative of anything, he is worth starting in fantasy leagues if you are looking for a backup.
Drop Carter Hutton, G – Nashville Predators (15%)
One star goalie out, one star goalie back. Fantasy owner have been given some reprieve with the return of Pekka Rinne this past weekend. Despite a shaky start Thursday night with four goals against facing the Anaheim Ducks, Rinne bounced back Saturday with a solid effort in a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers Saturday.
While he got the start Sunday in the latter half of a back-to-back, look for Carter Hutton to be now relegated to the bench and fall back in into the pit fantasy hockey irrelevancy. Rinne will most likely win the Vezina Trophy this season and will command the lion’s share of the starts for the Predators from here no out.
Sell/Drop Petr Mrazek, G – Detroit Red Wings (41%)
It was nice while it lasted, but Petr Mrazek’s tenure as starting goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings is about to come to an end. Jimmy Howard is slated to start this coming Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with Jonas Gustavsson already back from his shoulder injury, Mrazek is about to see a reduction in playing time, if not a demotion to the American Hockey League.
This year, Mrazek has put recorded 13 wins in 17 starts and recorded a 2.42 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. If he were to get spot starts from here on out, he’d be useful in daily leagues and in add/drop scenarios, but for the time being, Howard looks to get the majority of the starts and Gustavsson should be the backup.
Drop Loui Eriksson, LW/RW – Boston Bruins (56%)
Loui Eriksson has been a disappointment in Boston since being acquired for Tyler Seguin. This year’s 12 goals and 19 assists in 51 games (0.61 points per game) is far from the pace that was expected from him on the outset of the season and shadows the output he showed in Dallas.
It isn’t that his scoring is deplorable; it is fantasy relevant unless Eriksson hits a scoring drought, but the Bruins only play two games this week and it is hard to contribute so with few games.
If Eriksson would be a bubble waiver wire guy in your league, look elsewhere this week, chances are there will be a replacement value player available to you if someone else snatches him up.
Add John Klingberg, D – Dallas Stars (43%)
Let’s call this Klingberg 2.0. Early in the season, fantasy owners were falling over themselves to add John Klingberg. In five games from November 16th to 25th Klingberg exploded onto the scene with eight points and there was a mad scramble to add the rookie defenseman. In the next 25 games (until January 27th), Klingberg fell more or less silent with only 10 points.
Fast forward to the Stars’ latest five matches and he is at it again with four goals and five assists. This by definition is a streaky player, but grab him while is streaking and enjoy the ride. There is obviously talent there to be tapped into.
Sell Kevin Shattenkirk, D – St. Louis Blues (93%)
While the Blues originally stated Kevin Shattenkirk was out week-to-week, that timeline has shifted to more of a month-to-month scenario. He suffered a fluke abdominal injury while hitting Alex Ovechkin and now requires surgery.
Brandon Dubinsky’s history tells us that recovery and rehab from the surgery can be up to two months, which brings us to mid-April and the end of the regular season. The Blues should have Shattenkirk back for the playoffs, but fantasy owners do not appear to be that lucky. If a deal can be made and you can gain any assets from Shattenkirk, now is the time to do it. He has been one of the best defensemen in the league this year and would be an enticing asset to anyone in a keeper league or anyone who has an overly optimistic outlook on his current injury situation. Even in a keeper league, if you are challenging for your league title, Shattenkirk is probably a “sell-high” candidate. This has been a breakout year for the rearguard, but Shattenkirk is a regression candidate for next year.
His even strength shooting percentage is up while his Individual Corsi and Fenwick for Percentage are virtually unchanged from last year.
|Season (5-on-5)||Shooting %||iCorsi/60||FF%||Points/60|
Add Anders Lee, C/LW – New York Islanders (6%)
The Kyle Okposo injury has thrown a lot of fantasy owners into a state of flux. Okposo has been one of this season’s pleasant surprises, lining up with John Tavares on the Islanders’ top line for much of the season and clicking with the center to a tune of 14 goals and 30 assists in 46 games (0.96 points per game). Okposo is now out until at least mid-March with a detached retina, and the Islanders and fantasy hockey will have to set their sights elsewhere to fill in the gap.
For the time being Anders Lee and Josh Bailey are playing on the top line with Tavares. Neither player is a replacement for Okposo, but while playing with Tavares they should hitch a ride and fall into some points. Lee’s 15 goals and stronger peripheral stats to Bailey’s 8 goals make him the more attractive of the two options, although both are seeing power play time as well. In two weeks, the Islanders play a magical five games and due to sheer quantity even the fringiest of Islanders will be worth owning from February 16-22.
Add Patrick Eaves, RW – Dallas Stars (4%)
Much like playing with Tavares, playing with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn is a prime assignment for real and fantasy hockey purposes. For time being, that role belongs to Patrick Eaves, and he has benefitted greatly in the past six games since returning from injury.
Since January 27th, Eaves has four points in six games on the top line and is seeing top-time power play minutes as well. This is a perfect opportunity for an under-owned player to add some fantasy value. When healthy this year, Eaves has been somewhat productive with 0.48 points per game, which would rank sixth amongst Stars forwards. Look for that number to rise if he continues to play top-line minutes with Seguin and Benn.