Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 18

Kris Russell has picked up additional power play minutes with Mark Giordano sidelined for the Flames. Is he worth picking up?

Now that the trade deadline (both real and fantasy) has come and gone, we can analyze players’ short-term fantasy values to see who provides the biggest advantage as the playoffs draw near.

In case you're 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.

Add Antoine Vermette, C/LW – Chicago Blackhawks (29% Owned)

One of the prize targets of this year’s trade deadline was Arizona Coyotes’ forward Antoine Vermette. The possible season-ending injury to Patrick Kane gave the Chicago Blackhawks motivation to be aggressive in acquiring Vermette and closed the deal for him the Sunday before the deadline.

For the most part on his new club, Vermette has skated on Chicago’s second line with Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp. Although he is yet to register a point with the Blackhawks, playing on that line will offer more offensive opportunity than Vermette ever experienced in the desert.

Add Andrew Hammond, G – Ottawa Senators (42%)

Andrew Hammond is a viable short-term option in net. His 1.43 goals against average and .954 save percentage have earned he and the Ottawa Senators seven wins in eight games. If he is still available to you, then both you and your league mates have been sleeping. Time to wake up and get Hammond onto your roster.

Add Michal Neuvirth, G – New York Islanders (11%)

The New York Islanders pay two sets of back-to-backs this week: Monday and Tuesday against the Maple Leafs and Rangers and Friday and Saturday against the Senators and Canadiens. That means it is likely that their backup Michal Neuvirth will get a couple of starts this week.

Neuvirth has a 2.98 goals against average and .917 save percentage on the year but has shown periods of usability throughout the season while playing on a very weak Sabres team. Despite letting up three goals on 18 shots Saturday in his Islanders debut, coach Jack Capuano will likely turn to Neuvirth to rest Jaroslav Halak this week before the playoffs.

Add Kimmo Timonen, D – Chicago Blackhawks (8%)

Kimmo Timonen fell off the fantasy hockey radar this year because he missed the early part of the season due to blood clots in his lungs and legs. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks traded for him last week and gave up the considerable price of a second and conditional fourth round draft picks for the veteran defenseman.

Now that he has been cleared to play, Timonen looks to play a pivotal role for the Blackhawks. So far, Timonen has been paired with Brent Seabrook and has seen time on the point with Chicago’s second power player unit. Timonen has a career 0.52 points per game rate, which makes him rosterable in the majority of fantasy hockey leagues. If you are looking to add some last minute depth to your defense, Timonen should be available in your league and shouldn’t be an overlooked option.

Drop Mark Giordano, D – Calgary Flames (67%)

The Calgary Flames have been a surprising team this season, exceeding expectations. Much of their success has come from their defense, where Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and T.J. Brodie rank second, fifth, and sixth in team scoring, respectively. Unfortunately for the Flames and his fantasy owners, Giordano, the leader of that group, has now been sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a torn bicep tendon. Giordano has already undergone surgery and is expected to be out for the next four to five months.

Add Kris Russell, D – Calgary Flames (12%)

With Giordano injured, someone is going to have to replace his minutes for the Calgary Flames. Early indications point to Kris Russell moving to the top power play line alongside Dennis Wideman with T.J. Brodie pairing with Wideman on the second unit. Russell is not going to replicate Giordano’s numbers, but given an opportunity on the power play, he could improve on his 20 points and contribute at a rate higher than his current 0.33 points per game for the season.

Drop Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW – Colorado Avalanche (70%)

More big news on the injury front is that Nathan MacKinnon looks to be done the season. The official prognosis is six-to-eight weeks with a fractured foot, but unless the Avalanche sneak into playoffs, the next time we will see MacKinnon is the 2015-16 season.

Unless you are in a keeper league, MacKinnon has become irrelevant in fantasy hockey. You’ll have to find other options for the rest of the season.

Add Craig Smith, C/RW – Nashville Predators (45%)

Craig Smith has been playing on the Predators top line with Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg and has taken full advantage of the top billing. In the last 12 games since February 14th, Smith has seven goals and five assists.

The Predators play four games this week during a western road trip to Arizona, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, so Nashville’s players will see plenty of ice time. On the season Smith has registered 21 goals and 18 assists for a 0.58 points per game pace. With his current hot streak and the Predators’ busy week Smith should see his ownership numbers increase.

Drop Jonathan Bernier, G – Toronto Maple Leafs (62%)

There isn’t a lot of positive to write about the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their collapse has been epic but not unexpected. Since the beginning of the season, Jonathan Bernier’s number have regressed, and now starting Bernier in fantasy hockey is probably going to do you more damage to your goals against average and save percentage than the slim chance of a win or the added total saves.

MonthGamesGAASave %

If there is a more appealing option on the waiver wire, take it. Worst-case scenario: another owner picks up Bernier and has to deal with this headache.