Fantasy NHL – Trade deadline lookahead for all 31 teams

NHL


With the trade deadline looming, here’s an ultra-preliminary look at potential transactions from a fantasy standpoint. While a lot can change between now and Feb. 26, this rough and speculative assessment pegs all 31 NHL clubs as buyers, sellers or other/undecided.

Note: “Undetermined” also covers a team’s possible leaning towards standing pat.


Anaheim Ducks: Undetermined

If anything, a minor move with little fantasy influence might be in the cards for GM Bob Murray as his club grapples to claim a playoff spot. Having a healthy John Gibson back in net and a rejuvenated Corey Perry producing alongside top-linemate Ryan Getzlaf would sub in nicely for a pre-deadline trade, without having to give anything up. Perry has two goals and four assists in his past three contests, and Gibson, still dealing with a lower-body injury, isn’t expected to miss much more time.

Arizona Coyotes: Sellers

Don’t rule out Oliver Ekman-Larsson moving this month. If offered the right return, the Coyotes may pull the trigger now, instead of after the regular season. If they do at all, that is. The defenseman could still look to re-sign with the club past 2018-19. But a move just about anywhere else would instantly inflate the top-tier blueliner’s fantasy value, beginning with his dreadful minus-40 rating. Veteran Alex Goligoski would be left to manage the No. 1 power play back in the desert.

Boston Bruins: Buyers

While the Bruins are expected to leave their winning roster as is, if there’s a scoring winger to be had for a reasonable price (probably not), GM Don Sweeney could swing a move. If so, either winger aside second-line center David KrejciJake DeBrusk or Ryan Spooner — might be danger of losing his current assignment. Spooner, in particular, has been a pleasant fantasy surprise when healthy this season.

Buffalo Sabres: Sellers

On the market for months now, forward Evander Kane (and his expiring contract) remains a candidate to move as a playoff rental. Just about anywhere else would be better than Buffalo for the sniper, who has watched his production dry right up since an exceptionally fruitful launch to the season. There are a few top-line gigs with contending squads that could immediately reignite the 26-year-old. Fantasy managers who have held on to Kane this long may as well wait a little longer to see how it all plays out.

Calgary Flames: Buyers

One of several teams in the West interested in a scoring winger, the Flames are believed to be looking beyond the rental market. Depending on the caliber of player acquired, if the club does make such a move, Micheal Ferland may not be long for his assignment on Calgary’s top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Whoever settles in alongside Monahan and Gaudreau, which might just be incumbent Ferland, would unquestionably serve as a valuable fantasy asset down the stretch.

Carolina Hurricanes: Undetermined

Unless the Hurricanes go on a tear between now and Feb. 26, we’re less likely to see GM Ron Francis acquire a significant asset in hope of bolstering his squad for a successful playoff run. On the flip side, moveable assets like defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Jeff Skinner, both underperforming in 2017-18, would probably fetch more in return this offseason. As such, top-line forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen remain the only two standout fantasy performers in Carolina worth treasuring.

Chicago Blackhawks: Sellers

Squatting dead last in the Central Division, the Blackhawks find themselves in position to shop players and their substantial contracts as means of freeing up cap space for future moves, instead of trying to find a suitable winger for Jonathan Toews. Brandon Saad, who has failed at making it work in his second round with Toews, could be headed out of town, along with center Artem Anisimov. Otherwise, anticipate much experimenting and line juggling as the organization looks to beyond this season. Given the increased opportunity to shine with less pressure, rookie forward Alex DeBrincat presents as one standout fantasy performer with increasing upside.

Colorado Avalanche: Undetermined

Battling for a playoff berth, as few anticipated months earlier, the Avalanche are no longer in position to move a valuable asset like defenseman Tyson Barrie. But they aren’t about to sell the farm, either. So, beyond seeing a supporting forward come or go — UFA-to-be Blake Comeau remains in play — don’t anticipate much activity. For most fantasy managers, what matters up front is that the top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon (once healed) and Mikko Rantanen remains intact for the stretch. Plus, young center Alexander Kerfoot keeping a grip on his plum role with the No. 1 power play will be in the interest of those invested in deeper leagues.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Buyers

Averaging only 1.9 goals per game since New Year’s Eve, the Blue Jackets could use an injection of scoring by way of a top-six rental or more extensive investment. As much as many would love to see Rick Nash return to where it all started, the Jackets’ first top-overall draft selection is only one of several options. Whatever GM Jarmo Kekalainen chooses to do, either struggling center Alexander Wennberg or rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois could soon have a new body on his respective flank in place of Oliver Bjorkstrand. For invested fantasy managers, that would be a good thing. Also, look for forward Boone Jenner to earn a fresh start elsewhere after falling well short of expectations in Columbus, both this season and last.

Dallas Stars: Buyers

According to many, the Rangers’ trade rental Nash strikes as a near-ideal second-line threat in Dallas. No argument here. Behind the Stars’ top trio of Alexander Radulov, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, Nash would bring some experienced scoring punch, while potentially resurrecting Jason Spezza as a legitimately productive centerman. If not Nash, it could be another forward in the current trade mix. One way or the other, sophomore Mattias Janmark might soon lose his current second-line assignment.

Detroit Red Wings: Sellers

For the rebuilding Red Wings, UFA-to-be Mike Green heads a pack of tradeable assets that also includes forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. Playoff-bound teams in the market for a big-name like Max Pacioretty or Nash may instead end up settling for a Nyquist or Tatar at lesser cost, which could do wonders for either winger’s personal production. Just imagine what joining a contending top six in the West might do for Nyquist’s fantasy stature. Back in Detroit, Dylan Larkin leads a host of young players and prospects as the Wings look to the future.

Edmonton Oilers: Sellers

Forward Patrick Maroon, along with his expiring contract, is expected to move. Not long ago, the 29-year-old’s departure would’ve left a gaping hole on Connor McDavid‘s line, but that’s not the case right now. In fact, depending on where he lands, Maroon could actually see an uptick in fantasy value in his exodus from the Oilers’ bottom six.

Florida Panthers: Sellers

The Panthers would undoubtedly love to deal pending UFA and contemporary healthy scratch Radim Vrbata, but the return for the 36-year-old would be minimal. Same goes for defenseman Alex Petrovic. There’s more for fantasy managers to look forward to in the offseason when GM Dale Tallon works to snag a scoring winger for center Vincent Trocheck. Right now, such a “hockey trade” is tougher to swing.

Los Angeles Kings: Undetermined

As those running the hockey show in L.A. have already said, getting a healthy Jeff Carter back is just as beneficial, if not more advantageous, than making a deal ahead of the deadline — and at no cost. Hopefully, the wait for Carter’s ankle to fully heal doesn’t endure much past the end of February. Look for wingers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson to quickly blossom once back flanking their regular centerman. Sophomore Adrian Kempe, Carter’s current fill-in, could also benefit from shifting up to the wing on a top line aside red-hot center Anze Kopitar.

Montreal Canadiens: Sellers

Pacioretty might be on the move, but an even greater possibility is pending UFA Tomas Plekanec. If the hockey gods show some mercy, Alex Galchenyuk will also be offered a chance at a fresh start elsewhere. However it shakes out, the Canadiens’ corps of forwards could sport a very different look, led by center Jonathan Drouin and winger Brendan Gallagher.

Minnesota Wild: Undetermined

This one’s a toughie. After relinquishing top picks to the Coyotes last season for a package essentially made up of rental Martin Hanzal, GM Chuck Fletcher probably doesn’t go all in this campaign. But the team is reportedly interested in adding a scoring winger and perhaps defensive depth, now that Jonas Brodin is out three to four weeks with a broken hand. Going the other way, Wild forwards Charlie Coyle and Matt Cullen (less fantasy relevant) are said to be out the door for the right return, but maybe having a healthy Nino Niederreiter back in the mix inspires Fletcher to take a step back. It’s all enough to make any fantasy manager’s head spin. Take a wait-and-see approach for now.

Nashville Predators: Buyers

In the market for another scoring winger, the Predators could be even more stacked up front in three weeks’ time. Where such an asset fits, however, remains to be seen. While it makes sense to tuck someone like Tatar on a strong third line with Nick Bonino, that’s not where Pacioretty ends up. So Craig Smith, for example, could be in danger of losing his coveted spot on a second unit with Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala. Keep a close eye on how it all plays out.

New Jersey Devils: Undetermined

An experienced top-six winger would be nice, especially with Marcus Johansson nursing his second concussion of the season, but we’re not so sure GM Ray Shero is willing to give up much to improve his overachieving and still developing squad, playoffs or no playoffs. As much as the addition of some scoring pizzazz could benefit others up front, fantasy managers shouldn’t anticipate any jolting moves here. The Devils are also rumored to be interested in Ekman-Larsson, but such a deal between the two clubs makes more sense in the offseason.

New York Islanders: Undetermined

Once more for those in the back: Garth Snow isn’t trading John Tavares. The Islanders general manager has also made it clear his playoff-cusp club isn’t interested in acquiring any high-priced rentals. That means a shuffling of the Isles’ current top six would involve candidates already in the lineup and more regular appearances from goalie Jaroslav Halak (3.20 goals-against average, .910 save percentage). Back healthy, Andrew Ladd could earn another shot soon.

New York Rangers: Sellers

The Rangers appear outwardly willing to strip it down for systematic reconstruction. Nash is confirmed to lead a list of sellable commodities that also includes, but is not limited to, Michael Grabner, Mats Zuccarello, defenseman Nick Holden and even captain Ryan McDonagh. With little else to count on once one or several assets have scattered, know that winger Pavel Buchnevich (upon recovery from a concussion) and center Mika Zibanejad appear linked as a top-line pairing. Fantasy managers should keep watch of who joins that duo down the stretch. Young defenseman Brady Skjei should see increased responsibility on the blue line, even if/when Kevin Shattenkirk returns from a knee injury this season.

Ottawa Senators: Sellers

Despite growing chemistry with center Matt Duchene, winger Mike Hoffman is still available for the right (read: high) price. Fellow forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zach Smith could be had for less, while veteran Dion Phaneuf and 24-year-old pending RFA Cody Ceci might also be on the move from the blue line. With so many potential pieces in play, expect at least some movement from the Senators between now and Feb. 26. If Hoffman ends up staying put, give Duchene a fresh look as a considerable fantasy candidate now that the ex-Avalanche skater’s ugly introduction in Ottawa is mercifully over.

Philadelphia Flyers: Undetermined

Ron Hextall had earlier promised his club he wouldn’t make any “drastic” moves ahead of the trade deadline, and there’s no reason to believe the Flyers’ general manager has since changed his mind. That’s good news for fantasy managers invested in rookie center Nolan Patrick and/or 20-year-old Travis Konecny. In the regular company of Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, or Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, both young forwards are seeing a steady increase in personal production as the season wears on.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Buyers

Under ideal circumstances, the Penguins would invest in a scoring winger to play alongside Sidney Crosby, while also adding a third-line center. But in the reality laid out by what other teams are demanding in return for prominent forward pieces, there’s a solid chance GM Jim Rutherford brings veteran Matt Cullen back from Minnesota as a bottom-six center, and that’s about it. If that’s how it does play out, there’s just not much to chew over here for fantasy managers.

San Jose Sharks: Undetermined

Acquiring a forward in the vein of Nash would certainly help offset the loss of Joe Thornton (out indefinitely) as the club campaigns for a playoff berth. However, relinquishing valuable draft picks and/or prospects as the club looks beyond the Thornton era may not make most sense for GM Doug Wilson. Still, bringing in a prominent body remains in the conversation and would do an obvious solid for Joe Pavelski, whether he sticks at center or moves back to the wing. The versatile veteran has only two assists in six games since losing Thornton as his linemate.

St. Louis Blues: Buyers

A much-coveted scoring winger should do the trick in relieving Vladimir Sobotka of his top-six duties once and for all. Whether the Blues are willing to splurge on a top-tier rental, like Pacioretty or Kane, or roll the dice on a less-prominent candidate is the question. With Robby Fabbri pegged to return next fall after brutally reinjuring his knee in the preseason, a short-term plug to skate with Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen might be all that’s needed. Depending on the talent acquired, it could bolster both Stastny and Steen as fantasy assets down the stretch.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Buyers

TSN’s Bob McKenzie expects the Lightning to have a “notable addition” on their blue line once the clock strikes on Feb. 26. Whether that injection comes in the form of Detroit’s Green, New York’s McDonagh or a defenseman with less offensive flair has bearing on how teen rookie Mikhail Sergachev is utilized moving forward, particularly with the secondary power play. Otherwise, GM Steve Yzerman isn’t expected to mess much with what’s worked so well for Tampa up front.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Undecided

If the Leafs are offered a top-four defenseman for digestible cost, they’re buying. Otherwise, Lou Lamoriello and Co. are looking to move players and prospects with little current fantasy value, like forwards Matt Martin, Josh Leivo and Nikita Soshnikov. Short of a jarring trade sending UFA-to-be James van Riemsdyk elsewhere (which is supposedly not completely out of the question), any fantasy domino effect in Toronto post-Feb. 26 should be minor.

Vancouver Canucks: Sellers

Veteran Thomas Vanek is, once again, headed for another NHL pasture midseason. Where the 34-year-old settles in specifically will help determine his fantasy value going forward. Vanek hasn’t had that bad a year in Vancouver, collecting 15 goals and 22 assists, second only to rookie Brock Boeser in team scoring. Canucks defensemen Erik Gudbranson is also on the block, but the 26-year-old sports little fantasy value in conventional leagues.

Vegas Golden Knights: Undetermined

This wasn’t supposed to be a conversation at this stage. Had they followed the largely winless path tread by every freshly-hatched franchise before them, the Knights would be actively selling UFAs-to-be James Neal and David Perron. That’s less of an obvious move now that Vegas is sitting atop the Western Conference. Instead, the organization could be looking to add a rental depth forward or experienced puck-moving defenseman. If it’s the former, the Knights’ top six should remain intact, while the addition of an offensive blueliner would likely affect how power-play assets Colin Miller and/or young Shea Theodore are utilized.

Washington Capitals: Buyers

There’s plenty of unsubstantiated talk of a reunion with former Caps defenseman Green. If that’s how it pans out, Green’s fantasy value is due for an instant boost. Offered the opportunity to anchor the Caps’ secondary power play, the 32-year-old would quickly vault Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov as the second fantasy option behind only John Carlson, at least in the short term.

Winnipeg Jets: Buyers

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos is all over the idea of the Jets snagging a top-line winger to play on the left side of center Mark Scheifele (when healthy) and winger Blake Wheeler. Such a move would then see sophomore Patrik Laine shifted back to right wing on the second line with Bryan Little and Nikolaj Ehlers, subsequently bumping Mathieu Perreault outside Winnipeg’s impressive top six. That plays as a concern for Perreault’s fantasy managers, no doubt. Otherwise, expect an instant upswing in production from whoever has the good fortune of flying in from elsewhere to land on a scoring line with Scheifele and Wheeler.





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