Fantasy Hockey Weekly: Trade Bait or Cut Bait?

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Brent Burns
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 05: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks looks on during the game against the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center on January 5, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

As we sit at the quarter-point of the NHL season, fantasy hockey is in full swing. Surely, you have been actively scouring the free agents in your league and perhaps pulled the trigger on a trade or two. If you have, hopefully your acquisitions have helped you climb the standings in your league. If not, we have a few players to keep your eyes peeled for, and maybe to target in possible trades.

Fantasy Hockey Weekly: Trade Bait or Cut Bait?

Weekly Review: Karlss-on Fire

William Karlsson

Some of the best advice you can get when it comes to fantasy hockey is to look for opportunity. If your league is particularly deep and the cupboards have been picked dry, look for players in good situations. First line and powerplay players are always going to have plenty of opportunities to score. Take William Karlsson, for example. A relatively unknown player prior to this season, he has been playing on the Vegas Golden Knights top line with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith and seeing powerplay time. He has five goals and an assist in his past four games. He won’t be able to maintain numbers like this all year, but as long as he is on the first line with 30-goal scorer Marchessault, he should be able to produce consistently.

Frederik Andersen

In the fantasy goaltending spotlight from last week, I pointed out Andersen’s slow start and propensity to pick up his game in November. Like clockwork, Andersen rattled off back-to-back shutouts last week, making 75 saves along the way. His Toronto Maple Leafs are also on a six game winning streak, with games against the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes this week. If he can continue to play as well as he has and Toronto stays hot, he could singlehandedly win your week or jump you a few spots in your league standings.

Storm’s Brewing

After a painfully slow start for Sebastian Aho, many owners grew tired of waiting for him to wake up. His ownership dipped to just above 50% in both Yahoo and ESPN leagues, but has since risen back above 60%. He has 12 pts in his last 10 games now. Currently he is enjoying a four-game scoring streak where he has nine points in total. If you were fortunate enough to find him as a free agent, he should be a great value pick up as he looks to improve on a fantastic rookie season last year.

Similarly, Teuvo Teravainen erupted this week with five goals and five assists in four games. Both Aho and Teravainen have found success on Carolina’s first line with Jordan Staal as their centre and are playing on the PP1. Carolina was pegged as darkhorse this off-season, as they have a plethora of great, young talent to work with. It hadn’t come together as much as they had been hoping for, but at 5-2-3 in their last ten, it looks like they may be rounding into form.

Trade Bait or Cut Bait?

This week, instead of looking at potential free agents I have a list of players who I think would make good trade targets. If your league has a limit on transactions for the year, the more impactful way to make acquisitions is to do so through trades. So if you need to shake up your roster, inquire about some of these guys as potential trade targets. They wont all be cheap, but they should all be worth it.

Alexander Wennberg

There are a few Columbus Blue Jackets you could target for cheaper than they usually would be (Nick Foligno, Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson) but Wennberg’s value may be the lowest of them all. After scoring 59 points last year as Columbus’ number one centre, Wennberg was expected to take the next step this season. With the addition of Artemi Panarin (who has also been a rather disappointing) as his hired gun for this year, Wennberg had legitimate 65+ point upside. He only has eight assists and a single goal so far this year.

He has also missed the past two games with a mysterious injury with no timetable for return. It likely isn’t that serious, but the idea of owning an injured player who hasn’t lived up to any expectations makes Wennberg a very good trade target. At this point you may even be get him up for waiver pick up who is on a hot streak. Perhaps the time off will give him time to sort his game out. But once he starts scoring you have to imagine it will come in bunches.

John Gibson

Goaltenders are always hard to place value on because they can mean so much more in some leagues. Their limited availability also means that they could be difficult to acquire through trade. Basically: Don’t be surprised if you have to pry a goalie off of someone in a trade. So when looking at Gibson as a trade target, expect to give up some value. It should be well worth it though.

The Anaheim Ducks have been the victim of some serious injury problems this season. Hampus Lindoholm and Sami Vatanen each only recently started playing. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kessler and Cam Fowler are all trying to work their way back from injury, and Patrick Eaves is attempting to return to playing after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Needless to say, the Ducks are struggling to stay afloat at this point. Gibson has struggled so far, largely due to playing behind half an AHL team. At 7-6-1, his value is the lowest it has been in memory. The Ducks should be pushing to pick up points they have been missing out on later this season. I would expect a big second half surge from Anaheim once they get healthy, with Gibson in net. And that surge should be just in time for fantasy playoffs.

Max Domi

Max Domi has been a bit of a fantasy enigma for me. I carried him into last season as a keeper and was a bit disappointed. But he ended up with 38 points in 59 games. This puts him at the same point-per-game rate as his rookie season. Coupled with a ridiculous 1.9 shooting percentage, he is bound to start scoring sooner than later. Similar to Wennberg, he could be worth as little as a successful waiver claim to some impatient owners.

Mikael Granlund

On the other hand, Granlund is still likely a rather coveted asset in fantasy leagues. He has a similarly poor, 3.1 shooting percentage and nine points in 14 games so far. He missed time earlier this season, and has been picking up his play as of late. But he may still be available for cheaper than he usually would be due to his slow start. A 69 point season last year was the benchmark for this campaign. He may not score at quite that pace, but Granlund is a 60 point player on a solid Minnesota Wild team.

Brent Burns

I know, I know. Who is going to trade the reigning Norris winner and back-to-back 70 point scorer? Someone who only looks at his point totals, thats who. Still without a goal, through 18 games now, Burns just can’t seem to buy a goal. He has taken 75 shots so far, a pace to match his career high in shots in one season. Like most players on this list, he is due to start scoring in a matter of days, games or minutes. But most people in your league will know that. Still, if you could get him in exchange for a mid-grade goalie or swap disappointments, Burns should return to his usual, high scoring self eventually.

Hopefully you are dominating your league and sit comfortably atop the standings. But chances are you picked some duds in your draft like the rest of us. If that is the case, hopefully some of this information can come in handy and help you target some great players in trades.

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