Here are 10 players who you should “sell high” on in your fantasy hockey league
Fantasy hockey is more than just grabbing the best players and hoping for the best. You need to be able to recognize the start of hot/cold streaks, and take maximum advantage of that.
A big part of this strategy is knowing when to sell high. Whether it is due to a career season, or a lot of undeserved hype, selling high can net you a great return that can lead to even more championships.
So with that in mind, here are the top 10 sell high candidates.
10. Dustin Byfuglien
Buff isn't a sell-high because of anything he may be doing, but rather due to the coach's decision to move him from defence to forward to start next year. As a defenceman, he's one of the best ones to own. He's hit 50-points in three of the last four seasons, and the one season he didn't was the lockout year, when he was on pace for 53 over a full 82 game schedule. He's notched 20 goals twice in that time, and he also gets a lot of shots. But as a forward, he's not as effective. Last year, he had 22 points in 32 games once the Jets moved him to forward, a 56-point pace. But last year, there were just nine dmen who had at least 50 points, but 83 forwards who reached that mark. A 50-point defenceman is much more rare. Maybe you can find someone in your league who hasn't heard the news that he has been switched to forward next season and get a good premium for him.
9. Martin St. Louis
With the Rangers going to the Stanley Cup finals, many are overlooking St. Louis' disappointing fantasy season. The truth is, he's not the same player he was in Tampa. Since 2006-07, St. Louis was about a point per game with the Lightning. In every playoff run, he was also around a point-per-game. But since going to the Rangers, he hasn't come close to this pace. In the regular season, he had just eight points in 19 games, and in the playoffs, he has 13 in 20. Sure, you can point to a smaller sample size, but he's played almost half a season in New York, and his points per game sits at just 0.54.
8. Jeff Carter
Carter hasn't had more than 50 points in a season since 2010-11 (to be fair, he was on pace for 56 points in the lockout shortened season), and has only cracked 70 points once, so it's surprising to see him among the league leaders in most offensive categories these playoffs. He has a point-per-game, is second in points with 22, second in goals with nine, second in assists with 13, first in power play goals with four and third in power play points with seven. There are always fantasy owners who overvalue playoff performances, so here's your chance to get maximum value for a 40-to-50 point guy.
7. Zdeno Chara
As a Norris trophy nominee, people may be fooled into thinking Chara had a great fantasy season. But the fact of the matter is the 37-year-old defenceman is starting to slow down. His 40 points this season was his lowest since 2002-03. His 66 penalty minutes were his lowest since 1999-2000. His 168 shots were his lowest since 2002-03. His ice time was also down (his 24:39 was the lowest since 2003-04). His shooting percentage was 10.1 per cent, a career high. So we should be expecting some sort of regression next season. With the awards season almost upon us, this would be the best chance to sell him before everyone else wises up and realizes he's on the downside of his career.
6. Ilya Bryzgalov
Here's a little secret no one wants to admit: Bryzgalov wasn't actually that good with the Wild. He had a 12-7-1 record, but he posted just a .911 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against average in 12 regular season games with the Wild; both these stats are around the league average. In the playoffs, his numbers were actually worse, as he posted a .885 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average. So while he's got some fooled into thinking he can be a legit #1 goalie again, take advantage of this and sell him high.
5. Duncan Keith
Keith is at his best during an Olympic year. The Hawks defenceman broke the 60-point mark in 2009-10, and was a 40-point player until this Olympic year. And since then the 2009-2010 season, he's played 364 games in the regular season (38th overall and eighth among defencemen) and 76 playoff games (11th overall and fourth among defencemen). Throw in the Olympics and pre-season, and he should be regressing next season. Expect him to go back to a 40 to 50 point season next year and sell high while you can.
4. Marian Gaborik
Like his current teammate Jeff Carter, people may be fooled into thinking this is a year to buy high on Gaborik. His 12 goals lead the NHL during the playoffs, and his 19 points sits third. However, while Gaborik has been showing some great chemistry with Anze Kopitar, Gaborik has a 17.7 per cent shooting percentage, a rate that is unsustainable for him over an 82-game season. And that's the tricky part: How many games will Gaborik play? This past season, he played in just 41 games. And while he was pretty healthy in the two years before that (47 games in the lockout season and 82 in the season before that), his career is littered with seasons of 62, 17, 48, and 65 games played. With all the playoff hype, now is a chance to sell high.
3. Semyon Varlamov
Varlamov had a great season, no doubt, but I do doubt whether he can do it again. Sure, the Avalanche as a team is young and came in first in the conference, but they did it largely relying on their goaltending. Like the Leafs, there's too much of a reliance of getting horribly outshot each game and hoping your goaltending can bail you out. Varlamov just posted career numbers in wins, save percentage, and his second best season in goals against. It's too much to expect him to match career high numbers in back-to-back seasons. Something is going to give.
2. Jaroslav Halak
The hype for Halak is through the roof right now. Fantasy owners and Islanders fans keep saying that all Halak has to do is be average, and New York should challenge for the playoffs. But there are too many ifs when it comes to Halak. If Halak stays healthy (only twice has he played more than 50 games in a season), and if he can be an average goalie (easier said than done when he's not behind the St. Louis Blues defence) and if the Islanders youth can improve and can score more goals (they were 17th in the league last year in goals per game), then the Islanders should have more wins. Take advantage of the hype.
1. Patrick Sharp
The 32-year-old had a great regular season, finishing 12th in the league in points and recording his fourth 30-goal season. But there are a number of factors that point to him regressing next year. To start, his 79 points is a career high, and only the second time he's cracked 70. To expect a player in his 30s to have back-to-back career seasons is a little much. It was also the first time since 2009-10 that he played more than 74 games in a season, so expect him to miss a few games next season. Expect him to fall back to the 65-70 point range next year, and sell him as a 75-80 point player.