Chris gives you players to buy and sell off the Flyers, Penguins, Sharks and Lightning.

We are less than a couple weeks away from the official drop of the puck on the 2015/16 NHL season and I have nine teams left to cover in my annual team by team, buy and sell for your cap leagues writeups. Hopefully you have taken some of the advice I have handed out and used it to your advantage.

Let’s get rolling on a few more teams.          

Philadelphia Flyers

Buy:  Matt Read – LW, $3.625M, three years remaining

If there was ever a guy to buy low on, Matt Read would certainly qualify and I am going to give you three reasons why; new coach, new season, new attitude. That’s the train of thought for all Flyers heading into this year. 

Matt Read played most of last year on a bum ankle and it truly affected his performance. His eight goals last year were dismal compared to the 22 goals he put up the year before. His ankle is good now and his quickness has returned, and so should his scoring.

He should continue to skate alongside Sean Couturier and I won’t be surprised to see Brayden Schenn on the other wing. Expect a much better outcome for Read this year on the score sheet.

Sell:  Sam Gagner – C/W, $3.2M, one year remaining

When the Flyers acquired Gagner in the summer, many thought he would be a salary cap buyout casualty but GM Ron Hextall surprised many and decided to keep Gagner. Although it’s become obvious that Gagner is not cut out for playing center, the Flyers plan on using his speed and skill on the wing.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Flyers kept him. Gagner is unlikely to get a top six role and will probably be skating alongside Vincent Lecavalier and RJ Umberger on the third line. 

His one true value to most NHL teams is his shootout skillset. With the changes to the overtime, expect more games to get finalized before the shootout even happens, diminishing his value even more. If you are expecting something more than a mediocre season from Gagner because he’s on the Flyers this year, I’d expect to be disappointed. Seems like that’s the norm for Gagner owners most years anyway.


Pittsburgh Penguins

Buy:  Brian Dumoulin – D, $800,000, two years remaining

A lot of “experts” seem to think that the Penguins defensive corps is weak. Compared to years gone by, I can see why some may think that.

One player who could end up surprising many this year is Brian Dumoulin. He showed good promise down the stretch last year and into the playoffs for the Penguins and should have no issues cracking the lineup this year as a third pairing with someone like Ian Cole.

He is solid defensively but has offensive upside as well. He can play PP2 if needed and isn’t afraid to skate with the puck and brings some grit to the backend for the Penguins and for your fantasy team.

At only $800,000, he’s going to be a bargain on the backend for fantasy teams for at least the next two years, and more to come.

Sell:  Nick Bonino – C, $1.9M, two years remaining

Bonino came to the Penguins in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks over the summer. When he entered the NHL, he was known as more of a scorer but his game has transitioned to more of a two-way role.

Expect Bonino to replace the guy he was dealt for, Brandon Sutter, on the third line and assume the key role as a penalty killer. I am sure there will be PP2 opportunities for him but they will be limited. 

Unlike Vancouver, where they looked to Bonino to help out offensively, he won’t need to be that same type of guy in Pittsburgh. His 39 points last year were solid, but I don’t expect much more than that in Pittsburgh, if he even gets that high. 

His salary is decent, but if you are expecting more from him since being dealt to Pittsburgh, I’d keep a much more open mind.


San Jose Sharks

Buy:  Joel Ward – RW, $3.275M, three years remaining

One of San Jose’s big acquisitions in the off-season, Joel Ward comes in and should slot right into the top six. 

A lot of fantasy owners will simply overlook Ward and where he may fit in with the Sharks simply because of his age but make no bones about it, he will be getting more offensive opportunites in San Jose than he had in Washington.

Take advantage of GMs looking to move him due to him being 34 years old. He still has plenty in the tank and will offer solid production during his three years in San Jose. He is going to surprise a few this year. He’s one of the players that coaches love and he should be rewarded for his hard work ethic.

Sell:  Marc-Edouard Vlasic – D, $4.25M, three years remaining

He has been called the best defenseman ever to play for the Sharks, but unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into a great fantasy defenseman.

Last year, it seemed like he was playing a bit more of an offensive role than he normally would, and it helped him to produce a career high in goals with nine. With the recent signing of Paul Martin, any hope of Vlasic repeating or improving on that feat probably went right out the window.

In real life, Vlasic is a gem, but for fantasy purposes, he isn’t worth the money he’s making.


St. Louis Blues

Buy:  Jori Lehtera – C, $2.75M, one year remaining before new $4.7M contract kicks in

Lehtera is still currently sidelined after undergoing ankle surgery so he will miss most of, if not all of training camp. He should be back for the start of the season, assuming there are no setbacks from the surgery.

In his rookie season in St. Louis, Lehtera put up solid numbers (14 goals, 44 points) playing on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz for most of the year. There are rumours floating that Paul Stastny may move up the lineup and possibly bump Lehtera down off the second line. I don’t buy that. While I do see Stastny moving up, I see David Backes moving to the right wing on the top line and taking the recently departed TJ Oshie’s spot there, and Stastny centering Backes and Alex Steen.

Lehtera is in the last year of his rookie contract and will see a significant pay raise starting next year. If all goes according to plan, and he sticks on that second line with Tarasenko and Schwartz, he will be worth the new raise. 

Sell:  Troy Brouwer – RW, $3.67M, one year remaining

Brouwer came to the Blues in the TJ Oshie trade and could easily be pencilled in on the top line to replace Oshie. I don’t know if Coach Ken Hitchcock is quite ready to do that yet. 

Brouwer is a solid power forward that has the ability put the puck in the net. He’s coming off back-to-back 43 point seasons which saw him score 20+ goals in both of those years.  Unfortunately, the Blues seemed determined to get Paul Stastny more ice time this year and that probably means moving David Backes to the right wing spot, forcing Brouwer down to the third line. Considering Patrick Berglund, the normal third line center, will miss close to four months (at least) after undergoing shoulder surgery, there’s a good chance you will see a kid making the team as the third line center; most likely Robby Fabbri. I expect Hitch to want to keep some veteran presence around Fabbri and Brouwer is the ideal candidate to do just that.

The fact he’s a UFA at season’s end, and at 30-years-old, he will be looking for a big payday. I’d send him packing now before that happens. I have a hard time seeing him reproduce his previous offensive numbers on a deep St. Louis team.


Tampa Bay Lightning

Buy:  Nikita Nesterov – D, $742, 500, one year remaining

After injuries hampered the Lightnings backend late last year, 22-year-old Nesterov was called up to fill some holes. He did an admirable job in the regular season, sliding into 27 games and offered up seven points and was a +6 in a limited role.

Once the playoffs came around, Nesterov was handed some more responsibilities and managed to get into 17 playoff games and put up one goal and five assists (one less point than he had in the 27 regular season games).  He even saw some PP2 time. He proved to head coach Jon Cooper that he is ready for a full-time role with the team.

Heading into this season, Nesterov may have done just enough last year to make the team this year coming out of camp. Initially, he would likely slot into the seventh defenseman position but it’s just a matter of time before he starts to work his way up the lineup.

Nesterov is definitely heading in the right direction with the organization. The longer you wait to bring him in, the more expensive he will cost you.

Sell:  Steven Stamkos – C, $7.5M, one year remaining

Much like my earlier recommendation to sell Anze Kopitar from the LA Kings, this has nothing to do with skill but more to do with cap management. 

Everyone knows Stamkos is a top ten, possibly top five (depending on your league setup) player in fantasy hockey, just like he is in the NHL. He’s headed into the last year of his current $7.5M contract and he is about to be PAID, and probably more than any other NHL player has ever seen. I will not be surprised to see him surpass the Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane dollar amount with his new deal.

No one ever wants to trade Stamkos in any type of league, but in salary cap leagues, it makes sense to deal him now and maximize your return before the contract hype gets too far along and other potential trade partners realize they cannot afford him.

Don’t be the guy scrambling to make moves to find cap space for Stamkos. Be proactive, not reactive in making these types of moves. Your salary cap space will thank you later.


As always, thanks for reading. Next week we will look at the final four teams we haven’t touched on yet. 

Follow Chris @chrispudsey.