There are three non-game days in the hockey calendar that every fan looks forward to: Trade deadline day, the draft, and the first day of free agency.
Today is the first on that list, and many fantasy hockey leagues also have trade deadlines this week. This is also the time of year when the perceived values of many players start to fluctuate.
Below are 10 players whose name has been showing up as trade targets. For many players on this list, a trade should actually devalue them, but many fantasy general managers will believe that the trade will bring new life and may be willing to overpay.
Please note this column was written and submitted Sunday night, so some of the players on this list may have been traded by the time you are reading this.
10. Erik Gustafsson
Numerous people wasted a lot of high picks on Gustafsson last offseason. I am one such person, drafting Gustafsson fourth overall in my keep-17 points-only pool. Last year, he put up 60 points in 79 games, including 18 on the power play. This year, he has only 26 points. A complete disappointment. What's worse is that his numbers in shots and blocked shots are also down significantly from a year ago. There are not too many places where he can go and be in a position to run a team's power play, so fantasy owners need to hope he stays with the Hawks and can rebound.
Pageau has certainly picked a good year to break through with a career campaign. His 24 goals mark the first time he's cracked 20 goals, and his 39 points are only four off his career high. He's averaging 19:18 per night and he wasn't even getting power-play time until the middle of December. Since Dec. 11, he's been on the top unit and has seven power-play points in that time. Wherever he goes, he probably won't be averaging 19 minutes a night with top power-play time, so the best move for him fantasy wise is to stay with the Sens.
8. Robin Lehner
It's difficult for a goalie traded at the deadline to have any value. After all, every single team battling for a playoff spot already has a number one netminder. However, that changed on Saturday night, when Carolina lost both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer to injury. Carolina was forced to call up both of their AHL goalies on Sunday. If Mrazek and Reimer are out long-term, then Lehner going to Carolina improves his value tremendously. If he is traded anywhere else, he's a backup unless there's an injury.
7. Mike Hoffman
The Panthers, who are fighting the Leafs for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic division, may want to hold on Hoffman down the stretch, but he's still on many trade bait boards since he's an unrestricted free agent this summer. A year after scoring 36 goals and 70 points, Hoffman is on pace this year for 32 goals and 67 points. That's a pretty impressive feat for the 30-year-old. The best thing about Hoffman is that he can produce wherever he is in the lineup. Playing with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov is the same for him as playing with Frank Vatrano and Dominic Toninato. That bodes well for any potential trade and where he lines up.
6. Matt Dumba
Out of all the players rumoured to be on the block, trading Dumba would be the one that shocks me the most. He's having a down year, but let's not forget he hit 50 points two years ago and had 22 points in 32 games last year. He's still signed for another three years, is only 25 years old and makes $6 million per year. Despite his poor season, he's still going to finish with almost 200 shots, 100-plus blocked shots and 100-plus hits. He will rebound, and it should be in Minnesota, and if not, the Wild are going to regret it.
5. Tyson Barrie
I can't see any trade where Barrie is put into a better position than he is now. After all, since Sheldon Keefe took over as head coach on Nov. 20, the Leafs have the top power-play in the league, and Barrie has been the main quarterback. In the 40 games under Keefe, Barrie has 28 points, 100 shots, eight power-play points and has played about 70 per cent of all the power-play minutes for the Leafs. Where is he going to get traded where he will be in a better situation? I understand that Leaf fans are already frustrated with the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, but the best move for Barrie fantasy wise is to stay in Toronto.
Palmieri is pretty consistent in fantasy circles. In the last five years (including this year), his point pace ranges from 54 to 60. It would be interesting to see what type of opportunity he gets elsewhere. Could Palmieri, who is on pace for 60 points this season, continue to see top power-play minutes with another squad? Doubtful. However, Palmieri is secretly one of the hottest players in the league, with 23 points in his last 26 games. In those 26 games, he also has 62 shots, 22 hits and 19 blocked shots.
3. Jeff Petry
The only chance Petry has to be traded is if Habs GM Marc Bergevin is completely blown away by an offer. More than likely, he's staying put in Montreal despite showing up on trade boards. What's not to like about Petry's fantasy game? He's on pace for double digits in goals for the third straight season. He's also on pace for 47 points, which would be a career high and the third consecutive year he would hit 40 points. He's also on pace for 188 shots, 200 hits and 95 blocked shots.
I've always been one of those people surprised that Ristolainen's name is constantly on the trade block. Ristolainen is only 25 years old, and is a beast in fantasy hockey. He's on pace for his fifth-straight 40-point season. He's also on pace for 147 shots (which is down significantly for him), 237 hits (a career high) and 93 blocked shots. He's also been on the top power-play unit since the start of January. One of his biggest surprises is his plus/minus. He's a plus-three this season, much better than the minus-41 he had last year. He's never finished as a plus player in any campaign.
Kreider is easily the most interesting trade bait. A UFA this summer, the Rangers probably want to move on to allow another space for a youngster in their rebuild, but the Rangers are only four points out of a playoff spot. On the flip side, Kreider is on pace for a career high 32 goals and 62 points and would command a high payment. There would be plenty of interest for the 28-year-old. The nice thing about Kreider fantasy-wise is that he contributes in many categories, as he also has a plus-12, 58 PIM, 152 shots, 113 hits and 13 power-play points. He would still slot into a top-six role no matter where he goes.