Chris Pudsey continues his league-wide buy and sell, this time from Detroit to Montreal.
We are less than a month away from the drop of the puck on another NHL season. Things are starting to buzz in many fantasy keeper leagues, as GMs wipe away the cobwebs on another offseason. It’s always nice to have a little break but if you are serious about your fantasy hockey, you should have your face buried in your league, smoothing out your roster.
In the previous two weeks of Capped – Part 1 here, Part 2 here – we covered ten teams on who you should target, whether it is to buy or to sell, depending on your situation with salary being a major consideration. I am going to carry on with the next group of teams and try and complete all thirty teams before the 2015/16 season begins, for your benefit. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Detroit Red Wings
Buy: Riley Sheahan – C, $950,000, one year remaining
In his first full NHL season, Sheahan made good strides, scoing 13 goals and putting up 36 total points for the Wings. He even chipped in a respectable three points in seven playoff games.
With Pavel Datsyuk out until late September or early October, there is a golden opportunity for Sheahan to step up in a top–six role early on down the middle. After Datysuk returns, there’s talk of moving Sheahan to the wing so recently signed Brad Richards can center the second line, keeping Sheahan and his big body up in the top-six.
Either way, be it at center or wing, Sheahan is making big strides with the Red Wings and is going to be a big part of the future with the other young kids coming up.
Sell: Justin Abdelkader – LW, $1.8M, one year remaining
Abdelkader is coming off a career year that saw him put up NHL career highs in just about every fantasy category, including goals (23), assists (21), points (44), PIMs (72), SOG (154), PPG (8), PPA (6).
He proved to Mike Babcock that he was worthy of skating full-time alongside Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg in the top-six and he didn’t let him down. It’s hard to say if new head coach Jeff Blashill will see the same qualities in Abdelkader or not.
The fact remains, Abdelkader is heading into unrestricted free agency at the end of this year for the first time and he is going to skate his butt off for his first big pay-day. I am a big fan of Abdelkader and I think he does stay in the top-six and has another excellent season, and if he does, then he’s going to get paid. He will price himself out of range for most fantasy owners.
Buy: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – C, $6.0M, six years remaining
I know, you are probably saying, “Why do you have Nugent-Hopkins on this list? He’s a young, skilled player who’s signed long-term.” He should be an obvious one to want to own so why list him. It’s simple, I have him listed because it appears there are quite a few fantasy GMs out there a little nervous about Nugent-Hopkins and his place on the team with Connor McDavid coming in. I am here to tell you now is the time to try and take advantage of those foolish GMs who truly believe that McDavid will affect Nugent-Hopkins in a negative way. It isn’t going to happen.
The former first overall pick in 2011 is quickly becoming a leader on the Oilers and will start the season as the team’s number one center. If there’s one thing we do know, he will have quality wingers once again this year and will continue to grow as one of the league’s top young centers. McDavid will only compliment what the Oilers already have and give them two scoring lines, not hinder Nugent-Hopkins. There's nothing that says the Oilers can't roll out two excellent scoring lines night after night, not just one.
To those who have blinders on when it comes to Nugent-Hopkins career, be prepared to take those blinders off. He's about to put up another quality season, and will keep doing it for years to come.
Sell: Justin Schultz – D, $3.9M, one year remaining
For fantasy GMs, Schultz this year really puts you in a no-win situation.
He has re-signed for a one-year “show me” deal. If he does in fact, “show me”, he will earn himself a healthy raise and a new long-term contract next year. If he fails for fantasy GMs, he won’t be worth the money he’s making this year and will pretty much have little-to-no value next year.
My recommendation, deal him now while his value is still relatively high and you can get a decent return for him. He’s either going to be worth less next year, or cost your team too much for what he will brings. Either way, consider moving him.
Buy: Vincent Trocheck – C, $661,666, one year remaining (ELC)
I am a big fan of Trocheck and think this is the year he finally puts up solid numbers. His puck possession numbers have always been strong in his short time in the NHL but the offense hasn’t always been there. A lot of that comes from his time being sent up and down to the AHL (mainly due to his waiver status) but this year could be different.
Trocheck faces stiff competition down the middle behind Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and yes, even Dave Bolland so don’t be surprised to see Trocheck shifted to the wing in order to get him more offensive opportunities.
He’s headed into the last year of his ELC so don’t be surprised him put on a push to gain a full-time gig next year with a one-way deal. That starts with a strong year this year.
Sell: Brandon Pirri – C, $925,000, one year remaining
It’s hard to deny what Brandon Pirri accomplished last year. Scoring 22 goals in 49 games is entering star level scoring. Not to mention, he accomplished this while only playing, on average, just under 15 minutes per game. In fact, he averaged 1.83 goals per 60 minutes in those 49 games. That type of production was third best in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin and Rick Nash. So if he had such an impressive year, why is he on the sell list?
I think we will see a bit of a regression for goal scoring this year for Pirri. His shooting percentage of 15.4% is going to be hard to sustain. He should also receive more ice time and will be expected to be an offensive force for the Panthers so we can expect teams to focus more on him this year. It will be interesting to see how he handles the increased pressure.
His value should be high right now, especially for H2H leagues. Everyone is looking for goal scorers and Pirri’s numbers last year should garner him some interest in your league. If he puts up another season like he just did, coming off his ELC, he will get a substantial raise. Let someone else pay for it.
Los Angeles Kings
Buy: Tanner Pearson – LW, $1.4M, two years remaining
Pearson emerged last year as part of “That 70’s Line”, playing the left side along with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. He started the year strong, cooled off and then saw his season come to a crashing end after he broke his leg.
Pearson is still a relatively lesser known member of the Kings but has a bright future with the team. The Kings are shy on scoring wingers on the left side so one can fully expect Pearson to assume his spot back in the top-six this year. He’s still growing as a player, with only 67 games on his resume, but that doesn’t mean the skill level isn’t there.
This could very well be a breakout year for Pearson. I doubt he is one of the lesser known Kings for long.
Sell: Anze Kopitar – C, $6.8M, one year remaining
This is a tough one because I am a big Kopitar fan.
He’s headed into the last year of his current deal, set to become an unrestricted free agent, and this guy is about to get paid. When I say paid, I mean something close to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane paid. Maybe not quite that high, but he won't be too far behind.
At his current pay rate of $6.8M, he’s a solid own. Right now, he’s on the upper scale for teams to roster a guy like Kopitar but once he gets his new deal, you will see GMs scrambling to move him. Don’t be the guy who’s left holding the baby, so to speak.
Just like chess, you have to think a couple moves ahead of your opponents. This is one of those times.
Buy: Nino Niederreiter – RW, $2.67M, two years remaining
If Nino could ever get more ice time, this guy would be deadly. Last year, he received some of the lower amount of ice time from the Wild forwards, yet finished second on the team in goals scored (24). Granted, his shooting percentage was high (roughly 16%) so there’s always concern for a bit of a regression, not to mention, it seems that Mike Yeo doesn’t trust him enough yet.
It's hard to believe but he just turned 23-years-old this week and still has oodles of upside to reach. A lot of what happens with him will be determined on what Mike Yeo does with him as far as his ice time. If he can get more ice time, that could offset the drop in shooting percentage.
The Wild have an older group at the top-six level so it’s just a matter of time before the scoring slows down from that group. Look for Nino to be a guy who’s more than ready and willing to show he’s ready for that role. He will be much harder to acquire once that happens.
Sell: Charlie Coyle – C, $3.2M, five years remaining
Here’s a guy who was once a lock for the top-six in Minnesota, now he seems destined for a third line center role, long term.
I understand that he’s young and still has time to turn it around, but after the Wild signed Coyle to his long term deal, he seemed to falter. I am not sure why but it’s like he simply forgot what it was like to play a top-six, power-forward role. His scoring dropped off, and with that, so did his ice time. It appears that Mike Yeo has lost confidence in him for offense and is looking for him in more of a checking role.
His contract doesn’t fit the output needed, at least not anymore. His age will help you move him, and some will look at the name and think “upside”. I don’t buy it.
Buy: Alexander Semin – RW, $1.1M, one year remaining
I am the first to admit, I am no fan of Semin but there’s no denying the golden opportunity in front of him this year.
Signed to a $1.1M contract, he is primed to go out there and prove that he is still a viable NHL asset. The fact that he is playing for next year’s contract is what will drive him to bounce back this year. He will be given lots of opportunities with the Habs in a top-six role, especially considering the lack of depth the Habs seem to have for offense from the right side. Brendan Gallagher is the only other true offensive player the Habs have as a right winger, and that really isn’t saying much.
Snag Semin if the price is cheap enough and be prepared to move him mid-way through the year depending on how well he’s doing. If he’s playing well, he won’t be worth the raise he will get next year. If he bombs in Montreal, at least it was a cheap acquisition and his contract is only for this season.
Sell: Zack Kassian – RW, $1.75M, one year remainin
Kassian, now with his third NHL team, has consistently been teasing and disappointing fantasy owners for a few seasons now. GMs have been waiting for him to bust out, offensively, and will continue to wait.
As it stands right now, with Semin coming in, this will pretty much force Kassian to battle with Devante Smith-Pelley and Dale Weise for third line minutes on the right side, assuming he can stay out of head coach Michel Therrien’s doghouse long enough to last.
Kassian should still be able to contribute hits and PIMs (assuming he stays in the lineup) but if you are waiting for the offense to complement those categories, then you will come up short in your expectations. He’s still only 24 years old so he will be a desirable commodity in most multi-cat leagues but the fact he’s coming up in a contract year, I’d let someone else deal with the frustration he will bring and worry about his pending contract next year. Take advantage of his youth and questionable upside to maximize your return in a trade. He isn’t worth hanging on to, and waiting for, anymore.
We are just over halfway home to covering all the teams. Next week we will carry on with the next group of players you should be considering acquiring or moving out of your fantasy rosters.
As usual, thanks to capfriendly.com for the salary information.
Feel free to follow me on twitter @chrispudsey.
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