The start of the hockey season is also the start of the crazy season, where some fantasy general managers with little patience start trading any player off to a slow start.
It happens every year. We see threads in the forum about trading superstars for second-line players because the former is struggling while the latter is playing awesome.
Just remember, we are only 10 per cent into the hockey season. There’s still lots of hockey to be played. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the situation. If there is someone in your league who is willing to do a drastic move based on a few games, it’s better for you that the superstar is on your squad instead of another team.
However, buying low doesn’t mean fleecing the other general manager. It means giving up a lower-quality player than you have if you traded for the player three weeks ago.
Below are 10 players who are off slow starts that you might be able to buy low on, depending on the general manager.
10. Steven Stamkos
We all know from last year that Stamkos can go on a sustained hot streak (remember the start of last season when he had 35 points in 19 games). That obviously hasn’t happened this year with three points in seven games. It will be harder for him to have a great streak considering his average ice time is down 1:30 per game compared to last year and he’s not playing with Nikita Kucherov. If there was ever a time to get him cheap, it would be now.
Pacioretty has been a bust in his first eight games as a Golden Knight (one point in eight games), but this is familiar territory for the 29-year-old winger. MaxPac has a history of streaky shooting. Two years ago, he had 40 points in 40 games starting on Dec. 4. You want to get him before he goes on that streak, not after. Put some feelers in the water and see if he’s available.
Rakell started off the season with three points in his first game, but has just one point in eight games since. I’m chalking a lot of that slow start to the injury situation in Anaheim, where pretty much every player has already missed time due to injuries. There should be more stability now that Ryan Getzlaf is back in the lineup, but don’t expect much until the two are back together on the same line. Again, the time to get Rakell is before the two reunite, not after.
Schwartz has missed a couple of games due to injury, but his two points in five games has to be considered disappointing, especially considering last year he had 32 points in his first 24 games. Now that he’s healthy, he is lining up with Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, but is on the second power-play unit (although he’s never been a big power-play producer).
As a sophomore, it’s hard to tell exactly where Dubois should have been ranked. Regardless, no one projected he would be on a 35-point pace. That’s not going to last. While he’s getting second-line power play minutes, he’s still on the top line with Artemi Panarin and is averaging more than two shots a game. It would be hard to pry a young player away from many fantasy general managers, but there might be some who are willing to let him go.
The only thing saving Theodore from being considered a huge disappointment has been his draft position. Because he was a restricted free agent until the end of September, he went late in drafts that happened before the contract was signed. Still, some fantasy owners have to be ready to jump ship as he has just one point so far. However, he’s still on the number one power play unit, is on pace for 215 shots and is at 21 minutes per game. It’s just a matter of time before he starts getting the points.
4. Nick Leddy
Leddy has zero points in seven games to start the season, but don’t worry too much. Last year, he had one point in his first seven games. The year before, two points in seven games. And the year before that, zero in seven. What do those seasons have in common? He scored at least 40 points in all three seasons. He’s not going to put up a lot of shots, but is still the team’s top defenseman and is getting the prime power play minutes.
Many were expecting a small regression for Couturier, but he’s been regressing a little worse than anticipated. Three goals in seven games looks fine, but with no assists, he’s on pace for 35 points. He’s still on the top line with Claude Giroux and is the top power-play unit, so he’s going to eventually start putting up points. Most interesting is that Giroux has 11 points, so the lack of points for Couturier probably comes down to puck luck so far.
2. Tuukka Rask
Rask has been off to an extremely slow start, enough so that backup Jarolsav Halak has started four of the team’s first eight games, including the last two in a row. Just remember that in his career, Rask’s worst month for GAA and SV % has been October. Last year, in his first 13 games, Rask was 3-8-2 with a .899 SV % and a 2.91 GAA. The rest of the year, he was 31-6-3 with a .923 SV % and a 2.19 GAA. The guy regularly starts the season slowly.
There’s no doubt that Crosby may not be as good as he once was, but he should still be a top-five player in most formats. However, his zero goals and five assists so far tie him with the likes of Radko Gudas, Zach Hyman and Markus Nutivaara in the points department. In a league where many overvalue youth, this could be your best chance to grab the Kid for a couple of younger players who are overachieving.
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- Ramblings: Landeskog Returns, Phil Finally Provides Some Thrill (Dec 6)