For many hockey fantasy general managers, the next two weeks are like Christmas.
To start, there’s the NHL draft this weekend (for great coverage, visit Dobber Prospects and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Dobber’s 2019 Fantasy Prospects Report as well). Then there’s free agency in two weeks. Both of these events tend to lead to plenty of trade speculation and of course, trades.
Just look at last year. In the same two-week period around the draft and free agency, we saw Philipp Grubauer, Elias Lindholm, Dougie Hamilton, Conor Sheary and Ryan O’Reilly get dealt. The year before saw Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad, Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Brayden Schenn, Travis Hamonic and Marcus Johansson switch squads. And of course, in 2016 we saw Andrew Shaw, Brian Elliott, Taylor Hall and the under-reported P.K. Subban for Shea Weber swap.
It’s a busy time for fantasy general managers. You see, when a player is dealt, their value usually increases as there is plenty of hope the new person can immediately slot into a top-six role or man the power play. It’s already happened with the minor trade this past weekend that saw Dominik Kahun traded from Chicago to Pittsburgh. Some fantasy general managers are already salivating over Kahun playing alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Below are 10 players fantasy-wise who are rumoured to be soon traded.
10. James Reimer
Goalies on new teams are almost always given a fantasy reprieve, and Reimer will be no different. Unless it’s in a clear-cut backup role, fantasy general managers are sometimes predicting that things could fall the right way so new netminder would be in a 1B situation. However, looking at the 31-year-old Reimer’s stats, it would be a massive outlier if he were to bounce back. His goals against average and save percentage have decreased in each of the past three seasons, and he had a quality start in only 27.8 per cent of his starts this year.
9. Jason Zucker
It must be tough to feel both wanted and unwanted at the same time. Minnesota clearly doesn’t want Zucker, as he’s had more rumours about him in the past month than probably anyone else on this list. At the same time, that means there’s plenty of teams that do want you. Regardless, Zucker’s value took a big dip this year, as he finished with 42 points after a career-high 64 in 2017-18. He has put up a 40-point pace in three of the last five seasons, and that’s what fantasy general managers should expect, but a trade would push that number higher for some fantasy general managers.
8. Nazem Kadri
I’m surprised his name isn’t mentioned more considering he plays for the Leafs (which is the centre of everything hockey-related) and the fact that fans were ready to trade him for pennies on the dollar after being suspended in the first round against the Bruins. However, if he is dealt, his value will skyrocket. No longer will he be a third-line centre. He’ll automatically jump back into a top-six role on a new team and have a chance to reach 30 goals, 60 points and 200 shots once again. Or at least, fantasy general managers will assume.
7. Mike Hoffman
It hasn’t been reported on as much as other names on this list, but Hoffman has shown up a few different boards of trade candidates (specifically ones at TSN and The Athletic). Hoffman is coming off a season that saw him post a career-high 36 goals and 70 points. The main reasons for a trade would be that he’s an unrestricted free agent next summer, so trading him now means the Panthers don’t lose him for nothing, and the team might have to clear cap space if they are planning to sign Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky this offseason.
6. Phil Kessel
This is the second year in a row that Kessel has been rumoured to be dealt out of Pittsburgh. Apparently, he almost was last month, but he nixed a deal to Minnesota. Kessel is one of the few names that would actually see a decrease in fantasy value if he is dealt. After all, playing regularly with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will do wonders for your value and point totals (he had 82 and 92 points in each of the past two seasons).
5. P.K. Subban
No doubt Subban is a polarizing figure, but there’s no denying his talent. Even in his worst year (this past one), he still put up an 82-game pace of 40 points, 219 shots, 78 PIM, 73 hits and 98 blocked shots. The worst part of his campaign was his 10 power-play point (a 13-point pace over 82 games). He’s still owed a lot of money on his contract, so it would be tough to find a suitor. As well, there are also questions about his fragility, as he has missed at least 14 games in three of the past four seasons. However, his value should increase anyway as he’s a good candidate to have a bounce-back season next year, traded or not.
Ehlers is somehow in trade rumours after a disappointing season, but it makes no sense for Jets to trade a 23-year-old who has three straight 20-goal seasons and two 60-point seasons in his four-year career. One thing to take note of is his decrease in ice time the last three years (from 2:37 on the powerplay and 17:29 per game in 2016-17 to 1:19 on the powerplay at 15:46 per game this year). If he is dealt to a new squad, there will be plenty of talk of how he is guaranteed top-six minutes in his new town. He doesn’t really contribute much in peripheral categories, but there should still be plenty of interest in him in fantasy leagues.
It seems strange that Ghost is in so many rumours considering he’s only 26 years old and had a 65-point season under his belt. Something to keep in mind for fantasy purposes is even when he has an off-year, he’s still helping out in peripheral categories, such as shots (average of 199 shots in each of the last three seasons), blocked shots (average of 104 over last three years) and power-play points (average of 23 over last three years). He’s great at offense, and although he bounces back and forth between good and bad seasons, he’s exactly the type of defenseman you want on your fantasy squad.
2. Jacob Trouba
It feels like we’re here every year with Trouba. The restricted free agent always seems to be on the trade block, but he never gets moved. There’s a good reason for that: The guy’s a beast in both real-life and fantasy hockey. He not only set career highs in assists (42), points (50), shots (162), and power-play points (18), he also had great numbers in leagues that count PIM (58), hits (112) and blocked shots (171).
1. Torey Krug
Sometimes it seems as if names are thrown out just to sell website clicks, and Krug would be tops in this category. The 28-year-old is an unrestricted free agent next summer, and that has many pundits reporting he could be dealt as opposed to the Bruins losing him for nothing next year. Which is silly, considering he’s put up 40 points in his last 47 playoff games. You keep those players, you don’t trade them. In the regular season, Krug is one of the best, and most underrated, fantasy defenseman. In the last three years, he is fifth for points by a defenseman with 163, eighth for power-play goals with 13, sixth in points-per-game with 0.74 and fourth in power-play points with 79 (and just five points behind the leader, Victor Hedman). That is stud production.
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