Top 10 Trade Targets for Keeper Leagues

by Tom Collins on February 25, 2019

 

The NHL isn’t the only league having a trade deadline this week.

There are tens of thousands of keeper pools that have a trade deadline as close to the NHL one as possible. I am in three keeper pools, and all three of them have deadlines this week.

Most people are completely out of their pool by this stage of the season, but it’s a good time to re-evaluate your squad and focus on getting better for next year. One way to do that is to trade for players who are struggling. You might be able to get those players at a lower value than you normally would.

Look at this time last year. People who bought low on Matt Duchene, Mark Giordano, Max Domi and Mika Zibanejad have gotten excellent value out of those trades.

Below are 10 players that you might be able to buy low with an eye on next season.

 

10. Patrik Laine

There are plenty of fantasy general managers upset with Laine’s season, and they may be willing to trade him for a cheaper price than they would have last summer. Take note that the key word is “cheaper,” not “cheap.” He’s still going to cost you quite a bit. Laine is a streaky player, but going into Sunday’s game, was on pace for 268 shots (a career high) and 36 goals. Remember that he is only 20 years old and yet has to hit his prime, so you may not get an opportunity to buy this low again.

 

9. Connor Hellebuyck

It’s not too often you get an opportunity to trade for a netminder on an elite team, but you have to least check to see if Hellebuyck owners are selling. According to Yahoo, Hellebuyck was involved in 11 trades on Sunday, including:

  • Straight up for Brady Tkachuk;
  • Hellebuyck and a 12th rounder for David Rittich and a fourth rounder; and
  • Hellebuyck and an eighth rounder for Collin Delia and a fourth rounder.

This season has been frustrating for fantasy general managers when it comes to netminders, and Hellebuyck has been a massive disappointment. He has posted some of his worst numbers ever, and seems to be getting worse as the season goes along. Just remember he’s playing behind one of the most elite teams in the league and as Martin Jones has proven in San Jose, all you need to do is win to be fantasy gold.

 

8. P.K. Subban

The most frustrating aspect of Subban’s season isn’t that he’s missed time with injuries, but that he hasn’t been producing when healthy. His 0.47 points per game is the second lowest of his career, and the worst since his sophomore season in 2011-12. Much of this can be attributed to the Preds’ putrid power play, where Subban has just six points (he averaged 22 power-play points the previous six season). Hopefully, you can convince a Subban owner that at age 29, his best days are behind him and drive down the price a little more.

 

7. William Nylander

He would be a tough player to get, but there are lots of arguments you can make to Nylander owners to strengthen your case. He has a 0.42 points-per-game average, which is a 35-point pace over 82 games. His ice time is the lowest of his career, his shots-per-game rate has decreased the last two years and his power-play TOI has gone down every year of his career. Plus, he’s down on the third line and away from elite superstar Auston Matthews.

 

6. Joel Eriksson Ek

In Dobber’s preseason guide last summer, I wrote a column about 20 players to invest in that won’t be fantasy relevant for a few years. I included Eriksson Ek, but said he needed to wait for the older generation — Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal in particular — to move on before he can be a viable fantasy option. That has started to happen. Eriksson Ek averaged 12:22 ice time in 36 games as of Jan. 23. He was then sent to the AHL. However, Koivu tore his ACL, Eriksson Ek was called up and since then, he’s played over 15 minutes per game, including a career-high 17:55 on Sunday night. He also has five points in 10 games. Not great numbers, but an encouraging sign. He may still be a year or more away from being a top-six, but sooner or later, he will get there. Get him before he does.

 

5. Ondrej Kase

If you’re interested in acquiring Kase, keep in mind that he is a Band-Aid boy and you need to be happy if he can play anything higher than 60 games a season. However, just like Kris Letang and Nick Bjugstad, Kase owners can never get full value because of the injury woes. When he does play, he’s excellent. The 23-year-old has improved his goals-per-game and points-per-game numbers every season, and has seen an increase in ice time and power-play time every year as well.

 

4. Antti Raanta

Remember this guy? He’s supposed to be the Coyotes number one netminder, but he had a slow start and two separate injuries caused him to miss time. One injury has taken him out of action until next year. This could be a good ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ situation. The best thing for Raanta owners is that no Coyotes goalie has stepped up to take that number netminding position, leaving the door wide open for Raanta’s triumphant return next year.

 

3. Jonathan Marchessault

The entire Vegas roster hasn’t been looking so golden this year, but Marchessault has to be one of the most disappointing. It felt like he could be the one Golden Knight that could keep up the high expectations from last season. However, he’s on pace for 55 points. Not great, but that’s why he’s a good candidate to try to buy low. I’m always a big believer in trading for guys who are struggling but are guaranteed top-line minutes. Marchessault would be a top choice to utilize that strategy for this year.

 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere

It’s still early in his career, but Gostisbehere is starting to get a reputation for alternating good and bad seasons. His four campaigns have seen his on-pace numbers go from 59 to 42 to 68 to 39. Based on that, expect him to have another strong campaign next year. If that’s not enough for you, look at it this way: He’s the Flyers’ top power-play defenseman and has no competition for that role, he’s on pace for another 200-shot season, and he quietly has 11 points in his last 14 games. The buy-low window is closing.

 

1. Jamie Benn

To figure out the last time Benn was this bad, you have to go all the way back to the 2009-10 rookie campaign for the Stars captain. Benn is on pace for 55 points, which has to make him a major disappointment. His ice time is down almost two minutes a game, he’s got just nine power-play points and he’s shooting the puck less than normal. Also, something benefitting anyone trying to trade for him: His upper-body injury from Sunday’s game may drive down the value a little.