‘Tis the holiday season and like many shoppers – we’re always looking for bargain pricing even in the fantasy hockey world. While shoppers storm the malls and your computer mouse works overtime scanning the online world for the deal of the century, fantasy hockey owners are also looking for value this time of year.
By this point in the season, you probably know what you have in your team. With that in mind, it’s probably time to scour the trade market and try to improve your team and help them bounce back.
Keep in mind – Sidney Crosby had an awful first half last year. Mike Sullivan came in and everything changed. The rest was history.
The BUY-LOW market is red-hot right now but proceed with caution on some.
THE EGG NOG TASTES FUNNY
Patrice Bergeron – C – Boston Bruins
With just seven points in 23 games, it has been an uncharacteristically slow start to the season for Boston’s #1 centre. If you could make a deal to acquire him, I’d act on it quick. It’s inevitable – eventually he will get going. The veteran has been a model of consistency in his career and the eye test suggests he’s poised to break out of this funk soon. One thing is for sure – you can find him on a line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on a nightly basis. It’s astonishing Bergeron’s numbers aren’t better considering how well his line mates have fared.
Zach Parise – LW – Minnesota Wild
Given the body of work offensively over the last couple of years, this is more of a risk compared to others making this list. Similar to Bergeron, Parise hasn’t been 100% for most of the early season. He’s still Zach Parise and the name alone is good enough to warrant a roster spot despise his mediocre start. The one thing that hurts his value is the fact that he plays for the goal starved Minnesota Wild. If it makes sense, do it but be careful on the price.
Evgeny Kuznetsov – C – Washington Capitals
Night after night, Barry Trotz continues to trot Kuznetsov out there. He’s still playing top power-play minutes and he’s getting the looks necessary to succeed. After a monster breakout season last year where he notched 77 points, it’s been a struggle this time around to say the least. He’s scored only three goals and nine points in 23 games and rest assured – he’s driving his fantasy owners nuts on a daily basis. I have a strong belief in the contract year. While he probably won’t match last year’s 20/57/77 output, Kuznetsov is another guy who’ll eventually start contributing on a regular basis.
Justin Faulk – D – Carolina Hurricanes
It has been one of the biggest mysteries of this early NHL season – where in the world did Justin Faulk’s offensive abilities go? Sure, it’s probably poor puck luck but damn, will he ever get going? After a hot start, he’s really cooled off. In fact, Faulk has just one assist in the last 14 games. I still have faith in him.
Evander Kane – LW – Buffalo Sabres
The name is sexy but his play over the last several years has been far from it. It seems like Jack Eichel’s return to the lineup has sparked everyone including Kane. It’s a small sample size but he’s notched a goal and two helpers in the past three games. It’s nothing to brag about but it’s a start and we’ll leave it at that. We’ve all been waiting for Kane to flourish in Buffalo and maybe that time is now. Perhaps, I’m just crazy.
Sean Monahan – C – Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau’s surprise return to Calgary’s lineup should ignite Monahan but the key word there is should. Similar to the above Kane, Monahan does have a moderate three game point streak going so again, it’s a start. He’s been a mainstay anchoring Gaudreau in Calgary for the past couple years and that should continue. Look for Monahan to bust out of this big-time funk he’s been in.
John Tavares – C – New York Islanders
You better act on this file quick because he’s starting to heat up. After a turbulent start, Tavares is ramping things up having tallied five points in his last five games. The Islanders captain is now up to 18 points in 23 games. The thing to watch – he’s shooting at just 8.7% which is a far cry from his career average of 12.8%. Similar to Crosby last year, Tavares is poised to have a strong second half. He’s just too good.
Filip Forsberg – LW – Nashville Predators
Considering Nashville’s success over the last month or so, it’s surprising to see Forsberg stuck on just two goals. He potted 33 last year and 26 the year before – the track record is certainly there. He’s one of those guys you know will get it going eventually but he’s just been so snake bitten so far. Again, it’s a long season. Just ask Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman who are scorching hot right now for the Ottawa Senators after suspect starts, respectively.
Anze Kopitar – C – Los Angeles Kings
Kopitar has been a notorious slow starter. His play always picks up and this year will be no different. This year’s start was a little surprising given how good he was at the World Cup of Hockey for Team Europe. Ride this out – you won’t regret it. He can probably be had right now on the trade market for a pretty low return.
Aaron Ekblad – D – Florida Panthers
With Tom Rowe now behind the bench in Sunrise, perhaps it means more for their number one defenseman offensively speaking. While Ekblad will most likely never be a guy in the upper echelon of point producers from the back end, he’s still a very serviceable and still very young with room to grow. It’s amazing that he’s only 20. Through 25 games, he’s fired 79 shots on goal which puts him on pace to surpass last year’s career best of 182 shots. His willingness to keep blasting will lead to more contributions offensively.
Travis Zajac – C – New Jersey Devils
Andrew Shaw – C, RW – Montreal Canadiens
Scott Darling – G – Chicago Blackhawks
Kevin Fiala – LW, RW – Nashville Predators
Ivan Provorov – D – Philadelphia Flyers
Pete Jensen of NHL.com was my guest on Episode Eight of the Fantasy Fix Podcast. We touched on some buy-low candidates, sell-high options and much more!
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