The NHL trade deadline is March 5 at 3 p.m. ET. For most fantasy leagues, the deadline is on or within 24 hours of that date and many fantasy owners are holding off on closing a deal involving Player X because they want to see where that player is going (if anywhere). It's a ludicrous practice, considering the fact that 30-odd NHL deals will get done but 20 of them will either involve only prospects or pluggers. So essentially, you're hanging onto your guy because you hope he'll be involved in one of the 10 deals that impact fantasy hockey.
But that's what makes up a big chunk of fantasy hockey - hope. We'll hope that Sidney Crosby will be healthy for 82 games. We'll hope for Ryan Johansen to finally take that step forward. We'll hope that that Devan Dubnyk gets traded to a defensive team so that he can finally…oh.
As you can see from the Dubnyk experience, getting what you wish for doesn't necessarily equate to a good thing. And then there are the bad things that can happen. You hoped that Matt Moulson would stay on John Tavares' line forever, assuming you owned Moulson of course. Because if you own Tavares, you'll never have anything to worr-
The point is, waiting for the deals to go down isn't good strategy. Because there aren't many deals that are going to help players with fantasy value, and for each NHL deal that does help there is an equal deal going down that will hurt. Be cognizant of the expiring contracts - and thus the players who could be moved somewhere - and make moves to acquire (or get rid of) a player before he gets traded. Because once the deal is done in the NHL, his fantasy owner will immediately overrate him.
Don't be paralyzed by hope and try not to over-think your moves so much that you don't make any. That may get you a promotion in Edmonton, but in fantasy hockey that gets you squat.
With that being said, here are some players to get rid of if you own them. Because a change of scenery is probably going to either kill their value…or it won't boost the value as much as people think.
Matt Moulson, Buffalo Sabres - Moulson's value isn't going to go down. Come on, the guy's in Buffalo right now, how could it possibly go down? So it's going up. But in Moulson's case, an upcoming trade is the league's worst-kept secret and fantasy owners are rubbing their hands in anticipation of all the points he'll get on another team. But they'll be in for disappointment. While Moulson was a probably 70-point player with the Islanders and a 50-point guy with the Sabres, he's looking at a 55-point pace on most other teams. And if he goes to Los Angeles - ugh. There's a team that couldn't score if they were on the ice by themselves.
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche - When Stastny returned from a back injury on November 30, he went seven games without a point, not to mention two pointless games leading up to the injury. If we can assume that he was playing those games with some discomfort, he has 41 points in 43 games. And…you think a new team will see him get better numbers than that?
Thomas Vanek, New York Islanders - After sucking down a few pints at the Olympics, Vanek's NHL market value may have taken a hit. Maybe that huge contract offer from the Islanders isn't looking so bad now. The injury to John Tavares hurts Vanek's production even if he were to stay. But if some sucker owner thinks that he'll produce more than 0.91 points per game (his Islanders' number) on a different team, then all the power to that owner. Of course, this strategy does carry some risk - if Vanek ends up going to Pittsburgh this will blow up in your face. If that happens, just angrily think back to this column and blame Puck Daddy. Which is run by Wyshynski. So blame Wyshynski.
David Legwand, Nashville Predators - Legwand is on pace for 56 points, the second-highest number of his 14-year career and his highest total since 2007. On one hand, he escapes the goal-scoring black hole known as Nashville, but on the other hand he'll no longer be the No. 1 center. Or the No. 2 center.
Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils - As great as the living legend has been at the age of 42, in the last two years he was producing at a rate of about 90% of his New Jersey clip. And that's with each of Boston, Dallas and Philadelphia. Consider: a player on the decline produces at Rate A with three different teams…and at Rate B with a fourth team. Player is then traded to a new organization. Are you going to assume he will produce at Rate A or Rate B?
Some players, if moved, are going to see a bump in production. Best to get them now than before the address change is made official.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres - All Miller has to do in order to improve his fantasy value is play on a team that is on pace for more than 25 wins. Since 29 teams fall into that category and he's not currently on any of them, it's a pretty safe bet that W's are on the horizon.
P.A. Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche - Parenteau has shown us that he can be both high risk and high reward. The high reward being that he can put up points like nobody's business when playing with John Tavares or Matt Duchene. The high risk being that he struggles under coaches who don't fit him into the right niche. Patrick Roy would seem to be one of those coaches. And that whole "can't get out of the AHL until he's nearly 27" thing was probably a coach/niche issue as well.
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers - If Hemsky can ever string more than five or six games together without getting hurt, he's a very talented player. He's still only 30 and has seasons of 77 and 71 points under his belt. On an Oilers team with all the young guns up front, he's relegated to the second power-play unit and often the third line at even strength. On a new team he'll get the Red Wings jersey carpet rolled out for him.
Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers - On pace for 33 points. Do you really see Fleischmann finishing with 33 points in a full season? Furthermore, as soon as he arrived in Florida he picked up 61 points in 82 games. And as soon as he arrived in Colorado he tallied 21 points in 22 contests. The guy likes to make a splash in front of new fans.
Martin Erat, Washington Capitals - Still on his quest to score more goals than the prospect - who hasn't been in the NHL for several months - he was traded for, Erat is stuck on Goal 1 with no end in sight. After nine consecutive seasons of posting between 43 and 58 points, it's hard to imagine that he struggles to reach 30. A new environment can only help.
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