By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
There are two months left in the NHL regular season, but the playoffs will come sooner in many fantasy leagues.
Are you planning for the next stage? Or merely playing out the stretch until the next major sport comes calling?
The real trade deadline arrives on Feb. 25, although the window to complete transactions between fantasy teams may have already closed. If there’s still time, make sure to get in those moves to secure your squad for the final push or divest current producers for future assets.
And while you’re devising your end-of-season strategy, here are a few lesser-owned players who may be of service:
(Yahoo ownership rates/stats as of Feb. 7.)
Brayden Schenn, STL (53 percent)
With St. Louis surging due to Jordan Binnington’s stellar play, a few of their skaters have also benefited. Schenn’s generally consistent when it comes to offense, but he endured a rough patch in December/January when he only recorded two points — both goals — over 12 outings. But in his last six, the Saskatonian has reeled off seven assists and 16 hits. Schenn may participate on the Blues’ second man-advantage unit, but he’s excelled on their top even-strength trio with leading point getters Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Nazem Kadri, TOR (53 percent)
Kadri may appear on the Leafs’ depth chart as their third center, but his value increases thanks to a place on their first power play. The seventh selection from 2009 also can be streaky, like a recent six-game stretch where he posted five scoreless efforts around a four-point night. Kadri potted 32 goals in each of the last two seasons, but only has 13 this year. This drop could be the result of a poor shooting percentage, so that tally should increase if he keeps firing pucks on net.
Ilya Kovalchuk, LA (38 percent)
Based on his illustrious NHL career, it was assumed Kovalchuk would return to the US and instantly dominate. The 35-year old started his SoCal tour with 14 points in 14 contests, but immediately followed that with 11 goose eggs and a 10-game injury absence. A switch to the third line appears to have eased the pressure on the Russian, as he’s racked up four goals, five assists, and 26 shots over the last 11. Kovy’s not the same player he was at 25, but the natural skills still qualify him as a decent performer.
Corey Perry, ANH (36 percent)
Speaking of veterans with significant past accolades, betcha already knew Perry won the Hart Trophy in 2011. Since then, his point totals decreased all the way down to 49 last season. Due to offseason surgery, Perry only made his debut Saturday and has chipped in with an assist over three appearances. The Ducks’ defensive situation may currently resemble a dumpster fire, but they boast enough talent up front to be worthy of fantasy consideration. You’re probably not picking up Perry if you’re looking for immediate help, but he should eventually work out if you’re willing to be patient.
Casey Mittelstadt, BUF (12 percent)
Mittelstadt was discussed during our look at those who should recover in 2019, and it appears the youngster has started to make good on this request by tallying five points in his last seven games. Mittelstadt has also added assists in consecutive outings on Buffalo’s premier power play, while being reinstated as the Sabres’ No. 2 pivot because of his recent positive play.
Derick Brassard, FLA (5 percent)
Last week, this column mentioned Brassard as a prime pick for a different destination. I guess his wish came true, as he was dealt to Florida the next day. It’s early, but it seems like the 11-year veteran is already clicking on the right side of the Panthers’ second line with Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau. Brassard has never really duplicated his junior prowess in the NHL, but we’ll recommend him as long as he sticks in the Cats’ top six.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLS (2 percent)
Once considered an elite prospect, Bjorkstrand’s career hasn’t materialized as originally expected. The Dane received a full-time gig in Columbus last season, although the promotion only netted 40 points. Progress was expected, but it was ultimately replaced with several zero-point and miniscule-minute attempts. Following a line shakeup, Bjorkstrand finds himself with Artemi Panarin and Alexander Wennberg and has scored in three straight while directing 11 shots on net during that period.
Dominik Kahun, CHI (1 percent)
After three successful years in Germany, the Blackhawks took a chance on the Czech speedster by signing him to a two-year deal last April. While the 24 points in 54 contests may not be impressive at first glance, it’s probably already exceeded most expectations of what Kahun could accomplish in his first crack at the North American pro ranks. The 5-foot-9 forward has elevated his efforts with three goals and four assists in his last eight, while currently skating with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat on Chicago’s second trio and alongside others on the No. 2 power-play group.
Travis Sanheim, PHI (4 percent)
The Flyers are flying high with help from all areas, including an awesome rookie goalie and a trio of young blueliners. Within that latter contingent is Sanheim, who has finally earned enough ice time in his second full big-league campaign. He’s never encountered offensive issues at any previous level, but is now only getting a taste of the NHL rewards. Sanheim has joined fellow first-rounder Ivan Provorov in all situations, with the Canadian half of the duo registering five points over his last eight — including two PPPs last Thursday.
Brad Hunt, MIN (0 percent)
A power-play specialist the last year-and-a-half with Vegas, Hunt was traded because he was pushed out of the pecking order and the Wild required a temporary replacement for the injured Mathew Dumba. With his new club, the 30-year old is still operating in a diminished overall role. But the man-advantage minutes remain, as Hunt has averaged 3:40 in the four outings since arriving and has a PPG to his name. He may be out of luck when Dumba returns later this month, but enjoy his role while it lasts.
Rasmus Andersson, CGY (0 percent)
Calgary has been known to maintain an overflowing contingent of D-men, and this year is no different. Andersson dominated the AHL over two seasons, but was never expected to compete on the Flames for a position where he could contribute on the attack. That seemed to be the case after totaling four points from his first 44, but he’s turned it around with three assists from his last six contests while blocking 14 shots and averaging two minutes of man-advantage duty. Andersson won’t be an elite producer, but he’ll provide enough to fit in as a serviceable member on any roster.
Danny DeKeyser, DET (1 percent)
Since peaking at 31 points in 2014-15, DeKeyser has tailed off. In addition to this downturn, he also recently experienced two separate hand injuries that kept him out for 27 games. But around these interruptions, the Western Michigan standout has managed 12 points from 26 — including an impressive two goals and three assists in the six since coming back from the last issue. DeKeyser can’t realistically keep up this pace, but enough opportunities should present themselves to allow for an adequate return.
Linus Ullmark, BUF (14 percent)
Since going on a major win streak through November, Carter Hutton hasn’t proved himself to be reliable and has allowed no less than four goals in each of his last four starts. Meanwhile, Ullmark isn’t exactly wowing anyone with a 3.53 GAA and .882 save percentage from his last seven appearances. But the Swede did pull off an outstanding 41-save performance against Minnesota on Tuesday, so he at least has momentum in his favor.
Alexandar Georgiev, NYR (4 percent)
With the Rangers looking to the future, Henrik Lundqvist will probably cede more starts from here on in. Although Georgiev’s season stats of a 3.24 GAA and .897 save percentage don’t elicit excitement, he has looked promising in three of his last four games. This includes Wednesday night’s comeback victory versus Boston, where the 22-year old Bulgarian stopped six of seven Bruins during the shootout.
Players to consider from past columns: James van Riemsdyk, Nino Niederreiter, Jeff Carter, Alex Galchenyuk, Nico Hischier, Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, Marcus Johansson, Jordan Eberle, Paul Stastny, Patrick Marleau, Gustav Nyquist, Frank Vatrano, Mats Zuccarello, Travis Konecny, Kevin Fiala, Conor Garland, Brendan Gallagher, Andreas Johnsson, Jack Roslovic, Sam Reinhart, Brock Nelson, Alex Tuch, Carl Soderberg, Dylan Strome, Andreas Athanasiou, Darnell Nurse, Nate Schmidt, Kevin Shattenkirk, Erik Gustafsson, Miro Heiskanen, Jacob Trouba, Jared Spurgeon, Ivan Provorov, Ryan Pulock, T.J. Brodie, Will Butcher, Brandon Montour, David Rittich, Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner, Jordan Binnington, Carter Hart, Curtis McElhinney, Anders Nilsson