Fantasy hockey: NHL trade deadline risers and fallers

Matt Larkin
Keith Yandle. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Time to take a deep breath after several weeks worth of stunning NHL trades. We’ve seen Evander Kane, David Clarkson (!), Jaromir Jagr and Keith Yandle change teams, just to name a few players.

Real-life GMs can rest until the draft. Fantasy GMs? No way. Now’s the time to capitalize on altered player values as a result of the trade flurry. Some players’ situations improve in their new environments and others’ take a downturn. The guys to dig deep for are those whose values change by association. A new linemate or ‘D’ partner can work wonders.

Here’s a look at some risers, fallers and changes to keeper-league stocks in hockey pools.

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Fantasy hockey: Top 20 sneaky keeper league buys

Matt Larkin
Aaron Ekblad. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

FIRE SALE!

Some GM posts that subject header on many a fantasy league message board around this time every year. Most standard regular season pools have roughly six weeks remaining, meaning plenty of teams are eliminated from contention.

Hey you, bottom dwellers. If you play in a keeper or dynasty format, it isn’t time to take your ball and go home yet. Start advertising your veteran assets in search of building blocks for next season and beyond. Who are the best keeper-league players to target if you don’t have them? The answer should be “no” to at least two of the following questions:

1. Has he reached his peak value? Tyler Seguin, in a sense, makes a phenomenal keeper. He’s 23, and he’s in the running for a scoring title. If he’s not on your team right now, however, you aren’t likely to get him. Any team that has Seguin this year is probably contending for a league crown. You won’t see Vladimir Tarasenko or Filip Forsberg on this list for the same reason. All the power to you if you can get one of these three guys, but keep in mind it’ll cost you a fortune. So will a big-time brand name like Nathan MacKinnon, even on a down year. This list focuses more on sneaky adds.

2. Is his developmental path blocked? John Gibson, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jake Allen, Zach Fucale, Malcolm Subban. All outstanding prospects in net. None has a clear path to unquestioned starter status anytime soon. They’re still quality bench stashes as they can succeed if given the opportunity, but they’re not worth surrendering your best trading chips for. Even Allen, who has the closest path to starting of that quintet, shares the crease with a goalie who just went to his second All-Star Game in Brian Elliott.

3. Is he still a couple years away from his true breakout? Players like Sam Reinhart and Max Domi have bright NHL futures, but they don’t top my keeper league buy list just yet. How long do you want your rebuild to be in a hockey pool? You can trade vets for these blue-chippers but may not get the return you want for a couple more seasons. It’s better to target players who already have some extensive NHL experience and are closer to spikes in production.

With that, here are 20 keeper buys to consider.

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Fantasy hockey: 20 trade targets for your stretch run

Matt Larkin
Boston's entire top unit of David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Milan Lucic makes for a fine fantasy trade target. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Most fantasy hockey seasons have reached the turn, meaning it’s time to start negotiating magical trades to put your team over the top. Figuring out who to target is ultimately a buy-low, sell-high ballet, but at this time of year, it’s not so obvious. The sample sizes are big and less extreme than, say, a star player without a goal in his first 10 games. We have to factor history in much more, examining first and second-half splits.

Above all else, the key is to target any player you believe (a) will have significant value down the stretch and (b) can be had for his proper price or anything less, even the tiniest discount. That’s why you’ll see some big names on his list. It’s amazing how lazy certain GMs can be in any given league, placing such massive value on current numbers. Jakub Voracek is untouchable because “he’s the top guy in the whole game this year, come on.” Great player, but wouldn’t you still trade him for a John Tavares? And see if you can get the Tavares owner to add a sweetener because “Hey, Tavares has 11 fewer points, it’s gonna take more than him”?

Here are 20 names of varying value to consider in your negotiations, with positions listed according to Yahoo qualifications.

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Fantasy hockey mailbag: MacKinnon makes managers miserable

Matt Larkin
Nathan MacKinnon owners haven't gotten anywhere near the production they expected of him this season. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Raise your virtual hand if you’ve been in this situation before: you have a sore throat and that wonky knee of yours is bothering you, too. You head to your family doctor and spot a sign taped to the wall: “Please limit your visit to one issue.” What does that mean? Are you seriously supposed to make two appointments?

I’m out to right that wrong in this week’s fantasy mailbag. Many readers crammed multiple questions into their “one” question. But I’ll answer them all if it’s the last thing I do.

John Daniels (@Daniels1984J) asks…
Is it time to bail on Nathan MacKinnon (i.e. take anything in a trade)? I feel like I’ve been holding out for too long.

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Fantasy hockey mailbag: Why Vatanen is (mostly) for real and Brodeur is (mostly) not

Matt Larkin
Sami Vatanen (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It’s not…too…late.

So you’re mired in the basement of your hockey pool standings. Your dad, your boss and your friggin’ 10-year-old niece ridicule you endlessly. Don’t take your ball and go home. Fight back.

I’m here to (hopefully) help. I’ve collected your excellent Twitter questions over the last few days, and I’ll answer as many as I can below. You’re welcome for the good advice / Sorry for the bad advice.

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Top five sell-high players in fantasy hockey

Matt Larkin
Jakub Voracek

Look at your fantasy hockey pool standings after five weeks. How is the first-place GM behaving? Is he or she bragging about having the title won already?

Bad first-place GMs count chickens and don’t see regression coming. Good ones stay calm, realize it’s a long season and begin identifying which of their players off to sizzling starts will cool down based on career trends.

With that, here are my top five early-season studs to sell high.

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2014-15 THN office fantasy draft results

Matt Larkin
It was a mild shock when John Tavares went second overall in the THN draft. (Getty Images)

What’s best way to prepare for your fantasy draft? Checking out player rankings is a smart idea. But there’s something especially useful about studying other drafts. When poolies are on the clock, they make slightly different decisions. Gut feelings and biases steer them in unexpected directions. It happened often during THN’s 2014-15 office draft, which spanned 15 rounds in a snake format and included 150 NHL players.

It’s a points-only league, meaning no goalies and a lopsided forward-to-defenseman ratio. Here’s a look at the “experts,” in draft order:

1. Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer
2. Ronnie Shuker, associate editor
3. Jason Kay, editor in chief
4. Dominik ‘The Hammer’ Luszczyszyn, intern
5. Ken Campbell, senior writer
6. Matt Larkin, associate editor, a.k.a. me, a.k.a. the defending champion
7. Adam Proteau, columnist
8. Brian Costello, senior editor
9. Shea Berencsi, graphic designer
10. Edward Fraser, managing editor

I’m not gonna lie — I made up Dom the intern’s nickname. Like, right now, on the spot. He doesn’t even know it’s his nickname…yet.

Here’s a look at how the draft played out, round by round, pick by pick.

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