The NHL Trade Deadline is at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 5. The standard fantasy hockey league trade deadline is the very next day.
In order to have you fully prepared, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with a three-part "Fantasy Hockey Trade Deadline Decisions" series. Each part will feature a different list of players. Part 1: A list of players who could be traded before the NHL Trade Deadline and how it would affect their fantasy value. Part 2: A list of players Cubeta believes you should be trying to acquire before your deadline -- also known as buy-low candidates (Thursday). Part 3: A list of players you should be trying to trade away before your deadline -- also known as sell-high candidates (Friday).
Remember, when you're trying to make a trade, don't be afraid to start your negotiation off a little higher than what you're hoping to eventually land. You can always lower your asking price, but you won't be able to raise it if the other person you're trading with already accepts the deal.
Sell-high: Players to deal away before your trade deadline
Steen arguably has been the biggest surprise in fantasy hockey this season. And I'm not taking that away from him. I've got him ranked inside my top-20 forward rankings, and I do believe he'll still be there by season's end. But if you can acquire a proven superstar for Steen, you should. He has an unsustainable 18.1 shooting percentage when his career mark is 10.0 percent. If he were to continue at that 18.1 clip, he'd end up with 42 goals in 71 games -- that's Alex Ovechkin-like. However, the more likely scenario is that percentage will fall somewhere closer to 15.0 percent (still very high), meaning he'd likely fall short of the 40-goal mark. Again, if we say Steen finishes with 35-40 goals, is anyone really complaining? Of course not. But dangle him to some other fantasy owners for a proven superstar like Claude Giroux, Jonathan Toews or Pavel Datsyuk to see if they bite.
Like Steen, Pavelski has an unsustainable shooting percentage of 19.8, tops in the NHL among players appearing in at least 20 games this season. His career average is 11.0. That points to a decreased pace of goal-scoring in his final 22 games, but one also has to wonder if the return of Logan Couture will change Pavelski's role in San Jose's lineup. While Pavelski and Couture combined for five goals on Thursday night, Pavelski's most productive month came in January (12 goals, four assists in 15 games) when Couture was sidelined for 12 of those 15 games. Pavelski has bounced around from the third line to the top line all season long, but one thing has remained constant: his power play role, where he averages 3:30 of ice time per game and has posted 22 points, good for seventh best among forwards. Pavelski will always carry value because of his power-play domination, but right now he ranks 12th among all players in Yahoo leagues, and I'm guessing he falls down to the 25-spot by season's end. Deal him for a superstar like the aforementioned Giroux, Toews or Datsyuk if you can.
It's not that I don't think Bishop is a very good goalie, because I do. I just don't think he's the No. 1 goalie, and as of right now, he's the top goalie in fantasy leagues. Of goalies with at least 27 starts, his save percentage is tops in the League, his goals-against average is second and his four shutouts are tied for second most. There has been no flaw in his game this season. But the big question is can Bishop, playing in his first full NHL season, maintain this level of play for the rest of the season? With the Lightning surging for playoff position and a lot more pressure falling on Bishop, I'm banking on him regressing. He'll still be a very good goalie, but I would expect him to fall back down to the level of a top-10 goalie, not No. 1 in the League.
The 27-year-old defenseman has already set career-highs in goals, points, power-play points and shots on goal. And he's done all of this in 57 games. After going undrafted in all leagues, Sekera has been a revelation for fantasy owners and has seen his ownership rise all the way up to 43 percent. But if you're in that group that owns him, now is clearly the time to sell high. His 8.0 shooting percentage is one sign that regression might be coming (his career mark is 5.3). The emergence of Justin Faulk on the power play will also continue to hamper Sekera, who averages 2:36 of power-play ice time per game. Sekera might continue to put up points, but you won't maximize your value for him more than this very moment.
Bozak currently averages 0.92 points per game. In his previous four seasons combined, he averaged 0.56 per game (134 points in 238 games). Until this season, Bozak also never had a plus-rating in a single season, combining for a minus-30 mark over the four seasons. The Maple Leafs center also has an absurdly high 22.6 shooting percentage, which is certain to come back down to earth (his career mark is 16.5, which is still shockingly high). Bozak does center Toronto's top line with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk on his wings, which should result in plenty of assists, but the goals will decrease; he doesn't shoot a lot and his PIMs production will always be low.
Currently listed on injured reserve due to a fractured ankle (although a return to the ice should come soon), Filppula has exceeded expectations in his first season for the Lightning. However, his season has been very much like that of Bozak's. Filppula has never been to known to shoot the puck a lot, he doesn't record penalty minutes and he has an extremely high 19.4 shooting percentage (his career average is 13.6). And when Filppula returns to the Lightning, he'll revert back to being the team's No. 2 center thanks to the return of Steven Stamkos. So all that extra ice time he got while Stamkos was out will come to a screeching halt. He's still worth owning in fantasy leagues, but trade him now before others realize his value will diminish.
Mason is having his best season since winning the Calder Trophy in 2008-09 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but like Bishop, can he continue at this rate for the rest of the season? Right now he's on pace to start a career-high 67 games; you have to wonder if that will wear on a goalie who's never been in that position before. Mason was outstanding in October and November, but in December and January he didn't perform nearly as well. Luckily, in three starts prior to the Olympic break, Mason went 3-0-0 allowing three total goals against. But then in his first post-Olympics game, Mason allowed four goals on 16 shots in a loss to the Sharks on Thursday. Either way, I believe Mason owners should be selling high right now -- there will be no better opportunity.
If you're looking for point production, then O'Reilly still has fantasy value. However, his zero penalty minutes absolutely crush his overall stat line. The Avalanche center also has a career-high 15.5 shooting percentage; he's never been higher than 10.9 in any single season and his career-average is 10.3. O'Reilly is certainly capable of finishing this season with 60-plus points, but try to deal him for a more well-rounded player to an owner who is blinded by his point totals.
Krug is currently the 12th ranked fantasy defenseman in Yahoo leagues, and truthfully, I'm a bit surprised he's not higher. The 22-year-old blueliner has provided value in all categories and has shown no signs of slowing down (11 points in his past 12 games). However, you have to wonder if he can continue to be so dominant on the power play, where's he notched 18 of his 34 points. Even more surprising is that he's only averaging 2:43 of power-play ice time and 17:28 of total ice time per game. Is this kind of point production sustainable with limited ice time? I think not. Of defensemen with at least 100 shots on goal, only three other players have a higher shooting percentage than Krug's 9.0, which leads me to believe he's gotten a few breaks. There's no denying Krug has a blistering shot from the point, but I'd expect that number to come down a bit. With playoff positioning up for grabs, the Bruins may also look to their veteran defensemen a lot more down the stretch, which would result in even fewer opportunities for Krug going forward.
Owned in 45 percent of leagues, Vermette is arguably having the best season of his career, but it would be wise of you to trade him now if you can. Though Vermette did have a 14.3 shooting percentage last year, his 16.7 mark this season is still well above his career average of 12.8. He's also played most of this season as the team's second-line center, with Mikkel Boedker and Lauri Korpikoski, two guys who have a combined 109 goals in 692 career games. It's a nice little line, but not exactly the most dominant fantasy trio we've seen. Vermette carries value in deep leagues, but selling now would be the smart move to make.
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