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ZOEL FROM VANCOUVER is the defending champion in a keeper league that carries over three players per year for a maximum of three years. He is considering John Tavares (5th), Kris Letang (7th) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (14th) as potential keepers. However, he is mulling a proposed trade offer where he would send RNH straight up for James Neal.
Nugent-Hopkins has played only three games since the turn of the calendar year, and the Oilers own the second-worst record in the League. With only a few weeks to go before playoffs begin in head-to-head leagues, decision time has come for his fantasy owners. While it’s likely the 18-year-old will return before the regular season concludes, there’s no doubt that the Oilers will be cautious in dealing with their rookie phenom's recovery. He missed 13 straight games after suffering a shoulder injury on Jan. 2 and re-aggravated the injury on Feb. 6, leaving him out of the lineup for Edmonton’s last seven games. This remains a treatable injury, but it’s important to note that the Oilers’ future hinges on Nugent-Hopkins, who already has a hat trick and a 5-assist outing in limited action this season.
When it comes to fantasy sports, I’m a firm believer of making moves to solidify your chances when
SOG: 81 | +/-: -3
If you can keep Neal (30 G, 27 A, even rating, 66 PIM, 22 PPP, 248 SOG) after this year, it’s a no-brainer to make the deal, since Neal is leading the League in shots on goal, tied for fourth in goals and tied for seventh in power-play points at only 24 years old. Either decision comes with its share of risks, as RNH has enormous keeper value and could emerge as a 90-plus point player as soon as next season. But I wouldn’t hesitate to make the trade and set your sights at another league title in the short-term.
KEVIN FROM VANCOUVER has Nicklas Lidstrom, Ian White, Brian Campbell and Kimmo Timonen as his starting fantasy defensemen, along with Mike Green -- who just came off IR. He is weighing whether to drop Green, drop another d-man or carry five players at the position and instead drop a forward to make room for Green.
Looking at your depth on the blue line, there’s simply not much to critique. White and Lidstrom make up the top pairing for the League-leading Red Wings and both sport top-five ratings league-wide. Timonen has been a steal for fantasy owners around the world, as he’s on pace to set a career-high in assists with
SOG: 29 | +/-: -2
Dropping one of your current starters should be out of the question, but with that being said, Green (3 G, 3 A, minus-2, 8 PIM, 3 PPP, 29 SOG) deserves a spot on your roster despite failing to contribute a point and posting a minus-3 rating in three games since returning from injury. Green has only played 13 games this season, and his initial injury came during his 4-point night in the final game of the Capitals’ 7-0-0 stretch to start the season. Once Green went down the Capitals simply were not the same, but he’s finally back and can still prove to be the missing piece to the puzzle as the Capitals pursue a playoff spot. I would drop your least valuable forward and activate Green, because if he finds his rhythm over the next few weeks, he could regain his form from years past as a point-per-game force for your team for the fantasy playoffs.
JACK FROM BOSTON wants to pick up David Perron off the waiver wire. The list of players he would consider dropping for Perron include Gabriel Landeskog and David Desharnais. He picked up Landeskog this week because he’s facing an opponent who averages strong outputs in hits and shots on goal.
Since your team is in need of hits and neither Perron nor Desharnais touches on that category all that often, it’s in your best interest to hold onto Landeskog (owned in 43 percent of Yahoo! Leagues). The 19-year-old wins the comparison by a landslide in shots on goal as well, and is on a tear lately for the Avs with 4 goals and 3 assists over his last seven games. Now, with that out of the way, it’s down to Perron
SOG: 194 | +/-: 15
It’s hard to criticize Desharnais’ production on the Canadiens’ primary line, as the 25-year-old is playing very well of late with Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty. He’s tallied 1 goal and 7 assists over his last seven contests and has seen an average of 3:16 per game on the man advantage, but it’s still tough to pass on a lethal scorer like Perron at this point. He’s overcome so much over the past year and is hitting full stride from a goal-scoring standpoint with 7 goals over his last 10 games. The Blues are tied with the Rangers for the third-best record in the NHL, and are only four points behind the League-leading Red Wings. Perron has been tremendous alongside David Backes and T.J. Oshie for most of this season, and is one of the major reasons why the Blues’ have been able to sustain their remarkable turnaround under Ken Hitchcock. While the Habs and Blues are far from offensive juggernauts, Perron still finds a way to bring strong production in goals and keep up with Desharnais in most categories despite playing in only 36 games this season. Perron, at only 23, merits a keeper selection in most leagues, so he should be your pick in this comparison.
ETHAN FROM TORONTO is in a fantasy league that categorizes goals, assists, plus-minus, power-play points, shorthanded points, and game-winning goals. He was offered a blockbuster trade where he would receive Tomas Fleischmann and Patrick Marleau in exchange for Marian Gaborik and Ryan Kesler.
This trade involves top-line players, three of which play for current division leaders, so it’s important that you be very careful with players who have enabled your team to get where it is today. Kesler had the slow start recovering from offseason hip surgery, but has put forth phenomenal power-play numbers, a great rating and consistent point production. Take his current stretch, for example. He threw together a stretch of five straight games with a goal from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9, but now has gone seven games without a goal. The key, however, is that he’s mustered 4 assists in those seven games, proving he still utilizes the talent around him on a nightly basis despite the slump. On a lighter note, he’s also the only player of the four to record a shorthanded point, which is a very arbitrary category considering there are only three players in the NHL with five or more this season (Adam Henrique, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk). If you go
SOG: 175 | +/-: 9
On the other side of the spectrum, you would bring in a consistent force in Marleau and a wild card in Fleischmann. Marleau (25 G, 23 A, plus-9, 18 PPP, 0 SHP, 8 GWG) had a brilliant 2-goal performance on Thursday in Toronto and is tied for fourth in the NHL in game-winners. He’s also lethal on the power play for the Sharks, but one drawback is Marleau's prone to stretches like his current one where he reels off 5 goals and 1 assist over his last six games, but compiles a minus-2 rating in the process because of San Jose’s inconsistency. As far as Fleischmann (19 G, 25 A, minus-5, 17 PPP, 0 SHP, 3 GWG), his rating simply doesn’t stack up to either Kesler or Gaborik. He’s has been a pleasant surprise as a dynamic source of scoring for the Panthers, but it’s in your best interest to hold on to the two elite players you already have this late in the season. Unnecessary tinkering with the core of top skaters on your fantasy team before the trade deadline can come back to bite you in the end. While Fleischmann and Marleau have combined for 35 PPP and 11 GWG this season, Gaborik and Kesler are very close behind in both categories and have been anchors for your team all season long. If they stay healthy, their stability gives you just as good a chance to win your league.
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