Time and time again, trades spark fantasy value -- sometimes when we least expect it.
This season, the only two traded players with at least a point per game for their new teams are Devante Smith-Pelly of the New Jersey Devils and Alex Tanguay of the Arizona Coyotes. This remains a small sample size, but their production spikes are shocking.
Smith-Pelly had a monster night Thursday against the Minnesota Wild, posting two goals, one assist, a plus-3 and four shots on goal. That gives the 23-year-old nine points (six goals, three assists) with 14 SOG in seven games with the Devils after 12 points (six goals, six assists) and 60 SOG in 46 games with the Montreal Canadiens prior to being traded. He is playing mostly with Adam Henrique and Tyler Kennedy at even strength in his new spot.
Tanguay, meanwhile, assisted on Michael Stone's first-period goal Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, giving him seven points (three goals, four assists) with a plus-6, two power-play points and six SOG in six games with the Coyotes. The 36-year-old had 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) on 49 SOG in 52 games with the Colorado Avalanche. He is playing alongside mostly Antoine Vermette and Anthony Duclair with the Coyotes.
Video: ARI@EDM: Tanguay beats Talbot on a two-man advantage
Each has an astronomical shooting percentage with his new team (Smith-Pelly, 42.9 percent; Tanguay, 50 percent). Again, we're only two-and-a-half weeks removed from the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, prior to which these players were traded.
And it's not as if Smith-Pelly or Tanguay were traded to better situations than their previous teams in terms of the NHL standings. The Coyotes are seven points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and the Devils are six points out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the Canadiens.
So, what should fantasy owners make of these trends? Can Smith-Pelly (RW, 3 percent owned, 11 games remaining) or Tanguay (LW/RW, 7 percent owned, 12 games remaining) keep up anything resembling their current paces the rest of the way?
If these were early-season surges, I would advise you to proceed with caution and monitor these players over time. But it's fantasy playoff time, where short-term production and hot streaks are all that matters. Rash decisions early on in an 82-game season could hurt your fantasy team, but you can't afford to ignore what Smith-Pelly and Tanguay have cooked up down the stretch.
Video: NJD@ANA: Smith-Pelly taps it past Andersen
If one or both of these players keep this up, it could mean the difference between you (or someone else in your league) finishing in first or second place.
Each situation is murky, but certainly presents renewed upside based on early returns. Smith-Pelly, who played mostly depth-line minutes through the years with the Anaheim Ducks and this season with the Canadiens, is still young and could continue to thrive in an elevated role. After seeing minimal power-play time with the Canadiens, he's seeing 1:31 per game with the man-advantage in New Jersey. Unlike Tanguay, he has high upside beyond this season; he's a pending restricted free agent and could become a part of the Devils' long-term plan.
Tanguay, a wily veteran who has seen top-six action in each of the past two seasons with Colorado, is seeing 2:11 on the power play with the Coyotes, compared to a similar average with the Avalanche (2:01). While his shooting rate appears to be an anomaly, he has been a high-percentage converter his entire career.
He had the highest shooting percentage in the NHL last season (21.2) among players with at least 80 games played (22 goals, 55 points in 2014-15), and leads active players with an 18.7 percent career shooting rate. The only downside to Tanguay is his lack of SOG production (55 in 58 games), hurting his category coverage and making him more of a boom-or-bust fantasy add.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to add Smith-Pelly or Tanguay for the short term depends on your league size, format and playoff circumstances. If you are trying to replace an injured player, it's easier to take a chance on them. If you need dual eligibility, Tanguay provides that luxury. If the timing is right and there's not too much risk involved in the transaction, ride the hot hand.