Fantasy Hockey Trade Analyzer: Last-minute tips before the default deadline
By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
PSA: The default trade deadline for Yahoo fantasy leagues is Feb. 22, which means fantasy managers have just one day at the time this article is published to bolster their rosters. The actual NHL trade deadline is March 3. Most leagues will be entering their playoffs over the next couple of weeks.
Here are this week's trade targets to consider while you look to make that final push.
Elias Pettersson, C/LW, Canucks (98% rostered)
The Canucks are going nowhere fast, but the trade of captain Bo Horvat and the trade talk surrounding J.T. Miller are strong signals that the team is prepared to give the reins to Pettersson. To Pettersson's credit, he has earned it; in the seven games since the All-Star Game, he has six goals and seven assists, including a five-point performance against the Flyers in his most recent game. Injuries hurt Pettersson's production in the past, but he's back in the conversation among franchise players.
Playing with Anthony Beauvillier, who has scored six points in seven games since joining the Canucks, and the crafty Andrei Kuzmenko has unleashed the trio's full offensive potential — not to mention they're the only reliable scoring line on the Canucks right now. Pettersson should have a strong finish to the season to cement himself as the player to build around — he has been asked about the Canucks' vacant captaincy recently — and given the Canucks' woes this season, his fantasy value might be discounted right now.
Ryan O'Reilly, C, Maple Leafs (52% rostered)
No doubt, O'Reilly's role with his new team will be vastly different than when he captained the Blues. He won't be expected to carry any significant responsibilities on offense, and it was interesting to see Sheldon Keefe play O'Reilly on the second line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner. That will give O'Reilly's fantasy value a huge boost after a hugely disappointing season. In two games with the Leafs, he picked up an assist while playing on the second power-play unit.
The sample for their possession metrics according to moneypuck.com is tiny (just over 22 minutes together in two games), but note that Tavares-O'Reilly-Marner also had a 3.68 expected goals for per 60 minutes, ninth among the 28 different combos the Leafs have used for at least 20 minutes this season and not far off from the 4.03 xGF/60 produced by Auston Matthews and the top line. There's a chance the Leafs move O'Reilly to the third line for added depth at center, but if he stays on a line with Tavares, there's also a chance that O'Reilly (and perhaps Tavares) gains LW eligibility, giving fantasy managers even more flexibility and added value going forward. O'Reilly might be available on the waiver in very shallow leagues, so be sure to double check.
Anders Lee, LW, Islanders (60% rostered)
News that Mathew Barzal would miss multiple weeks due to a lower-body injury is a huge blow to the Isles' playoff chances. Lee had just recently joined Barzal and Bo Horvat on the top line, adding a strong presence in front of the net and down low to complement his linemates' developing give-and-go game. Barzal is still their best playmaker, and it'll hurt the production from their top line, but note that Lee and Horvat could also form quite a duo together with their ability to generate chances from around the crease. Lee scored three points against the rival Pens and added another assist against the Bruins without Barzal in the lineup. Remaining on the top line with Horvat should provide a steady stream of offensive opportunities going forward.
Filip Gustavsson, G, Wild (59% rostered)
Gustavsson has been excellent since the calendar flipped, ranking fourth in save percentage (.934) and third in goals-against average (1.92) among goalies with at least 10 appearances. He's 6-3-1 during that span and is eating into Marc-Andre Fleury's playing time. It was always going to be some form of timeshare to begin with, considering Fleury's age and declining play, but Gustavsson has possibly forced his way into the starting job with two straight wins. He has started five of Minnesota's past seven games, while Fleury is still looking for his first win in regulation in more than a month.
The Wild's big problem is that they can't score, ranking 30th in goals for per game since Jan. 1. That means wins are hard to come by, and given the Wild's current cap situation and playoff chances at the moment, it's unlikely they're going to make any major moves to bolster their offense. If wins are difficult to get, at least Gustavsson will provide some excellent peripheral stats.
Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks (90% rostered)
The question with Kane is twofold: One, whether he'll actually leave the Hawks; and two, if a trade will be beneficial to his fantasy value. Any team looking to acquire Kane will be looking for him to add offense, but most likely the team trading for him will already have really good players on its top two lines. We saw a little bit of this with Vladimir Tarasenko, who has given a boost to the Rangers' overall offense but has seen a decrease in average ice time (from 17:31 to 15:29) on his new team. His production so far has been relatively modest, with three points in five games.
Additionally, Tarasenko going to the Rangers means that one of Kane's preferred destinations is off the list. (A trade is still possible, cap-wise, but the Rangers might not have the assets to swing the deal.) If Kane doesn't find a suitable destination, it means he's going to stay in Chicago for the rest of the season, which means more lackluster linemates and below-point-per-game production with an awful plus-minus.
The risk of holding on to Kane, or even trading for him, in the hopes that his production increases while playing on a better team seems dicier with each passing day.
Darcy Kuemper, G, Capitals (94% rostered)
The Caps are falling apart. The absence of Alex Ovechkin aside, the Caps just haven't been good in 2023. They looked like a lock for the playoffs in December, but now they've lost four straight and sit two points out of the final wild-card spot. They still have a chance of making the cut, but their poor results have unsurprisingly coincided with Kuemper's poor play. Since Jan. 1, Kuemper is 6-8-1 with a .904 save percentage and 2.97 GAA, ranked 18th and 19th, respectively, among the 35 goalies who have played at least 10 games.
Ovechkin is expected to return this week, and John Carlson has resumed practicing in full, which will give the Caps a boost. But their inconsistent play goes beyond their top two players, and their roster might just not be deep enough to overcome all the injuries they've suffered this season. In a season short on quality goaltending, fantasy managers might still be able to peddle Kuemper — otherwise, you're stuck with a starting goalie who has produced inconsistent results. Also, despite his similarly poor results lately, backup Charlie Lindgren is always a threat to steal some playing time.