Special to Yahoo Sports
Last week, I highlighted Brock Nelson and Anders Lee as two players that need to be traded for in fantasy because they were really heating up, and their hot stretch appears to be no fluke. They had always shown good chemistry together and Lane Lambert has had the Islanders playing more aggressively on offense. They’ve combined for five points in three games since then, including a two-goal, 10-shot effort by Nelson against the Blue Jackets.
We’re a month into the season and lots can still change, but that duo’s success also highlights that under-the-radar stacks can be really beneficial. When the Isles split up Nelson and Lee to get the other lines going, it didn’t last, because playing them together gave them a tip-top scoring line. Both players are now rostered in over 60% of Yahoo leagues and it’s not too late to grab them.
Here are this week’s trade targets to get your fantasy team out of the basement.
Nico Hischier, C, Devils (71% rostered)
It’s still rather astounding that the Devils’ top center, a player who is on pace for 92 points, remains so widely available. If scoring 60 points last season wasn’t enough, Hischier has also improved in almost every facet of the game, winning close to 60% of his faceoffs — roto leagues take note — and he’s proven to be a very efficient finisher, recording a career 12.2 shooting percentage. According to moneypuck.com, Hischier’s line with sniper Fabian Zetterlund and the supremely underrated Tomas Tatar leads the league at 75% xGoals% (min. 75 TOI) and ranks fifth with 3.9 expected goals per 60 minutes.
Elias Pettersson, C/LW, Canucks (98%)
Two seasons ago, Pettersson was a can’t-miss franchise player. Then injuries happened, as well as a poor start for the Canucks last season that ended up costing head coach Travis Green his job, further reducing Pettersson’s value. Even though he scored a career-high 32 goals under Bruce Boudreau, Pettersson wasn’t playing center full-time and was overshadowed by J.T. Miller, who ended up scoring 31 more points. Fast forward to this season and Pettersson has returned to elite status as the Canucks’ best player, playing center full-time and also adding penalty-killing duties to his repertoire, giving him more chances to block shots. The Canucks’ struggle to win games has overshadowed Pettersson’s accomplishments this season so it’s a good time to trade for him, as his fantasy value is quickly bouncing back to or even surpassing its previous peak. He’s firmly back in the conversation as a long-term keeper.
Sam Bennett, C, and Sam Reinhart, C/RW, Panthers (66% and 78%, respectively)
The two Sams — and the Panthers in general — stumbled out of the gates, but it was only a matter of time before they got back on track. They’re a talented squad and their on-ice shooting percentages were unsustainably low, and that includes top center Aleksander Barkov, who played frequently with Reinhart.
However, with Bennett scoring four goals in four games and Reinhart scoring his first two of the season on Nov. 6, it’s starting to look like their fortunes are turning around. Bennett’s shooting percentage is now at 8.6, which is still below his career average but certainly normalizing, and as a high-volume shooter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the goals starting pouring in. Reinhart’s shooting percentage is stuck at 5.9, but while he’s been dropped from the top line, he’s also been shooting the puck a lot more and averaging over three shots per game while still playing on PP1.
Tyson Barrie, D, Oilers (70%)
Barrie’s on a four-game point streak so grabbing him might be difficult, but it’s become as clear as day that he’s still the preferred option on PP1 for the Oilers. Evan Bouchard is Barrie’s main competition for that role, but unless you’re in a banger league, Barrie has been far more productive than Bouchard, who has zero goals and five assists with a minus-6 rating so far this season. There’s a good argument that Bouchard is the better overall player, but in fantasy, usage is important and Jay Woodcroft has clearly preferred Barrie.
Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks (97%)
This is going to sound super obvious but, uh, the Blackhawks aren’t good. Kane is on pace for just 65 points, and it would be the first time since the 2011-12 season that he failed to average at least a point per game. It’s not all Kane’s fault; saddled with Max Domi as his center and a rotating cast of wingers that includes Andreas Athanasiou (three goals) and Philipp Kurashev (two goals), it’s little wonder Kane is having a down season.
Obviously, Kane’s fantasy value will get a huge boost if he’s traded, but a trade doesn’t seem imminent, and in the meantime, fantasy managers are saddled with an aging first-line winger with a low offensive ceiling for at least the next few months. In roto leagues, that potentially presents a big opportunity cost. Even if Kane’s fantasy value is low at the moment, the sales pitch for any potential trade partner would be his unsustainably low shooting percentage of 5.1.
Matt Duchene, RW, Predators (83%)
It’s not the first time Duchene has been featured in this space, and that’s hardly a surprise. The Predators have broken up their top line and recently deployed Duchene with Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. Juuso Parssinen is now the top-line center with Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund and it seems to be a good fit. Look for the line juggling to continue as the Preds continue to search for more balanced scoring, and if Duchene’s role keeps fluctuating, his production will likely continue to be up and down. It might be best to trade him now on the heels of a two-point performance against the Wild for someone more reliable.
Brock Boeser, RW, Canucks (60%)
For someone who’s paid to score goals, Boeser has been utterly disappointing. Though an assist against Buffalo on Tuesday extended his point streak to five games, he has zero goals in 11 games so far this season and played less than 10 minutes at even strength. He also drew the ire of Bruce Boudreau after taking a bad penalty in the third period. Wrist and hand injuries have robbed him of his elite shot and footspeed was never his strength, so it’s starting to get to the point where he may never score 30 goals. His spot on PP1 is constantly being threatened by Andrei Kuzmenko, who already has four power-play goals. It’s best to see what sort of return Boeser can fetch because another extended period of poor play may send him to the waiver wire.
MacKenzie Weegar, D, Flames (88%)
If we’re waiting for Weegar to break through, we might not be rewarded anytime soon. The Panthers played a very up-tempo, offensive style that helped Weegar pile up the points, but with fewer minutes on a deep blue line in Calgary as well as a significant decrease in shot attempts and virtually no power-play time, it’s going to be very difficult for Weegar to replicate his 44-point season. Weegar has value in banger leagues, but if you’re looking for points, Noah Hanifin (51%) and Rasmus Andersson (82%) should be the ones to target.
Source: Yahoo Sports