The NHL trade market heated up last week as a precursor to the coming trade deadline. We’ll touch on these deals as well as all of the other relevant goings-on in the league in this week’s installment of the Fantasy Nuggets.
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I gave my early impressions of the deal between the Jets and Sabres that sent Evander Kane to Buffalo in last week’s Nuggets, but after engaging in some discussion with fellow Rotoworld writers as part of the Roundtable over the weekend, I was surprised to hear the varied opinions of the deal. It was not uncommon for some of my colleagues to expect a lofty price tag on Kane in drafts next fall and many feared he would fail to live up to those expectations. I, of course, disagree wholeheartedly with both of these points. Not only do I expect Kane to manage a career season in his first year with the Sabres (health permitting), but I don’t believe he’ll be an overly trendy selection either. I predict the negative sentiment surrounding Buffalo will sufficiently deflate expectations and one of the fantasy game’s premier scoring/PIM combinations will be available at a relative discount.
The Maple Leafs surprised absolutely nobody recently when they agreed to trade pending free agents Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson to the Predators in exchange for Olli Jokinen, a first round draft pick and prospect Brendan Leipsic. For those of you seeking some great insight about what this deal means for the fantasy prospects of the players involved, I’m afraid there’s not much to write home about. If you’re a Franson owner, the move is a little disappointing since his role will be reduced somewhat, but that could be offset by the lift he’ll receive from playing on a better team. In addition, neither Santorelli or Jokinen becomes rosterable as a result of their switching uniforms so we’ll have to wait until the deadline approaches to witness trades that move the needle more than this one.
The Anaheim Ducks received a double dose of bad news earlier this week when they learned that both Matt Beleskey and Sami Vatanen would miss an extended period of time as a result of injuries suffered in Sunday’s costly loss to Washington. Both players are expected to miss about a month, but it’s Vatanen’s ailment that threatens to have the bigger impact on Anaheim’s fortunes. The Finnish blueliner has experienced an impressive breakout this season and has served as the lone defenseman on the team’s power play, which has helped him to amass 34 points in 57 contests. Barring a setback, Vatanen expects to return to the ice just prior to the end of the regular season, so those in need of roster space can cut him loose in redraft formats. As for who might benefit from an opportunity to fill his skates, Cam Fowler received the first chance at power play glory in Sunday’s game and is available in about a quarter of leagues.
In case you required any more evidence that Nathan MacKinnon has been among the unluckiest players in the league this season, the fantastic website war-on-ice.com tracks individual scoring chances for each player, a much more useful measure than plain shots on goal. For what it’s worth, MacKinnon’s 140 chances entering play Tuesday place him eighth in the league, but his nine goals place him in a tie for 191st. The phenom will be just fine, folks, but if your league mate is interested in getting rid of him, make yourself the one who steps us to get your hands on him.
The #fancystats crowd has made a lot of progress turning Corsi and Fenwick into household names, but there remains skepticism within the hockey community about whether shot attempts are an appropriate indicator of dominance. This is why the tracking of scoring chances could be the key to bringing puck possession numbers to the mainstream. For those who continue to deny the correlation between advanced metrics and on-ice results, I’ll direct your attention to a table I generated from war-on-ice, which lists the players who have been on the ice for the greatest number of scoring chances against per 60 minutes of play. The first four names on the list are all Maple Leafs – James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and Tyler Bozak. Anyone who has watched even a little bit of the Leafs this year should be an automatic believer in advanced stats.
Does anybody remember when Daniel and Henrik Sedin teamed with Alex Burrows to form one of the league’s most fearsome lines? It has actually been years since that trio was dominating opponents, but the group seems to have turned back the clock of late and rediscovered the magic of days past. For his part, Burrows has picked up four points in his last six contests, but more impressive is the fact he has recorded no fewer than three shots on goal in each of those outings. He’s currently owned in just 8 percent of Yahoo formats so he’s probably available for pickup in your league.
Bargain Bin Finds
As always, this space is reserved to highlight players owned in fewer than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (14 percent) – Sure, the steady defenseman is more valuable in real hockey than he is in the fantasy game, but he constantly delivers good plus/minus ratings and typically offers more in the way of penalty minutes than he has this season.
Nino Niederreiter (13 percent) – His 18 goals may be inflated by some good fortune, as proven by his 16.7 percent shooting rate, but he gets a regular shift on Minnesota’s second power play unit so it’s not entirely fluky. The fact that he leads the team with 99 hits is an added bonus for his owners.
Zach Bogosian (9 percent) – Moving from a decent club in Winnipeg to the league’s cellar dwellers in Buffalo isn’t something that should get anyone excited, but Bogosian’s first two games with the Sabres prove that his role with his new team will be vastly different than what he’s accustomed to. After averaging just over 22 minutes per game in Winnipeg, the hard-hitting rearguard has soaked up about 27 minutes per night since arriving in Western New York, including a healthy amount of power play time, and has dished out 15 hits in his two outings. If you can stomach the plus/minus, you're likely to get decent contributions in a number of other areas.