With the season nearly three-quarters of the way through, it’s crunch time in most fantasy leagues. While trade deadlines are looming, there still might be some hidden gems on the free agent market and that’s where were headed in this edition of THW’s Fantasy Findings.
When the Leafs traded Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa (and somehow got out from under than heavy contract), some began questioning whether or not the defenceman could return to his offensively productive days he experienced early in his NHL career.
After all, the 30-year-old did score 17 or more goals three times in his career – reaching the 50-point plateau twice over that same span. That being said, since joining Toronto in 2009-10 Phaneuf’s only scored double-digit goals once and hit the 40-point mark once as well.
But heading to the nation’s capital, Phaneuf’s no longer the go-to guy. He’ll be able to fly under the radar a little more and while still getting some good opportunities offensively. So how does he stack up in the fantasy world? Pretty good according to ESPN’s Sean Allen.
Since the trade to Ottawa, Phaneuf’s jumped 30 spots on ESPN’s top 250 fantasy players to number 152. And it doesn’t hurt playing with one of the best offensive defenceman in the game.
“He gets to settle in with the Sens as the clear second fiddle to Karlsson and contribute. The results are three assists and two power-play points through three games,” writes Allen.
Fantasy Advice: Free Agent Phaneuf?
While he may be gone in some deeper leagues (owned in 77% of Yahoo leagues), chances are Phaneuf is still available in some leagues. He certainly isn’t the clear-cut choice for fantasy owners as they head down the stretch, but he might be worth taking a second look at.
He’s notched three goals and 24 assists so far this season and the move to Ottawa should help with his confidence as he slips into the number two or three role with the Senators. So if you’re fighting for a money spot in your league (or whatever you play for) it’s worth targeting Phaneuf as a depth player for the remainder of the season. Otherwise, Allen has numerous other rising fantasy players to look at this late in the season.
Now if you’re simply looking at who you should start in net this week, Dobber Hockey’s Steve Laidlaw is your go-to writer. He’s throwing the starts to Frederik Andersen, Jonas Hiller and Kari Lehtonen while advising fantasy owners to sit recently returned Ondrej Pavelec, Joonas Korpisalo and Jonathan Quick.
“Even before John Gibson was injured during Saturday’s game, Andersen was the goalie of record in five of the Ducks’ past seven games,” writes Laidlaw. “Andersen and the surging Ducks play four games this week against Pacific Division opponents below them in the standings.”
While Andersen seems to be a solid start in net this weeks, Laidlaw has some good advice for those looking to get Pavelec back in the mix.
“The Jets go on the road this week for three games in the Southeast, which is not the pushover territory that it was when the Jets were the Thrashers. If contracts didn’t matter, Pavelec probably wouldn’t be an NHL starting goalie.”
Fantasy Advice: Opponents and Injuries
When you’re looking at your starting tenders this week, take a look at who they’re going to be up against. While hockey isn’t the easiest sport to predict, this point in the season offers up more clarity in picking your fantasy lineups than earlier on.
That being said, in the case of Andersen, Gibson’s injury does play a part. In the way that Korpisalo is seeing time in Columbus, Andersen’s been given the reigns to run with the job in Anaheim as the Ducks surge toward solidifying a playoff spot.
While you might be stuck when it comes to your starting lineup as the week drags on, don’t let your goaltending be a problem – check out Laidlaw’s latest advice on Sportsnet.
For more advice, check out THW’s fantasy homepage or follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.