Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Making the Right Moves With Malkin and Moving On From Cam Talbot

Fantasy Hockey Mailbag is a weekly column, answering your questions every Tuesday. No question is too big or too small, so if you want advice or feedback on any topic related to fantasy hockey, just ask away in the comments below.

fantasy hockey mailbag

Sometimes I forget, or take for granted, the reach of THW and the exposure it provides our team of writers.

I always assume my family reads this Mailbag. I know some of my close friends and fantasy hockey rivals do too. A few strangers have also come out of the woodwork over the last 12 weeks to confide in my advice and/or solicit my feedback on a regular basis. It seems I’m in constant contact with those usual suspects nowadays, talking trades and other happenings in their respective leagues. Without them, the Mailbag would be pretty empty at times.

Every week, though, at least one question has come from somebody new — from randoms all across North America. This week, I fielded my first question from Europe — all the way from Finland.

I was surprised, stunned really, to wake up to an email from Tommi Kenttä wanting me to weigh in on two potential trades he had been pondering. Tommi started by apologizing for his bad English, which honestly wasn’t bad at all — far superior to my Finnish, that’s for sure. Turns out, Tommi has been following the Mailbag for some time and enjoying my opinions on all things fantasy hockey, so he wanted to get in on the action.

Tommi was kind enough to share some information on his league — the FFHL or, fittingly, the Finnish Fantasy Hockey League — a deep keeper in its fourth season, featuring 30 teams with up to 68 players per roster. He’s both the defending champion and current standings leader. I’m in a couple of similar leagues, so it was easy to relate, but that information — along with your league’s scoring categories/system — helps me provide more detailed and accurate answers. So here goes . . .

Trade 1

INCOMING = Jori Lehterä

OUTGOING = Riley Sheahan and Chris Wideman

(Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers) In Tommi's position, it makes total sense to trade for Jori Lehterä and maintain his win-now mentality. Adding the St. Louis Blues forward to the fold will certainly help Tommi's chances of repeating as league champion.
(Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)
In Tommi’s position, it makes total sense to trade for Jori Lehterä and maintain his win-now mentality. Adding the St. Louis Blues forward will certainly help Tommi’s chances of repeating as league champion.

ANSWER: First off, notice the two dots above the letter ‘a’ — that symbolizes an umlaut vowel in the Finnish alphabet. With Lehterä being of Finnish descent, you can imagine Tommi’s excitement over the prospect of landing his compatriot. But he was approaching the deal with caution, realizing he was giving up two younger players, perhaps with untapped offensive upside. Despite only being in his sophomore NHL season, Lehterä will turn 28 years old just before Christmas, a couple weeks after Sheahan turns 24 and a couple weeks before Wideman turns 26. That age discrepancy aside, I’m still going to tell Tommi to go for it. Make this trade on the premise that you’re getting the best player in the deal as of today. Lehterä is still in his prime NHL years and probably hasn’t peaked as a relative newcomer. He had a strong debut centering breakout star Vladimir Tarasenko — his former KHL teammate — and Jaden Schwartz last season, but Schwartz is presently hurt and Tarasenko has played with a couple different pivots before recently being reunited with Lehterä. Assuming they stick together now, they should continue to pile up the points as a dynamic duo. Tarasenko oddly also has a December birthday — turning 24 like Sheahan — so I expect that combination to be effective for at least a few more seasons, meaning Lehterä will be a quality keeper going forward. However, if Tarasenko goes back to playing with Paul Stastny — as was the case last night — that does diminish Lehterä’s value to some degree, but I still think he’s the best (fantasy) player in this deal by a significant margin. I see Sheahan as more of a third-line guy, a key cog on an NHL team but not necessarily on your fantasy team. I don’t see Sheahan ever topping 50 points in a season, whereas I think that will become the norm for Lehterä, somewhere in that 50- to 60-point range. The only way I see this trade backfiring on Tommi is if Wideman’s offence translates from the AHL to the NHL. He was the AHL defenceman of the year last season, scoring 19 goals and 61 points. By comparison, Erik Karlsson recorded 21 goals and 66 points to lead all NHL defencemen in scoring last season. Wideman and Karlsson are now teammates with the Ottawa Senators, but there really is no comparison between their skill levels — the talented Swede is essentially in a league of his own, although Dallas’s John Klingberg is keeping pace so far. Even if Wideman ends up paired with Karlsson on the power play at some point, I think he’ll top out at around 10 goals and 40 points for the foreseeable future. I don’t think we’ll be talking about him as a Norris candidate anytime soon, that’s for sure. Go ahead and land your boy Lehterä — you know you want to, and I don’t see any good reason to stand in your way.

Trade 2

INCOMING = Brad Marchand

OUTGOING = Dmitrij Jaskin and Jake McCabe

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports) Brad Marchand is tearing it up this season, so there is no reason for Tommi not to make this trade. Get it done, my new friend.
(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
Brad Marchand is tearing it up this season, so there is no reason for Tommi not to make this trade. Get it done, my new friend.

ANSWER: This one is a no-brainer for me, I would absolutely welcome Marchand to the fold. I’d roll out the red carpet for him without any hesitation — and I’m not even that big of a Marchand fan. I know we’re talking keeper leagues here, but it’s still best to live in the present as opposed to the future — to deal in reality as opposed to potential, or what-ifs. The reality here is Marchand’s fantasy value far outweighs the combination of Jaskin and McCabe at present. Like Lehterä, Marchand is only turning 28 in the spring and although his playing style can make for some hard miles, he should still have plenty left in the tank to carry him into his mid-30s as a perennial 20-plus goal, 40-plus point kind of guy. If penalty minutes are beneficial in your league, that makes Marchand all the more valuable too as a multi-stat contributor. I was really high on Jaskin coming out of junior and granted he’s only turning 23 in the spring, but I no longer see him as a top-six power forward. I have him more in that Sheahan mould, a solid third-liner with a bit more natural skill but lacking finish at the NHL level. With that said, Jaskin could easily prove me wrong and break out for a 60-point season in the next couple years, becoming the best player in this deal. But, like I said, I prefer to do my fantasy business based on current realities. As far as McCabe goes, I see him developing into a second-pairing, all-around type with let’s say Matt Niskanen upside. That’s best-case scenario — Niskanen’s career highs are 10 goals and 46 points — but McCabe could just as easily top out at 25 points. If I’m Tommi, I’m taking Marchand (and Lehterä) and running away to my second straight title.

Fred Anjema (‏@SlewfootFred) asked on Twitter: I was going to try to trade Evgeni Malkin (prior to his four-point game against Minnesota). Do I keep him now? How about Brandon Saad? #FantasyHockeyProblems #SellHigh

Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
(Icon SMI)
Why you want to trade me, bro? Evgeni Malkin starts playing up to his potential and people are suddenly eager to move him. I subscribe to the sell-high approach, but I wouldn’t apply it to this particular player — not unless you’re getting an equally established star in return.

ANSWER: This question was actually directed at our fantasy editor, Andrew Forbes, but he was kind enough to pass it along to the Mailbag. The hashtag says it all here. In fantasy hockey, it’s typically a good idea to sell high and often times to buy low. You’ll see a prime example if you keep reading, with a deal that went down in my main keeper league. But in Fred’s case, I’m not convinced he’d be “selling high” on Malkin because he’s still underachieving by his own standards and probably has even more to offer as the season progresses. Malkin is heating up and that’s a good thing for Fred’s team. He’s not the kind of player I’d be trying to “sell high” on, not right now anyway. I mean, if you can land Patrick Kane or Jamie Benn straight up for Malkin, then sure, you make that move. But I can count on one hand — or definitely on two hands — the number of players that I’d be willing to trade Malkin for. He’s an elite talent and you don’t want to move him for a lesser player with more points at the quarter-pole of the season. Malkin straight up for David Krejci? Yeah, no thanks. Likewise, I’d pass on Max Pacioretty or either of the Sedins, and probably even on Taylor Hall, among many others. Now what if it’s Malkin straight up for his teammate, Sidney Crosby? That would be an intriguing trade to say the least. Personally, I’d probably do it, even though Malkin is outperforming Crosby to date. If that’s what Fred had in mind for selling high — or rather buying low — then he obviously likes to live dangerously, but I like his thinking. I’d seriously consider it.

As for Saad, I’d hang onto him too, unless you get an offer that is too good to refuse. I wouldn’t be actively shopping Saad because I think he’s doing just fine, and that both the player and the entire Blue Jackets team can get to another level in the next quarter of the season — over the next 20ish games. Of course, it all depends on who’s available and who you could potentially land for Saad, but I’m quite high on him and wouldn’t be in any hurry to move him — not in a single-season league, and especially not in a keeper.

Ryan Stewart asked via email: I’d like you to be completely honest here and let us know if I won these trades. It’s a nine-team, single-season rotisserie league with the following categories — goals, assists, points, power-play points, shots and hits.

TRADE 1

INCOMING = John Carlson, Tyler Toffoli and Marian Hossa

OUTGOING = Roman Josi, Jason Spezza and Ryan Ellis

Tyler Toffoli
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Tyler Toffoli is a budding talent for the Los Angeles Kings and his fantasy value is on the rise. I like that Ryan was able to land him in this trade.

ANSWER: First off, Ryan wins for best team name with “Every Day I’m Byfuglien”. I don’t know the other guy’s team name, but there’s no beating that. As for the trade, I’m giving Ryan (incoming) a slight edge, but it is pretty darn fair by fantasy standards. I really like Carlson on Washington’s lethal power play, more so than either or both of Josi and Ellis in Nashville. I’m also becoming more and more of a Toffoli fan. He’s not quite on Spezza’s level yet, but he’s not far off. To me, Toffoli is closer to Spezza than Josi is to Carlson based on these scoring categories. As a 2-for-2, it’s pretty fair, but I prefer the players that Ryan is getting. I’ll declare Hossa-for-Ellis a wash. I personally prefer Ellis, but I’m probably in the minority there among my fellow “fantasy experts”. Regardless, I see those two more so as throw-ins that shouldn’t sway this deal in either direction.

TRADE 2

INCOMING = Evgeni Malkin, Jason Spezza, Roman Josi and Alex Galchenyuk

OUTGOING = Taylor Hall, Blake Wheeler and Victor Hedman

Taylor Hall
(Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
Taylor Hall has had plenty to celebrate this season — even if his Edmonton Oilers have not. Hall is a bona fide fantasy stud, but I wouldn’t take him over Evgeni Malkin just yet.

ANSWER: Wow, I didn’t think it could get any closer than Ryan’s first trade, but this one really has me stumped. I might have to take the high road here and just call it a win-win deal. I honestly like it from both sides. I don’t want to contradict myself or go against what I said in a previous answer, so I’ll say Ryan is getting the best player in this deal in Malkin. That will spark a bit of controversy, no doubt. I’m as big of a Hall fan as anybody, but Malkin has been a top-five fantasy pick for almost a decade and deservedly so. He’s earned his reputation as a big fish — the biggest fish among these seven — but Hall really isn’t far behind and has an elite pedigree himself as a former first overall pick. Spezza for Wheeler, that’s a real toss-up and probably a draw. I prefer Hedman to Josi — I probably even prefer Hedman to Carlson — so that part of the deal is a loss for Ryan, but he’s getting Galchenyuk as a throw-in, which offsets that downgrade. This league doesn’t have separate categories for defence scoring, so that lessens the impact of that loss too. All things considered, if you agree that Malkin is still the best player in the deal, then I think we can give Ryan another narrow win. But I’m totally cool with calling it a tie as well.

Kris Noble, one of our Mailbag regulars, asked via email: Your thoughts on a trade of Evgeny Kuznetsov and two third-round picks (2016 and 2017) for Nikolaj Ehlers and Cory Schneider? I would be dropping Cam Talbot to make room for Schneider.

Evgeny Kuznetsov
(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Evgeny Kuznetsov is going to be a fantasy force for years to come, so I’d do everything in my power to avoid trading him in a keeper league.

ANSWER: Man, Edmonton really is a goalie graveyard when we’re talking about dropping Talbot just 20 games into the season. He was supposed to backstop the Oilers into the playoff race, but instead they are dead last in the league AGAIN and Talbot has been stapled to the bench lately, having been supplanted by Anders Nilsson — at least for the time being. So it’s understandable why Kris would want to bring in a proven upgrade in Schneider to round out his goaltending with Ben Bishop and Jaroslav Halak. The Devils are surprising me and don’t seem to be dropping off like I anticipated. Schneider is the biggest reason for New Jersey staying in the thick of that Eastern Conference playoff picture. In this league, goalie wins are worth two points and a shutout is worth five, but there are no categories for save-percentage or goals-against average. I really like Schneider in the save-percentage leagues, but if the Devils do start losing more often than not — like I still think they will, eventually — then Schneider might not be a huge difference-maker in this league. Based on that assumption, I feel Kuznetsov is the most valuable player in this trade. The sky is the limit for him, although he’s no longer centering Alex Ovechkin, which could slow Kuznetsov down going forward — at least in the short-term, but I see him as the best long-term keeper here. That’s not to take anything away from Ehlers. He’s going to be a fantasy stud too in due time. Maybe not so much this season but, within the next couple years, I could see Ehlers leading the Jets in scoring and possibly cracking the top 20 league-wide. I would trade both those second-rounders for Ehlers without thinking twice. But I would be very reluctant to trade Kuznetsov straight up for Schneider. That might be the dealbreaker for me. If I were Kris and I felt my goaltending was a concern with Talbot in the fold, I’d try to pry away Schneider without giving up Kuznetsov. Kris is pretty deep down the middle with Tyler Seguin and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also on his roster, so maybe just maybe you entertain Nugent-Hopkins for Schneider and still try to get Ehlers for the two picks. If that’s not an option, target a different goalie or just stand pat and hope Talbot regains his starter’s role sooner than later.


My Fantasy World

Keeper 1

Wowzers, I really took it on chin here — one of my worst beats in recent memory.

Sometimes you just don’t get the bounces and that was the case in this 7-3-0 loss. I actually had high hopes heading into Sunday’s finale despite trailing 6-4-0. I felt confident in the categories I was leading and felt I was within striking distance in four others — forward goals, special-teams goals, shots and save-percentage.

I had five more skaters playing Sunday than my opponent — granted, some of them were plugs — so I was quite optimistic that I could rally from 10 down to steal shots. If any of those presumed extra shots went in, I was in good shape to overcome my miniscule deficits in goals — down by two for goals and one for special-teams. I had my most valuable player back between the pipes in Carey Price and figured Jacob Markstrom would be a safe bet to beat those “overachieving” Devils considering the Canucks had just defeated the defending Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks the night before. But, boy, was I wrong.

Not only did Markstrom blow it in the third period of a 3-2 defeat to New Jersey — thus sealing my fate in save-percentage — but my eight skaters combined to do next to nothing. Guys like Lars Eller couldn’t even muster a single shot on goal. My opponent got a last-second, power-play goal from Radim Vrbata to pour salt in the wound for both those categories, but the real dagger came in the only category that ended up flipping — that being, penalty minutes.

In a stunning turn of events, I was leading by five to start the day and went up by 10 when Kyle Clifford fought in the first period of Sunday’s early game. That should have locked it up, with my opponent’s lineup consisting only of Vrbata, Travis Hamonic and Nathan Beaulieu. But Beaulieu, the litter bugger, took minors for tripping and hooking to close the gap to six. Then, the unthinkable happened, with Hamonic getting assessed a 10-minute misconduct in the dying minutes of that Canadiens-Islanders contest. Suddenly, I was trailing by four with only the Canucks-Devils game to go. But I had my secret weapon, Bobby Farnham, ready to be unleashed. He was a marked man heading into Vancouver having fought teenage rookie Jake Virtanen in New Jersey exactly two weeks earlier. For those unfamiliar with Farnham, he’s a middleweight agitator who racked up 666 penalty minutes in 191 AHL games over the previous three seasons — that’s an average of 222 penalty minutes per season or per 64 games. So you can see why my confidence was unwavering in regards to that category. On Farnham’s first shift of the game, he came out like a wrecking ball and got the worst of an early collision with Vancouver’s Derek Dorsett — a guy in his weight class who is always willing to throw down, currently tied for second in both fighting majors and total PIMs. Dorsett got penalized for interference on that play — just one minute 11 seconds into the game — but I thought the stage was set for them to square off shortly after Dorsett got out of the sin bin and that Farnham’s inevitable five-minute major would get me back to where we started the day. I was still envisioning that as a worst-case scenario. But, much to my dismay, Farnham stayed away from the rough stuff — probably because the score stayed close — and I couldn’t overcome that Hamonic misconduct in the end.

Now, because of that blowout loss, I’m reeling and on the ropes. My team, which was as high as third in the standings at one point and held steady in fifth for a couple weeks, has plummeted all the way to 12th place in the 20-team standings. I’ve suddenly slipped below .500 with an overall record of 30-31-9. I’m 25 points behind the leader and 12 points out of a top-five payout position.

So I desperately need to make up some ground over the next three weeks with some “easier” opponents on my schedule — all teams currently below me in the standings, in 19th, 15th and 17th, respectively. If I can bounce back to beat each of them 7-3-0 (or worse), then I’ll be right back in that prize-money mix and I can try to become a buyer again by shopping around my two remaining draft picks (my first-rounder and a later third-rounder) for immediate help. But sweeping this stretch in lopsided fashion will be easier said than done because — aside from the 20th-place team, which trails 19th by 20 points — there aren’t really any “easy” weeks. Truth be told, upon further review, I would have lost to all three of those teams last week — oddly enough, 6-3-1 to 19th, 6-4-0 to 17th and 5-4-1 to 15th. Sure, I didn’t have my best week statistically and I was missing Price for the first half, but that speaks to the ongoing parity of this league. I’ll have my work cut out for me week in and week out, and if things aren’t looking up by Christmas, then I could be forced to sell — instead of buy — ahead of our Jan. 27 trade deadline.

That would go against the grain from the two trades I’ve made to date, acquiring the expiring extensions of Craig Smith and Dan Hamhuis, both brought in to bolster my roster knowing full well they’d be auction bound at season’s end. The latter deal went down last week:

INCOMING = Dan Hamhuis, Anton Slepyshev and a late third-round pick (likely in the 52-60 range)

OUTGOING = Curtis McElhinney and my second-rounder (currently 29th overall but hopefully 35-37th)

ANALYSIS: I had no more use McElhinney, not with Price healthy again, so I was leaning towards dropping him to make room for Price coming off the IR. There are no serviceable goalies on the waiver wire, so that creates a decent market for even the most mediocre of backups like McElhinney. My defence beyond Erik Karlsson has been my weakness thus far. Jeff Petry is my second-best defender followed by Paul Martin, but I had much higher hopes for Calvin de Haan (1-3-4), Erik Gudbranson (1-2-3) and Jon Merrill (0-0-0). They were cheap keepers for me and I was hoping a couple of them would enjoy breakout seasons, but they have all been huge disappointments to date. With Jakub Kindl (2-3-5) back to being a healthy scratch, I was desperate to add a top-four defenceman and Hamhuis (0-3-3) was one of the only ones available in our league. He’s also underachieving, but he’s been a proven point-producer in years past and should start contributing, especially as a pending free agent in real life. This is a contract year for Hamhuis and I hope realizes that for the sake of my fantasy team. Slepyshev helps offset me dropping at least 20 spots in the draft order, although I’ll regret moving that second-rounder if my team continues to tumble down the standings. For what it’s worth, I dropped Tomas Jurco — the reigning player of the week . . . in the AHL — in order to activate Price, and I also waived goodbye to Stefan Elliott as a means of making room for Patrik Elias’s imminent season debut.

Here are the rest of the trades from this league over the past week:

INCOMING = Chris Kreider

OUTGOING = Reto Berra

ANALYSIS: Talk about selling high. This was our first deal of the week, occurring prior to the start of last Monday’s games. At that time, Berra was on fire, shockingly leading the league in some goaltending statistics and carrying the load for Colorado while Semyon Varlamov was sidelined by injury. The team that landed Berra was hurting for a good goalie, with Frederik Anderson struggling to win in Anaheim and Joni Ortio not seeing any crease time in Calgary. That team also had Varlamov on the IR, so it made some sense to go after Berra in order to get the Colorado tandem. As fate would have it, though, Berra went from unbeatable to downright brutal overnight, getting lit up for four goals in each of his three straight losses and getting pulled in two of them. Even as it was, upon the trade announcement, Kreider, a likely keeper, seemed like a steep price to pay for Berra, a recent waiver claim. In hindsight, Kreider is looking like a big-time steal despite getting stopped on penalty shots in consecutive games last week. He’ll certainly have a bigger impact than Berra going forward — now that Varlamov is healthy and starting again — so chalk this one up to excellent asset management by our reigning playoff champion, who also won this league’s regular-season title the previous three years in a row.


INCOMING = Claude Giroux

OUTGOING = Oscar Klefbom and a first-round pick (currently 13th but potentially closer to 20th)

ANALYSIS: This was our last deal of the week, occurring Sunday night after Giroux’s former owner suffered a 10-0 shutout loss that left him in 18th place. His knee-jerk reaction was to start selling and he made this trade with a real-life friend rather than putting Giroux on the block and fielding offers for a couple days. That said, it wasn’t a horrible return with young defencemen being the hardest assets to acquire and Klefbom showing some offensive promise during Justin Schultz’s injury absence in Edmonton. The first-rounder will give him another quality prospect to build around for the future. But I do wonder whether others would have topped that offer had they known Giroux was available.


INCOMING = Corey Crawford, Marian Hossa and Radko Gudas

OUTGOING = Andre Burakovsky, a first-round pick (currently 15th) and a third-round pick (currently 47th)

ANALYSIS: This was my current opponent, the 19th-place team, partially selling in parting with its top goaltender in Crawford, a top-line forward in Hossa and a defenceman with a penchant for penalty minutes in Gudas. The return was just OK and left a bit to be desired in my opinion, but hey I don’t have to worry about Crawford outplaying Price this week, so this trade was great to see from a selfish perspective.


INCOMING = Mark Scheifele

OUTGOING = Sonny Milano, Kyle Connor and Michael Sgarbossa

ANALYSIS: This was the 17th-place team selling off Scheifele for a nice package of prospects, highlighted by two ultra-talented first-rounders in Milano and Connor. I really like Scheifele, but those two might actually have higher ceilings if they reach their potential — IF being the keyword, as always.


INCOMING = Valeri Nichushkin

OUTGOING = Brett Ritchie

ANALYSIS: The team that just laid the boots to me landed Nichushkin in this swap of Dallas forwards with good upside. I prefer Nichushkin long-term and he’s healthy right now too, whereas Ritchie was one of a handful of forwards on that team’s IR — including Zach Parise and David Pastrnak — so he needed all the help he could get for the short-term. A smart move all around.


INCOMING = Alex Tanguay

OUTGOING = Sebastian Collberg and Zack Phillips


INCOMING = Tommy Wingels

OUTGOING = Martin Reway


INCOMING = Eddie Lack

OUTGOING = Ian Cole and Thomas Vannelli


INCOMING = Alex Stalock

OUTGOING = Brandon Bollig


INCOMING = Jeff Zatkoff

OUTGOING = Quinton Howden


Keeper 2

I don’t even want to talk about what happened here. Fine, full disclosure, I got pummeled 225.6-67.9 — yes, I lost by 157.7 total fantasy points. It was by far my worst showing of the season and a league-low among 28 teams for that week, while my opponent produced the fourth-highest total.

Knowing a beatdown was all but certain, my team decided to roll over and take it without putting up any fight whatsoever. Disappointing, but if there was a week to suck it up, this was it because there was likely no defeating this opponent even on my best of days.

Well, in saying that, if there was ever another week to suck it up, this would be it AGAIN. I’m up against Mailbag regular, Luc, the infamous wheeler and dealer who traded his way into an all-star team. I’m bracing for an equally humbling result and I’m actually half-cheering for Luc because I have two of his key players — Price and Sidney Crosby — in my other keeper. Go team!

http://gty.im/496055318

The only good news coming out of last week was that I successfully claimed Tanner Kero off waivers. Who? Kero is a rookie forward for the Chicago Blackhawks who is currently centering the fourth line and killing penalties, which won’t do much for my fantasy team in the present, but he’s got significant offensive potential for the future. Joel Quenneville has been giving Kero decent minutes and is known to shuffle his lines and roles, so here’s hoping Kero gets a look with more talented linemates in the coming days or weeks.

I honestly wasn’t expecting to get Kero, considering I was 19th out of 28 teams in the waiver order. The rule in this league is you can’t claim rookies until after their 10th career game, and most the good prospects are already owned through our rookie draft. But occasionally a decent one falls through the cracks — like Kero, or Colton Parayko, Mattias Janmark and Ben Hutton before him this season. Teams at the bottom of the standings, and thus the top of the waiver order, tend to keep a close eye on these types and snatch them up as soon as they hit the 10-game mark. It didn’t help my chances that Kero recorded an assist in his 10th game — Chicago’s overtime win against Edmonton this past Wednesday — but somehow he landed in my lap. Sure, Kero only has two career points — he previously scored his first goal in his fifth game — but, prior to getting called up by Chicago, he was putting up good numbers in the AHL with 11 goals and 12 points in just 13 combined games since turning pro at the end of last season. Kero was an undrafted prospect, signed by the Blackhawks as a free agent following four years at Michigan Tech (NCAA).

Kero could get sent back to the minors at some point, but this is a dynasty league and I made this move to benefit my team down the road. Likewise, I still have Tomas Jurco and Nikita Nesterov on my active roster despite being in the AHL. Reality is, I’m not winning the league this year and my focus needs to be on the long-term best interests of my team. Here’s hoping Kero turns out to be half as good as the other Chicago rookie that I took a chance on with an early second-round pick in our 2015 draft — Artemi Panarin. He’s been unreal so far, my most valuable player.

I’ll leave you with the one and only trade from this league over the last week, and I’ll apologize in advance for it not being much of a doozy:

INCOMING = Nick Holden and a third-round pick

OUTGOING = Jon Merrill and a second-round pick

ANALYSIS: As mentioned, I have Merrill in my other keeper and he’s pointless on the season. I actually had him in this league too, but traded him away for Jurco in the summer. That turned into a lose-lose and now Merrill is on the move again. These defencemen are non-factors on a contending team so, forgetting about them, I’d rather have the higher pick. I won’t waste any more breath on this one, but maybe if I shock the fantasy world and somehow upset Luc, he’ll shake things up again and give us a deal actually worth talking about in the coming weeks.


Do you have a question for the Fantasy Hockey Mailbag? You can reach out to me in the comments section below, by email at larry.fisher31@gmail.com, or on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter at The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, and has been an at-large contributor for The Hockey Writers since August 2014.