Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Blockbuster Deals Going Down, But Time to Trade Crosby?

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.

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This week’s Mailbag is jam-packed, so let’s just cut to the chase.

Last week was all about blockbuster trades, and it seems our readers — and my usual suspects — spent the past seven days trying to raise the bar and take it to another level. They’ve really outdone themselves this time.

You can pretty much name any star player and I have a trade to share with you.

Sidney Crosby, you say? Let’s save him for last — the best for last, except not really, given his prolonged-and-puzzling struggles.

Evgeni Malkin? Sure, we can start there.

Luc Grenier, who jokingly appointed me as senior advisor for the Montreal Canadiens — his fantasy version of the storied franchise — managed to land Malkin in one of my keeper leagues. Luc is a real wheeler and dealer as you’ve come to know if you’re a regular Mailbag reader, and he was at it again with not one but two mega-moves as the calendar flipped to November. The first was for the guy they call Geno:

INCOMING = Evgeni Malkin

OUTGOING = Bobby Ryan and Sami Vatanen

http://gty.im/492683616

Carey Price? It was only fitting that Luc — and his Habs — found a way to add him to the fold. In a league that can be tough to tinker, let alone overhaul your roster, Luc has an uncanny ability to make things happen. Within 48 hours of Price going “on the block”, he was headed to his rightful home in Montreal:

INCOMING = Carey Price, Loui Eriksson and Ron Hainsey

OUTGOING = Sergei Bobrovsky, James Neal and Torey Krug

Bravo, Monsieur Grenier. Within a span of six months, Luc went from being the laughing stock of this 28-team league to boasting a roster rich with star power. In addition to Malkin and Price, he had previously acquired Crosby, John Tavares and John Klingberg, among others. With a minimum of 18 keepers per team in a dynasty format, that’s darn impressive. Luc’s starting lineup is stacked, but his depth doesn’t compare to the league’s other powerhouses and it would appear his lack of “futures” assets will prevent him from improving in that department. But Luc’s proven us all wrong before, so I can’t wait to see what he pulls off next. He’s equal parts entertaining and efficient as a fantasy GM — Marc Bergevin should maybe consider looking him up for a real-life role. Moving along . . .

http://gty.im/493777844

Connor McDavid? Hurt as he may be — out “months” after undergoing surgery to repair a broken clavicle (collarbone) — the Edmonton Oilers rookie phenom remains a hot commodity, especially in keeper leagues. If you can get him, you do it, no questions asked. This particular deal actually went down on the morning of the day that McDavid got hurt against the Flyers and, as fate would have it, a Philadelphia fan, who happened to be in attendance at that game in Edmonton, was on the receiving end. But providing McDavid makes a full recovery, as expected, this guy was happy, not devastated, to see him go down — to lose him for the foreseeable future. You see, he made the move as a seller, hoping to tank his way into drafting Auston Matthews for next season, so McDavid’s absence is sure to help his chances of picking first overall in 2016. As messed up as that probably sounds, especially so early in the season, it might be pure genius if his plan pans out and he’s able to build around that 1-2 punch going forward. That said, he paid an exorbitant price:

INCOMING = Connor McDavid

OUTGOING = Steven Stamkos, Nicklas Backstrom (Washington forward), Wayne Simmonds, Michael Frolik, Erik Johnson, Alex Goligoski and Roberto Luongo

Yes, you’re reading that right — a 7-for-1 trade, an obvious overpayment at face value but with an ulterior motive. Clearly a lopsided loss for this season, but let’s wait and see what the future holds before passing too much judgment. McDavid and Matthews on the same team would be a tantalizing combination, making this a potential case of short-term pain for long-term gain. Time will tell, but I’d probably take that package over McDavid as of today. You’d be crazy not to.

That trade comes from my first-ever keeper league, which is still going strong after a couple decades. The majority of GMs are middle-aged, so it’s not child’s play and there’s logic behind every deal as silly as some of them may seem. I spent seven enjoyable seasons in that league before branching out and starting my own copycat keeper for the 2010-11 campaign. Reason being, I had relocated to a different province in 2008 and the distance caused me to miss their in-person auctions — the highlight of the whole season, complete with (alcoholic) penalty shots — and thus rely on others (rival GMs) to round out my roster for better or worse. I do miss those draft-day festivities that often carried into the night, but I still keep tabs on that good-ol’-boys league from afar. Oh, and for those wondering who jinxed “McJesus”, he goes by the name of Patrick Feser.

Luc had the rights to McDavid — or, rather, the 2015 first overall pick — once upon a time too, so we can reflect on his deal for comparison sake. Granted, that was before McDavid was even drafted and long before he took the league by storm as a point-per-game player from Day 1. His value is now higher than ever, but Luc did the unthinkable back then:

INCOMING = Sidney Crosby and John Tavares

OUTGOING = 1st Round Pick (1st, Connor McDavid), 1st Round Pick (4th, Noah Hanifin), 2nd Round Pick (29th, Joel Eriksson-Ek), 2nd Round Pick (37th, Vince Dunn), 3rd Round Pick (70th, Nicolas Meloche) and 3rd Round Pick (72nd, Ryan Gropp), plus 2016 1st, 2nd and 3rd Round Picks that should be in the 20-28, 48-56 and 76-84 ranges

Speaking of Crosby . . .

http://gty.im/494867554

Pierre D. asked via email: I’m considering trading Crosby (not out of panic) for added depth. I’m considering acquiring a RW and a solid starting G. What do you think?

BACKGROUND: Pierre added that he felt “the era of 100+ point players is near extinct. I don’t think Crosby does it anymore. He’ll be 29 next season. I feel it’s time to move him if I can get decent value.” Pierre had already received a couple offers for Crosby, including a package of Jeff Carter, Derek Stepan, Reto Berra (or possibly Matt Murray instead) and a 1st Round Pick. The other offer, which Pierre had rejected but could revive, was Ryan Johansen, Zachary Fucale and two 1st Rounders. Pierre had countered by swapping out Fucale for Connor Hellebuyck, but that was a deal breaker. Pierre was very forthcoming with information, attaching his roster and league scoring system. That was much appreciated, making my job easier when it came to answering . . .

(Photo By Andy Martin Jr.) Unless you're getting offered Alexander Ovechkin straight up — in a league with shots on goal as a scoring category — I still think hanging onto Sidney Crosby is your best bet. Typically, if you give up the best player in any trade, you lose the trade — and slow start be damned, Crosby is still the best player in the league. I get the thought process behind trading for depth, but you better make sure it's quality depth and not just quantity. That said, I still wouldn't do it if I were Pierre.
(Photo By Andy Martin Jr.)
Unless you’re getting offered Alexander Ovechkin straight up — in a league with shots on goal as a scoring category — I still think hanging onto Sidney Crosby is your best bet. Typically, if you give up the best player in any trade, you lose the trade — and slow start be damned, Crosby is still the best player in the league. I get the thought process behind trading for depth, but you better make sure it’s quality depth and not just quantity. That said, I still wouldn’t do it if I were Pierre.

ANSWER: First off, I like Pierre’s roster a lot as is. He’s in a 14-team league with an extensive scoring system — with 22 categories in total, including six for goaltenders. If you can think of a category, chances are this league utilizes it. The depth of the league is quite impressive, and yet the depth of Pierre’s team isn’t a weakness by any means either. For that reason, my short answer is to keep Crosby as the face of the franchise and pass on both those proposals. In fantasy, much like in real life, I find the team that gives up the best player in the deal often ends up the loser. I feel that would be the case here for Pierre. I really don’t see a need to move Crosby at this point. Pierre mentioned targeting a goaltender but, to me, that is already a position of strength for Pierre’s team with the tandem of Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury, plus Mike Condon and Joni Ortio as backups. As much as I like Matt Murray — I’d definitely take him over Reto Berra — I think the crease is the least of Pierre’s worries. He’s also got a trio of solid prospects waiting in the wings with Ottawa’s Matt O’Connor, Calgary’s Mason McDonald and Philadelphia’s Matej Tomek. Pierre’s a little weaker at right-winger, but it’s not a need that would warrant dangling Crosby in my opinion. If Alex Ovechkin is a RW or especially if he’s a dual-position winger, that’s a swap you’d have to consider and a deal you’d probably be wise to make. Outside of Ovechkin, I still wouldn’t trade Crosby straight up for Patrick Kane or Vladimir Tarasenko, two other RW that immediate come to mind. Corey Perry could be a buy-low candidate right now too, and then there are some younger options like Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Toffoli and Mark Stone, but Crosby would be a non-starter in negotiations for those guys. I wouldn’t even put him on the table. Pierre’s top RW are Mats Zuccarello, Nick Foligno and Ryan Callahan, plus Brent Burns, who is strangely still listed as a dual-position player despite being strictly a defenceman for the better part of a calendar year now (I’m sure Pierre’s not complaining on that front).

It’s understandable why Pierre would want to upgrade at RW and, in all honesty, his defence is the area I’d personally look to address. Besides Burns, Pierre has Ryan McDonagh, Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Jeff Petry and Jason Demers as his starting six. He has Jacob Trouba and Simon Despres as reserves too. Not terrible and a pretty efficient group, but not overly exciting either. If I was getting trigger-happy on Crosby and wanted to make a move for more depth — even though I don’t see that as a concern in Pierre’s case — I’d go after a RW and D combo and forget about the G altogether. John Klingberg’s value is skyrocketing this season, but if you could get him and Tarasenko or even Kucherov as keepers for Crosby, that would be very tempting to me as a quality-for-quality 2-for-1 deal. Or say if you could get Patrick Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen, who is an up-and-comer similar to Klingberg. Two other defencemen of interest — besides the obvious like Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban, Victor Hedman and Oliver Ekman-Larsson — would be Colorado’s Tyson Barrie and Nashville’s Seth Jones. This Colton Parayko kid in St. Louis has come out of nowhere, but he’s intriguing the heck out of me too. I wouldn’t make him a key piece in the deal, but if you could get him thrown in as a third asset, he could still prove to be a steal.

Back to the offers Pierre is currently entertaining, the first one really does nothing for me. Carter and Stepan don’t offset the loss of Crosby — not even close in my opinion — and Berra/Murray and a first-rounder aren’t overly enticing to me. I think I actually prefer the other package of Johansen, Fucale and two first-rounders, but I agree with Pierre’s assessment that Fucale is years away from becoming an NHL goalie and prospects at that position are a total crapshoot. Now, if Pierre could get Johansen and one of those D or RW that I tossed out there, then that’s a deal I could get behind. The problem, of course, is that Crosby got off to a slow start this season and Pierre would be selling extremely low at this point. That’s never a good idea, especially when we all know Crosby will pick up the pace sooner or later. I had him pegged for triple-digits and another Art Ross Trophy this season, but that 100-point plateau is probably going to prove elusive again. I still think he’s the best fantasy keeper in the game, and Pierre’s league has categories like “faceoffs won” and “takeaways” that add to Crosby’s value. Then again, Pierre’s league also favours goals to assists — awarding three points to two — which makes Ovechkin the MVP there and makes that swap wishful thinking. My advice to Pierre would be to hang tight, keep Crosby and reap the benefits once he inevitably starts racking up the points. If the urge to trade Sid persists, then make sure you are getting quality — as opposed to quantity — in return. You have him and you can name your price. Don’t succumb to lowball offers because you’ll regret it. You won’t regret keeping him for a few more years.

THW reader Marin asked: Would you trade Patrick Kane and Corey Perry for Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Burns in a standard league? I’m currently sitting at or near the top in every offensive category, but my goaltending has been awful thus far with Sergei Bobrovsky and Petr Mrazek.

Burns Sharks
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Brent Burns is a beast — just look at the guy! In all seriousness, he’s a huge fantasy asset, every bit as impactful as Patrick Kane, especially if Burns is still a two-position player in your league. Marc-Andre Fleury is quietly having a Vezina-calibre season too, so if you can land them as a package, that’s more than likely a good idea.

ANSWER: At face value — even without knowledge that Marin is dominating offensively — I’d definitely do this deal. With that knowledge, it becomes a no-brainer for me. I do think Bobrovsky is going to find his form and at least return to respectability, and I still believe Mrazek will secure Detroit’s starter role sooner than later. But Fleury might be the best goalie in the league right now — OK, besides Price (when healthy) — and the Penguins are going to continue winning once they start scoring at a better clip. Likewise, Burns is right up there with the very best fantasy defencemen. He’s top 10 for sure, and I have him in my top five, possibly as high as third behind only Karlsson and Subban. Especially if you’re in a league like Pierre (see aforementioned answer) where Burns is still a two-position player and can be utilized as a forward. That luxury made him and Dustin Byfuglien extremely valuable in years past, although I feel they should both be defence-only for this season. Don’t get me wrong, Kane is a point-producing machine and deserves his due — especially for his strong start despite the distraction of that rape investigation. Perry is bound to pick up his pace too, with all of the Ducks’ big guns struggling out of the gate. But if you’re offence is already loaded, even without Perry doing much damage, then I think this is a trade that makes sense for Marin. You’ll notice the loss of Kane, but not as much as you’ll notice the boost from Burns and Fleury. It’s a pretty fair deal, but one Marin should absolutely make.

THW reader Longtin asked: What are your thoughts on players like Ryan Callahan, David Backes and Jonathan Huberdeau? I feel like they are underperforming. Is it wise to hold on to them in case they bounce back, trade them for players who are actually getting points or drop them for some waiver players? I got offered Dylan Larkin for Huberdeau. I have a feeling Huberdeau will do well soon enough, but I can see Larkin getting even more points once Pavel Datsyuk comes back.

(Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers) I like Ryan Callahan as a hockey player — he could play on my team any day of the week. My NHL team, that is. My fantasy team? No thanks, I don't see a whole lot of value in him going forward.
(Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)
I like Ryan Callahan as a hockey player — he could play on my team any day of the week. My NHL team, that is. My fantasy team? No thanks, I don’t see a whole lot of value in him going forward, so be on the lookout for a better option and try to shop him around based on name recognition.

ANSWER: It really depends who’s available, both via trade and on the waiver wire. With the trade that is/was on the table, I think I would pass on that one. Longtin is in a keeper league, but teams only keep four players from one season to the next from their 18-player rosters. So I’m assuming Larkin wouldn’t be among his top-four, nor would Huberdeau. So in that case, you have to treat this trade as a single-season deal. I’d hang onto Huberdeau with the assumption that he’ll start racking up the points once his regular linemates — Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov — return from injury. Jagr is back now, but he missed time and that trio was one of the league’s hottest lines for a few games before Barkov went down. I’m really high on Larkin too, but I think Datsyuk’s impending return will negatively impact his value. I think Larkin has proven enough to this point to stay on the NHL roster and avoid an AHL demotion like most expected prior to the season. He was supposed to be a place-holder for Datsyuk, but now it’s almost certain that Larkin will be sticking around. I’m just not sure where he’ll fit in the depth chart if Datsyuk takes his place with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Brad Richards will be back pretty soon too and he’s supposed to slot in with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. That bumps Riley Sheehan down to the third line with Teemu Pulkkinen and perhaps Larkin? But what happens if and when Johan Franzen is healthy too. Detroit has a deep forward group, so Larkin will have to continue to earn his minutes, especially any power-play time. He’s a college kid and isn’t used to an 82-game schedule, so it’s possible that Larkin will hit a wall at some point too. I’d trade Callahan for him, but not Huberdeau. Of the three names you’re thinking about moving, Callahan is the one that I’d be willing to part with. Backes is heating up a bit and I think Huberdeau will too. I think Callahan is more of a meat-and-potatoes player, what you see right now is what you’re going to get for the season and foreseeable future. That’s not a bad thing in real life, but he’s no longer going to be an impact player in fantasy. I see Callahan trending toward Dustin Brown or Shane Doan. If you can swap Callahan for a younger forward, via trade or potentially even waivers, that’s something I would consider.

Longtin also asked: Justin Abdelkader, why does most other fantasy advice gurus/NHL experts say he’s going to have a breakout season? Like 60-70 points?

Jake Allen
(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Hey look, it’s Ryan Callahan a half-dozen years ago. OK, he never played for Detroit — you got me there. But Justin Abdelkader — seen here trying to score on St. Louis goalie Jake Allen — is essentially the second-coming of Callahan in terms of his skill-set and what he brings to the table. Abdelkader is a very useful player in real life for the Red Wings, but an average-at-best asset for your fantasy team.

ANSWER: That sounds awfully high for Abdelkader. I just don’t see 60-plus and I never saw 60-plus even when he got off to a torrid start. I suggested to sell high on him a couple weeks back, and anybody that listened is probably glad they did. To me, Abdelkader is a younger version of Ryan Callahan again. I see him as a 25-goal, 50-point reliable player who is a depth guy on your fantasy team, not a front-liner. He certainly wouldn’t be one of your four keepers. Abdelkader is a pending unrestricted free agent next summer, so he’s in a contract year and playing for a big payday. He’s making $2.25 million this season and is due for a handsome raise. I suspect some team (perhaps even Detroit), will give him the Matt Beleskey deal — five years in the neighbourhood of $20 million — so he needs to have a Beleskey-type season to cash in. That’s what we’re seeing out of Abdelkader so far, and I think I prefer him to Beleskey, but not by a wide margin. I had Abdelkader at No. 144 on my big list of the Top 400 Fantasy Forwards — just behind Michael Frolik and just ahead of Michael Raffl, David Perron, Travis Zajac, Artem Anisimov and Valtteri Filppula. They were all in my 40-to-60-point range that started at No. 110 and ended at No. 244. That encompasses 134 players, with Abdelkader ranking 34th among that grouping. Divide that total by two and the 67th-ranked player from that group would be pegged for 50 points on the dot using my system. Split the difference again and the 33rd- or 34th-ranked player would be pegged for 55 points. That still sounds about right for Abdelkader. Worth noting, I had Beleskey ranked 13 spots below Abdelkader at No. 157, while Callahan was closer to the top of that grouping at No. 116. Backes and Huberdeau were in my 60-to-80-point range at No. 60 and No. 69, respectively. I made some obvious mistakes on that list, but I stand by my predictions for those particular players.

Lastly, Longtin asked: I have three players on my roster that got injured. I already dropped Duncan Keith and picked up Anton Stralman. Jaden Schwartz is going to be out for 3-4 months, so I placed him on the IR. Now Connor McDavid got injured and I only have one IR spot — he will be out “months”. Is it worth just wasting a bench space for these two players or should I drop Schwartz and risk it?

Duncan Keith
(Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr.)
Duncan Keith looks sad that you dropped him, but if you’re cutting Keith loose because you don’t want to “waste” a roster spot on an injured non-keeper player — which is smart asset management, by the way — then it’s pretty difficult to make an exception for Jaden Schwartz. I’m a big Schwartz fan, have been dating all the way back to his Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League days, but you just can’t afford to wait that long for his return — which is still months away — while passing up a bunch of points in the meantime.

ANSWER: I see the dilemma here. Keith obviously wasn’t a keeper for you, not among your top four. McDavid, on the other hand, is a stud keeper and he proved it before getting hurt by being a point-per-game player in his first month in the league. The Oilers aren’t going to rush McDavid back into the lineup and risk another injury, so I’m expecting him to be sidelined for closer to three months than two — returning towards the end of January or maybe even early February. McDavid will be worth the wait and should occupy your IR spot until then. Schwartz has a similar timeline, but he could be back a bit earlier in January. Either way, that’s a long wait and a lot of potential man-games lost to your bench. I’m a big believer in maximizing your games played because any stats are better than no stats. If Schwartz isn’t a keeper for you — and I assume he’s not if Keith wasn’t — then it makes sense to also swap him out for the best available free agent. Or here’s an idea, try trading Schwartz to a team that isn’t currently using its IR spot and take back a lesser talent in return. Chances are that lesser talent would still be better than anybody available on waivers. If other teams have an open IR spot, somebody will snatch up Schwartz sooner than later, so you may as well get something for him. Same mentality there, something is better than nothing. I have no idea who might be available in your league, on waivers or via trade, but I’d definitely explore trade options for a week or two with Schwartz before dropping him. Be aggressive in shopping him and be prepared to accept a downgrade. It will still be better than losing months worth of stats. Schwartz got off to a tough start — he hadn’t scored a single goal before getting hurt — but he’s got some name value from last season and he’s young, so there should be a decent amount of interest. I had Schwartz ranked 50th on that aforementioned big list, but that was too high in hindsight. I had him just ahead of Gabriel Landeskog, Jeff Carter, David Krejci, Jiri Hudler, Blake Wheeler and Ryan O’Reilly in that order. Given a mulligan, I’d probably drop Schwartz down to the 70-80 range with the likes of T.J. Oshie, James Neal, Ondrej Palat, Craig Smith and Evander Kane. But you can’t expect those types in return for an injured player who probably won’t be a keeper in this league. Schwartz is sidelined long-term, so you’ll have to lower your expectations and take what you can get. Going off my list, I’d look to land somebody ranked 110-130, perhaps a guy like Bo Horvat, Tomas Hertl or Valeri Nichushkin. Somebody who isn’t off to a great start either but who could pick up the pace and become a decent contributor. Those kind of guys also have the potential to match Schwartz’s output even when he returns. You’re selling low — offering up damaged goods — so try to capitalize on that by buying low in return. If you can’t find a fit, you might have to bite the bullet and drop Schwartz for a free agent. If it comes to that, grab somebody who is on a hot streak and try to ride it out, then rotate him out for the next flavour of the week.


My Fantasy World

Keeper 1

With Price on the IR and Crosby still MIA, my team was doomed against a formidable foe. Not even my handful of Oilers could bail me out on my 31st birthday — as they had done on Sundays before — with Edmonton falling 4-2 to the Blackhawks and sealing my season-worst 7-3-0 defeat. This wasn’t the playful birthday bumps we used to get as kids, it was a full-on birthday beatdown.

I saw it coming, though, as soon as I saw my goaltending tandem would be Linus Ullmark and Curtis McElhinney. That was a sign of impending misery, but Jacob Markstrom could make his season debut as early as tonight and Price will hopefully be returning to the crease sooner than later too. Once they take over between the pipes — and if Crosby ever gets going — my team should be competitive again with anybody in any given week.

That blowout loss dropped me from fifth to seventh in our 20-team standings, while the top five pulled away from the pack a little. The true contenders are starting to emerge but, in saying that, there are 11 teams — from sixth to 16th — separated by a total of eight points. So it’s still extremely tight with plenty of fluctuation from one week to the next.

Parity remains prevalent, but more buyers and sellers are coming out of the woodwork now that we’ve reached our quarter-pole, with first-round picks getting added to our rosters as trade chips. Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Getzlaf and Henrik Lundqvist are the biggest names in play right now, all “on the block” and likely to move within the next week or two.

I’d like to get in on the buying, but I don’t have a whole lot to offer in the way of “futures” assets — just my first-, second- and third-round draft picks, plus prospects Michael Mersch and Laurent Brossoit, neither of whom I’m too keen on moving. I’m going to explore some hockey deals at some point, but I’m standing pat on the trade front for the time being, still evaluating my team as a whole once it gets healthy.

I’ve made some subtle improvements — or adjustments — through free agency, recently swapping Quinton Howden for Kyle Clifford in order to up my penalty minutes. Clifford has been fighting more this season, albeit with mixed results, holding his own against Edmonton’s Luke Gazdic but then getting dropped by Columbus’s Nick Foligno. Go figure.

Truth be told, Clifford was a fallback option after somebody higher in the waiver order snatched my intended target — Chicago’s Tanner Kero, a rookie forward with good upside that was surprisingly dropped earlier in the week. Then, a couple days later, I got scooped on another attempted claim of a fellow college sensation in Boston’s Frank Vatrano, who had 10 goals in as many AHL games before getting called up and promptly scoring in his NHL debut. That’s the downside of being higher in the standings among a group of GMs that actually pay attention on a daily basis. Good on those guys for being on the ball — both Vatrano and Kero could be big-time fantasy booms if they stick in the big league.

Now for the trades that did go down in this league over the last week:

INCOMING = Anze Kopitar

OUTGOING = Brandon Sutter, Nic Petan and Kasperi Kapanen

ANALYSIS: I really like this deal for both teams, with Kopitar being the best win-now player and an upgrade over Sutter, while Petan and Kapanen both have lots of upside as building blocks for the future.


INCOMING = Shea Weber and Cody Goloubef

OUTGOING = Eric Fehr, Nick Holden, Conor Garland, Madison Bowey, Joe Hicketts, Mattias Backman, a second-round pick and two third-round picks

ANALYSIS: Our standings leader landed Weber in this 9-for-2 deal that returned more quantity than quality. That said, there are some good pieces in that package, especially the trio of defence prospects in Bowey, Hicketts and Backman — at least a couple of them should turn into fantasy players in the coming years.


INCOMING = Matt Duchene, Sebastian Collberg and a third-round pick

OUTGOING = Jonas Hiller and Alex Tanguay

ANALYSIS: I’d take Duchene over Hiller and Tanguay any day of the week, so getting a couple futures thrown in makes it a clear win in my opinion. Tanguay got hurt shortly after this trade occurred and Hiller was already injured beforehand. But if they get healthy, and if Hiller returns to being Calgary’s starting goaltender, then it becomes a lot more fair.


INCOMING = James Reimer

OUTGOING = Jordan Martinook, Antoine Bibeau, Brett Pollock and Greg Carey

ANALYSIS: The guy that got Reimer — on the morning after his 43-save win over Dallas — was desperate to get a goalie. The guy that gave him up maintained his total of 10 Leafs players/prospects with the return of Bibeau, who will be the real long-term key to this deal if he becomes Toronto’s goalie of the future.


INCOMING = Nick Spaling

OUTGOING = Rich Clune

ANALYSIS: Nothing to see here, obviously. Just a swap of two guys that should probably be on waivers. Clune has since been dropped.


Keeper 2

I won my second straight squeaker here, pulling ahead on Sunday thanks to Kari Lehtonen’s third win of the week and Artemi Panarin’s three-point performance against Edmonton. As you can tell, that Chicago victory was bittersweet, but it helped me prevail 205.9-187.8 and improve my overall record to 3-2-0 in this 28-team league. The poor team that I rallied to beat fell to 0-5-0, still winless and stuck in the basement of our seven-team division despite a valiant effort from his young-but-talented roster. It’s only a matter of time until that team breaks out and starts stringing together some victories, but I’m glad it didn’t come against me.

My team really bounced back from a couple of down weeks — with point totals of 99.0 in a loss and 124.2 in a win. This total of 205.9 was a season-high (my previous best was 174.4) and hopefully a sign of things to come. I’ll need a similar output this week against another division rival (4-1-0), with a chance to pull even in the standings. I’m the underdog, currently sitting fourth in our division, while my opponent is tied for second and outscoring my team 843.5-738.0 year-to-date.

Besides Luc’s latest blockbusters, there wasn’t much action on the trade front, just a couple of minor swaps:

INCOMING = Lee Stempniak

OUTGOING = Third-round pick


INCOMING = Mattias Janmark

OUTGOING = Third-round pick


Box Pools Update

We’re now officially a month into the NHL season, so I figured it’d be a good time to check in on my box pools. With limited or no transactions allowed in these leagues, I’ll likely keep them to monthly updates, at least until the later stages of the season — barring any significant developments.

I’m entered into two box pools, the first on an invitation from my wife-to-be’s uncle and cousin. Those family ties always make for fun dinner-table banter at Christmas and especially at Easter when all is said and done. So far, as of today, I have bragging rights over both of them — with a slim one-point lead on uncle Jerry but a 31-point advantage over cousin Marty, whose squad is struggling in second-to-last place among 32 entrants. My team isn’t exactly lighting it up either, sitting in 19th place — and 32 points behind the standings leader — but as long as I stay ahead of those two, I’ll get the last laugh at the next get-together.

The other box pool that I signed up for was the Kentwood Hockey Draft, put on my OilersNation.com. There, I’m tied for 693rd out of presumably thousands of entries, having totaled 207 points to date — 48 fewer than that standings leader. Looking at our roster discrepancies, the top-ranked team took Ovechkin (15) over Crosby (7), Jamie Benn (21) over Tavares (11), Vladimir Tarasenko (13) over Getzlaf (5), and Max Pacioretty (14) over Henrik Sedin (9). The rest of our picks, even if they were different players, are producing at a pretty similar clip — give or take a point here or there.


This was the 10th edition of my Fantasy Hockey Mailbag — the 10-week anniversary (check out previous editions here) — but it would be nothing without your questions. I really do rely on readers requesting advice or feedback to keep this column going strong. 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.