Forecaster: Matchups, projections for Feb. 27-Mar. 5

On Monday, we cherry-picked from a number of ESPN.com writers to take a fantasy look at some of the names who have been rumored to be on the block ahead of next Wednesday's trade deadline. We looked at Matt Duchene, Martin Hanzal, Patrick Eaves, Radim Vrbata,...

Forecaster: Matchups, projections for Feb. 27-Mar. 5

On Monday, we cherry-picked from a number of ESPN.com writers to take a fantasy look at some of the names who have been rumored to be on the block ahead of next Wednesday's trade deadline. We looked at Matt Duchene, Martin Hanzal, Patrick Eaves, Radim Vrbata,...

24 February 2017 Friday 18:01
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Forecaster: Matchups, projections for Feb. 27-Mar. 5

On Monday, we cherry-picked from a number of ESPN.com writers to take a fantasy look at some of the names who have been rumored to be on the block ahead of next Wednesday's trade deadline. We looked at Matt Duchene, Martin Hanzal, Patrick Eaves, Radim Vrbata, Gabriel Landeskog, Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop after finding them coming up time and time again in trade suggestions.

We aren't going to suggest that the two deals involving fantasy irrelevant defensemen constitute the dam breaking open, but at least we've had some trades start to trickle in, with Michael Stone to the Calgary Flames and Ron Hainsey to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On Thursday, Craig Custance gave an expanded list of 20 trade targets that offers a few more names to consider, but most of the fantasy relevant ones are covered off in the list from Monday. So instead of talking about players, I thought we could turn the tables and look at places.

After all, we don't know what NHL GMs are willing and not willing to do between now and Wednesday. However, we can say that "Team X" has a particular opening that will allow an incoming player to have significantly-improved fantasy value, whomever they may be.

To that end, here are our best guesses, listed in order of fantasy value, for the roles where the majority of players in the NHL would see a boost in fantasy value should they end up in those situations following the trade deadline. This way, you can say to yourself, "Oh, the Pittsburgh Penguins landed "Winger Y," so he's probably worth a pickup." That's the point of this exercise.

Pittsburgh Penguins, winger: That wasn't a random example above. The Penguins have the most dynamic one-two punch in the NHL down the middle and no amount of wingers would be enough to adequately keep Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin fed. Any winger on the trade market that lands here will have a shot to earn time with one of them, nudging out Carl Hagelin, Chris Kunitz, Jake Guentzel or Conor Sheary, if he's back.

Editor's Picks

  • Shattenkirk trade getting harder to make

    One of the NHL's top trade candidates may not be moved prior to the deadline, and here's why. Plus, your mailbag questions answered.

  • Top 250 fantasy hockey rankings

    Which fantasy hockey players could be most affected by trades as the deadline nears? That, plus the top players on the move in the latest rest-of-season top-250 rankings.

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One of the NHL's top trade candidates may not be moved prior to the deadline, and here's why. Plus, your mailbag questions answered.

Which fantasy hockey players could be most affected by trades as the deadline nears? That, plus the top players on the move in the latest rest-of-season top-250 rankings.

New York Rangers, defenseman: No knock on Ryan McDonagh here at all, as he's done a superb job of stepping up as an offensive defenseman, but the Rangers could use someone who does a little more shooting from the blue line. Justin Schultz and Jared Spurgeon are the only top-20 defensemen on the ESPN Player Rater with fewer shots than the 14th-ranked McDonagh this season. There aren't many fish in the defensemen pond for trade deadline day. It's also highly likely that anyone the Rangers land who happens to fit this description already has fantasy value in their current role. Still, the opportunity exists and it's an exciting one, if the Rangers can find the right puzzle piece.

San Jose Sharks, winger: The Sharks still have Tomas Hertl on the third line and Kevin Labanc would be easy to bump if another quality scoring winger came into the fold next week. The role is a plum one, skating alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. If the Sharks can add any of the available wingers on the market, they would almost certainly debut on this line to see if there's a fit.

Dallas Stars, goaltender: Though they aren't playoff bound for certain, the Stars would be happy to address a long-term need with one of the goaltenders allegedly on the market -- be that Fleury or Bishop. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi just aren't getting it done in the crease for a team whose biggest weakness is goals allowed. One has to think that an established No. 1 starter coming through the doors could immediately improve their own lot, as well as that of the Stars. It's not like this team is struggling with possession or anything, as it sits 15th in the NHL in Corsi since Jan. 1.

Chicago Blackhawks, winger: The reason this spot is so far down the list is not because of the lack of potential for an incoming winger, but rather due to the likelihood that the Blackhawks stand pat. Any new asset would have to come extremely cheap. Beyond that, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik are making a case to stay with Jonathan Toews of late. Besides, if the team decides one of them needs to be demoted, Marian Hossa is waiting in the wings.

Columbus Blue Jackets, center: It hasn't been long enough to suggest that Alexander Wennberg is running out of gas, but in his first season as a top-six winger, his pace is starting to slow. After posting 13 points in consecutive months for November and December, Wennberg had 10 points in January and only has five in February so far. The Blue Jackets might be in the market for someone a little more experienced to jump on the second scoring line with Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno.

Edmonton Oilers, defenseman: Oscar Klefbom is passable here and has shown signs of a very bright future, but the Oilers appear to be playoff bound, and a more experienced blueliner to run the power play wouldn't be a bad thing. If the Oilers do add a body on the back end, there is a solid chance they jump to No. 1 on the depth chart.

Carolina Hurricanes, goaltender: As the season wears on, so does Cam Ward. His stats have been in decline since the calendar flipped to 2017 and his fantasy value has all but disappeared. The Hurricanes were on the fence about running with him for the future at the start of the season and may be in the market for a long-term replacement. We're not saying a new starter would be a fantasy star for the stretch run, but Ward showed that there can be sustainable value in backstopping this team. He managed the third-best goals-against average in the NHL from Nov. 1 to Jan. 1 this season.

Montreal Canadiens, center: New coach Claude Julien very quickly backed away from a super line of Alex Galchenyuk, Alexander Radulov and Max Pacioretty, backing Galchenyuk to the second line. The bottom line is that an incoming center would have a very good chance of being more appealing on the top line than Phillip Danault. While it would be nicer for Galchenyuk owners to see him there, that doesn't appear to be in the cards. If the Canadiens win the centerman sweepstakes at the deadline, the incoming player could end up in a very plum position.

Toronto Maple Leafs, defenseman: If there's an immediate weakness on this team, it's moving the puck from the blue line. Long-term, the Leafs are fine with the continued development of Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev. Short-term, the team could use some guidance on the back end headed into a potential postseason appearance. Obviously the chance to work with this young group of forwards in an extended capacity has the chance to boost most defensemen's value.

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We ride out the final NHL "bye" week as the Anaheim Ducks have the first half of the week off. Any unbalanced scheduling from here on out will be luck of the draw.

The Ducks and the Oilers are on the low end with only two games next week, while 12 teams play a four-game schedule. Everyone else is on the ice three times.

For those new to the forecaster chart, here are some explanations: "O" (offense) and "D" (defense) matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The "Ratings" column lists the cumulative rating from 1-10 of that week's offensive ("O") and defensive ("D") matchups.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Triplets are back together and getting down to business. Of course, Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson are most likely already spoken for in your league, but Ondrej Palat probably isn't. It's fair, as Palat has been buried on the depth chart to some degree for most of the campaign. Still, he has three goals and five points in his last six games and looks to be reliving the "glory days" with his former linemates for the time being. The Lightning have a favorable four-game schedule next week and this is a chance to take advantage of it. In deeper leagues, for those feeling a bit desperate for defense, Jake Dotchin, the pride of Glen Morris, has been getting increased minutes on the top-pairing with Victor Hedman and has picked up a pair of assists in his past five games. When the schedule is favorable, he could pick up some fringe value.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues get the Oilers, Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche next week and are currently enjoying their "bye" for some rest. Paul Stastny returned on Feb. 20 before the break and was back on a stacked top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. Available in 47 percent of ESPN leagues, he's a nice snag for the upcoming schedule.

While the "bye" means only two possible starts for John Gibson, he'll still help fantasy owners if he gets both of them. The Ducks play the Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. Of course, Gibson missed practice on Thursday, so there is also a possibility that Jonathan Bernier is a nice pickup for next week if Gibson isn't healthy again.

If the Hurricanes do get a new goalie before the deadline, don't hesitate to act. The incoming starter would get to debut with back-to-back games against the Arizona Coyotes. If they don't get a new starter, consider Cam Ward for late next week against a Coyotes team that should be further stripped for parts between now and then.

Keep a watch for Jimmy Howard's status over the weekend, as there is a chance he gets an AHL game in to test his knee. The Detroit Red Wings have a nice three-game road trip in western Canada that should be good for at least a couple of nice starts from whoever is in the crease.

Micheal Ferland has been a spark on the Flames' top line since joining Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for the past two games. Consider riding him, as continued hot play will keep him on the top line.

Oliver Bjorkstrand is finally getting some scoring line minutes of late. The result has been two goals in three games with 11 shots since being recalled from the AHL.

While Jason Spezza is back with the Stars again following an injury, he returned to find himself on the third line. He's still getting some top unit power-play time, but that alone won't be enough to justify his use.

Make sure to double check the Ottawa Senators box score on Sunday before setting your lineups next week. Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman are both expected to miss Friday but could return Sunday in time for next week's games.

Depending on which way the Jets choose to go, Mathieu Perreault could be shipped out via trade or replaced in the top six via an incoming trade. But for now, Perreault is scorching on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. He has two goals and seven points in his past four games.

Leading off this column, I said Ron Hainsey was irrelevant, but Kris Letang is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, Justin Schultz is close -- but not back -- from a concussion, Olli Maatta remains out with a busted hand and Trevor Daley is down for the count. Maybe Hainsey has some short-term value after all.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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