Fantasy buy low, sell high: Trade Vlasic now

Zack Smith scored a penalty shot goal to tie the game in the third and then Craig Anderson shut the door in the shootout as the Ottawa Senators edged the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Monday.

With all but three of this week’s buy low and sell high recommendations covering defencemen, here’s a reminder that in fantasy hockey not all forwards are created equal.

Want proof? According to recent stats by position at NHL.com, this season’s 25th and 50th highest scoring centres had 33 points and 25 points, respectively.

For wingers, the totals drop to 28 and 15 points at left wing; and 25 and 16 points for right.

This underscores two key points. First, you always need to know how many forwards at each position are rostered in your league. Suppose 40 right wingers are owned, and one of yours falls below the current point total of the 40th highest scoring right wingers. In that case, your lower scoring right winger should be a key contributor in other league categories, be multi-position eligible to give your squad roster flexibility, or have a realistic chance to increase his production very soon. If not, you should see if an upgrade is available either on the waiver wire or by trading from strength at another position.

Secondly, wingers are more likely to be buy-lows and sell-highs due to the drop off between top players and average performers at that position, as the player pools at those positions are shallower. Adversely, with there being a higher number of productive centres out there, it takes more for one to qualify as a true buy-low or sell-high candidate.

Now, onto this week’s recommendations.

Four Buy-Low Players
Ben Bishop – Poolies who own Bishop are no doubt frustrated at him being on the wrong side of many undeserved losses due to the lack of scoring from his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates in the first half of the season.

How bad has it been? Only one other goalie (Pekka Rinne) who’d appeared in as many games as Bishop (35) had fewer wins than his 18. Bishop’s wins total should start to increase considerably, what with not only the Tampa offence likely to find its groove, but also the club being a borderline playoff team at present who can’t afford to have their best goalie sit out many games. If you acquire Bishop now, it should pay nice dividends.

Justin Faulk – Like Kris Letang last week, Faulk is an example of a player who’s great — yet still might be a buy-low target. Faulk had a point on 32 of the Carolina Hurricanes’ first 105 goals (that's 30.5 per cent). For context, that well exceeds fantasy darling John Klingberg, who sits at 25 per cent. Also, Carolina has played better of late, giving hope they’ll be able to score more goals as the season progresses. As highly regarded as Faulk already is in one-year leagues, chances are you could still get him for less than his truly elite value.

Carl Soderberg – A great example of well-disguised production, Soderberg has 21 points in his past 27 games (after nine in 19 games to start 2015-16). He’s producing with different linemates and in different situations, making it realistic he’ll continue scoring at a 60-plus point pace over the remainder of the season. And the best part is, you should still be able to get him for a bargain price, thanks in large part to his lack of full-season success while with the Boston Bruins, as well as the higher fantasy profile of other Colorado Avalanche forwards.

Mattias Ekholm – Much of the discussion about Nashville Predators players impacted by the Seth Jones-for-Ryan Johansen trade has been focused on Ryan Ellis. But early returns show it’s Ekholm who stands to benefit the most, as he’s gone from virtually no power-play ice time to seeing a regular shift on Nashville’s second unit.

While Ekholm isn’t poised to see his production spike to a 40-point full-season scoring pace, he could now end up producing similar numbers to Ellis, who’s been at a 30 to 35-plus point scoring pace.

Four Sell-High Players
Mike Green – The days of being able to truly sell high on Green are all but officially over. So why does he land here? The reality is, he’s such a longshot to produce well this season that you’re running out of time to even be able to sell him at all.

The smart play is to try to use Green’s name recognition to get another GM to take a chance on him, and rid you of the frustration of owning a player who’s a shell of his former fantasy self.

Andrei Markov – Every season, a few previously-reliable older players really start to show their age. That’s what looks to be happening with Markov, whose totals aren’t in keeping with his normal output — especially when factoring in that he’d amassed 15 points in his first 17 games.

Couple that with the added fear about a recurrence of his serious injury issues, and he’s a sell high ASAP, before his season-long totals start to look even worse.

Brayden Schenn – For the moment, Schenn seems to be firing on all cylinders, getting time on the first power-play unit for the Philadelphia Flyers while also being part of a suddenly-potent second line with Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl. But the reality is, Schenn is still on pace for his all-too-familiar 45ish point output, making it unlikely he’d maintain his recent scoring binge beyond the short term. You’d be best served trying to deal him to upgrade your forward ranks for the long haul.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Although Vlasic is still only 28 and gets plenty of ice time, that’s not enough to make his 23 points in 40 games (with 11 points in his last 11 games) scoring pace remotely sustainable. After all, his career high in points is only 36 (which came way back in the 2008-09 campaign), and he posted either 23 or 24 points in each of the past three full seasons. While he’s now all but assured to hit the 30 point mark for 2015-16, chances are you can trade him for better value than that if you act now, which you should.