As you’re reading this, a number of NHL teams already have fewer than 10 games remaining this season. Yup – we’ve truly entered the home stretch of the home stretch. With that in mind, here are some quick thoughts and reminders for those in all types of league formats.
In one-year rotos, make every roster decision based on where you stand in your league’s categories. For example, if you can’t move up or down in either assists, PPP or FOW, then someone like Henrik Sedin, who contributes very little in other categories, should be stapled to your bench or traded. And when it comes to the waiver wire, the concept of “best player available” is officially out the window; focus only on stats you need and games remaining.
For those in H2H playoffs, adjust your active roster to ensure it makes the most sense based on player schedules and the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Let’s say your opponent’s fantasy squad is a goal scoring machine – in that case, maybe don’t even try to compete in that area. Instead, you might opt to stack your lineup to try and do well in your other categories.
In keepers, focus on teams with the most UFAs, since hidden value might lie in players who have the skills to contribute more and could get the chance to do so once an opening is created for them next season. This is especially true for teams who already have the highest salary cap commitments for 2016-17, since they’ll be more likely to replace departing UFAs with homegrown players.
Long story short, this is the time of year when you really have to out think your competition. And with that in mind, let’s cover this week’s buy low and sell high players.
Devante Smith-Pelly: In nine contests since arriving in New Jersey, Pelly isn’t just above a point per game - he totaled just two fewer points (10) than he’d managed in more than five times as many games (46) with Montreal! At just 23, Smith-Pelly might be starting to come into his own, as his style of play may indicate that he is a late bloomer. Despite his recent strong play, and because of his lack of success in Anaheim and Montreal, Smith-Pelly still might be obtainable for fair value in keepers.
David Pastrnak: Impatient poolies will point to Pastrnak failing to improve upon his rookie season scoring pace, thinking he’s not headed for success. But let’s keep in mind that he’s still a teenager who’s shown maturity, coupled with some amazing displays of raw talent. By this time next season, Pastrnak might cost you an arm and a leg, so act accordingly between now and then.
Philipp Grubauer: With 11 Caps games remaining, Braden Holtby stood five wins from tying Martin Brodeur’s single season mark of 48. In a perfect world, the Caps would do all they could to allow Holtby to challenge the mark. The issue is that fatigue likely has led to Holtby playing below his usual standards in recent weeks, and the team doesn’t want to put individual records above their Cup chances. Enter Grubauer, who at minimum will get three starts in the remaining back-to-backs for the Caps, and might even manage a couple more to help spell Holtby. With a superb Caps teams in front of him, Grubauer will be a nice option down the stretch.
Ryan Murray: What’s stood in the way of Murray’s fully realized success thus far is minute-eating d-men David Savard and Jack Johnson. Yet the scales are starting to tilt in Murray’s favour, as this season he’s made substantial gains in total ice time, with more PP ice time per game than either Savard or Johnson. Think of Murray like a volcano getting ready to erupt, yet instead of lava, he’ll explode points. This is the time to get him, or risk kicking yourself later for not doing so.
Milan Lucic: Through the weekend, Lucic had 10 points over his last nine games. When was the last time that happened? Answer: you can’t remember, and that’s exactly why he’s a sell-high. While there’s no question Lucic is clicking well in LA, no one can rule out that his strong play is due at least in part to his looming UFA payday. On paper, it makes sense to move Lucic to get a solid return, since chances are we won’t see this kind of output from him in 2016-17 or beyond.
Alex Goligoski: With a stretch of nine points in 10 games and his status – like Lucic – as a UFA to be, Goligoski seems like he’d be a nice add, right? Nope, exactly the opposite. More than half of those games were when John Klingberg was injured. Plus, for the remainder of this season, Kris Russell checks many of the same boxes for Dallas. You should look to someone other than Goligoski for rearguard points during the season’s final weeks.
Petr Mrazek: Within a month, Mrazek went from potential Vezina winner to perhaps not even a finalist. No doubt he’s the real deal but his hype has officially blown past his near-term value. This is especially true because Detroit still has Jimmy Howard and his $5.2M salary on the books through 2018-19, which makes it likely Mrazek won’t become a 65+ start warrior for a while. If you can parlay Mrazek into upgrading your team overall, you should consider it.
Michael Raffl: Some might think Raffl’s nine points in nine games shows he’s finally ready to break out, especially considering they came without him playing alongside either Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek. But with Raffl’s modest contract and deep talent at forward for Philadelphia, he seems doomed, at best, to a continued secondary scoring role with the team. Use this stretch to try and move Raffl to receive a decent return in trade.