20 Fantasy Thoughts: Buy-low targets abound on blue line

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, left, celebrates with forward Boone Jenner after Jones' overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Paul Vernon/AP)

Not that I’m trying to hijack Roberto Luongo’s shtick or anything, but some NHL contracts just stink.

Andrew Ladd’s demotion to the AHL earlier this week brought back some old talking points. Remember that 2016 unrestricted free agent class?

Granted that we’re just one-quarter into this season, there are mixed reviews so far for this past summer’s prized possessions.

1. Let’s start in Pittsburgh, where I’d say now’s an excellent time to buy some Evgeni Malkin stock. His career numbers without Sidney Crosby in the lineup speak for themselves – 123 games: 67 goals, 97 assists, 163 points.

2. Mum’s the word on Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins centre missed Saturday night’s game versus Washington due to a lower-body ailment. I’m calling indirect ‘load management’ on this front but, we’ll see. Obviously, no Bergeron means good things for David Krejci for obvious reasons.

3. Luckily, there’s plenty of depth up the middle to be had. Martin Necas, Nico Hischier, Adam Henrique, Eric Staal and Jared McCann should all be considered to help fill the void.

4. Your best option may actually be Dylan Strome, whose buy-low window is closing by the second. The former lottery pick has one goal and nine points over the last five games. Playing with Patrick Kane and best friend Alex DeBrincat must be fun. Grab Strome immediately!

5. In the absence of Torey Krug in Boston, Matt Grzelcyk has emerged as the in-house replacement. Most importantly, the 25-year-old assumed Krug’s coveted point spot on Boston’s first power play unit.

6. Time to go bargain hunting on a couple of struggling defenceman. Seth Jones and Tyson Barrie are bound to get going eventually. Both should be considered as prime trade targets right now.

7. Prefer hitting the waiver wire for help on the back end? Adam Fox, Erik Gustafsson, Philippe Myers and Neal Pionk could help you out.

8. Well wishes out to T.J. Brodie. What a scary situation. With the 29-year-old sidelined indefinitely, Noah Hanifin will likely fill in on Calgary’s second power play unit. Be mindful.

9. Cut bait with Jacob Trouba. As discussed last week, Tony DeAngelo is the d-man to fully stand behind at this time on Broadway.

10. Ho-hum, the Lightning offence has restored power. Tampa has now scored 29 times over the past six games. Time to pick apart some of their depth: Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn and Patrick Maroon, among others, deserve your undivided attention. Have at it!

11. After a 1-7-1 start, Dallas is now 10-1-1 over its past 12 outings. Slowly but surely, they’re starting to score a bit more frequently, too. In fact, the Stars have potted three goals or more in six straight contests, a far cry from their early season troubles. Justin Dowling, Jason Dickinson and Denis Gurianov have been providing sneaky fantasy value making the most of lineup promotions.

12. Speaking of the Central, what’s up with Nashville? Uncharacteristically, they’re having a tough time keeping the puck out of their net to start the year. In the last week or so alone, the Predators have conceded a five-spot, a seven-spot and a nine-spot. Yikes! Be patient if you own Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros. No need to jump to conclusions.

13. Colorado’s current goaltending situation is very Vegas from their inaugural season. With Philipp Gruabuer and Peter Francouz out, the Avalanche are now relying on options three and four – Adam Werner and Antoine Bibeau. At this juncture, it would be wise to steer clear of that crease party. No thanks!

14. All of a sudden, Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks have caught fire. The 29-year-old has made six consecutive starts, all Sharks victories. Jones has his fair share of tough nights, so proceed with caution.

15. Is Jonathan Quick finally finding his groove for Los Angeles? After a dismal October, the veteran netminder is 3-2-0 in November with a 2.44 goals-against and a .914 save-percentage. He’s come a long way.

16. Contrary to popular belief, Zach Hyman shouldn’t be a mainstay on your roster. In the right circumstances, he’s a decent daily play. That’s it, that’s all. Of course, the five-on-five exposure to John Tavares makes Hyman somewhat fantasy relevant.

17. Put Minnesota winger Kevin Fiala on your watch list. After a rocky opening month that featured multiple healthy scratches, the 23-year-old has compiled four goals and two assists in eight November outings. Looks like Fiala could become a legitimate option once again in four-game weeks for the Wild. Stay tuned.

18. Due to lack of sex appeal, Teuvo Teravainen and Tomas Tatar are two very quality finds that can be had for less than market value. Both players have been lights out again and continue to offer exceptional value. Make an offer!

19. Keep tabs on Canadiens rookie Nick Suzuki, especially with Jonathan Drouin out of the lineup. The former Owen Sound Attack standout has the pedigree and skill set to make a massive impact.

20. Let’s take a look at the upcoming schedule. It’s a little unconventional. Five teams lead the way with four-game dockets (ARI, CAR, DET, EDM & FLA). Everyone else plays three times.

Here’s the layout:

Arizona Coyotes: Mon (LAK), Thurs (TOR), Sat (@LAK), Sun (@EDM)
Waiver Looks: Lawson Crouse (23%), Conor Garland (14%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Darcy Kuemper (3), Phil Kessel (3), Clayton Keller (2)

Carolina Hurricanes: Tues (@CHI), Thurs (PHI), Sat (FLA), Sun (@DET)
Waiver Looks: Ryan Dzingel (18%), Martin Necas (4%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Petr Mrazek (3), Sebastian Aho (3), Dougie Hamilton (2)

Detroit Red Wings: Tues (OTT), Thurs (@CBJ), Sat (@NJD), Sun (CAR)
Waiver Looks: Robby Fabbri (17%), Andreas Athanasiou (15%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Dylan Larkin (3), Anthony Mantha (2), Tyler Bertuzzi (2)

Edmonton Oilers: Tues (@SJS), Thurs (@LAK), Sat (@VGK), Sun (@ARI)
Waiver Looks: *crickets*
SN Fantasy Pool: Connor McDavid (4), Leon Draisaitl (4), Oscar Klefbom (1)

Florida Panthers: Tues (PHI), Thurs (ANA), Sat (@CAR), Sun (BUF)
Waiver Looks: Frank Vatrano (20%), Brett Connolly (4%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Sergei Bobrovsky (4), Jonathan Huberdeau (3), Aleksander Barkov (3)

Other SN Fantasy Pool Targets: EDM Koskinen (3), EDM Smith (3), ARI Schmaltz (2), FLA Hoffman (2)

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