20 Fantasy Thoughts: Grab Athanasiou, say goodbye to Pageau

David Amber and Kelly Hrudey discuss the challenges young Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko has faced since starting goalie Jacob Markstrom went down with an injury.

Buckle up, fantasy hockey owners, the next month should be a lot of fun.

With this year’s NHL trade deadline now firmly in the rearview mirror, the focus shifts solely to the upcoming fantasy hockey playoffs. Starting next Sunday, I’ll be offering in-depth tips, analysis and advice designed to navigate you through your weekly post-season matchups. Now, all season long I’ve been preaching patience when it comes to your roster decisions. Well, that changes today – it’s time to be assertive, proactive and tactical with each and every move you make. Be ahead of the curve.

In total, Feb. 24 featured 31 trades. Most were on the smaller scale, but a couple had the fantasy world buzzing. We’ll start in Edmonton, where the Oilers acquired some much-needed scoring punch up front.

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1. Grab Andreas Athanasiou. The 25-year-old’s fantasy stock is through the roof at the moment as he’s skating alongside some guy named Connor McDavid at five-on-five. Need I say more? Also, don’t expect much production on the power play – Athanasiou is being deployed on the second unit, away from the heavy hitters.

2. With a busy four-game week ahead for the Oilers, both Tyler Ennis and Zack Kassian should be viewed as quality streamer options. Ennis is playing with McDavid, while Kassian – back from a seven-game suspension – is on Line 2 with significant Leon Draisaitl exposure. You’re bound to find a couple of residual points, right?

3. Even despite the fact that he’s 1-2-0 and has surrendered 10 goals since taking over for the injured Jacob Markstrom, I’m still fully behind adding Thatcher Demko to your roster. It’s been a season of streaks for the Canucks. They’ll wake up.

4. Pick up Alexandar Georgiev. Rookie phenom Igor Shesterkin was banged up in a car accident last Sunday and will miss some time. Georgiev will see plenty of action coming up.

5. Along those lines, drop Henrik Lundqvist. The future hall-of-famer hasn’t started since Feb. 3 and he’s only made five appearances in 2020. It’s truly the end of an era on Broadway.

6. Brendan Lemieux and Kaapo Kakko stand to gain an in-house boost now that Chris Kreider is out indefinitely with a broken foot. Value plays.

7. Snatch up Jeff Skinner. After snapping his career-long 23-game goalless drought, the 27-year-old has now scored in back-to-back contests. Furthermore, super rookie Victor Olofsson suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday night in Arizona and it didn’t look good. Look for Skinner to return to Buffalo’s top line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Watch out!

8. Outside of New York, Mikael Granlund, Roope Hintz, Adam Henrique and Zach Parise are left-wing eligible waiver options to contemplate adding.

9. Move on from Ilya Kovalchuk. Even though the 36-year-old went from a non-playoff team to a bona fide Stanley Cup contender, his fantasy stock took a substantial hit. There’s currently no room for Kovalchuk inside Washington’s crowded top-six, so temper your expectations.

10. You may want to add some crease depth if you own Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner. In an effort to keep Fleury fresh for the playoffs, the duo will likely split the rest of Vegas’s regular season schedule. By the way, the Golden Knights are 12-3-2 since Peter DeBoer took over.

11. Speaking of the Golden Knights, scoop up Chandler Stephenson once again. He’s back in the top-six with Mark Stone currently on the shelf.

12. Externally, the red-hot Mikael Backlund, Nikita Gusev and Brandon Saad are stellar candidates to help fill the void at right wing in the interim.

13. Cut ties with Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Firstly, he’ll play down the depth chart – third-line centre – on Long Island. Secondly, the Islanders are currently ranked 23rd in the NHL in goal scoring. There are far better pivot options out there.

14. One of them is not Vincent Trocheck — who went from Sunrise to Raleigh on Monday — at least for the time being. Initially, Rod Brind’Amour is utilizing the former 30-goal scorer as the third-line centre and on the second power-play unit. Look elsewhere.

15. For now, keep close tabs on new Panthers forward Erik Haula. Essentially, the 28-year-old has assumed Trocheck’s role as Florida’s second-line centre. That means some bountiful exposure to the blistering-hot Mike Hoffman. Additionally, Haula is seeing some PP2 duties as well. I smell a productive finish to a contract year here.

16. Add Minnesota’s Alex Stalock. The veteran netminder has quietly started five of seven games (4-1-0) for the Wild since Dean Evason took over. Cheeky play.

17. My deepest condolences to Steven Stamkos owners. Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli and Blake Coleman are three Tampa forwards to target.

18. Final deadline thought — Wayne Simmonds (BUF), Danton Heinen (ANA), Alec Martinez (VGK) and Vladislav Namestnikov (COL), to varying degrees, have some sort of fantasy worth right now. Have a look.

19. Let’s take a look at this week’s four-game squads: ANA, CHI, COL, EDM, MIN, NSH, PIT, SJS & TBL. When it comes to schedule manipulation purposes, there are three teams that interest me, one of which actually has a three-game slate:

Colorado Avalanche: Mon (@DET), Wed (ANA), Fri (@VAN), Sun (@SJS)
Waiver Looks: Vladislav Namestnikov (9%), Tyson Jost (1%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Nathan MacKinnon (4), Pavel Francouz (3), Cale Makar (2)

Anaheim Ducks: Tues (@CHI), Wed (@COL), Fri (TOR), Sun (MIN)
Waiver Looks: Duncan Keith (13%), Brandon Saad (10%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Patrick Kane (4), Corey Crawford (3), Dominik Kubalik (1)

Calgary Flames: Wed (CBJ), Fri (ARI), Sun (VGK)
Waiver Looks: Mikael Backlund (38%), Andrew Mangiapane (7%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Johnny Gaudreau (3), David Rittich (3), Erik Gustafsson (1)

20. Lastly, steer clear of waiver adds from Arizona, Florida, Los Angeles and Winnipeg – all four have light two-game weeks ahead.

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