20 Fantasy Thoughts: Trading for Jason Zucker should be top priority

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jason Zucker (16) celebrates his goal with Sidney Crosby (87) during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Montreal Penguins in Pittsburgh, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Memo to all: Bill Guerin means business. The assessment period in Saint Paul is over.

Friday’s dismissal of Bruce Boudreau capped off a busy week for the rookie general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Back on Monday night, the 49-year-old pulled off his first major trade shipping Jason Zucker off to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Then, he put the rest of his roster on notice — “I can promise you this: If there is quit, there will be more trades,” Guerin proclaimed.

The way this season has unfolded, is the timing of this coaching change really that surprising? Whether it was today, two weeks from now or after the season, Boudreau was not long for that position. And so, the eighth in-season head coaching change was made – Boudreau out, Dean Evason in, on an interim basis, at least.

For those wondering, here’s how teams have fared since making a move behind the bench:

1. Keep close tabs on blue liner Mathew Dumba. He could be the next to go. 14 months removed from tearing a pectoral muscle in a fight with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, the 25-year-old has struggled to regain offensive form. A change of scenery could spark Dumba. Monitor closely.

2. Finally, and I mean finally, Kevin Fiala has returned to fantasy relevancy. The 23-year-old should firmly be on your radar, especially now that a fellow top-six winger is out the door. Fiala has five goals and 10 points since the beginning of the month. Grab him!

3. Trade for Jason Zucker. Number one, he’s playing with Sidney Crosby and number two, he’s playing with Sidney Crosby. The two-goal effort on Friday night was just the beginning. Trust me.

4. Go ahead and drop Erik Karlsson. He’s done for the season after breaking his thumb on Friday night.

5. Buy low on Brent Burns. The San Jose Sharks are ravaged by injury. Most Burns owners are ready to move on as quickly as possible. Capitalize on that.

6. When it comes to potential replacement options for the likes of Karlsson, Seth Jones and Shea Weber, you won’t find much value internally. Externally, have a look at Jakob Chychrun, Jared Spurgeon and Damon Severson.

7. In addition to that, I’d make a play for the disgustingly underrated Shea Theodore. Outside the top-100 right now, the Vegas Golden Knights defender has nine assists and 11 points since mid-January. Quietly, he’s been providing extensive category coverage across the board for a while now.

8. Lars Eller is a dynamite Evgeny Kuznetsov replacement option. The veteran always seems to step up his game offensively when Kuznetsov or Nick Backstrom are out. Now you know.

9. Speaking of the centre ice position, let’s talk some Connor McDavid fill-ins. David Krejci, Zach Hyman, Nick Suzuki and Roope Hintz can all help you out.

10. Lastly, you can probably acquire Vegas’ William Karlsson for less than market value right now. The late bloomer has tallied a pair of assists in three games since returning from a broken finger. New bench boss Pete DeBoer is getting his first look at Karlsson.

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11. Scoop up Brandon Saad. The Pittsburgh native has 10 goals in 14 games. He’s finally found his stride again.

12. Speaking of Dallas, scoop up Denis Gurianov. The Russian currently ranks third in the NHL amongst rookies with 17 goals. With Alex Radulov sidelined, Gurianov will be a fixture in the top-six. Value play!

13. Take a flier on Yanni Gourde. After a dismal 35-game goalless skid, the 28-year-old scored in back-to-back games this past week. Confidence is bliss.

14. Pick up Jake Allen, who’ll likely see some starts in the short-term as Jordan Binnington tries to find himself again. Since late December, the Blues’ number-one goalie is just 6-4-3 with a 3.39 goals-against and a pedestrian 0.885 save-percentage.

Perhaps listening to Justin Bieber’s new album could revitalize Binnington?

15. Don’t be scared to stream MacKenzie Blackwood. The sophomore Devils goaltender has been excellent this month: 3-0-0, one goal-against on 108 shots and two shutouts.

16. Snatch up Avalanche backup Pavel Francouz. Philipp Grubauer suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday night’s Stadium Series game in Colorado.

17. Add Tyler Toffoli. The Kings winger is currently a hot name on the trade market. Saturday night’s hat trick should help fortify his market.

18. Look out for Gabe Vilardi. Barring an injury or something unforeseen, the 20-year-old is very likely to get recalled from Ontario in the next little while once the trade deadline has passed. He’ll play in the top-six.

19. 52-game week upcoming in the NHL. Stay clear of depth plays in Vancouver. They’re the lone team with a light two-game schedule.

20. Meantime, there are 12 four-game teams: ANA, ARI, COL, FLA, LAK, NYI, PIT, SJS, STL, VGK, WSH & WPG.

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Have a closer look at these three schedules:

Anaheim Ducks: Mon (@CGY), Wed (FLA), Fri (COL), Sun (VGK)

Waiver Looks: Cam Fowler (22 per cent), Adam Henrique (13 per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: John Gibson (3), Troy Terry (1), Adam Henrique (1)

New York Islanders: Mon (@ARI), Wed (@COL), Fri (DET), Sun (SJS)

Waiver Looks: Anthony Beauvillier (22 per cent), Josh Bailey (14 per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Semyon Varlamov (3), Mathew Barzal (2), Josh Bailey (1)

Colorado Avalanche: Mon (TBL), Wed (NYI), Fri (@ANA), Sat (@LAK)

Waiver Looks: Joonas Donskoi (10 per cent), J.T. Compher (3 per cent)

SN Fantasy Pool: Nathan MacKinnon (4), Mikko Rantanen (3), Pavel Francouz (3)

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