NHL Fantasy Mailbag: Time to sell high on Jeff Skinner?

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Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner (53) celebrates his game-winning goal following the overtime period of an NHL hockey game. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

Have a fantasy hockey question? Ask away! Each week this NHL season, I’ll field your Twitter questions and you’ll get your answers every Friday as part of my weekly mailbag. No question is a bad question. (@thegoldenmuzzy)


You aren’t doing your job as a fantasy owner if you’re not constantly scouring the market for bargain pricing. Now approaching the 30-game mark, the sample size has grown large enough to make significant alterations to your roster. It’s time to be bold.

When it comes to the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool, you can find some tremendous value by taking your time when putting together your roster. A little research may take you a long way. For example, Elias Pettersson’s point value is ONE. With a 30-point cap system in effect, that’s utter larceny. Hunt for that value!

Keep that in mind as you move forward.

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Now to your questions:

Brian Prince – @bprince10

Do you think David Rittich keeps the Calgary net long-term?

Ultimately, I think Mike Smith will win back his job.

While there’s no doubt Rittich has outplayed Smith to this point, goaltending in the NHL in 2018 is so fluid. Head coaches flip flop more than Bachelor contestants. It’s astounding.

For example, Calgary blew a 3-2 lead on Wednesday night – with Rittich in net – against Dallas and fell 4-3 in overtime. Don’t be surprised if Smith gets the call on Friday night at home against Los Angeles, a team that has had its struggles scoring this season. That bodes well for Smith and the Flames.

We live in an era where coaches go with the "hot hand." It doesn’t matter who it is.

Ryan Mimnagh – @TheRealMimzy

Should I sell high on Jeff Skinner? Or, do I hold onto him?

Generally, I’m a big advocator of selling high.

That being said, I do think Jeff Skinner will continue to obliterate the opposition. Unless you’re blown away by an offer, I’d hold onto him.

His 60-goal, 25-assist pace will undoubtedly fall off drastically but I think he’s certainly in line for career numbers across the board.

Among Skinner’s motivations right now is a new contract as he’s slated to become a UFA on July 1. He’s hunting dollars and many of them. Enjoy.

Matthew Herman – @mattyheman

Is Scott Darling done? Can Curtis McElhinney keep up this ridiculous pace?

Good move by the Canes to throw Darling on waivers and send him to the AHL. Here’s hoping he can find his game again. There’s still plenty of term and money left on his deal. No one’s touching Darling.

With that roster decision, Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek will be the goaltending tandem going forward for the Hurricanes. McElhinney has been remarkable lately but given his age and track record, this isn’t sustainable. The 35-year-old’s career-high for appearances in a season was 32 back in 2014-15.

Mrazek is just as vital to the team’s success. I see it turning into more of a 1A/1B type situation.

Meh – @gongshow922

What is fair trade value for Vladimir Tarasenko in a keeper league?

I just traded Tarasenko in one of my keeper leagues for Logan Couture and a first-round pick. Both of us were happy with the deal.

To be honest, don’t expect proper currency right now. My best advice would be to be patient with Tarasenko. Let him build his value up before you trade him. It’s coming.

If you’re desperate to move him, you’ll likely have to take on someone similar in nature or someone who’s coming out of nowhere to have a great start. Some possible one-for-one options: San Jose’s Erik Karlsson or Logan Couture, Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek.

For what it’s worth, I do expect the Blues to be a strong second-half team. Tarasenko was in my pre-season Top 20.

Steve Favretto – @NotEves67

What I do with Ilya Kovalchuk?

After a decent start, the coaching change in Los Angeles hasn’t been great news for Kovalchuk. He’s in Willie Desjardins’ doghouse and hasn’t done much to get out of it. Fourth-line minutes will do that to you. Oh wait, now he’s on the third line.

I’d give it another two weeks. If the production doesn’t pick up, drop him.

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ShyKushryd – @skykushryd

My league features G, A, SOG, Hits, Blocked Shots. I’ve been offered Anze Kopitar for Shayne Gostisbehere. I already have six other defenders putting up better numbers than Gostisbhere. Do I accept the offer?

I’d accept this trade every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Kopitar is heating up!

Gostisbehere will undoubtedly start to produce a bit more routinely but I think he’s expendable considering your situation. Despite the slow start, I wouldn’t sleep on Kopitar. The LA captain has found his game recently and his buy-low window is closing by the second.

Make the move.

Rob Mitt – @bibbobolypse

Will both Mathew Barzal and Clayton Keller hit the 80-point plateau this season?

Barzal is the likelier of the two to reach that mark. After all, he’s coming off a phenomenal 85-point rookie season. My projection is 70-75 points, which is clearly still phenomenal.

Meantime, the addition of Nick Schmaltz may get Keller going for the Coyotes. They’ve looked pretty legitimate so far together. Keller potted his seventh of the year in a 3-0 win in Nashville on Thursday night. What’s a fair estimate? I’d say 20-25 goals and 50-55 points, maybe he pushes 60 again.

The future is bright for both. There’s no doubt about that.

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Michael Walsh – @mikewalsh86

What’s a realistic expectation for Rickard Rakell this season?

After back-to-back 30-goal seasons, it’s been a struggle thus far for Rakell. There’s no doubt about that.

Goal scorers are as streaky as they come. Just ask Patrik Laine, who potted a remarkable 18 goals in November.

Rakell will hit 20 goals with relative ease. 50-55 points is a fair expectation, too.

The important statistic to note here is Rakell’s putrid shooting percentage (5 per cent) right now. Obviously, that number will rise significantly. The 25-year-old fired at a 14.8 per cent clip last year and a robust 18.6 the year before. The pedigree and sample size is large enough for me to expect a mega second half for him.

Sit tight and be patient. The reward is coming.

Jeff Perry – @jeffreypperry

What do I do with Corey Crawford and Thomas Greiss?

What sick world are we living in that Thomas Greiss is outperforming Corey Crawford?

Chicago’s defence rivals that of the Islanders under Doug Weight – meaning its non-existent. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon, either.

Mitch Korn deserves a lot of credit for cleaning up the Isles’ crease. It’s also a byproduct of Barry Trotz’s system.

Sell high on Greiss because I expect this team to plummet eventually. When it comes to Crawford, I’d keep him and hope for the best. He’s been a standout netminder for a long time.

Nick Leyva – @realNickLeyva

I just picked up Alex Tuch and dropped Jakub Voracek. Good move?

Gutsy move if you ask me. Tuch has been brilliant this season but Voracek’s stellar consistency throughout his career suggests he’ll break out of this funk eventually. Recent moves in Philadelphia may lead to greener pastures in the fantasy world.

Furthermore, the Tuch, Cody Eakin and Max Pacioretty trio has been blazing hot for Vegas lately.

Bold move. I like it.

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