In one fell swoop, three trade requests became none – the first blockbuster deal of this peculiar 2021 NHL season bears plenty of fantasy fruit to squeeze.
In Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Jets are receiving a sure-fire top-six centre, who coupled with Mark Scheifele, gives Winnipeg one of the best one-two punches up the middle in the entire NHL. To date, the 22-year-old’s best output came back in 2018-19, when he notched 27 goals and 61 points. In five outings this season, Dubois has mustered just one measly goal. He’ll now quarantine in Winnipeg for at least a week before we see his Jets debut.
When it comes to Patrik Laine, the Blue Jackets are acquiring a bona fide sniper, surely a welcome sight for the league’s 27th ranked power play. Through four NHL campaigns, the winger has averaged 35 goals a season, and with relative ease, at that. Laine, who is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury, has been out since Winnipeg’s Jan. 14 season opener. In what turned out to be his final game as a Jet, the 22-year-old potted two goals, one of which was the OT winner, and one assist.
Additionally, the Jackets picked up Jack Roslovic, who coincidently is a Columbus native and was skating in the area awaiting a trade. The 23-year-old former centre turned winger, who has long been searching for an exit out of Winnipeg, is coming off a 12-goal 29-point season. Bottom line: Roslovic’s looking for a bigger role. And he should get that with his hometown Jackets, provided he stays in John Tortorella’s good books, of course.
1. Undeniably, Dubois stands to gain the biggest fantasy boost from this trade. Not only will he likely skate on the second line with Nikolaj Ehlers, but he’ll almost certainly be on the first power play unit as well. You know what that means. Good news all around in Manitoba.
2. Initially, I’m forecasting a bit of a dip in Laine’s fantasy stock. He’s going from one of the most prolific offences in the NHL to one of the most challenged. That said, the Fin’s arrival in Ohio should be viewed as good news for all -- especially for Max Domi, who’s the primary candidate to centre Laine off the hopper.
3. Just a day later, I’d say the buy-low window in Columbus is already starting to close quickly. Simply put, the next few days could be your last shot to acquire the likes of Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Cam Atkinson at less than market value. Give it a shot!
4. Furthermore, put Liam Foudy on your watch list. The 20-year-old is quickly becoming a Tortorella favourite and is rapidly trending towards becoming a permanent top-fix fixture for the Blue Jackets. Be mindful.
Also, I like Alex Texier quite a bit too.
5. With Laine gone and Dubois quarantining, Paul Stastny, Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry will continue to see an uptick in responsibilities. When the Jets are busy, take a flier.
6. Pick up Zach Hyman. With Joe Thornton on the shelf for at least the next month, the 28-year-old dual-eligible forward (C/LW) will once again skate in Toronto’s top six for the foreseeable future. Hyman, who is in a contract year, is coming off back-to-back 21 goal seasons. Lots of value to be found here.
7. The only blemish on Dallas’ highly anticipated season opener, a 7-0 thrashing of Nashville, was the lower-body injury sustained by captain Jamie Benn. To help fill the void, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov and Joel Kiviranta are worth a waiver play.
8. Meantime, I view Joe Pavelski as a must-own fantasy player right now. Not only did the 36-year-old kick off his season with a tidy four-point (2G, 2 A) performance, but he was great in the bubble last summer, too (27 GP: 13 G, 6 A, 19 P). Do it; you won’t regret it.
9. A couple other fliers to consider taking: the Blues' Jordan Kyrou, the Wild's Joel Eriksson-Ek and the Avalanche's Devon Toews. If it doesn’t work out, you can simply move on.
10. As long as Andre Burakovsky is out of the Avalanche lineup, call on Brandon Saad. He’s currently skating on the second line with Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin. On top of that, Saad has even been seeing second power play duties. Let’s go!
11. Scoop up Bowen Byram. This kid’s too good to keep down for long. If you don’t make the move now, you run the risk of missing out entirely. Through two NHL contests, the 19-year-old rookie blue liner has already made a legitimate fantasy impact (1 A, +2, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 12:51 TOI). By the way, Byram still isn’t seeing power play duties, but that can change in a hurry.
12. Another young defender to keep a close eye on is Noah Dobson of the New York Islanders. Through four games, the 21-year-old has tallied three assists while seeing an average of over 18 minutes a night, including more than four minutes a game on the power play.
13. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson sidelined in Arizona, go out and grab Jakob Chychrun immediately. The 22-year-old is off to a very solid start (5 GP: 1 G, 4 A, 5 P, +2, 4 PIM, 2 PPP) and is really coming into his own as a steady fantasy contributor. Do it!
14. Speaking of the Coyotes, snatch up Conor Garland as soon as possible. The 24-year-old is off to a hot start with two goals and four assists in five games. Did you know that Garland has potted 24 goals in his first 73 regular season games of his career? Well, now you do.
15. Looking for short-term value plays? Look no further than the Capitals, who are currently without several key contributors due to a breach of COVID-19 protocols (Ilya Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov & Dmitry Orlov).
Vitek Vanecek, Lars Eller and Richard Panik could be worth a stream or two
16. If you’re searching for an external Tom Wilson injury replacement, take a look at Pavel Buchnevich, Alex Killorn or Kasperi Kapanen.
17. File the following under the ‘because you’ve all been asking’ column.
First and foremost, here are a few stealth early season buy-low targets: the Wild's Kevin Fiala, the Avalanche's Nazem Kadri, the Blues' David Kapanen, the Senators' Evgenii Dadonov and Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin.
18. Secondly, some sell-high options to consider dangling on the trade market: the Canadiens' Jeff Petry and Tyler Toffoli, Canucks' Bo Horvat and Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov.
19. Let’s take a look at the week ahead in the NHL (Jan. 25 – Jan. 31):
Monday: 1 game
Tuesday: 14 games
Wednesday: 2 games
Thursday: 14 games
Friday: 1 game
Saturday: 12 games
Sunday: 8 games
Total: 52 Games
From a waiver pickup standpoint, steer clear of the following six teams: ARI, LAK, MTL, SJS, VGK & WPG -- they’re scheduled for just two games.
20. A total of 17 teams are tentatively slated to play four times (ANA, BUF, CAR, CHI, COL, CBJ, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, MIN, NJD, NYI, OTT, PHI, STL, VAN).
If you’re looking to maximize roster manipulation potential, take a closer look at these two squads:
Ottawa Senators: Mon (@VAN), Wed (@VAN), Thurs (@VAN), Sun (@EDM)
Waiver Looks: Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Matt Murray
SN Fantasy Pool: Brady Tkachuk 2, Thomas Chabot 1, OTT Goalies 2
Vancouver Canucks: Mon (OTT), Wed (OTT), Thurs (OTT), Sat (@WPG)
Waiver Looks: Tanner Pearson, Jake Virtanen, Thatcher Demko
SN Fantasy Pool: Elias Pettersson 3, Bo Horvat 2, VAN Goalies 3