Before you know it, it’ll be time for all you hockey diehards to snap out of Olympic mode and back into NHL fantasy mode.
With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, so too are most fantasy leagues’ trade deadlines. Now is the time to cut dead weight and acquire the players who will produce down the stretch. We’ll provide our usual “Buy, Hold, Sell” candidates, as well as some advice regarding the remaining schedule.
The Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins and Atlanta Thrashers are tied for most games remaining at 22—something to consider when trading or scanning the waiver wire for skaters this late in the season.
For goalies, who typically rack up most of their points through wins and shutouts, home ice is particularly important. The Thrashers have the most remaining home games left at 14, while the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars are tied for second most with 12 contests left on home ice.
In the Eastern Conference, the Flyers have the easiest schedule over the last month and a half, with 14 matchups against teams not currently in a playoff spot. In the West, the Predators have the most favorable schedule, with 13 games against non-playoff opponents.
Here are some specific players to consider adding or dropping:
Antti Niemi, G, CHI—The Finnish rookie was starting more often than veteran Cristobal Huet heading into the Olympic break, and with a 17-4-1 record this season, the starts are well-deserved. The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the NHL’s strongest teams this season, so check your waiver wire for the 57 percent owned backstopper.
T.J. Oshie, C, STL—Flashy with a bit of an edge, Oshie is another player who will put up numbers across the board. He had 8 points in as many games heading into the Olympic break, and his omission from Team USA could help feed the fire down the stretch.
Jack Johnson, D, LA—Though -12 for the season, Johnson was +6 in his last 6 games before the break, while also posting a goal and five assists. He’s been one of Team USA’s best defenders so far during the Olympics, and the experience he’s acquiring should serve him well in his return to NHL action.
At this point of the season, the only players you should be waiting on are goalies like Cristobal Huet and Semyon Varlamov, who may or may not receive quality starts down the stretch. Don’t waste time “holding” or “holding out” on skaters, unless you’re in a keeper league.
For keeper leaguers looking to rebuild for next season, Brandon Yip, Brandon Sutter, Jamie Benn, Tyler Bozak, Cal O’Reilly, and P.K. Subban have impressed of late and could be on the verge of a breakout season in 2010-11.
Tomas Kaberle, D, TOR—His four points in 10 games before the break isn’t terrible, but it’s not the explosive production we’ve seen from him previously this season. His ice-time has also been cut significantly since the Dion Phaneuf acquisition, and the Leafs have a slew of tough matchups down the stretch.
Wojtek Wolski, LW, COL—It’ll still be a career year for Wolski, but his numbers will be a far-cry from the pace he had going through December. Float him out there in an offer for Downie or Oshie.
Jason Blake, LW, ANA—He’s owned in an astounding 62 percent of pools, but I’d bet that there are better waiver wire players in each and every one of those pools. Don’t waste your time putting Blake on the trade block—you won’t get any offers. Drop him.