Joe Pavelski, C/W, SJ – Pavelski has posted nine points in his last five games. He’s progressed nicely in each of his three pro seasons, and a 65-70 point season seemed like a reasonable expectation for this year. He started relatively slow, with just 21 points in 33 games, but he looks to be back on track. He shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg in a trade, because he doesn’t have the same big name value that his superstar teammates do. He also benefits from Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, and Dan Boyle drawing most of the attention from opposing checking lines.
Jason Spezza, C, OTT – Spezza returned from injury in style, scoring the game winner in his comeback against the Bruins. He added another in his second game back against the Devils. The time off this injury provided may have been just what Spezza needed to refocus after a miserable start to his season. Like Iginla (see below), this could be your last chance to grab Spezza for less than market value before he starts to pick it up.
Jonas Gustavsson, G, TOR – If you’re really strapped for wins, then “The Monster” could be a cheap fix. The Leafs have plenty of motivation to win games down the stretch while other teams jostle for lottery position, and coach Ron Wilson has publicly said that Gustavsson will get the bulk of the starts for the rest of the year.
Scott Gomez, C, MTL – Gomez has benefited immensely from Benoit Pouliot’s arrival. On second thought, maybe Pouliot has benefitted immensely from getting consistent minutes with a playmaker like Gomez. Either way, Gomez has 17 points in 17 games, but his overall season totals are underwhelming. He could be available on the cheap, and is particularly valuable if assists are a category in your league.
Jarome Iginla, RW, CGY – This could be your last chance to buy “low” on Iggy. The asking price will no doubt still be extraordinarily high, but we’re at the point in the season where a lot of poolies are ready to make a big shakeup. Iginla hasn’t lived up to his own lofty standards this season, and that could land him on your pool’s trading block. Iginla has three points in his last three games, and he hasn’t had less than 89 points in any of the last three seasons. He also hasn’t scored less than 35 goals in a season since 2000-2001. He will finish the season strong.
Brian Elliott, G, OTT – If you need immediate help (i.e. some wins), then Elliott is a decent option. Don’t trade for him though, because the Sens are still going to force the number one job on Pascal Leclaire when he’s healthy, and one bad start by Elliott could put Mike Brodeur back between the pipes in a hurry.
Jussi Jokinen, LW, CAR – Jokinen’s point totals have dropped in each of his first 4 NHL seasons, which really makes me question his long-term offensive value. That being said, he has seven points and a +2 rating in his last 4 games, and his playoff exploits last year clearly show that he’s got some offensive ability. He might be available as a free agent in your pool, and could help in the short term if you’re really stuck for offense.
Kari Lehtonen, G, ATL – Lehtonen fits into the “Hold” category for lack of a better option more than anything. Lehtonen is just about ready to return from injury, and the Thrashers still intend for him to be their franchise goalie. If you need some help between the pipes, Lehtonen could be available as a free agent, or come quite cheaply by trade. If, on the other hand, you’re in a deep league or, better yet, a deep keeper league, and have Lehtonen sitting on your bench, then he makes for interesting trade bait.
John Tavares, C/LW, NYI – Tavares’ production has dropped off markedly since his hot start. To be fair, an 82 game season is daunting for any rookie, and even more so when you’re the primary focus of opposing checking lines. Someone desperate for goals may still be willing to trade for Tavares, hoping he’ll recapture his early season form. In keeper leagues, you could deal Tavares to a bottom feeder looking ahead to next year, and help secure the missing piece that puts you over the top.
Marty Turco, G, DAL – Turco has lost some starts to Alex Auld this year, and there are rumours that the Stars might look to deal him. He’s not anywhere near the fantasy option he was a few years ago, but his name still carries some weight and you might be able to get a decent return from someone who’s really in need of a tender.