So, you’re in it to win it now. It’s been a fruitful season; your dynasty, keeper, or re-draft team is humming along, crouched in striking distance of full fantasy glory. Acquiring another piece or two to bolster your shot at ultimate victory wouldn’t hurt. And the waiver wire is bereft of any real help. It’s time to reach out to associate managers for a little trade chit-chat ahead of ESPN.com’s deadline.
In any competitive fantasy forum, or real NHL life, I love a blockbuster one-for-one or multi-player trade as much as the next fan. But not every manager has the stomach for such grand deals. For those both cautious and contending, the following potential game-changers could be available for more modest returns. Whether that means including a prospect of your own in a deal with a non-contending manager in a keeper league, or exchanging help at one position for another. Whatever it takes to earn that coveted crown this May.
Patric Hornqvist, RW, Florida Panthers (93.7%): There may be no richer new on-ice marriage than the young union between Hornqvist and Jonathan Huberdeau in Florida. While the latter is able to tool around at his playmaking best, the former can plunk himself in front of the net, ready to bang in a rebound, deflect a shot, or take his own. Thus far to the tune of 12 goals, 13 assists, 110 shots, and 55 hits in 32 contests. As viewed through a fantasy lens, there’s a lot to like about those numbers. A little longer in the tooth, the 34-year-old Hornqvist should be acquirable in keeper leagues where his manager is already looking to beyond this season.
Joe Pavelski, RW/C, Dallas Stars (99.5%): This year’s standout fantasy performer on the Stars roster is doing his bit in keeping his squad in the playoff conversation. With games in hand on their Central Division rivals, Dallas isn’t out of it yet, which means Pavelski has a few additional contests to add to his total of 14 goals and 15 assists, including 16 power-play points, before we call it a season. Turning 37 years old this summer, the veteran isn’t likely to be a part of any fantasy keeper rebuild plans. Talk to Pavelski’s manager in case they’re already looking ahead.
Zach Hyman, LW/C/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs (85.0%): There are several reasons to appreciate Hyman as a late-season trade target. For one, he isn’t the flashiest of fantasy performers by reputation and shouldn’t demand that rich of a return. There’s an excellent chance the winger re-settles on a scoring line with Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, sooner than later. Ten goals and seven assists in 21 recent games proves he’s more than a precious physical presence (although the hits are nice too). And the pending unrestricted free agent will undoubtedly feel extra-inspired to wrap up 2020-21 with a bang. Hyman appears in solid position to offer that extra boost to a variety of deeper-league fantasy clubs as we ready to close out.
Pavel Buchnevich, RW/LW, New York Rangers (79.6%): The 25-year-old is playing his most productive hockey this March, amassing six goals and 10 assists in 11 games. As long as the Rangers remain in it, the 25-year-old should stick on the club’s more-lively-of-late top line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Buchnevich best presents as a trade target in deeper, keeper leagues where his own non-contending manager should realize this may be the most we ever get from the winger. Considering top-six prospects like Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko are milling about. They might as well grab a future asset back for next season and beyond while you reap the benefits of what Buchnevich provides now.
Evander Kane, LW, San Jose Sharks (95.2%): This prospective trade is admittedly easier said than done. Kane has been a consistent, fantasy standout across multiple categories since the beginning of February. But the sniper might still be had in exchange for the right future fantasy prospect in keeper leagues. And he will help you win right now. Worth shooting your shot, in my view.
Ondrej Palat, LW/RW, Tampa Bay Lightning (96.3%): Since joining the league in 2012-13, Palat is enjoying his most productive season yet. Skating on a line with Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli, the veteran winger has 11 goals and 18 assists in 32 games, including a team-leading 16 power-play points. Only Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and a couple of guys in Edmonton have been more productive with the man-advantage. Toss in a few hits and blocked shots, and it all works out to an average of 2.3 fantasy points per game in ESPN standard leagues. The Lightning configure differently up front with a healthy Nikita Kucherov back in the mix, meaning there’s no time like the present to take advantage of Palat’s current fantasy prowess.
Nazem Kadri, C, Colorado Avalanche (77.7%): Since March 1, Kadri has collected four goals and nine assists, while averaging 4.15 shots and 2.12 fantasy points per game. A trade for Colorado’s second-line center would ideally work in deeper, redraft leagues with strict positional constraints. A manager with an excess of quality centers might be enticed into trading Kadri in exchange for help at another position, proving mutually beneficial. Which, again, is how it’s supposed to work.
Kyle Palmieri, RW, New Jersey Devils (54.5%): There’s a decent chance the pending unrestricted free agent will be traded by the Devils ahead of the NHL’s deadline, which would be helpful. A top-six role with a genuine challenger should provide an instant boost to Palmieri’s uncharacteristically flagging numbers this year. That’s the gamble, of course. Maybe the 30-year-old isn’t moved into that much better of a position, or even traded at all. But the upside of rolling the dice on the dominoes falling such a fashion might be worth the risk. In deeper leagues, at any rate.
Tyson Barrie, D, Edmonton Oilers (97.1%): Need power-play points from your otherwise weak blue line? Is your fantasy roster saturated with an overabundance of consistent forwards, so you’re able to spare a quality asset at that position? Then there’s a deal to be made here. Knowing this may be as good as it gets for Barrie in Edmonton – considering Oscar Klefbom is due back after this season and star defender Darnell Nurse is getting better and better all the time – even keeper-league managers might be willing to part with him for the right return.
Mike Smith, G, Edmonton Oilers (66.6%): If truly contending in your keeper/dynasty league, and you believe Smith has the wherewithal to continue to help the Oilers win games, by all means, broker a deal for the veteran netminder. There’s no just cause for an out-of-it manager to hold onto this guy for these final few weeks. They instead might as well leverage the 39-year-old for a potentially useful figure in future seasons. The clear No. 1 over Mikko Koskinen, Smith has provided good fantasy value more often than not since making his healthy return in early February. So far.