Fantasy Hockey Buy/Sell: Week 8
This week we’ll be taking a look at another goaltender who appears to be taking over the crease due to a good situation and some bad play by his counterpart. While some trades and line juggling have made for advantageous situations for others. For ownership purposes, we will be using Yahoo! percentages as the gauge.
David Rittich (CAL – G)
It’s no surprise that Mike Smith has not been capable of putting up a solid front for Calgary between the pipes. The Flames lead the NHL in third-period goals so far this year and there’s a reason why they have had to keep the pedal down. Smith hasn’t let in less than three goals since Oct. 27th and has posted a lackluster 3.48 GAA and .876 SV % to date. Enter David Rittich. He’s 7-1 through eight starts this year and has a very nice 1.93 GAA and .931 SV %. There’s no reason for Calgary to use Smith at this point unless it’s relief appearance and because he’s playing so poorly, they pretty much have to see what their options in net are if they want to be competitive. He’s still hovering around the 50% ownership mark and should definitely be picked up if you have room for a third goalie.
Tanner Pearson (PIT – LW)
The L.A. Kings shipped Pearson off to Pittsburgh last week to shake things up a bit. Surely, Pearson was not too disappointed to be leaving the Kings and their lowly 15 points through 20 games. The Steel City gives him the chance to play alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That in itself is worth fantasy consideration. He just so happened to register two points on Nov 19th playing on the top line with Malkin and Partic Hornqvist against the Sabres and ended a 32-game goalless drought in the process. Pearson scored 24 goals last year and if he can find a rhythm with the company that’s available to him, he makes for some nice depth on the bench and is easy to snag sitting at 10% ownership.
Nikolaj Ehlers (WIN – LW/RW)
Closing in the last ten days of November, to say Ehlers has underwhelmed so far is accurate. He has registered four goals, five assists and a minus-2 rating. That isn’t terrible but it doesn’t exactly scream fantasy production, especially since he doesn’t typically generate hits, blocks or penalty minutes. That being said, Ehlers almost cracked the 30 goal mark last year and just got promoted to the top line playing on the wing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. It’s uncertain whether or not he’ll see time on the PP but with Patrik Laine stuttering a bit early, it’s given him a golden opportunity to be a fantasy asset and he carries some utility status being eligible on both wings. He’s still up in the ownership department at 85% but you may be able to peel him away from a frustrated owner. Alex Debrincat or Jake Debrusk are a couple of LW/RW pieces who have performed much better and could be used as trade bait.
Wayne Simmonds (PHI – RW)
At the beginning of the season, Wayne Simmonds was taking some heat from his critics saying that he’s lost a step and starting to deteriorate since he hit the big 3-0. At the start of the season, it looked like he had taken exception to this and potted five goals through his first six games. He was registering hits and PIM’s as per normal and looked to be his old self. If we fast forward and take a look, we’ll notice that he’s only been able to muster five points since Oct 20th and isn’t seeing any time on the PP. At this point, it’s time to consider that he may be slowing down on the scoresheet side of the game. He will definitely help out when it comes to penalty minutes and hits which has always been nice for his owners, but he’s currently on the wrong side of the plus/minus with a minus-5 and hasn’t been producing offensively for a month. Holding a player in the “RW” position simply for defensive stats won’t help you unless you’re in unique circumstances. Keep an eye out for up and coming players and don’t be afraid to cut him loose if you need to make room.
Mathew Barzal (NYI – C)
If you were following the New York Islanders last year, you’d know what a talent Barzal is. At 20 years old he picked up 85 points through a full 82 game season and provided much-needed line depth behind John Tavares. Now that JT has been shipped to Toronto, Barzal has some big shoes to fill. The Islanders went on a five-game winning streak back in late October and all though he did contribute four helpers (two games with two assists) he has only found the back of the net twice all season. He is seeing time on the powerplay but recently was demoted to the second unit as they are struggling to get goals on the man advantage so Barry Trotz is shaking it out as best as he can to find some success. That said he’s also posted a minus-11 rating to date and that’s a good indication of some defensive shortcomings. It’s not time to completely cut bait but once he strings together a few games with decent point production you should consider off-loading him because he may do more harm than good and the “C” position has a lot of quality depth.
Jeremy Farr is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jeremy, check out his archive.