Fantasy Hockey Buy & Sell: Week 13 (2021)
The NHL trade deadline has officially passed, and standard Fantasy Hockey playoffs have begun. As we bear down on the final couple of weeks of the season, there are still pivotal moves to be made. These are the transactions that could be the difference between an early exit and a fantasy championship.
If you are only going to take one thing from this article, allow it to be this: maximize your adds! Some leagues have unlimited weekly transactions, and others have a quota. Whatever you do, make sure you are maximizing your games played via transactions. With limited teams remaining in your league, virtually no player should be deemed “can’t cut.” Roster maintenance at this point is critical. Filtering out your worst few players to add games played every night makes a massive difference in weekly production.
Anthony Mantha (LW/RW – WSH)
I have always been a tremendous fan of this player. Over a full 82 game season, I fully expect that he will score 30 goals one day. I find it worrisome that Steve Yzerman decided to part ways with him (like he did shrewdly with Jonathan Drouin), but the Red Wings did well to return Jakub Vrana, a first-round pick and a second-round pick. Mantha’s ownership is quickly rising from 19% yesterday to 45% today. How Peter Laviolette will deploy Mantha remains to be seen. He has a lethal shot, and he is particularly effective on the power play. Of course, the Capitals power play has been operating effectively with their method for over a decade, but Mantha can provide an alternative shot option as well. I expect to see a rejuvenated player when Mantha suits up for Washington during their home stretch.
Casey Mittelstadt (C/LW/RW – BUF)
Quite simply, Mittelstadt has been a disappointment thus far in his NHL career. He stole the hearts of American hockey fans with his MVP performance at World Juniors in 2018. The Sabres management staff have been criticized for their cultivation of this player, but the fact is, he just hasn’t played well… until now. With Jack Eichel out, Mittelstadt is playing the most prominent minutes of his short career. He is slotted into the top six as well as centering the top power-play unit. He has five goals and seven points in his last seven games. The Sabres are slated to play another three games this week, four next week, and three the following. That is a robust schedule. Usually, I would shy away from a team that isn’t playing for anything, but this player has a lot more to prove that he was worth the 8th overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft. His 3-position eligibility should provide managers flexibility within their roster as well.
Columbus Blue Jackets
As of April 21st, I am selling all of my Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus plays just four games between April 21st and May 2nd, which count for the final 11 days of standard fantasy hockey playoffs. With players like Nick Foligno and David Savard shipped out at the deadline, the remainder of their season is just a formality. It would appear that Head Coach John Tortorella’s reign in Columbus is likely over as well. There is no single player on this roster that will produce more in four games than what you will get from a taxi squad off waivers for the final 11 days.
To make a fantasy football analogy, I am an admitted “Zero-RB” or “Zero-Goalie” advocate in fantasy hockey. To me, carrying two or three goalies is a necessary evil during the regular season. You want to find solidified starters so you can have some stability at the position for the long haul of the season. That changes once you get into the playoffs. Goalies are too inconsistent to be relied on. Their performance is generally matchup-driven. Like the elite starting quarterbacks in fantasy football, there are a select few goalies that you can consider “matchup proof.” All the others should be subbed out for waiver-wire options in good spot starts. Observe the schedule for your goaltenders for the next few weeks. I don’t want to start Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury against the Avalanche. I don’t want to start Kevin Lankinen against the Lightning. That doesn’t mean they aren’t strong season-long options. It only takes one terrible start to ruin stats like goals against, goals-against average, and save percentage. I suggest looking for back-to-back opportunities and monitor projected starters the best you can. When it comes to goaltending in the fantasy hockey playoffs, don’t feel like you have to “dance with who brought you.”