Fantasy Hockey Trade Targets & Advice (Week 18)
Welcome back from the break!
Whether your favorite NHL team is back in action or not, your fantasy team certainly is! Let’s take a look at some names worth buying and selling as we make that second-half push toward the postseason!
*Noted rosterships courtesy of ESPN
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NHL Fantasy Hockey Week 18 Buy/Sell Advice
I had noted Jake DeBrusk as a waiver wire suggestion much earlier in the season, but he is a great complementary player that hasn’t gotten the fantasy love he deserves this season.
DeBrusk is only slightly over 50% rostered as he’s still on injured reserve after fracturing his fibula in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2. Still, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery recently said he’d be “shocked” if DeBrusk weren’t back in action when the Bruins return Feb. 11 against the Washington Capitals.
Prior to his injury, DeBrusk had tallied 16 goals and 30 points in 36 games. However, he was also a plus-15 with 11 power-play points, 109 shots on goal (3.03 per game), and 51 hits while skating on the top line and top power-play unit alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
While we don’t know for sure if he will return to those top-line duties upon his return, I’d strongly suggest that he does. Montgomery had chosen to spread his offensive wealth and move David Pastrnak onto the second line with countryman David Krejci as his center it worked out quite well for both player and team.
His 17:08 of average ice time is easily a career-high, as DeBrusk was playing the best hockey of his NHL career before his injury. If he returns to form out of the break, he would be a sneaky-good addition to a deal that might not cost all that much.
Never would I think I’d see the day that Patrick Kane was rostered in less than 90% of leagues, but here we are. At the very least, I didn’t expect this to happen at age 34.
I mean, it sorta makes sense, considering Kane has just nine goals and 35 points in 46 games as part of a dreadful Blackhawks team. He’s also a disastrous minus-24 while offering very little in the hits and penalty minutes departments. However, now is the time to pounce.
For starters, Kane is rounding into form of late with a goal and five points over his last four games, with 11 shots in that time. More important, however, is his status as a top name on the trade deadline board with unrestricted free agency scheduled for the end of the season. I would personally be shocked if the rebuilding Blackhawks held onto Kane and let him walk for nothing on the open market. An end of an era in Blackhawks hockey is the reality prior to March 3.
Kane is going to land with a contender, and a far more productive offense than the 31st-ranked unit the ‘Hawks are rolling out these days. He simply has no help around him, while his current 5.8% shooting rate could be set for a meteoric rise with a significant improvement in his supporting case or at least a capable center.
Is he past his prime? Maybe. But keep in mind he also posted 92 points in 78 games on a 29th-ranked Blackhawks offense last season. I’m not buying into the wheels falling off here, but it’s clear the player needs to be moved to a winning situation at this point, as the Blackhawks cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity to bolster their future by trading him away.
Grab Kane before he’s moved to a contender, plain and simple.
Clayton Keller (LW, C, RW – ARI)
Clayton Keller is a great hockey player stuck in a losing situation in Arizona. He’s still managed to produce healthy numbers in his six seasons in the desert, but as long as he’s there, it’s going to be tough to reach his fantasy ceiling.
I mean, there’s nothing wrong with his 18 goals and 42 points in 51 games. However, he’s a minus-13 with just 11 hits on the season. It’s tough to find excellent cross-category contributors, and even though he’s actually collected 35 penalty minutes and a decent 12 power-play points, he’s still averaging just 2.3 shots per game.
He’s a solid producer in a few different areas, but Keller thrives in none of them. Again, he’s in a tough spot on the NHL’s 28th-ranked offense. He’s a solid fantasy contributor, but he’s not leading the charge toward a championship any time soon. After all, he’s under contract through the 2027-28 season in Arizona after signing an eight-year, $57.2 million extension with the club in 2019.
Whether he’s traded straight up or included in a package, Keller is an expendable asset in fantasy circles.
Rickard Rakell (LW, C, RW – PIT)
Rickard Rakell is a fantasy favorite of mine, but he’s also a little maddening. Despite skating on a line with (mostly) Evgeni Malkin this season and now with Sidney Crosby, Rakell has 18 goals and 33 points in 50 games. Solid yet unspectacular results despite skating with two of the NHL’s top pivots.
That’s a healthy 30-goal pace, but he’s also a minus-two with 10 penalty minutes and, therefore, not a factor in those two categories. I have long liked his physicality as he’s collected 79 hits on the season, and he likes to shoot the puck with exactly three shots per game on the season. Despite top power-play unit time with the Penguins’ big boys, he’s collected just 12 man-advantage points.
All of this is well and good, but man, it feels like there’s more meat on the bone here. This was a 34-goal, 69-point player with the 2017-18 Anaheim Ducks at 24 years old. Rakell hasn’t exceeded 43 points in any season since, although he’s obviously on pace to do so this season.
The point is he’s consistently failing to reach his ceiling. Thirty-four goals at age 24 should not be a career-high. It should set the stage for continuous 30-plus and even 40-goal seasons, but Rakell’s 20 goals from last season are the most since that 2017-18 campaign.
Rakell is in the first season of a six-year, $30 million contract with the Penguins, so the team clearly views him as a long-term piece. He could obviously go on a tear skating with Crosby, more of a playmaker than Malkin. These are the types of selling points you can use to persuade a potential taker for his services.
I’d invite him on my team for the most part, but he’s also a player that could help net you something substantial in a bid for a fantasy championship.
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