For the Week Feb. 15-22
Tangent: Examining Key Players of the Trade
Zach Bogosian D, BUF - It definitely will be interesting to watch how Bogosian changes his game in the Queen City, after spending his entire career with one team -- first Atlanta, then Winnipeg. We think a change in scenery is going to largely benefit his fantasy point production. To date, his best output was 30 points in 2011-2012, to go with 71 PIM and 150 SOG -- good enough for deep pools to have a fair number of investors. We always strongly believe in paying attention when investors start running to the exits, because that's when good investments can be had at bargain-basement prices. Bogosian is now the Sabres' best defenseman, and as a result, he's likely to get far more ice time, responsibility and power-play time. His plus-minus will be atrocious -- no question -- but we suspect that for the remainder of the season, he'll actually increase his point output. If you're in a dynasty league, where you keep your entire roster, he's an absolute gem long term. Buffalo is going to be an incredibly good team in a few years, and a little bit of foresight in investing now will pay long-term dividends. Bogosian's time in Western New York is likely to look a lot like Brent Seabrook's time in Chicago. There's also an outside chance that he gets traded yet again before the deadline, which will boost his short-term value immeasurably.
Tyler Myers D, WPG - His time in Buffalo was largely disappointing following the huge expectations he created by winning the Calder trophy in 2009-2010. That season, he set career markers for goals, assists, points, plus-minus and power-play points, and since has been a steady trendline downward. We expect a change of scenery will serve him well, if he plays a more relaxed role on a better team. In Buffalo, he was often their only hope on the back end, along with long-time Sabre Henrik Tallinder, a role for which he was hopelessly outmatched. His size, speed and offensive ability should be ideal for a top-four role with the Jets, where he's likely to be partnered with Toby Enstrom. The result should be pretty good for fantasy GMs who are willing to invest. We advise caution, however -- Myers should only be considered in deep pools that don't emphasize goals. His trend should have him ending the year in the late 100s to low 200s in ranking. If that's an improvement to your bottom pairing, invest.
Evander Kane W, BUF - Part of the genius of the Buffalo Sabres is how they were able to make their team worse this year, while simultaneously making their team better next year. Trades that have eyes to the future of a franchise are often gambles -- picks or prospects that are unknown quantities that may not be what you think they are. Evander Kane is young, brash and probably a handful, but on the ice, he's a talented scorer that will make Buffalo an offensive threat -- next year. He's on the shelf with a shoulder injury that will see him out the rest of the season. If you consider Tyler Myers and Zach Bogosian to be washes in terms of talent, Buffalo has removed the considerable ability of Drew Stafford for the remainder of the year, basically assuring them a place in the top two draft picks this year. This means that Kane likely will have Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel feeding him pucks this time next year. That seems fairly beneficial to Kane's career, and the irony is that he may end up with a personality/skill/performance combination that matches another Kane in the league. Time will tell.
Drew Stafford W, WPG - Very little was made of Stafford's inclusion in this trade; many of the headlines focused on Kane's departure, and the Bogosian-Myers swap. He may end up being the biggest surprise of this trade yet. He's perennially undervalued because he's played on so many bad Sabre teams for so long that he never got much press or recognition, much like his previous teammate Jason Pominville. He should find a nice home on the wing of the Mark Scheifele-Mathieu Perrault unit, and that should be money for his investors. Perrault has been a man possessed the last few months, and Scheifele is really showing what potential he has -- and still has to come. Stafford has hit 50 points in his career, and approached it many times. While he's lost too many games this year to Western New York to be able to hit those types of milestones this season, he'll be able to show potential suitors for next season that he has a lot to offer teams looking for a solid second-line center; he'll be a UFA in the offseason and will probably end up somewhere else come July.
And Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Column
John Gibson G, ANA - This could possibly be the shortest and easiest player write up we've ever done: he's a fantastic goalie prospect, backstopping the second-best team in the league while the starter is injured, and he has relatively low ownership levels (45 percent). It doesn't get any more concise than that -- regardless of the depth of your team, if you have an open spot, go get him. He's a slam dunk to help you in every goaltender category. The only downside is that he might not be the starter for long; we're not sure how long Frederik Andersen will be on IR, but it might not be that long. Get while the getting is good.
Carl Hagelin W, NYR - The last two seasons have been a bit rough for Hagelin; his progression that we all witnessed took a dive with the arrival of Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis. While their production has benefited the club, Hagelin has seen fewer opportunities and his point-per-game totals take a hit. In his last 10 games, however, he's really ramped up the performance. Where he's typically on a sub-0.5 PPG pace, he has eight points since Jan. 20, and looks to be clicking with linemates Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller. He's still not getting as much power-play time, which is putting a severe cramp on his potential numbers, but given his current production, if he keeps it up, it's only a matter of time until he gets a peek at the second unit.
Travis Hamonic D, NYI - We wrote about his teammate Johnny Boychuk last week but have been remiss about mentioning Hamonic. Based on his career forecasts, which are rather mediocre, his last 10 games have been otherworldly or, to borrow a phrase from football, "Beast Mode" -- nine assists, four power-play points, a plus-five and four PIM since Jan. 19. This, from a defenseman whose ownership is in the low 20s, who gets consistent first- or second-unit power-play time and plays for one of the best teams in the East. Based on what he's doing on the Island, we would recommend adding him to any mid- to deep-level pool; if you have more than two D spots, Hamonic is a great add. He provides a good amount of PIM and is now starting to produce copious points in all useful categories. Get him before your competitors pay attention.
Andrei Vasilevskiy G, TBL - He's young for an NHL goalie at 20, but he's already shown both in the AHL and in the few games he's played with the big club that he has the chops for greatness. Even with Ben Bishop above him in the depth chart -- who was nominated for a Vezina last year -- there's a chance that Vasilevskiy might find a way to take the net from him. He's appeared in eight games this season, going 4-1-1 with a 2.00 GAA/.932 SV%. Now, granted, he's playing behind one of the best teams in the league, but his numbers for AHL Syracuse were not far off at 14-5-0 with a 2.38 GAA/.919 SV%. With a talent like this sitting on the bench, Tampa Bay likely will trade one of the two in favor of help in other areas. We're putting our money on Vasilevskiy being the starter of the future, in the not-too-distant future.
Kimmo Timonen D, PHI - It couldn't come soon enough for the embattled Flyer blueline -- Timonen is up and skating once again, and looking to make a comeback near the end of February. Philly is just on the cusp of a playoff position, and Timonen has been its most reliable defenseman for almost a decade. His return will see a marked improvement in the entire team -- if he's able to find his game. He's been away from the ice for a long time for someone approaching 40; it would be no surprise to many if his game has evaporated while he's recovered. You need not look any further than Stephane Robidas for a clear example of an injury robbing a player of his ability while he still has his desire to compete. Nonetheless, we think Timonen will be interesting to keep an eye on, because he still does have a possibility of being a fantastic add in many deep-pool situations. He's a gamble: do you feel lucky?