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NHL Waiver Wire: Trade Deadline Fallout

Dan Waldner

Dan Waldner covers hockey for RotoWire, and has been involved in fantasy hockey pools for 15 years. He's a lifetime Toronto Maple Leafs fan, a passion his wife puts up with and his daughter is starting to emulate.

The trade deadline fast approaches on Monday, and ahead of it, comes a flurry of activity. While it looks like Chicago can already start planning the parade, I would advise a lot of caution with players who find themselves in different cities. Andrew Ladd, for instance, seems like a slam dunk to increase his performance in the Windy City after a reasonably productive year in Winnipeg. I would say, however, that forecasting his production is next to impossible. Be careful at overvaluing players in advantageous situations. Player performance is largely predicated on opportunity, but it's also strongly personal. Ladd's 34 points isn't suddenly going to explode into 60 because he's playing top line with Jonathan Toews.

This piece of advice does not extend to your competitors, however. If you sense they might be overvaluing a player involved in a trade on your team, make them pay for it. There's no better time to capitalize on what might be than at the trade deadline.

Now, with all of that going on, you still need some gems for the week. I've tried to focus on some players who are unlikely to get moved this week, but nothing is sacred:

Mark Scheifele C, WPG -
As the first Jet to really jump on the opportunity left behind by the departure of captain Andrew Ladd, Scheifele looks to take the next step and assert his position. While two games are by no means a useful sample set, he has four points in that stretch -- that's more than half of all the goals scored. As the Jets are hopelessly out of any contention for a playoff spot, it looks as though the remaining 20 games will be an extended pre-season for many of the players looking to impress Winnipeg brass for next season. To this point in his career, Scheifele has shown flashes of brilliance, but has yet to find the next gear to take his game to. He had a very successful junior career in Barrie of the OHL; this next stretch of games will allow him to prove that he can find that step up. While I'm bullish on his even-strength performance, I'm concerned that his power-play production will diminish somewhat with Ladd's absence. Nonetheless, for the ownership levels, he's my best bet for a center.

Jaden Schwartz W, STL -
After suffering an ankle injury in the second week of the season, Schwartz was ditched by many fantasy GMs who couldn't protect him on IR. Now that he's fully healed, chances are a lot of GMs haven't taken notice of what he's done since his return. In his seven games played, he's put up four goals and two assists, along with a fantastic plus-five. For missing more than half a season, that's a heck of a way to scrape off the rust. His ownership rates have been skyrocketing of late -- at least five points per day over the last week -- but he's still free in many leagues. His point projections have had a steady uphill slope over the last three seasons, and his linemates of Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko are very dangerous. This gives potential owners a powderkeg situation: a talented player who is getting top line ice time with two scoring powers on a very successful team, who will also get top unit power play time. At the time of writing, there's a coin-flip chance you can go out and get him still. If he's free, I would advise even shallow league GMs to grab him. While a point per game going forward may seem a bit ambitious, he won't be too far off that for the next 20 games. That's pure gold going into the playoffs.

Matt Beleskey W, BOS -
If you don't already have him on your deep pool roster, you should. Aside from being one of my favorite depth roster guys, he happens to be on a bit of a tear. He has six points in the last four games and a plus-five rating in addition to two power-play points. In the 60 games he's suited up for this year, he has 13 goals and 19 assists and a plus-16 rating with 48 PIM and five power-play points. Don't let his third-line status fool you; that tandem of Beleskey, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes has been dynamite for the Bruins, and looks to continue its production for the remainder of the year. Boston is in the third spot in the Atlantic division, but its place is anything but secure -- Detroit is only three points back with a game in hand. If Boston is going to make the playoffs this year, it won't be able to coast in. The fight will continue well into fantasy playoffs, making Beleskey a solid contribution player for the rest of the year. With ownership numbers around 20 percent, he's readily available in most pools, and should be considered on roster depths of 23 or greater.

Brooks Orpik D, WAS -
Similar to Jaden Schwartz, Orpik has quietly returned after an extended absence of 40 games with a lower body injury. Quiet may be the wrong word -- in fact, perhaps the antonym of the correct word. He's landed back in the lineup with a thud, and made an already powerful Capital squad even more dangerous. In the six games since his return, he's put up six points, a pair of PIM and a plus-six rating. Now, looking at his numbers, nobody would ever confuse him for Erik Karlsson, but he's got a very good fantasy opportunity in Washington. He's guaranteed to be a plus-minus gold mine, which is a difficult category to lock down with any certainty. He's also on the ice for 20 minutes a game behind one of the most dynamic offenses in the league -- which will almost certainly lead to a flurry of secondary scoring chances. With John Carlson on the DL until the end of March, he's also likely to get a few whiffs of the power play, further adding to his potential. He's also good for about a minute in penalties per game, which is a nice perk at the end of the day. With an ownership rate of 12 percent, he's a good option in some mid-depth pools, and most deep pools.

Zach Bogosian D, BUF -
There is not much to cheer for in Western New York, but the promise of future gains is in the air. That's cold comfort to the fans in Buffalo, but they can take solace that the team is slowly building toward the right direction. Undoubtedly one of the key pieces going forward will be Zach Bogosian, who's play the last two weeks has been pretty good, and worthy of a watch for fantasy GMs. His season numbers to date have been pretty ugly: four goals and 10 assists for 14 points, a minus-17 rating and 38 PIM. That sounds pretty bad, but the Sabres have gone 4-3 in their last seven against some fairly rough opponents. In that stretch, Bogosian has six points, a plus-four rating and two power-play points. I would still advise a fair amount of caution: if you have plus-minus as a category, don't bother, as he's too much of a liability at the moment. If, however, your league doesn't, keep your eye on him over the next week to watch if his performance continues the uphill climb. At 2 percent ownership, you have the luxury of time to determine if you want to pick him up in your deep league.

James Reimer G, SJS -
After being dealt to the Sharks on Saturday for what seemingly amounted to a bag of pucks, Reimer looks to be in plum fantasy position. At an ownership level of 33 percent, he's under-owned for a solid backup in the league, which already makes him an attractive add, for value if nothing else. After watching him his entire career in Toronto, he's a great goalie that battles hard, and should provide the Sharks with someone who can push Martin Jones from behind. Even though he played behind a team that would likely be mediocre in the AHL, Reimer still managed to put up a solid 11-12-7 record in Toronto with a 2.49 GAA and .918 SV% this year. Even though he was labelled the backup in Toronto, he still backstopped more than half the team's points on the year. Sharks fans will be very happy with the game he provides, and fantasy GMs should mark him down to watch. It's also not out of the conversation to snag the crease, should Jones falter -- though I would stress that's a long shot.