9 fantasy moves you need to make before Week 18

by 4d ago
Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports

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All advanced stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey.

Buy-low on Carey Price

Price has not been right this year. Both his SV% and GAA are much worse than fantasy owners expected. He started off well, but his SV% is just .895 over his last 22 games. However, the foreseeable future is looking bright for Price and the Habs.

Michel Therrien being fired as head coach was the best thing that could have possibly happened for those who have fantasy shares in the Montreal Canadiens. His replacement Claude Julien, who was fired by the Bruins on Feb. 7, is a far superior coach.

Boston's 2.03 xGA60 (expected goals against per 60 minutes) was the lowest in the NHL at 5v5 this season. In comparison, the second-lowest was the Kings at 2.15.

Julien won't have the depth down the middle in Montreal that he had in Boston, but with GM Mark Bergevin going "all in" this season, expect them to add at the deadline. He does have a better defense core, though -- specifically the top four. Expect Price to start playing like a Vezina candidate from here on out.

Trade for Alexander Radulov, too

Radulov won't benefit from the new system as much as Price, but he too is in line for some positive regression.

Of Radulov's 28 assists on the season, 23 have been primary helpers. Over time, this should correct itself and Radulov should luck his way into some secondary assists.

Radulov currently plays on a line opposite LW Max Pacioretty, but they are centered by rookie Phillip Danault. I expect the Habs to acquire a two-way center like Martin Hanzal from Arizona, but there's always the chance they go big and trade for Colorado's dynamic center Matt Duchene. This would catapult Radulov's fantasy value.

Acquire Sebastian Aho

I've been on the Sebastian Aho train for a while, and I will continue to be. He is quietly third in goals among rookies behind Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. In his last 28 games he has 14 goals and seven assists.

It probably won't take a whole lot to trade for Aho, considering his overall production is fairly average in the fantasy world. Why I'm looking to acquire him in all of my fantasy leagues is because Carolina plays 13 games in the fantasy playoffs, including five in the championship week. These totals are both more than any other team.

Pick up Elias Lindholm

Fantasy playoff schedule aside, Lindholm can really help your team right now. The former fifth-overall pick has had a disappointing season, but he quietly has 18 points in his last 16 games.

Lindholm is still just 22, so he could be coming into his own. He only has five goals on the year, but a 5.4 shooting percentage would indicate he's had some bad luck. It wouldn't be shocking if Carolina made a big move at the deadline considering their surplus of young defensemen.

Stream Josh Leivo

Maple Leafs RW Josh Leivo leads the NHL with 7.55 iSCF60 (individual scoring chances for per 60 minutes). He has only played six games all year, though.

Leivo, 23, has been efficient with his limited playing time. Since being inserted into the lineup for an injured Nikita Soshnikov on Feb. 9, he has one goal and four assists in four games.

He is seeing power-play time, and could be in line for more ice time if RW Mitch Marner is forced to miss any time after leaving Wednesday's game. Leivo's Achilles' heel has always been his skating, but he does possess good size and a heavy shot.

Add Radim Vrbata

There are few sure things in life: the sun will rise in the east, set in the west and Radim Vrbata will be moved at this year's trade deadline -- barring injury.

Vrbata, 35, is a UFA at the end of the season and only has a cap hit of $1 million. Even though the Coyotes are an absolute dumpster fire, the veteran has been productive, registering 38 points in 55 games.

Moving to a contender would likely mean playing in a top-six role alongside a high-profile center. Jonathan Toews in Chicago and Connor McDavid in Edmonton are two fits that make a lot of sense. This would help him convert on more than 6.5 percent of his shots and save his +/- from looking like a winning golf score.

Buy-low on Corey Perry

There is no time like the present to buy-low on an elite goal-scorer like Corey Perry. He has just 11 goals on the season, but his 7.0 shooting percentage is nearly half of his career rate.

Perry isn't just racking up shots from the outside, either. He is second in the NHL with 88 individual scoring chances this year. A goal-scorer with his track record will start burying the puck eventually.

Look at the upcoming schedule

The week of Feb. 20 - 27 in the NHL is an unusual one to say the least. Take a look:

1 game 2 games 3 games 4 games
Detroit Buffalo Anaheim Arizona
Minnesota Columbus Boston Calgary
San Jose Dallas Carolina Edmonton
Vancouver New Jersey Chicago Florida
Winnipeg Philadelphia Colorado Nashville
Pittsburgh Los Angeles NY Rangers
St. Louis Montreal
Tampa Bay NY Islanders
Ottawa
Toronto
Washington

Yes, these new bye weeks suck for fantasy hockey. Make your add/drops accordingly.

Prepare for the trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is Mar. 1. In most leagues, the fantasy trade deadline is Mar. 2. The trade deadline in your league may vary, so be sure of its date.

If you haven't already, begin preliminary discussions with managers to improve your team. You need to be aware of the asking price for certain players or positions you wish to acquire. Start shopping around players you wish to move. Find out who's interested. You don't want to head into the deadline with cold feet.

(Photos courtesy Action Images)