By Neil Parker, RotoWire Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
The NHL trade deadline didn’t disappoint. A number of teams bulked up for their respective stretch drives and playoff runs, and there were even a few surprises.
Most notably, St. Louis dealt upcoming unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny. However, the Blues also unloaded Kevin Shattenkirk a year ago in the final season of his contract, so perhaps it shouldn’t have been that shocking.
Regardless, a number of players on new teams and backup netminders filling in for injured starters headline this week’s recommendations.
Here’s the schedule for the next scoring period, March 5-11:
Two games: Hurricanes, Kings, Sharks, Blues, Maple Leafs
Four games: Coyotes, Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Blackhawks, Stars, Penguins, Canucks
All other teams play three games.
Remember to keep an eye on who is cut in your leagues, as potential upgrades come in all forms. Also, note the players previously covered in this space listed below this week’s recommendations.
(Yahoo ownership rates as of March 1.)
Kyle Connor, WPG (23 percent): Reunited with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler atop the Winnipeg depth chart and coming off a strong February (six tallies, five helpers and 31 shots through 12 games), Connor should be owned in most formats. After all, the Jets’ top line has combined for 4.19 goals and 13.84 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes, too.
Kevin Fiala, NAS (30 percent): The Preds have won five consecutive games, scoring 25 goals during that span. Fiala has been a solid secondary scorer during the surge with two tallies, two helpers and 11 shots. Game-to-game inconsistency has been his only shortcoming this season, but with a top-six role, power-play time and a solid 2.56 points and 9.2 shots per 60 minutes, it’s worth enduring the peaks and valleys in most settings.
Tomas Tatar, VGK (24 percent): Well on his way to a fourth consecutive 20-goal campaign, Tatar should receive a notable fantasy boost with the relocation to Vegas. While it might take some time for him to find his footing with his new club, the winger logged 2:55 of power-play time in his debut and is a high-volume shooter (2.29 shots per game). A strong finish could be on the horizon.
Nick Bjugstad, FLA (6 percent): The 25-year-old forward collected two goals, seven assists, 35 shots and 19 PIM through 12 February games. He’s currently skating on an intriguing line with Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov, and Bjugstad’s recent cross-category production has his fantasy arrow pointing up in deeper leagues.
Derick Brassard, PIT (41 percent): The Penguins have three capable offensive lines, and Brassard logged a respectable 16:58 of ice time (1:20 on the power play) in his debut with the club. With Pittsburgh pacing the league in goals per game (4.38) since the All-Star break, Brassard’s positioned to provide respectable numbers moving forward.
Dion Phaneuf, LA (37 percent): The move to Los Angeles has revitalized the veteran’s fantasy value, as Phaneuf has collected three goals, five points, 22 shots and 14 blocked shots through eight games. He’s now beginning 51.1 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone compared to 45.3 when with Ottawa, and he’s also averaged 2:34 of power-play time per contest as a King.
Matt Niskanen, WAS (36 percent): A steady cross-category contributor, Niskanen is now up to 10 points, 23 shots, eight PIM, 23 hits and 16 blocked shots through 15 games since the All-Star break. There are plenty of settings where those numbers tilt the scales, and Niskanen’s long-standing track record as a secondary fantasy contributor shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Brandon Montour, ANA (39 percent): The youngster is currently playing top-pairing minutes and skating with the No. 1 power-play unit, so the expanded role should translate into more offensive production moving forward. Montour’s already providing a respectable fantasy floor with 24 points through 62 games, but considering his elite skating ability and offensive track record at the lower levels, there’s upside for more.
Ryan Pulock, NYI (6 percent): While Pulock has only marked the scoresheet in two of the past 10 games, his ice time is up, and he continues to post solid peripheral numbers. His 8.58 shots per 60 minutes rank third in the league among regular blueliners, and he’s also collected 20 hits and 19 blocked shots during the noted 10-game stretch. He’s a hidden gem for leagues weighing secondary categories heavily.
Casey DeSmith, PIT (16 percent): The Penguins need steady goaltending with Matt Murray nursing a concussion, and DeSmith has a legitimate shot to outplay Tristan Jarry and receive the bulk of starts moving forward. DeSmith’s .925 save percentage and 2.35 GAA top Jarry’s .916 and 2.58 marks, and even if it’s close to a 50-50 timeshare, it’s a favorable setup for wins with Pittsburgh leading the league in goals per game since the All-Star break.
Jacob Markstrom, VAN (36 percent): Before Wednesday’s poor showing against the Rangers, Markstrom had recorded a .920 save percentage through his previous 12 outings. While he’s strictly a matchup-based option, he’s also the clear-cut No. 1 goalie in Vancouver, and there’s value in volume — especially at this stage of the fantasy season.
Antti Niemi, MON (11 percent): The veteran is now 4-2-2 with a .926 save percentage and 2.43 GAA through 11 starts with the Canadiens, and he should see plenty of action moving forward with Carey Price (concussion) sidelined. It’s also worth noting that the Canadiens have allowed the fifth-fewest high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five (9.75) this season, so despite all of Montreal’s struggles, it might not be the worst fantasy setup for Niemi.
Players to consider from past columns: Sam Reinhart, Tom Wilson, Teuvo Teravainen, Evgenii Dadonov, Bryan Rust, Craig Smith, Kevin Hayes, Nico Hischier, Matt Duchene, Ryan Spooner, Timo Meier, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nate Schmidt, Sami Vatanen, Justin Braun, Vince Dunn, Jeff Petry, Esa Lindell, Alexander Edler, Travis Dermott, Antti Raanta, Cam Ward, Ryan Miller, Kari Lehtonen, Juuse Saros, Tristan Jarry, Charlie Lindgren.