Fantasy Hockey: The Top 10 Players To Target During The Freeze

  • George Kurtz

The NHL is the only sport that enacts a roster freeze around the holidays. From Dec. 20-27 no moves can be made. The idea is simple; it’s done so the players will know where they are spending Christmas. Does that mean you shouldn’t be making any moves with your Fantasy team? Of course not! If you’re falling behind in the standings it’s time to shake things up. We are almost halfway through the season and no longer dealing with a small sample size. Perhaps Alexander Steen is going to score 40 goals. Maybe Henrik Lundqvist will continue to have a subpar season. The waiver wire is being picked clean each and every day and your bench is getting thinner and thinner. It’s time to start working the trade route.

In today’s column, we are going to look at 10 players you could target that shouldn’t cost to heavy a price. Trading in recent years has gotten more and more difficult. I believe this is due to social media like Twitter and Facebook. No one wants to make a trade anymore for fear of making a bad one and then being blasted on these sites for how inept they are. It seems like whenever I get a trade offer, it’s always one sided. My trading partner is more interested in winning a trade rather than making a fair offer. The idea behind a trade is to find a team that not only has what you need, but one that also needs what you have and work from there. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try and win a deal, but when your first offer is insulting, I tend towards not wanting to deal with you. Your first offer doesn’t have to be your best, but it should at least be competitive, a talking piece so that negotiations can begin. Now, on to those players to target.

1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: Miller has a 2.83 GAA (not so good) and .922 save percentage (really good) for a terrible hockey team. One would have to believe those numbers would rise if he were playing for a cup contender. It doesn’t look like Buffalo will re-sign him, which means they will be active in trying to deal him before the deadline. I especially love Miller in keeper or dynasty leagues. You may have been able to draft him late this season and he will almost certainly be on a better team next season, which could make him extremely valuable.

2. Thomas Vanek, New York Islanders: With the Isles free-falling and having given up Matt Moulson, 1st- and 2nd-round picks to acquire Vanek, one would have to assume that he will be sent packing once again considering he is an unrestricted free agent after the season. He’ll be a Top 6 forward on any team he ends up with.

3. Any one of the Oilers young forwards: The Oilers have had several top draft picks over the past couple of years and have always taken the top ranked offensive player on their board. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov are some of the more exciting players in the game but they haven’t really brought Edmonton to playoff contention. The Oilers are weak on defense and in net and one of those players could go a long way towards fixing one or more of those problems.

4. Tim Thomas, Florida Panthers: There was only one reason why the Panthers signed Thomas right before the season started, to trade him for draft picks or players right before the season started. Could he help your Fantasy team on a cup contender? Possibly, especially with all the injuries among NHL goaltenders, but I wouldn’t be going out of my way to acquire him.

5. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens: His name on this list might surprise you but consider this. Subban and management are like oil and water, they don’t mix, and he is still a defensive liability. More importantly, every team wants a top young defenseman and Subban could bring back a truckload of goodies.

6. Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers: The Rangers are one team that is willing to trade a high upside defenseman like Del Zotto. They have a few problems here, however. First, DZ has underperformed badly to the point where he’s been benched more than he has played, which has brought his trade value to an all-time low. Second, they will want a defenseman in return. Del Zotto needs a change of scenery and could be a Fantasy asset once again should he land in the right spot, but the Rangers may feel that they can’t get back enough to justify trading him.

7. Matt Moulson, Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres hit gold when they were able to acquire Moulson from the Islanders for those picks, not because Moulson will be a key player in their future, but because they can now trade him for even more picks or players. It’s not a matter of if he will be traded, but when. If he were to go back to being a complementary player on a good team, he could also return to being a 30-goal scorer.

8. Michael Cammalleri, Calgary Flames: Let’s face it, the Flames are playing for the future and a 31-year-old winger has no place in that future. Cammalleri won’t bring back a huge haul in a deal, but it shouldn’t matter. If it’s not nailed down then Calgary should deal it. Veteran forwards can be nice bench depth in Fantasy leagues.

9. Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild: Heatley wouldn’t even be on the team if not for his rehab from shoulder surgery, which prevented the Wild from a buy out last offseason. He’s been bumped from the second line to the top line, to the fourth line. You can’t say the Wild aren’t trying. Could a change of scenery help out Fantasy owners? Probably not, as it’s hard to see him playing with a more talented line mate than Zach Parise. He has name value, but don’t fall for it in a trade.

10. Ray Whitney and Erik Cole, Dallas Stars: These two veteran wingers could find a home on a contending club should Dallas fall out of the playoff race. The top teams are always looking for veteran forwards down the stretch run and into the playoffs, and you should too.

Feel free to follow me and ask any Fantasy related questions you like on twitter, @georgekurtz.

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