NHL Fantasy: Five players who could get a boost if dealt before the trade deadline

With the NHL trade deadline just over a month away, trade rumours and discussions around the league have begun to heat up. The trade deadline can also have some major impacts on fantasy hockey as well. Players moving around to different teams and different situations can greatly alter their fantasy value and rest of season outlook, especially those who have been stuck on poor teams to start the season. Being ready to jump at the opportunity to acquire one of these players can give you a big advantage in fantasy for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

Both the Athletic and TSN have released their annual trade boards, and they are full of some big names. Whether or not they get moved is another question, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on these players in fantasy as the deadline gets closer. Let’s take a look at five players from these trade boards that could get a boost to their fantasy value if moved before the deadline.

Taylor Hall LW – Buffalo SABRES

Taylor Hall is without question the biggest name in trade rumours right now. His teammate Jack Eichel has also been brought up due to the Sabres struggles, but I highly doubt a move of that caliber happens mid-season so I’ll leave him off this list.

The former Hart trophy winner shocked everyone when he signed a one year $8 million contract this offseason to join the Sabres. Many believed he chose Buffalo in order to rack up the points alongside one of the best centers in the league in Eichel, and boost his value before signing a long term deal this offseason. It hasn’t panned out though as the Sabres have been awful this season and Hall and Eichel have struggled to put up points. He’s been a huge fantasy disappointment after being a major bounce back candidate.

With Hall reportedly interested in returning to Buffalo in the offseason and the Sabres well out of the playoffs, it looks likely the Sabres could move him before the deadline to get some assets, knowing there’s a good shot they can re-sign him.

Despite his low point totals this season, Hall has been playing some decent hockey. On the terrible Sabres team, he has been generating a good amount of shots and chances and just hasn’t had any luck. He currently leads all Sabres forwards in CF%, xGF and HDCF. Individually he leads the team with an ixG of 6.48, much higher than his actual goal total of just two. His iHDCF of 26 is also tops on the team, with no one else close except Jeff Skinner who has 21.

He’s arguably been their most effective forward this season but just hasn’t gotten the bounces. His shooting percentage is brutal right now at just 3.57%, well below his career average of 10%. This has led to him putting up just two goals and 13 points in 21 games so far.

Hall will probably never return to his Hart trophy form, but he is much better than his current point total. Taking on his contract will require some clever maneuvering for the team that acquires him and he’ll have to waive his NTC but if he lands in the right situation he could gain a massive boost in fantasy.

Filip Forsberg LW – Nashville Predators

Filip Forsberg is probably one of the most underrated wingers in the league. He continually puts up over 20 goals and over 0.7 points per game yet it seems like not enough people talk about him. He’s gotten off to a great start to the season with 22 points in 23 games, his best pace since 2017-18 when he had 64 points in 67 games.

His impressive numbers come despite the Nashville Predators struggling this year, sitting at 10-13. With the team once again having a rough start to the season there have been rumblings that they may shake things up and enter a full-on rebuild. One of the main names people have speculated that could be moved this year is Forsberg. With another year on his contract for a modest $6 million AAV, he could be a very enticing option to a contender looking to boost their top six forward group for the playoffs.

Forsberg currently ranks first among forwards on his team for xGF and HDCF at 13.84 and 60.62. He also ranks first on the team for shots, ixG, iHDCF, and 5v5 points. His 5v5 point total of 11 is more than double the next highest on the team in Matt Duchene who has just five. He’s carrying a very bad Nashville offense right now. As it stands the Predators currently sit fourth last in the league for goals per game, so any team he goes to at this point will be a boost to his offensive potential.

Any team acquiring Forsberg would almost certainly place him on their top line and top power play unit and he would be surrounded by a much better supporting cast almost anywhere he goes. He already provides great value, but given a better opportunity he could become a top 15 forward in fantasy. The odds of him getting moved are lower than some other names, but he’s playing great right now and if he were moved to a team that isn’t brutal at scoring his point totals could reach career highs with the way he’s playing.

Rickard Rakell RW – Anaheim Ducks

It feels like Rickard Rakell’s name comes up in trade rumours around this time almost every year. The Ducks entered a rebuild a couple years ago and Rakell always seems to be thrown around as a guy who could be moved. It hasn’t happened yet but this year could be the year it finally happens as the Ducks are a disaster. They currently sit 26th in the league, just two points out of last and are reportedly listening to offers on almost all of their players. Rakell would certainly be at the top of most teams’ lists.

After putting up a career year in 2017-18 where he put up 34 goals and 69 points in 77 games, it was thought Rakell was well on his way to stardom. Unfortunately he hasn’t come close to reaching those heights again as the most points he’s managed in a season since is just 43 in 2018-19. Perhaps it’s because the Ducks started a rebuild soon after that season or maybe it was just an outlier for Rakell. Either way it’s been disappointing for fantasy managers as Rakell is annually listen among fantasy sleepers before draft season and never reaches those same heights.

If he were to finally get a change of scenery to a better team it could bring back his 2017-18 form. The Ducks are terrible right now, sitting dead last in the league for goals per game, not exactly a good situation for fantasy managers. Rakell himself has just three goals and 12 points on the year in 23 games. He hasn’t been playing terrible though. He is first among Ducks forwards for HDCF, ixG, and second for iHDCF and 5v5 points. His 4.88 ixG at 5v5 is more than double his actual of just two. He’s also shooting at a career low 4.17%, which is much lower than his career average of 10.14%.

Rakell looks like a prime candidate to be moved and then excel on a new team this season. His shooting percentage is unsustainably low right now and the Ducks are just plain terrible. If he were finally moved to a contender and placed in their top six he would bring some immediate fantasy value in hopes he could reach his 2017-18 height.

Jonathan Bernier G – Detroit Red Wings

Look, everyone knows the Red Wings are terrible, but Jonathan Bernier has very quietly put up some solid numbers this year in Detroit. He’s flown under the radar so far mainly because Detroit is a fantasy hockey black hole, but he’s proven he can bring some value to the table. He currently sits with a respectable 6-5 record in 13 games, accounting for all but one of Detroit’s wins. Just being over .500 on a team that is 7-16-3 is mighty impressive.

Bernier currently has a decent .910 save percentage and 2.94 GAA to go along with his decent record. He’s been playing solid hockey all season behind a team that is very poor defensively. The Red Wings sit fourth last in the league for CA, and third last for CF%. They routinely get dominated and hemmed in their own zone yet Bernier has still come out with a save percentage above .900 in eight of his 13 games played. Not a super impressive number, but still very solid considering the team he plays for. Even when he loses he still has a good shot to put up some fantasy points.

Bernier is in the final year of his three year $9 million contract and could be a solid rental pickup for a team needing some insurance in net down the stretch. If Bernier were to get moved to a better team he would immediately become a strong fantasy option for anyone needing some help at the position. A team like Colorado could make a lot of sense. If Bernier got the chance to play behind a defensively sound team like that he would present some solid value in fantasy in the second half of the season and into the fantasy playoffs.

Kyle Palmieri LW – Nj Devils

Like Rakell, Kyle Palmieri’s name seems to come up in rumours every year around this time but he never actually gets moved. Could this be the year? The 30 year old forward will be a free agent this off-season and there has been reportedly been no discussion with the Devils to this point about an extension. The closer it gets to the trade deadline with no talks between the two parties only increase the odds he gets moved this time around. The Devils being well out of the playoffs and sitting third last in the league right now increases the odds he gets moved as well.

Typically a lock for 25 goals every year, Palmieri has struggled out of the gate this season, sitting at just three goals and nine points in 18 games. Part of the reason for his rough start is the fact the Devils have struggled to score this season. They currently sit fifth last in the league for goals per game. Another reason has been his bad luck so far this year. Palmieri is typically a very efficient shooter, sitting at a career average shooting percentage of 12.3%. This year his shooting percentage is just 6.25%.

Palmieri currently sits third among forwards on the Devils for xGF and shots at 5v5, and fourth for HDCF. He also leads the entire team for ixGF at 3.82 and is second for iHDCF with 19. Palmieri is generating a good amount of shots and chances but is suffering from some bad luck and playing for a bad team. He’s still producing shots at his usual rate, but just can’t buy a goal right now.

If he got the chance with a better team and a better supporting cast around him, there’s a very good chance he would turn his rough start around and begin producing at his career average rate. If he becomes available he’d certainly be at the top of many contenders’ wish lists as a guy who can play in the top six and on the power play. His contract situation is definitely worth monitoring from a fantasy perspective as we get closer to the trade deadline.

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