NHL Fantasy: Five players to cut bait with

Success in fantasy hockey can come in many ways. A good draft can definitely set up your team for success and give you a head start, but working the waiver wire and making value trades are also key parts of managing a good fantasy team.

It’s always nice when the players you take flyers on in late rounds of the draft end up hitting above their weight class, but by the same token, it’s important to know when to cut bait with players you drafted, sometimes even in the early rounds of the draft.

These are five players that were drafted high on average but it’s time to cut bait with, whether that means selling them via trade or dropping them altogether, these guys are occupying valuable space that can be filled with better options.

All stats below are those entering games on Friday night.

1. Rasmus Dahlin


Really, the entire Buffalo Sabres team could be here, but the number one player to cut bait with is Rasmus Dahlin. It really is a shame that the Sabres have had such a terrible season thus far, and a lot of that has to do with a pretty nasty bout with COVID and the new divisional alignment.

Unfortunately for Dahlin, he’s had a rough season and has performed well below his ADP of 75. Lots hoped that Dahlin would rebound and especially provide value on a high powered Sabres power play, but it hasn’t gone very well. What makes his stat line truly patience trying is he doesn’t have elite peripherals. With just 24 hits and 22 blocks, he’s not giving enough value there to offset the lack of predicted production.

I drafted Dahlin in the ninth round of my draft as my 2D and it’s been really difficult keeping him rostered through eight weeks. It’s time to cut bait. The Sabres aren’t getting any better, and might even get a lot worse if they sell big at the deadline.

2. Carter Hart

ADPCurrent Rank% RosteredWGAASVSV%

If you had Brian Elliot usurping Carter Hart in the Flyers’ net, you’re lying. Hart was supposed to be the saviour in the crease for Philadelphia and was one of, if not the most promising young goalie in the NHL. He still is, and this is likely just a blip on what will be a very good career, but Hart has been truly disappointing this season.

His current rank of 423 (approximately, it depends on your league) is a far cry from his ADP of 42. Hart was originally ranked as a top-10 fantasy goalie and was drafted likely as a number one goalie on most teams. It’s been the exact opposite performance wise. He has just six wins, a dreadful GAA of 3.61, and a SV% of .888. You can’t blame the Flyers for turning to Elliott while Hart works out whatever is getting in the way of his game.

If you can sell him to someone betting on a bounce-back then definitely do it. If not, it might be time to drop him outright. Who would have even thought that would be considered this season?

3. Erik Karlsson


Erik Karlsson just hasn’t been the same since he tore his achilles. Couple that with the Sharks being a very mediocre team, Karlsson isn’t close to the fantasy asset he once was. Compared to his ADP of 71, he’s currently at 413. Yikes.

Karlsson has just eight points on the season and his peripherals are nothing to write home about either. In my league, Karlsson has been added and dropped by three teams already, and if he comes up on your waiver wire, it’s probably best to steer clear. At one point, Karlsson was worthy of a first round pick, and now the most attention he should be getting is a watchlist star.

If the Sharks manage to turn things around, Karlsson might be worth an add. But with a plethora of issues including shaky goaltending, the Evander Kane bankruptcy situation, and a weak forward group compared to years prior, there aren’t a lot of signs pointing to a turnaround. Keep Karlsson on the waiver wire for now.

4. Evgeny Kuznetsov


This one is the most surprising to me. Every year, it seems like Nicklas Backstrom will take a step back and Evgeny Kuznetsov will take his place as Alex Ovechkin‘s primary center. Well, Backstrom is 33 and he’s still the 1C in Washington, and playing like it, too.

Kuznetsov is currently stuck on the Capitals’ second line between Jakub Vrana and Daniel Sprong. It’s not a bad situation, but it’s a huge dropoff from Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. Kuznetsov is also not playing on PP1, which really takes the upside away from him.

At just 16:15 ATOI this season, the Capitals are very clearly rolling with Backstrom as their 1C. A disappointing statline of two goals and nine points through 16 games, combined with average peripherals is enough justification to trade Kuznetsov if you can, and if not, consider swapping him for a better option. He’s 71% rostered right now, and that’s too much based on his stats. If you’re holding him for name value and you need the spot, it’s time to cut bait.

5. Reilly Smith


Rounding out the list is Reilly Smith, drafted on average 156th overall, but currently ranked 320th. Smith wasn’t a high draft pick by any means, but was likely targeted as a late round bargain for most teams. A fixture in the Vegas Golden Knights’ top-six, there is obviously upside with Smith, but it just hasn’t translated to the score sheet this season yet.

It’s odd that Vegas’ second line has been so lopsided this season. Jonathan Marchessault has 16 points, William Karlsson has 17 points, but Smith has just nine. Whatever the reason, Smith is clearly the odd man out on that line, and shouldn’t be rostered anymore. He doesn’t have PP1 exposure, and isn’t capitalizing at all on PP2 with zero power play points on the season.

It’s time to cut bait with Smith; he likely won’t get picked up and you can monitor him in case he catches fire at some point.

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