NHL Fantasy: Players with hot starts to sell high on while you can

The fifth week of the fantasy season is on the horizon, so we are still very much in the early goings of the season as a whole. With a long road to go, much can change between now and the beginning of the fantasy players. In particular, players who come out of nowhere to outplay their ranking can just as quickly drop off at any moment. It’s what makes now the perfect time to potentially sell high if you own any of these players.

More often than not a hot start is just that, a hot start. Most players were given pre-season ADPs for a reason and they typically end the season around the same number. If you own one of the below players who has shot up fantasy rankings, it may be in your best interest to sell high to pick up a more proven fantasy asset while you still can.

Erik Karlsson – D – San Jose Sharks

As much as we’d all love prime Erik Karlsson back, I think it’s fair to say his blazing hot start to the 2022–23 season is more of a flash in the pan than a sign the 32-year-old is turning back the clock out of nowhere. Karlsson has kicked off the year with a ridiculous 10 goals and 21 points in 17 games. The 10 goals and 21 points are both tops in the NHL among defenceman. For a player that was drafted with an ADP of 141 and the 39th defenceman off the board, his start was predicted by absolutely no one. The last time Karlsson posted a point-per-game pace was the 2015–16 season.

If you were lucky enough to snag Karlsson near the end of your draft, you hit the jackpot as his value has skyrocketed. Now may be the best time to deal him while his value is the highest it’s been in fantasy in what seems like years. Karlsson currently sits with 10 goals as mentioned, however his ixG sit at just 2.59. To date he’s taken 51 shots and scored on 10 of them, for a sky high shooting percentage of 19.6%. His career-high shooting percentage is 8.5%, which he posted last season across 50 games.

The San Jose Sharks are not a very good team and there’s a very good chance Karlsson’s output begins to slow considerably sooner than later. He won’t keep shooting at 20% all season. If you can swing a deal to move Karlsson for a more solidified fantasy asset and one who is more of a sure thing long-term, it’s probably a good move to make.

Gabe Vilardi – F – Los Angeles Kings

If you had Gabe Vilardi pegged for a near point-per-game pace with 15 points 16 games into the season you’d be lying. The 23-year-old is currently lighting up the score sheet at a rate far past anything he’s achieved in prior seasons. Vilardi was being drafted in pretty much zero leagues, but now sits at 74% rostered in Yahoo! leagues. The odds of him keeping up this pace are not very strong though.

Vilardi is currently sitting on a 24.4% shooting percentage. He’s been an accurate shooter throughout his young career, but 24.4% is much higher than any rate he’s ever posted. His career–high since his rookie season is 15.4%. Again, nothing to scoff at, but far from the rate he’s currently sitting at. His career-high is just 23 points in 54 games which game during the 2020–21 season. To be fair, that’s the only season he’s ever played over 25 games, but to go from a 0.5 points per game pace to nearly a point per game is a massive jump.

There’s also the fact that he’s been bumped up to the Kings’ top line, which is unlikely to last. At some point the Kings’ big offseason acquisition in Kevin Fiala will earn that spot back. Alex Iafallo who’s been a staple in the Kings’ top-six is also coming back eventually which will make it even harder for Vilardi to earn top-six minutes.

If you were lucky enough to claim Vilardi on waivers, flipping him for a proven fantasy asset right now would be a huge addition at essentially zero cost to you.

Hampus Lindholm – D – Boston Bruins

Newly acquired Hampus Lindholm has started his first full season in Boston on a massive note. The 2022 trade deadline acquisition currently sits with 14 points in 14 games, good for second on the Bruins among all positions. He also ranks sixth in the NHL among defenceman for points. Lindholm has never been a big point producer throughout his career so it’s certainly a surprise to see him at a point per game this far into the season. His career-high is only 34 points which he posted eight years ago. He’s also only been over 30 points three times in nine seasons. The odds of him keeping up his current pace are low.

Lindholm currently sits with an 15.4% shooting percentage, with four goals on 26 shots. His career-high shooting percentage is 9.92% which he posted four years ago. He currently sits 38th in the NHL among defenceman for shots so it’s not like he’s generating a ton of volume. There’s also the fact that Bruins’ number one defenceman Charlie McAvoy is now back and that’ll eat into Lindholm’s ice time, especially on the top power play unit.

Playing on a powerhouse Bruins team, Lindholm has a great shot to hit a new career-high in points, it just likely won’t be anywhere near his current point pace. Trading Lindholm now before McAvoy takes away his opportunities would be a great call.

Maximize value when you are able

Selling high early into the season is one of the best ways to get maximum value in trades. Most players who start out hot early into the season and unlikely to keep it up all year. If you were lucky enough to take a late swing on one of the above players, it might be worth it to explore trade options while their values are at an all time high.

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