We’ve come to that time of the season when NHL general managers have to decide whether they’re buyers or sellers. With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline set for early Monday afternoon, many have already hit the ground running.
The buyers are led by Stan Bowman’s Chicago Blackhawks, who have managed to add former Chicago Cup-winner Andrew Ladd from Winnipeg, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann from Montreal, and Christian Ehrhoff from Los Angeles all within the past 72 hours. The Blackhawks are banking on their fourth Cup in seven years, which they’ll certainly look back in fondness upon once they eventually hit rock bottom when the reality of the cost — numerous first and second round picks and top prospects — kicks in five or six years from now. The ball is now in every other buyer’s court to keep up with the defending champs.
For the sellers, the price has been set by Winnipeg in the Ladd deal, making Boston’s Loui Eriksson the next big rental prize — if the Bruins don’t re-sign him first. Pacing this group is Toronto, who will soon own a fifth of all draft picks and zero roster players if it’s not careful. Montreal, Edmonton and Carolina could all pack it in soon, as well.
Consider this your early Fantasy Tip of the Week: A change of scenery and an upgrade in linemates could do wonders for these players on your Fantasy team. If any are available on your league’s waiver wire, you might consider taking a chance on one.
Let’s get to this week’s picks.
Matt Beleskey, LW, Boston Bruins (ESPN: 43.9 per cent; CBS: 39 per cent): A sturdy grinding power forward, Beleskey has made our list a few times this season, and with good reason. In 60 games played, the Bruins winger has 13 goals, 32 points, a plus-16 rating, 48 penalty minutes and 119 shots on goal, including five goals, six points, a plus-7 rating, a power play goal, 17 shots on goal, 22 hits and four blocked shots in his past eight games. He’s doing it all, minus goaltending, of course.
Ryan Callahan, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning (ESPN: 45 per cent; CBS: 46 per cent): More of a “meat and potatoes” player, Callahan has been tearing it up in recent times, collecting three goals, eight points, a plus-5 rating, two penalty minutes, 17 shots on goal, 16 hits and five blocks in his past eight games. Still, he has just eight goals, 25 points and a minus-1 rating through 60 games this season. Buy with caution, but take solace in the fact he gives good quote (see video below).
Jannik Hansen, RW, Vancouver Canucks (ESPN: 16.4 per cent; CBS: 33 per cent): Vancouver is one of all seven Canadian teams on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in at the moment. Don’t tell that to Hansen. The 29-year-old has been one of the few brighter spots for the club with 19 goals, 32 points, a very solid plus-19 rating and 100 shots on goal in 56 games. He has three goals, five points, a plus-3 rating, four penalty minutes, nine shots on goal, four hits and a block in his past six games.
Kevin Connauton, D, Arizona Coyotes (ESPN: 8.9 per cent; CBS: 6 per cent): The Coyotes are fighting for their playoff lives after losing out on the “McEichel Sweepstakes” last June. There’s still a chance, but it’s slim. Fortunately, they’ve got some studs on the back end, including Connauton, who has three goals, six points, a plus-5 rating, four penalty minutes, 18 shots on goal, 16 hits and 10 blocks in his past eight games. Typically a stay-at-home defender, the Edmonton native has four goals, 14 points, a plus-10 rating and 70 shots on goal in 44 games this season while averaging 15:41 of ice-time.
Brooks Orpik, D, Washington Capitals (ESPN: 1.7 per cent; CBS: 11 per cent): Unlike Connauton, Orpik’s playoff hopes are alive, well and practically guaranteed at this point. Definitely a defensive rear guard, the Caps defender has come alive offensively the past few weeks, notching two goals, six points, a plus-6 rating, two penalty minutes, five shots on goal, 23 hits and 16 blocks in his past six games. Averaging 19:13, Orpik has three goals, nine points, a plus-5 rating, 20 penalty minutes and 17 shots on goal. It’s not all that impressive until you realize he’s done all of it in just 20 games this season.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.
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