10 fantasy hockey takeaways: Time to put Kadri on the trade block

·11 min read

There are obvious sell-high players in fantasy hockey, and then there's Nazem Kadri.

The Colorado Avalanche forward has been otherworldly of late, netting 18 points in his last eight games. He's been one of the best players to roster in fantasy hockey, but there are a number of signs pointing towards this being completely unsustainable.

Here are my 10 fantasy hockey takeaways for the week, starting with Kadri.

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 1: Nazem Kadri #91 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 1, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Avalanche 8-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Nazem Kadri is due to come back down to Earth. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

1. You have to trade Nazem Kadri (87 percent rostered on Yahoo) right now

You're doing a disservice to your fantasy hockey team if you aren't trying to ship Nazem Kadri in a trade to one of your league mates.

The 31-year-old is on a rampant trajectory, as he's on pace to finish with an absurd 125 points, which would be more than twice his current career-high of 61 points. It's a ridiculous thought to even entertain, which makes now the absolute best time to move on from the center.

Adding to his likely regression is the return of Nathan MacKinnon. In the latter's first game back since suffering a lower-body injury, Kadri's ice time dipped below 17 minutes for just the second time in eight games. MacKinnon's reinsertion into the lineup will lower Kadri's average time on ice from its current 18:38 mark to something closer to his 16:28 average from 2021-22.

Simply put, Kadri is playing well above what his extensive 12-year track record would suggest. You'd be silly to think he's breaking out at 31 years old, and you should be actively trying to move him as you read this.

2. Anthony Cirelli (43 percent rostered on Yahoo) minute man

I wrote about the importance of Anthony Cirelli to the Tampa Bay Lightning with Brayden Point out in last week's takeaways, but I think it deserves a little more attention.

Since Point's upper-body injury, Cirelli has hardly left the ice. His average time on ice of 21:37 in the five games he's played without Point is the ninth-most of any forward in the NHL and up over a full minute from his already lofty 20:22 per game average.

Additionally, Cirelli has been one of the most productive players in the league. His 1.69 individual expected goals (ixG) across these five contests are the 39th-best in the NHL, and second on his team, according to Natural Stat Trick. Also, his 19 scoring chances are tied for 13th.

All of this has translated into some decent results on the stat sheet, as the 24-year-old has recorded four points in his last five outings. Given how well — and how much — he's been playing, he should continue producing at a solid rate. He shouldn't be available in more than half of Yahoo leagues.

3. The Michael Bunting (27 percent rostered on Yahoo) opportunity is too good to pass up

Few players in the NHL have it better than Michael Bunting.

The former Arizona Coyotes forward is currently being posted up on the Toronto Maple Leafs' top line alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, and like literally any NHL-calibre player would be, is producing very well.

Over his last five games, Bunting has tallied two goals and nine points. He's also been shooting the puck at a pretty impressive rate, as he's rifled three shots or more on goal in three of his last five outings. The ice time has been a little inconsistent, but when he is on the ice, he's playing with two of the best offensive players in the league, so it's a situation of quality over quantity.

In leagues that count hits, too, Bunting has dished out 26 body checks in 24 games, which is more than serviceable from a forward. He's essentially turned into a poor man's Zach Hyman.

4. If you haven't traded Troy Terry (85 percent rostered on Yahoo) already, do it now

If you're the person in your league who is still clinging onto Troy Terry, consider yourself lucky that the forward started scoring again.

A couple of weeks ago, I recommended that fantasy managers should try to trade Terry away as his production, which was being bolstered by a 33.3 percent shooting percentage mark, was unsustainable. Since his 16-game point streak ended, Terry has posted just three points in six games, so he's cooled off a bit. Luckily for Terry managers who were nearly caught holding the bag, the forward has tickled the twine in each of his last two outings.

Terry's still due for a ton of goal-scoring regression as his shooting percentage sits at an insanely high mark of 27.1 percent. Another indicator the Anaheim Ducks winger is going to slow down is his ixG. He's currently produced a mark of 7.08 on the season, which is far less than the 15 goals he's actually scored this year.

I hope you enjoyed the ride, but this is when you should exit. Players I'd be looking to acquire in trade are Hyman, Sam Reinhart and the player under takeaway No. 10.

5. What to make of this Nashville Predators offense

The Nashville Predators have been a top-heavy team as far as scoring goes, and it's been four forwards specifically carrying the load.

Mikael Granlund (five goals, 25 points), Matt Duchene (13 goals, 24 points), Ryan Johansen (six goals, 18 points) and Filip Forsberg (10 goals, 15 points) have all revived what appeared to be declining careers with the exception of the latter, and it's fair to wonder if they can continue this sort of production?

Let's start with Granlund, who's leading the bunch in points, and then get into the others. Granlund's main source of production has been his 20 assists, which are tied for third-most in the league. As a playmaker, he's benefitted from Nashville's relatively high team shooting percentage of 9.94 percent, which ranks 11th in the NHL. When you consider that Nashville's 28.8 shots per-game mark ranks 28th in the league, it's obvious to see that this team is benefiting from good fortune.

The inflation in team shooting percentage has largely come from Duchene, Johansen and Forsberg. Duchene currently owns a 19.1 percent mark, which is nearly seven ticks higher than his career total of 12.8 percent. Johansen has produced an 18.2 percent shooting percentage, which is noticeably more than his career average of 11.0 percent, while Forsberg has way overshot his career rate of 12.5 percent with a 32.3 percent mark. Combined, the three are outperforming their career shooting percentages by 34.1 percent.

A correction is likely coming in Nashville, but with players like Granlund (57 percent) and Johansen (26 percent) rostered in so few leagues, it may be hard to sell high. Duchene and Forsberg, however, are worth shopping around to your league mates.

6. You might actually be able to buy low on Ilya Sorokin (92 percent rostered on Yahoo)

On Thursday, Ilya Sorokin was tied with Frederik Andersen as the most traded goalie in Yahoo Fantasy, which I found a little bit puzzling.

His numbers have been very good this year. The netminder has posted a .928 save percentage to go along with a 2.42 goals-against-average and three shutouts, which match his 2020-21 total. Additionally, he's posted a 5.0 goals saved-above expected mark which ranks 15th amongst all puckstoppers with five or more games played this year, according to MoneyPuck.

The issue I could see fantasy managers having with Sorokin this year is his record. Despite the strong numbers, he's won just five of his 14 starts. That's not a problem fantasy managers should have with Sorokin — they should take up with the New York Islanders' absolutely brutal offense. The squad has averaged a measly 1.88 goals per game, which means if Sorokin surrenders two goals or more, he's probably not winning.

I expect the Isles offense to pick up now that it's settling into its new home at UBS Arena, a development that'll help Sorokin. If you can, I'd be willing to trade goalies like Ilya Samsonov and Juuse Saros to acquire him.

7. I'm looking to acquire Torey Krug (91 percent rostered on Yahoo) in trade

Torey Krug's been held pointless in six-straight games, and fantasy managers are likely growing impatient with his lack of production.

I'd be looking to acquire the St. Louis Blues blueliner, however, and there are a few reasons for that.

Firstly, head coach Craig Berube has returned to deploying him almost exclusively with offense in mind. In his first year with the Blues, his offensive zone starts percentage sat at 58.0 percent, the lowest it's ever been in his career. This year, that number's jumped back up to 73.9 percent, which is actually higher than it's ever been in any single season.

Additionally, he's still been a productive player despite his recent struggles. In 18 games, he has 10 points which puts him on pace for 46 points in 82 games. He finished last season with 32 points in 51 contests, which would've resulted in 51 points when extrapolated over 82 games.

Lastly, Krug's still posted up on St. Louis' top power-play unit. Clicking at 30.8 percent, the Blues' man advantage sits as the second-best in the league, and with him still being a featured member of it, I'm interested.

I'd be willing to trade players like Dmitry Orlov and Kevin Shattenkirk for him.

8. Kaapo Kakko (12 percent rostered on Yahoo) last call

Two weeks ago when Sammy Blais suffered a torn ACL and Kaapo Kakko stepped into his top-six role and scored two goals and four points in three contests, I had this to say about the 20-year-old:

As the second overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft and someone who recorded 38 points in 45 games while playing for TPS in Liiga as an 18-year-old, any sign of Kakko figuring things out should have fantasy managers rushing to the waiver wire to add him.

Since that incident, Kakko has recorded eight points in seven games and has topped 16 minutes of ice time in six of those outings. Additionally, he ranks fourth on the team with 16 scoring chances and an individual Corsi for of 27.

There's no reason why Kakko should be so widely available. Add him now before you regret it.

9. Don't forget about Tuukka Rask (13 percent rostered on Yahoo)

If you're a team that's really hurting at goalie and you can afford to stash someone on the back end of your bench, now might be the time to scoop up Tuukka Rask.

ESPN's Sean McDonough reported that Rask said his hope is to begin playing in early January. The netminder has been skating five times per week, according to the report, which is a decent indicator that he's getting closer to returning from his surgery that repaired a torn labrum in his hip.

Rask is still an unrestricted free agent, but he's been rehabbing at the Bruins' facility and has made it clear that he only wants to return to playing again if it's with Boston. This obviously dampens the season-long outlook for Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, but Rask is likely kicking around on your league's waivers and you can get ahead of it and add him now.

10. Andrew Copp (71 percent rostered on Yahoo) trade add-on

Some players are worth targeting in trade and some are worth throwing into a deal. Given the way Andrew Copp has been playing recently, you might be able to steal him from a fantasy manager in your league as an add-on.

The Winnipeg Jets winger proved last year that he's a solid top-six forward when he posted 15 goals and 39 points in 55 games. He's continued his strong play this season, as he's registered six goals and 17 points in 22 outings, but he's only recorded one point in his last seven contests.

What I suggest you do is approach the Copp manager in your league, and instead of offering them a deal with Copp being the focal point, try something like this: Jake Guentzel and Troy Terry for Adam Fox and Andrew Copp.

Fox for Guentzel is a pretty fair trade-off, but from this point onward, I'd rather have Copp than Terry, especially in leagues that count hits. Copp has 23 body checks this season, while Terry has just one.

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