Welcome to part two of my NHL keeper league trade deadline target feature, where we will focus on trying to help those fantasy teams who are not in a playoff position and looking forward to next year.
These are the players who won’t do much for you this year, but should be a nice long-term investment to help build your team into a playoff team going forward. The fact that most of these guys won’t help you this year is part of what, hopefully, makes them easier to acquire. In no particular order:
Taylor Hall – Everyone is down on Taylor Hall these days. His value is pretty low and this screams opportunity for the sharp fantasy GMs out there. If you do not own Taylor Hall today, reach out to the GM in your league who does and see if they will move him. I am willing to bet, if they were not willing to listen to any offers on him before, they are today. I am not saying he will be easy to acquire, but if there was ever a crack in the door to talk, now is your chance. I know, a lot of people are down on him because of his injuries and many are afraid of him, but the kid is only 23 years old and already has an 80 point season under his belt. Most of his injuries have been strange, freaky, injuries. Breaking his ankle in a fight, getting his head cut by a teammate in warmups after slipping and falling under his skate, and even his latest injury which is keeping him out, getting hit in the ankle with a puck from a teammate during practice. Injuries are part of the game, but it seems that most of the injuries Hall has suffered have been oddball injuries you normally wouldn’t expect. Taylor Hall is going to be a stud winger for many years and his value may never be lower than it is today. Imagine what his value will be should the Oilers manage to snag one of the top two picks in the upcoming NHL entry draft which could see them landing Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
Evander Kane – Much like Taylor Hall, another young kid with a promising future but has missed his fair share of games due to injuries. The difference is that most of Kane’s injuries are not quite as freaky in nature. Either way, the kid is looking for redemption after his trade to Buffalo and is going to prove a lot of people wrong next year. With Kane out for the rest of this year, this could be the opportunity to snag him from a team looking for a push heading into the playoffs. Buffalo has a wealth of young talent already and is also on their way to drafting another key piece to their puzzle. Like Hall, he also might not come quite as cheap as you may like because of his young age, but his value is also low right now and should be attainable.
David Krejci – Like a lot of the Boston Bruins forwards, Krejci hasn’t put up great fantasy numbers this year and it’s looking like he’s about to miss more time to another injury not related to the groin problems he had earlier in the season. He left Friday night’s game against the Blues with an apparent leg injury that could see him missing significant time. Injured or not, Krejci is still the number one center on the Bruins for the foreseeable future and his bad year could be your benefit. Krejci has normally been a reliable, healthy producer for the Bruins, and is normally good for 60+ points to go along with other solid peripherals for most fantasy GMs. That being said, he is almost 29 years old and a lot of fantasy GMs seem to be more willing to part with the guys who are close to that magical age of 30, even though the majority of fantasy players produce for years after they turn 30. It’s a funny thing in keeper leagues, this fear of the age of 30. Don’t let it scare you away with Krejci. His value is low so his price should be reasonable and can help your fantasy team for years.
Jason Zucker – Currently out with a broken clavicle, Zucker came on strong this year. He started the year on the Wild’s fourth line but literally worked his way up to being a consistent top six forward before his injury. His 18 goals in 48 games were a testament to his hard work ethic and won over his coach and teammates. He’s still signed for another year on his entry level contract and will be back next year and he should not have to prove himself to earn his time like he did this year. Zucker is one of those sleeper guys you can probably snag pretty cheap right now, but if he keeps scoring the way he did this year, don’t expect fantasy owners to give him away in the future.
Dmitry Orlov – He’s missed the entire year so far with a wrist injury suffered at the World Championships back in June while playing for Russia but he’s getting closer to playing. In fact, he’s practicing with the Capitals, but still no exact timetable on his return just yet. At only 23 years old, Orlov is a big part of the plan for the Capitals going forward on their blueline. Of course, a lot of what happens with Orlov’s future goes hand in hand with what the Capitals do with Mike Green, a pending UFA at seasons end. Either way, Orlov is still going to be key piece for Barry Trotz long term and should be on your radar for acquisition for the future. Considering what he’s done this year, his price should be relatively low.
Anton Lander – Just as Lander seemed to be hitting his stride, he goes and gets hurt. Lander must have been jumping for joy when he heard Todd Nelson was going to Edmonton to steer the ship and take over as their interim head coach. Lander seemed to struggle every time the Oilers called him up, mainly due to the coach at the time not really giving him the opportunity to do anything other than catch the odd shift and kill the odd penalty. Lander, a solid point producer in the AHL for Nelson, is finally getting a chance to show he can produce at the NHL level too. He has 11 points in 22 games for the Oilers this year and all of them have come since we turned the calendar this year, under Nelson. Instead of being out there for the penalty kill, he’s now logging lots of time on the power play. It helps that the Oilers are crying for help down the middle too, opening the door for Lander to walk in and show he’s not just a good scorer in Europe and the AHL. Make no mistake, this kid is an NHL player and is proving his skills are on the rise. He’s definitely one to try and snag now before it’s too late and other GMs don’t want to move him.
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