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NHL: DADOUN – THE FANTASY WEEK AHEAD (March 11th to 17th) – Post-NHL Trade Deadline Impact – Favourable schedules and players to target

OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 14: Ottawa Senators Right Wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) after a whistle during second period National Hockey League action between the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators on October 14, 2023, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire)

The trade deadline is behind us and it certainly was eventful. Although we didn’t get a lot of trades in the leadup to the final week -- just four deals in all of February -- general managers made up for lost time with six trades on Wednesday, 10 on Thursday and 23 on the final day.

This isn’t a winners and losers column, but if it was, Vegas would naturally be at the top of the winners list. The rest of the league might be annoyed at the Golden Knights’ seemingly unending ability to make blockbusters, but as a fan of one of the other 31 franchises, I suspect a lot of that is just because we collectively wish that our general manager had a bit more of Kelly McCrimmon’s boldness and the ownership for the teams we rooted for were a bit more willing to green-light whatever it takes to win.

Vegas added forwards Anthony Mantha and Tomas Hertl as well as Noah Hanifin on Friday. Clearly, the Golden Knights are gearing up for a defence of their Stanley Cup championships -- despite some lacklustre play of late -- but these aren’t exclusively win-now moves. Hertl is signed through 2029-30 and with the Sharks retaining part of his contract, he comes at a reasonable $6.75 million annually for the Golden Knights over that span. Mantha and Hanifin are on expiring contracts, but it is possible Vegas will be able to retain Hanifin’s services long-term.

Carolina also had a pretty interesting trade season with the additions of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jake Guentzel. Kuznetsov, who has just six goals and 17 points through 43 games this season, is definitely a risk, but it will be interesting to see if a fresh start does him any good. If nothing else, the addition of Guentzel should bolster what was already a pretty solid offense.

Florida also upgraded its forward corps by adding Vladimir Tarasenko. After falling just short of the Cup last year, I’d at the very least say that the Panthers are the team to beat in the East. The only reason why I hesitate to call the Panthers the outright Cup favourites is that I love Vancouver and Colorado in the west.

The Avalanche in particular are looking strong after grabbing Casey Mittelstadt, albeit at the high price of Bowen Byram. Colorado’s offense is the best in the league at 3.70 goals per game, but the Avalanche have been extremely reliant on Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar to drive that scoring. If you were to have judged the Avalanche from their second line down, then you would have found a team that was wanting. Adding Mittelstadt does a lot to address that shortcoming, though Alexandar Georgiev’s less-than-stellar play is still a concern. The Avalanche might wish they had acquired a veteran backup come playoff time.

Of course, that’s all just scratching the surface of how the trade deadline has changed things. Let’s do a deeper dive while highlighting some of the best teams to utilize this coming week.

Anaheim Ducks - TUE @ CHI, THU @ MIN, FRI @ WPG (BTB), SUN @ STL

The Ducks don’t have much left to play for, but at least their upcoming schedule isn’t too bad. They’ll be on the road next week, playing in Chicago on Tuesday, Minnesota on Thursday, Winnipeg on Friday and St. Louis on Sunday. The Jets are the only of those adversaries in a playoff position.

Anaheim dealt away forwards Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick to Edmonton on Wednesday and acquired Ben Meyers from the Avalanche on Friday.

Meyers was in the minors before the trade, but he’s likely to remain with the Ducks for the remainder of the campaign. Don’t expect too much from him, though. He had six goals in 53 career contests over parts of three seasons with Colorado and is likely to serve primarily on the third line in Anaheim.

The loss of Henrique will be felt, though. He had 18 goals and 42 points in 60 contests with the Ducks this season, which was good for third in the team’s scoring race at the time of his trade. His departure might increase how much Mason McTavish is leaned on. We’ve also started to see a significant spike in Max Jones’ playing time recently -- logging over 15 minutes in each of his past three contests compared to his average of 11:43 over his first 44 outings -- and that’s likely to persist for the remainder of the season.

With the Ducks looking toward the future, Olen Zellweger is likely to stay in the NHL for the rest of the season. Although he has just two assists through his first eight contests with Anaheim, the 20-year-old defenseman has offensive upside and is getting power-play ice time, so he’d be an interesting pickup for the upcoming week given the competition.

Columbus Blue Jackets - TUE @ MTL, THU VS OTT, SAT VS SJS, SUN VS WPG (BTB)

Like Anaheim, Columbus doesn’t have any hope of making the playoffs, but next week’s schedule is still a favourable one for the Blue Jackets. They’ll play in Montreal on Tuesday before hosting the Senators on Thursday, the Sharks on Saturday and the Jets on Sunday. While Winnipeg is having a strong campaign, those other three teams are among the worst in the league.

Columbus was somewhat quiet at the deadline, but the Blue Jackets did part ways with Jack Roslovic and Andrew Peeke.

Their biggest move came earlier when they acquired Alexander Nylander from Pittsburgh on Feb. 22 in exchange for Emil Bemstrom. That wasn’t expected to be a noteworthy move, but Nylander has provided an incredible five goals and seven points in seven contests with the Blue Jackets. Nylander is likely to remain in a top-six role for the remainder of the season, so while he’s unlikely to maintain his point-per-game pace, the 26-year-old should continue to have fantasy relevance.

Roslovic was red hot too with four goals and 13 points in his last 12 games prior to the trade. He was serving primarily on the top line with Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau, but now that he’s gone, Kirill Marchenko might be put in that role. Marchenko has 17 goals and 32 points in 60 contests this season, and the 23-year-old might see his offensive pace increase if he does lockdown that first-line assignment.

One player who didn’t move is goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. There was some suggestion back in January that he would welcome a trade because he was unhappy with his workload. Maybe that issue will get resolved over the summer, but Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov are likely to share the netminding duties fairly evenly for what’s left of the season.

Detroit Red Wings - TUE @ BUF, THU VS ARI, SAT VS BUF, SUN @ PIT (BTB)

Detroit will continue its fight for a wild-card berth next week. The Red Wings will start by playing in Buffalo on Tuesday before returning home to face the Coyotes on Thursday and the Sabres on Saturday. They’ll complete the week with a game in Pittsburgh on Sunday. None of those opponents are in a playoff position, so it’s important that the Red Wings take advantage by picking up at least six points.

The Red Wings were quiet at the deadline, though to be fair, they made their major move back in November when they signed Patrick Kane. The 35-year-old has gone on to provide 13 goals and 31 points through 31 games, so they have to be happy with that addition.

They’ll need to lean on Kane even more in the short term because Dylan Larkin suffered a lower-body injury Monday that’s expected to cost him at least one more week. While Larkin’s unavailable, Joe Veleno might see his workload increase and consequently should have more short-term value in fantasy leagues.

This could also be a good week for David Perron, who is on a roll with a goal and four points over his past four games. He’s up to 13 goals and 32 points in 56 contests in 2023-24. Defenseman Olli Maatta has looked good recently too, supplying two goals and four points across his last four outings. Maatta typically isn’t a significant offensive contributor, though, so he would be at best a short-term pickup option.

Los Angeles Kings - MON VS NYI, WED @ STL, FRI @ CHI, SAT @ DAL (BTB)

The Kings hold a playoff position, but their postseason berth is far from secure. They’ll need to play next week while hosting the Islanders on Monday and then playing on the road against St. Louis, Chicago and Dallas on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, respectively.

LA didn’t add anyone at the deadline, so if the Kings are going to get into the playoffs, it’ll have to be with basically the same group they’ve had for the entire year. However, injuries have made their task even harder. Viktor Arvidsson (lower body) has played just four games in 2023-24 while Mikey Anderson (upper body) and Adrian Kempe (upper body) also might not be available next week.

At least Kevin Fiala has been doing his part. The 27-year-old forward has a superb seven goals and 13 points over his last nine games. With his marker Thursday, Fiala reached the 20-goal milestone for the fifth consecutive campaign, but he’s also exceeded 25 tallies just once in his career (2021-22). In other words, don’t count on him providing goals at his recent rate for much longer, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he still ended up having a strong finish to the season offensively.

Drew Doughty has looked good lately too, providing three goals and 12 points over his last 11 outings. Six of those points came with the man advantage, which is noteworthy because LA’s power play has been middling this season with a 22.6 percent success rate. However, the Kings have converted on 32.0 percent of their power plays over their past 11 games, and if they can keep that up, it will do wonders for Doughty’s fantasy value.

It wouldn’t mean much to Matt Roy -- he isn’t typically used with the man advantage -- but the 29-year-old blueliner has three even-strength assists across his past three games. That has brought Roy up to 20 points (three goals) through 61 contests -- this is his third straight campaign with at least 20 points.

Ottawa Senators - TUE VS PIT, THUS @ CBJ, SAT @ NYI, SUN VS CAR (BTB)

Ottawa has a relatively easy start to the week with a home contest against the Penguins and then a road match versus Columbus on Thursday. Things do pick up after that, though. The Senators will play on the road against the Islanders on Saturday in a contest that matters for the Islanders in their pursuit of a wild-card spot. Ottawa will conclude the week by hosting the Hurricanes on Sunday.

The Senators made just one trade in the leadup to the deadline, shipping Vladimir Tarasenko to Florida in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick and a 2025 third-round selection. That’s a minimal return for a top-six forward, but Tarasenko’s full no-trade clause tied the Senators’ hands.

Either way, Ottawa’s offense is looking a little thinner between the loss of Tarasenko and Josh Norris potentially missing the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.  The top two lines going forward will be combinations of Brady Tkachuk, Shane Pinto, Drake Batherson, Mathieu Joseph, Tim Stutzle and Claude Giroux. That will work fine, but the bottom six will be a collection of whatever Ottawa can cobble together.

For example, Boris Katchouk, who was claimed off waivers from Chicago on Friday, is likely to be a regular on the third unit going forward. The 25-year-old has five goals and nine points in 38 contests this season, so he’s not exactly expected to be a scoring threat in that role. Dominik Kubalik, who has averaged 12:30 of ice time this season while providing 10 goals and 14 points across 57 contests, might see his playing time increase too. Ridly Greig might round out that third unit despite recording just three goals and four points over his past 21 appearances.

For what it’s worth, Ottawa also has the option of calling up Angus Crookshank, who has 22 goals and 43 points in 47 contests with AHL Belleville this season. He was limited to a goal and an assist during a seven-game stint with Ottawa earlier in the campaign, but the 24-year-old averaged just 8:50 of ice time. He’d almost certainly get a bigger role if Ottawa promoted him now, so keep an eye out for that.

Pittsburgh Penguins - TUE @ OTT, THU VS SJS, SAT VS NYR, SUN VS DET (BTB)

Although the Penguins’ playoff hopes are all but gone, they still have an opportunity to at least make their final weeks of the campaign interesting. Pittsburgh will play in Ottawa on Tuesday before heading home to host the Sharks on Thursday, the Rangers on Saturday and the Red Wings on Sunday.

As already noted, the Penguins traded star forward Jake Guentzel on Thursday. Pittsburgh also shipped away defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, though the club did add Michael Bunting.

Bunting is an interesting option the rest of the way. He had 13 goals and 36 points in 60 games with Carolina before the trade, which is nothing special, but with Guentzel gone, Bunting might play alongside Sidney Crosby going forward. That’s an ideal assignment that should boost Bunting’s fantasy value.

John Ludvig is the other Pittsburgh player who was significantly impacted by the trade deadline. With Ruhwedel gone, there’s an opportunity for Ludvig, who was last in the lineup on Feb. 18, to play regularly for the remainder of the season. Ludvig isn’t much of an offensive threat with just a goal and an assist through 23 games, but he’s a physical force. The 23-year-old has 23 PIM and 51 hits in 2023-24, so he might have some value to certain fantasy managers now that he’s projected to remain in the lineup.

Beyond that, I’m really interested to see how Crosby performs for the remainder of the campaign. He’s been fantastic with 32 goals and 63 points in 61 outings but has supplied only one helper across his past five appearances. It’s probably just a slump that will end soon, but this is also a new position for the 36-year-old. Crosby is used to playing on a contender. Even last year when the Penguins failed to make the playoffs, they missed by just one point.

Personally, I expect Crosby to bounce back shortly and have a solid finish to the season, but we’ll have to wait and see if being out of contention impacts his motivation more than I suspect.

San Jose Sharks - TUE @ PHI, THUS @ PIT, SAT @ CBJ, SUN @ CHI (BTB)

The Sharks will play in Philadelphia on Tuesday, but that will be their only game next week against a team in a playoff position. After that, San Jose will continue its road trip with stops in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Columbus on Saturday and Chicago on Sunday.

San Jose traded away forwards Anthony Duclair and Tomas Hertl, defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk and goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen at the deadline. The Sharks did get Vitek Vanecek from New Jersey, but the goaltender might be done for the season due to a lower-body injury. Keep in mind, the Sharks were 15-40-7 even before those trades, so to say the squad is in a sad state now would be an understatement.

With Vanecek unavailable, Mackenzie Blackwood will likely be leaned on heavily for what’s left of the season…or at least he will be once he’s recovered from a groin injury. In the meantime, San Jose’s goaltending duo are Magnus Chrona and Devin Cooley. When Blackwood is healthy, Cooley might be sent to the minors. Regardless, none of them are good options in fantasy circles given the team in front of them.

Klim Kostin might have a little bit of value, though, to fantasy managers. The Sharks acquired him from the Red Wings on Friday. He was frequently a healthy scratch in Detroit and averaged just 8:43 when he did play, but in San Jose, Kostin might be a mainstay on the third line. That likely won’t lead to him getting much offense, but Kostin could be a good source of PIM and hits -- he has 38 and 60, respectively, through 33 appearances.

William Eklund might also be able to provide a bit of a silver lining. The 21-year-old hasn’t been as productive as hoped this campaign with 10 goals and 29 points through 60 contests, but he does have two goals and four points over his last four games, so perhaps he’ll end the season on a positive note. Certainly, the Sharks will give him plenty of opportunities at both even strength and on the power play.


The Jets will start the week at home, hosting the Capitals on Monday, the Predators on Wednesday and the Ducks on Friday. They’ll conclude the week with a road game versus the lowly Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Winnipeg added Colin Miller and Tyler Toffoli in separate trades with New Jersey on Friday, which compliments the Jets’ addition of Sean Monahan on Feb. 2. The Jets have enjoyed an effective forward trio of Mark Scheifele (19 goals and 56 points in 56 contests), Kyle Connor (26 goals and 44 points in 46 outings) and Nikolaj Ehlers (19 goals and 44 points in 62 appearances), but the team’s scoring depth up front was lacking. With Monahan and Toffoli in the mix, Winnipeg can now roll two dangerous lines with ease.

This isn’t good news for everyone, though. Cole Perfetti has a respectable 14 goals and 31 points in 61 contests this season, but the 22-year-old has been cold for a while, providing just two assists over his last 21 games. With Winnipeg’s recent upgrades, Perfetti is projected to serve strictly in a bottom-six capacity without much, if any, power-play ice time. He might even be a healthy scratch in situations where everyone is healthy.

Vladislav Namestnikov has averaged 15:04 of ice time this season, but he might see work primarily on the third line going forward. He has been effective recently, though, with two goals and five points across his last five contests while seeing time with Connor and Scheifele, so perhaps the 31-year-old will be able to avoid that demotion in the short term.

Mason Appleton has done well lately too, collecting four assists over his last three contests, but the Jets’ additions will likely push him down in the depth charts too. Although he’s averaged 16:05 in 2023-24, he might play mostly in a bottom-six capacity going forward.