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10 fantasy hockey takeaways: Fallout from the Jack Eichel trade

·11-min read

Jack Eichel's time with the Buffalo Sabres has finally come to an end.

The superstar centre, along with a draft pick, was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick.

While the deal certainly has major ramifications in the NHL, what does it mean for fantasy hockey?

Here are my 10 takeaways from the week that was.

Don't expect the Jack Eichel trade to move the needle much in fantasy hockey. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Don't expect the Jack Eichel trade to move the needle much in fantasy hockey. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

1. Jack Eichel (81 percent rostered on Yahoo) trade has minimal fantasy fallout

Hockey fans have been waiting months for the Eichel saga to reach a resolution, and now that it has, there isn't much fantasy managers really need to concern themselves with.

Unless you play in a keeper or dynasty league, you can pretty much continue on with your day as normal since Eichel won't be skating on an NHL rink anytime soon. The 25-year-old will now be able to undergo the artificial disk replacement surgery he and his medical counsel have been pushing for, but the timetable for return from that specific procedure is both lengthy and murky.

Eichel is very hopeful that it'll only take him three months to come back, but Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon offered a four-to-five month schedule before clarifying that he's uncertain about exactly when he'll start playing in NHL games again. No active NHL player has ever undergone this procedure, but Eichel's doctor speaks highly about it and says it's the best option for his patient. 

Essentially, fantasy managers can expect to be without the star forward until at least February.

On the flip side of this deal, Tuch is also sidelined and he's still a couple of months away from playing, according to Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams. He's recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and really won't carry any fantasy value until he nears a return to the ice.

Krebs is rostered in just one percent of Yahoo leagues and will begin his Sabres tenure in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. He's an intriguing player to monitor in dynasty leagues as he profiles as a strong offensive prospect, but unless you are in the deepest of leagues, he isn't someone you should be overly concerned with. His dynasty value did take a bit of a hit as a result of leaving Vegas for Buffalo.

2. Cale Makar's absence opens major opportunity for Bowen Byram (46 percent rostered on Yahoo)

Cale Makar missed the Colorado Avalanche's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, but the guy stepping in for him did a pretty good impression.

Bowen Byram recorded two goals and an assist while firing six shots on goal in the contest, and with head coach Jared Bednar declaring Makar out until next Thursday at the very least, Byram is worth adding in the interim.

What's important to note about Byram is that the 2019 fourth-overall pick is an excellent skater and has sizeable offensive upside. He posted 123 points across 117 games with the Vancouver Giants over his last two seasons in the WHL, and now that he's seeing usage on the top power-play unit and first defense pairing with a loaded Avs squad, he's going to be fantasy relevant. 

The unfortunate part for those who do have Byram in fantasy is that Colorado plays just two games between now and next Thursday, meaning you may only get two contests with the defender in his expanded role. Still, there's a chance Makar is out longer, and without a clear timetable for his return, Byram can help win you a week or two, and that's more than good enough for me.

3. It's safe to drop Samuel Girard (57 percent rostered on Yahoo)

Another consequence of Makar's absence is that Samuel Girard can be safely dropped in 10-12 team leagues.

After a strong offensive campaign in 2020-21 that resulted in five goals and 32 points across 48 games, the rearguard has posted two assists in seven games this season. Now that we know Byram is the Avalanche blueliner who will replace Makar while he is out, the upside seems limited for Girard moving forward.

Perhaps the most surprising part of Girard's slow start is his minus-six rating. Colorado hasn't been electric to begin the year, but the team is 4-4-1 and he owns a sub-par 47.40 Corsi-for percentage, according to Natural Stat Trick.

He's a good — not great — provider of defensive stats, as he's churned out 11 blocks and four hits thus far. With limited power-play opportunities in his future and Byram on his heels for first-pairing minutes, Girard appears to be a more valuable in real hockey than fantasy.

4. Rasmus Dahlin (56 percent rostered on Yahoo) can also be dropped

Buffalo has started out the 2021-22 season a respectable 5-4-1, but it's pretty safe to expect things to only get worse from here.

Even with the Sabres showing well in the early-going, Rasmus Dahlin hasn't been overly impressive. The former first-overall pick owns a minus-3 rating, zero goals, five assists, seven blocks and 18 hits. He's also failed to put more than two shots on goal in nine of his 10 outings.

Despite Dahlin's underlying numbers being good, the Sabres are playing well above their head right now and a likely string of future losses could take an even bigger toll on his already-shaky plus-minus rating.

If there's someone you're itching to add on the waiver wire and you're contemplating dropping Dahlin, you're safe in doing so. 

5. The Jake Guentzel (97 percent rostered on Yahoo) buy-low window is starting to close

There's still time to buy low on Jake Guentzel, but that window is closing in a hurry.

The talented winger potted a goal in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-2 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, but that marked just his second tally of the season. For someone who is known as a goal scorer and was selected within the top-35 picks in Yahoo fantasy drafts, this kind of production has been a little disappointing. Some fantasy managers may be frustrated with the lack of lamplighters and could be looking to trade him.

That's where you come in.

Guentzel's early-season woes can largely be pinned on the fact that he's hardly played with his regular linemates, one of which just so happens to be Sidney Crosby. Both Crosby and Bryan Rust have been limited to just three combined games due to injuries and illness, but as time passes and these two get closer to returning, Guentzel should return to his elite puck-potting self.

Despite playing on a largely undermanned Pens roster to begin the season, the Pittsburgh winger owns a strong 62.15 Corsi-for percentage. He's playing well given the circumstances and is someone that can probably be acquired for much lower than he should be. It's worth noting that Guentzel has a 40-goal season on his resume, so he has that kind of scoring upside.

6. Send out trade offers for Tyler Seguin (93 percent rostered on Yahoo), too

The Dallas Stars' offense hasn't been able to fill the stat sheet to start the 2021-22 campaign.

Despite owning the 10th-best scoring chances per 60 mark in the league with 29.79, and the 12th-best high-danger chances per 60 with 11.19, Dallas has posted the third-worst goals per game mark (2.10) in the NHL. This seems like a pretty glaring example of bad puck luck, and something that'll surely correct itself shortly.

The biggest indicator that this is going to turn around soon is the team's overall shooting percentage. As a whole, Dallas sits at 6.25, the second-worst number in the league.

With 33 shots this season, Tyler Seguin leads all Stars skaters. He has four goals, bringing his shooting percentage to 12.1 percent, which actually sits slightly above his career number of 10.8 percent. So while he's pretty on-par with his historical shooting average, the rest of the team's eventual bounce back will also prop up his other stats like assists and plus-minus. 

Dallas has two games in Week 5 of the fantasy hockey season, so some managers could be a little more willing to deal Seguin. It's a good time to try and strike a trade.

7. You probably missed the Ryan Getzlaf (33 percent rostered on Yahoo) heater

Nobody was added in more Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues than Ryan Getzlaf on Thursday, but you probably missed the best from him in 2021-22 at this point.

The Anaheim Ducks captain has recorded eight points in his last six games and recently surpassed Teemu Selanne to become the franchise's all-time leading point-scorer.

Getzlaf is averaging nearly a point per game this year, and it's been a while since we've seen the veteran perform quite like this. Three seasons, to be exact, is the last time he averaged .90 points per game or better.

So unless you think Getzlaf is having a career resurgence at 36 years old and following three down seasons, it's probably best to just leave him on the waiver wire.

8. Carter Hart (81 percent rostered on Yahoo) is bouncing back

The only appropriate way to describe Carter Hart's 2020-21 campaign is downright ugly.

Those expecting a breakout from the netminder in his third NHL season got the exact opposite. Hart went 9-11-5, owned a putrid .877 save percentage, and an equally awful 3.67 goals-against average. This year, however, behind an improved Flyers defense, the results have been much different.

Aside from a rough first outing against the Vancouver Canucks, he's been rock solid. The 23-year-old has posted a .926 save percentage, a 2.41 goals-against average, one shutout, and 5.1 goals saved above expected, which ranks fifth in the league, according to MoneyPuck. He's been excellent and considering his outstanding prospect profile, more of the same should be expected moving forward.

I'd send out offers if someone in your league is a little skeptical about the hot start. Anybody who selected him at or near his 126.7 ADP on Yahoo appears to have gotten a bargain. 

9. Anthony Duclair (42 percent rostered on Yahoo) is the best player on your waiver wire

With a point in five straight games, you should be trying to add Anthony Duclair wherever he's available.

I wrote about Duclair in my weekly waiver wire column, but people didn't get the message as the Florida Panthers' winger remains available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. On Thursday, Duclair tallied an assist in his team's victory over the Washington Capitals, bringing his point total up to eight in 10 games. In addition to his excellent scoring production, Duclair is tied for the best plus-minus number in the league, owning a plus-11 rating through 10 games.

Fantasy managers should expect both of these trends to hold as he continues to play alongside Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe on the best team in hockey's first line.

10. Trade for Roope Hintz (78 percent rostered on Yahoo)

Among all the buy-low targets in this rendition of the 10 takeaways, Roope Hintz may just be the absolute best.

The reason for that is he is likely the easiest one to acquire. Anybody who drafted the Stars' centre has been extremely underwhelmed by his production. The 24-year-old has just one point in 10 contests, and has added hardly anything in any other category.

There are, however, signs that this rut is going to end soon.

For starters, his underlying numbers are very strong. Hintz has the highest individual expected goals mark, the most scoring chances, and is tied for the most high-danger chances on the Stars. He's been really good, but arguably the most unlucky player in the league.

Just look at this beautiful goal he scored that was called back for offside on Tuesday.

 Go get him.

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