By Corey Abbott, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
We have discussed acquiring slumping players with bounce-back upside, underrated gems and capable injury replacements before. This week’s edition has a bit of all of that.
We will also look at a couple of sell-high candidates.
Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals (97% rostered)
Ovechkin has notched seven goals and 21 points through 34 games this season. That puts him on pace to finish 2023-24 with just 17 tallies and 51 points over 82 appearances. If Ovechkin doesn’t start finding the back of the net at a much more frequent rate, he’s in danger of failing to reach the 20-goal mark for the first time in his illustrious NHL career. He lit the lamp twice over five contests to close out December. Based on what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him in the past, he still isn’t quite back to normal yet. Still, putting an end to his career-long, 14-game goal-less drought should provide him with a bit of a boost going into the new year.
Ovechkin’s career-low 5.6 shooting percentage is bound to improve. The Capitals rank 31st in the league in goals per game (2.29) and 30th on the power play (11.3%). However, the offense will get a lift once Max Pacioretty (Achilles), who is very close to playing, is cleared to make his season debut. The 38-year-old Ovechkin stands a good chance of being able to salvage his statistics with a successful second half.
Example of a completed deal from the Yahoo Trade Market: Ovechkin for Travis Konecny
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Minnesota Wild (63% rostered)
Fleury will move into the No. 1 goalie slot for Minnesota because of a lower-body injury to Filip Gustavsson. Gustavsson, who was placed on injured reserve Monday after leaving Saturday’s contest against Winnipeg, is projected to be out of action for at least a couple of weeks. Fleury should not be viewed as a long-term acquisition, but he could help provide some goaltending depth or help fantasy managers facing a crisis in the crease.
Fleury was much better in December following a sluggish start to the season. In six outings prior to the start of 2024, he posted a 3-2-0 record with a 2.66 GAA and a .919 save percentage. The loss of Kirill Kaprizov, who sustained an upper-body injury in the same game that Gustavsson was hurt, is another stumbling block that the Wild will need to overcome. Still, Minnesota has gone 10-5-0 at Xcel Energy Center and five of their next seven games are on home ice. Fleury probably won’t break the bank to acquire, and the Wild will likely prioritize locking it down defensively.
Example of a completed deal from the Yahoo Trade Market: Fleury for Joonas Korpisalo
Nick Suzuki, C, Montreal Canadiens (65% rostered)
A week ago we looked at some undervalued producers, and Suzuki fits that description to a tee. He accounted for five goals and 14 points over 13 games in December. Suzuki hasn’t gone more than two games without finding the scoresheet this campaign. The 24-year-old center leads the Canadiens in scoring with 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 36 contests.
Suzuki is on pace to surpass the 70-point plateau for the first time in his NHL career. He should also be able to top his previous personal best of 20 power-play points before the end of the 2023-24 season, as he already has 15 points on the man advantage this year. Additionally, he has a career-high 56.4% faceoff win rate. Suzuki is worth scooping up if you have the flexibility to add another center.
Example of a completed deal from the Yahoo Trade Market: Suzuki for Sean Monahan and Jake Sanderson
Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets (55% rostered)
Gaudreau appeared as a trade-away option in an earlier installment, but he turned the corner following a brutal start to the season. After picking up one goal and five assists in his first 17 appearances, he has racked up six markers and 19 points over his past 21 outings.
Gaudreau has been clicking with Adam Fantilli, who ranks second among rookies with 11 goals and 23 points through 38 games this season. They have been developing some chemistry during the absence of Boone Jenner, who could return later this month from a fractured jaw. Gaudreau still has plenty of work to do if he’s going to equal his 74-point output from last season, but topping 65 points is an attainable goal thanks to Columbus’ improved offense.
Example of a completed deal from the Yahoo Trade Market: Gaudreau and Pavel Buchnevich for Matt Duchene and Alex Pietrangelo
Brady Skjei, D, Carolina Hurricanes (71% rostered)
Skjei has earned six goals and 15 assists through 37 games, putting him on track to top the 40-point plateau for the first time in his NHL career. However, there’s a good chance that his pace will slow eventually.
Skjei has been incredibly streaky this season. He’s been held off the scoresheet in 10 of his past 14 outings. Skjei also doesn’t provide much in terms of category coverage with 81 shots on target, 38 blocked shots and 21 hits. He will still have games or stretches when he erupts offensively, but he could be dealt for an upgrade or two.
Example of a completed deal from the Yahoo Trade Market: Skjei and Logan Thompson for Frank Vatrano and Luke Hughes
Owen Tippett, LW/RW, Philadelphia Flyers (59% rostered)
Tippett amassed 27 goals, 231 shots on net and 125 hits in 77 games last season. His shots per game have increased from 3.00 to 3.47 in 2023-24, and he’s on pace to reach 50 points for the first time in his NHL career.
Tippett offers decent category coverage, but he’s been hot and cold on the scoresheet. As a result, you could deal him for more consistent offensive assistance or for someone with a higher-scoring ceiling. Tippett’s average ice time per game (15:20) isn’t very encouraging either.
Example of a completed deal from the Yahoo Trade Market: Tippett for Dylan Cozens