By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Injuries are the main concern at this time of the year. October can be a whirl because it's the first month of the fantasy season and teams are excited to get going, but the winter months are typically when things slow down and the grind starts.
This is also the time when a team's depth really gets tested, and most recently the Leafs and Stars had to sign goalies — Keith Petruzzelli and the other Matt Murray, respectively — because they had run out of options. Note that all players featured in this column must be rostered in at least 50% of Yahoo leagues, but players like Erik Kallgren (35% rostered) and Scott Wedgewood (32% rostered) should be rostered due to their high workload.
This week's Trade Tips column features two players whose roles might drastically change due to injuries, as well as a pair of top picks to try to sell while their reputations remain higher than their actual value.
Brock Nelson, C (53% rostered), and Anders Lee, LW, Islanders (64% rostered)
Nelson and Lee both scored a goal Tuesday against the Rangers, giving Nelson six goals in seven games and giving Lee four goals in five. The two veterans usually play on a line together, but they were split up in an effort to even out the scoring lines. It'll hurt their even-strength production, but the separation should only be temporary, and it clearly hasn't really bothered either of them. Both Nelson and Lee were good for 50 points apiece under Barry Trotz, and it's reasonable to think the floor will be closer to 60 under Lane Lambert's more free-flowing system.
Carter Verhaeghe, LW, Panthers (57% rostered)
If there's a player who goes undrafted every season but ends up being rostered in the majority of leagues, Verhaeghe is the guy. The Panthers' top left wing is attached to Aleksander Barkov's hip all the time, and he's really heating up with six goals and 11 points in his past seven games. That includes two power-play points, a good sign as the Panthers have struggled all season on the man advantage. They ranked 30th in the league at just 13.0% entering Tuesday's games, but it goes without saying that they should be much better than that. Verhaeghe should be relatively easy to acquire because he flies under the radar, but his 0.78 points per game since joining the Panthers ranks in the top 30 among left wingers. The Panthers are really snakebit with Barkov and Sam Bennett both shooting under 5%; it shouldn't be long before the pucks start to bounce their way, and Verhaeghe will certainly benefit.
Travis Konecny, RW, Flyers (60% rostered)
Konecny is one of 33 forwards averaging more than 20 minutes per game this season, quickly becoming one of John Tortorella's favorites. Last season, Konecny emerged as a high-volume shooter averaging 2.78 shots per game but finished with just 16 goals on 220 total shots due to a career-low 7.3 shooting percentage. This season, not only has he increased his shot frequency, his shooting percentage is back where it should be at roughly 12%, putting him on pace for a career-high 30-goal season. Given his role in all situations (including the penalty kill) and Konecny's ability to put up points, shots, hits and blocked shots with no signs of slowing down, he's shaping up to be a very well-rounded contributor in roto leagues.
Owen Power, D, Sabres (69% rostered)
There was immense interest in Power at the beginning of the season, but with just two assists in seven games and middling peripherals, he quickly fell off the fantasy radar. He's back again following Mattias Samuelsson's injury and played a career-high 28:14 on Saturday against the Lightning. He's been far more active with the puck, scoring five assists in four games entering Tuesday's game against the Coyotes, and he's also added seven hits and three blocked shots.
Power's game isn't flashy, but he's only scratching the surface of what he can do. Paired with Kale Clague, who was called up for the injured Ilya Lyubushkin, the duo has arguably been the Sabres' best pairing so far this season, generating a 63 xGoals% and 3.13 expected goals per 60 minutes, according to moneypuck.com. Acquiring Power now while he's still flying under the radar is also a great move for the future, as the 2021 first overall pick figures to be a franchise pillar for at least the next decade in Buffalo. As he gains experience and gets more comfortable in the NHL, his numbers will only go up.
Vitek Vanecek, G, Devils (63% rostered)
Mackenzie Blackwood (knee) is set to miss three-to-six weeks, which puts Vanecek firmly in the starter's seat. He's won six straight games and limited the Flames to just two goals on 35 shots, and figures to be a workhorse on a very good team. It's unlikely the Devils' young backups will see any action and with a soft schedule coming up — Ottawa, Arizona, Montreal — that's likely another three wins for Vanecek. If Vanecek can put in consistent performances during Blackwood's absence, he could cement himself as a top-15 fantasy goalie and worth rostering all season even when Blackwood returns.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Flames (99% rostered)
Huberdeau missed Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury, but it's not believed to be serious. That means the window to trade Huberdeau is still open. He's been very disappointing this season, scoring just six points with 20 shots, and in his past five games has registered just one assist. We can chalk up Huberdeau's tough stretch to the Flames' losing streak, but this might be the new norm for him, averaging barely 17 minutes per game as part of a deeper, more balanced lineup. It goes without saying it's unlikely he'll match last season's 115-point total, and he has fallen into the second tier of top left wingers behind the likes of Artemi Panarin and Kirill Kaprizov.
Roman Josi, D, Predators (100% rostered)
If Josi was one of the first two defensemen picked in your league, that manager is guaranteed to be regretting that choice now. Entering the season, Josi was seen as one of the safest and best options, even when factoring in regression after a career year, but the Preds have looked horrendous so far this season.
While Josi is the biggest driver of the Preds' offense with a career-high 55.6 5v5 CF% this season according to naturalstattrick.com, replicating what he accomplished last season would also require Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg to sustain their sky-high shooting percentages. That clearly hasn't happened this season, and both are well off last season's 40-goal pace. Josi is looking like a 65-point defenseman — which is still excellent — but he should no longer be considered head and shoulders above everyone else. It might be a good time to trade Josi while his fantasy value remains high due to his reputation.
Hampus Lindholm, D, Bruins (87% rostered)
Lindholm has been excellent for the Bruins as their interim No. 1 defenseman, but with Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) returning soon — he's been cleared for contact at practice and traveled with the Bruins on their recent road trip but did not play — it's time to rethink Lindholm's fantasy value. Last season, McAvoy was the preferred point man on the power play, averaging 3:07 PP TOI/GP to Lindholm's 2:06, so he'll leap to the top of the depth chart upon his return.
In addition, note the Bruins currently play five forwards on their top unit with Lindholm the lone defenseman on the second unit. That means when McAvoy returns, there's going to be a domino effect with McAvoy bumping a forward down to the second unit – likely Jake DeBrusk – and if Jim Montgomery decides to go with five forwards on the second unit, it'll bump Lindholm off the power play completely.