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LFH Mailbag: Bidding on Marchessault, Replacing Ekblad’s Production, Grading a Barkov Trade

Welcome to the LFH mailbag, where all your burning fantasy questions are answered moderately well by Spencer Plamondon, co-host of the Life and Fantasy Hockey Podcast.

Playoffs are in the air, folks. It smells like spring. As the NHL ramps up for a wild, unhinged finished to this condensed season, fantasy hockey runs parallel, forced to deal with whatever sh*t is thrown its way. It should be wild.

Today we’ve got questions about mid-season bidding wars on good-but-not-great talent, playing spoiler, replacing Aaron Ekblad’s production, and an Aleksander Barkov trade.

Let’s start the show.

Jonathan Marchessault was dropped in my league and sold for 55$, how do you navigate a mid-season bidding war on a mid-tier player like him? How much of your budget should you save for the playoffs? – Thomas B.

Marchessault is an intriguing player to see hit waivers, especially this far into the season. He’s underperformed a bit this year, but he’s a very good player and usually a good mid-tier contributor in fantasy hockey.

Look, 55$ seems high for Marchessault at face value, but at the same time we’re in the stretch run right now and players of his caliber (or better) aren’t guaranteed to hit waivers moving forward. You could say the odds of it happening are low, but I’m actually not quite sure where I stand on that.

As you get into the thick of the playoff push, and the playoffs themselves, you start to see managers making more “desperation” moves, where they drop a good roster player out of necessity so they can try to win some extras categories in their matchup. The best situation possible for the rest of the league is if the team in question is facing elimination. That’s when you see the craziest sh*t go down, because it’s do or die; either you drop a good player and go for it, or you’re out.

So the benefit of saving some dough for later in the year is that you can really go in on one of those players if that happens. Imagine seeing a player like Kirill Kaprizov hitting waivers late in the season. You’d be champing at the bit to have him on your roster down the stretch, right? Yeah, you and everyone else in the league. But if you went out and paid 55$ on Marchessault a month earlier, you’ve likely been priced out of that bidding war before it’s even begun.

Which isn’t to say that makes the Marchessault addition a bad one; it doesn’t. Like I said, there’s no guarantee you’ll see a player of his caliber become available later. That’s the smart, safe play, and the manager who got him now has a good contributor with upside on their roster for several weeks. They can rest easy knowing that and not have to worry about finishing the year without having used their budget on anything significant.

Jonathan Marchessault

If your team is highly unlikely to make the playoffs, how can you be an upset team and make it harder for the teams on the cusp of making it to the playoffs? – Mike T.

You diabolical monster, I love it.

It’s too funny, you’re in such a thankless position. If you ditch your team, you’ll catch sh*t for bailing and leaving everyone else with a dead team that throws off the balance of the league. If you stay as active and hungry to win as ever and start playing spoiler, it’s “Ah, just quit you f*cking try hard!”

That’s really the biggest key, to answer your question. Just stay as active and hungry as you’d be if you were in the race. In this case, I happen to know you’re referring to being in last place in the money league I commission, so I can tell you confidently you’re not out of it yet. 11 points back with two weeks to go, it’s a long shot, but it’s not impossible.

Throw everything you’ve got at it. Use all of your weekly adds strategically if need be, protect your goalie stats if you reach the minimum with a great stat line, hell, stash free agent goalies who are starting on Sunday if you can, even if you don’t need them, just to narrow the pool your opponents can choose from. Get dirty, use your claws, and hope for the best.

That being said? You play me next week, so BACK OFF YOU F*CKING TRY HARD!

I’ve just lost my top scoring defenseman for the rest of the season in Aaron Ekblad. Goals from D are hard to find this late, so do you have any recommendations from low rostered D on the FA heap to pick up the slack in other categories? (+/-, SOG, Hits) – Allan C.

Before we get into guys who can pick up the slack in other categories, I’m gonna offer up a few D with a low rostered % who might help replace some of Ekblad’s goals.

Jared Spurgeon (27%) had a really slow start. In 35 games this year, he’s got 4G, 11PTS, 2PPG, 3PPP and 67 shots, but in the last month he’s got 4G, 7PTS, 2PPG, 3PPP and 27 shots. This is also a guy who’s scored over ten goals in four out of the last five seasons despite only playing all 82 games in just one of them. He hits a little bit, too.

Vince Dunn (7%) is an intriguing guy to target ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. He’s buried and underutilized in St. Louis, so if he stays put, forget about him. If he’s moved, though, he could get a huge boost in value. Lauded for his elite advanced stats, he’s developed a strong following who believe he’s a solid opportunity away from being an elite defenceman. Surface stats show 21 goals in the past two seasons, and he’s been a fixture on the second power play unit in every year of his career.

If Matt Grzelcyk (52%) happens to be available, he’s getting some points, shooting a bunch and playing on the top power play in Boston.

As far as productive across other categories goes, P.K Subban (22%) is providing a steady trickle of production across the board. What the f*ck is a steady trickle, you ask? F*ck you, that’s what.

Mario Ferraro (13%) is offering some minor point production (a few assists on the power play, too) with 47 shots and 108 hits on the year. Rasmus Ristolainen (52%) offers up similar production.

A few low rostered guys who’ve been regularly getting top PP time this year: Rasmus Andersson (21%), Rasmus Dahlin (50%), Ty Smith (20%), Kevin Shattenkirk (20%) and Shayne Gostisbehere (5%).

You mentioned plus/minus in that question, and I might have to drink a bottle of NyQuil to fall asleep tonight for answering this, but this season Joel Edmundson (22%) is plus-30 with 2G, 10PTS, 52 shots and 58 hits and I’m gonna go jump off a f*cking bridge now, thanks Allan.

Aaron Ekblad, healthy and with a good +/-, probably.

What’s your take on this trade for both sides? – Jon E.

To the manager getting Barkov, I think you’ve likely come out on top of this one. He ticks off virtually all the boxes (G, A, PPP, SHP, FW, SOG), and he does so at-or-near-elite levels. It’s no surprise to me that despite being injured, he was ranked 5th when this trade took place.

High end talent like that is so rare and so valuable. The players you gave up, though talented in their own right, have production that you can likely replace and then some between a waiver add and the production you’ll be getting from Barkov. Hell, depending how everyone fairs over the rest of the season, you might be able to replace it with Barkov and the rest of your roster alone. Kudos to you on a good trade that should significantly bolster your team’s odds down the stretch. I give this one an “A” on your end.

To the manager getting Dubois and Tarasenko; this isn’t a surefire “L”, but the odds of you coming out on top here aren’t great. I give you a “C” grade here. Like I mentioned, Barkov’s production in a league like this is impressive. While you might not look at Barkov and think he deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as an Auston Matthews or Leon Draisaitl, in a league like this he actually does. Which isn’t to say you put him ahead of those two necessarily, but in the same breath? Absolutely.

Face-Off Wins (FW) clearly carry some pretty serious value here, and in leagues like that you have to throw out what you think you know about a player’s value relative to the rest of the league, then reassess. The road to victory probably looks a lot less flashy than it would in a league with standard categories.

Aleksander Barkov, lord of all-situations production and face-off wins

Dubois is the #2 centre in Winnipeg so he’s not getting a ton of face-off production, and his numbers are down across the board outside of that, too. He’s obviously in a better spot than he was in Columbus at the start of the season, but he’s now playing in one of the best Top 6’s in the league, and he’s arguably the 5th or 6th best offensive contributor of the bunch. That’s not a shot at him; he’s a great young talent. He’s just now stuck behind better talent, and that’s reflected in his production & deployment. So as much as the Jets have a good second power play unit, the fruit that bears is going to pale in comparison to what you’d see with him on the first unit. He’s also not playing short handed, so he likely won’t be getting any SHP’s.

PierreLuc Dubois

Tarasenko’s back from his shoulder injury after several surgeries and setbacks, and he’s looked pretty good since. The production is so-so right now, but it’s been a steady enough stream. I’ve got him on a team and it’s been more than enough for me to hold onto him. It’s to be expected after a long layoff like that. His ice time is encouraging as well, averaging 18:35 a night, and he’s continued his mid-career trend of putting up over a hit per game, which is both good for fantasy and for putting minds at ease over the health of his shoulder. If this league counts Hits (or Shots), that’s a plus for you. Here’s hoping he gets hot in short order. Ditto for Dubois.

Vladimir Tarasenko

One last note: before pulling the trigger on a 2-for-1 deal like this, be sure to check waivers to see if you can’t find someone on there who, combined with the player you’re thinking of moving, can provide equivalent or better production than the guys you’d be receiving. Sometimes you’ve got an even better outcome staring you in the face and you miss it.

Not saying that’s what happened, by the way. It’s just a good step to add to the check list. I’d be looking for guys with wing eligibility who are actively playing centre and bringing in solid production in other categories. That way you’re getting consistent and reliable production from the face-off wins alone, regardless of what else they get you that night. And if you’re getting that from your wing slots? That’s gravy, baby. Gotta work that points system.

Got a question? Send it in to us on Twitter @LFHPod. Seriously. We need questions.

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