Fantasy Hockey Hockey Mailbag NHL Trade Deadline

LFH Mailbag: NHL Trade Deadline, Taylor Hall, James Reimer, Era-Adjusted Fantasy Goalies, Alex Galchenyuk

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.

Well, this one feels silly. The trade deadline is a hot topic in this week’s mailbag – y’know, the deadline that happened yesterday for you readers out there. None the less, we power through. The questions are good and the answers hold up, probably.

Enjoy.

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Who is a player expected to be traded that may be worth picking up if he joins a new team? – Mike T.

This one is tricky; by the time the mailbag is released the deadline will be passed. Let’s do it anyway, though.

The conversation has gotta start with Taylor Hall, no? He’s certainly looked sub-par since the 2019 trade to Arizona, but at 29, I’m not exactly sold on his abilities dropping off as being the reason for it. If Hall is moved to a contender in a Top 6 role, look out. Not for nothing, but Toronto just opened up enough space to fit him in with their Riley Nash trade (yes, that move opened cap space for them).

Taylor Hall, in what will one day be known as the “Buffalo Fever Dream” phase of his career.

Mike Hoffman has big-time goal scoring ability, but he’s streaky and prone to cold streaks. There are also character-related questions that have followed him around since his days in Ottawa, so that may hinder his odds at thriving on a new club a bit if he’s moved.

Mike Hoffman, who’s struggled to find consistency since joining the Blues.

Alex Iafallo is getting quite a bit of chatter and appears likely to be moved. I don’t see a ton of upside here though; I think right now, he’s probably performing as well as he would anywhere else in the league.

Alex Iafallo, wearing what is technically a uniform.

Nick Foligno* is an underrated fantasy performer, but only when the conditions are just right. If he’s moved – and it should be noted he was reportedly scratched due to injury this week, not as a precaution – he could end up getting a boost offensively in the right situation. More of a guy to keep an eye on, even after he’s been moved (if it happens at all). If you notice he’s getting Top 6 minutes with Top PP usage on a decent team, he might be worth a flier.

*Has since been traded to Toronto. Watch his usage accordingly.

New Leaf Nick Foligno.

The last two I’m keeping an eye on are Mikael Granlund and Vince Dunn. Both have good offensive upside and power play chops. They’ve got the potential to become fantasy relevant in a new situation.

I have Reimer as one of my three goalies on my roster. He’s been a solid option all season, but now it seems he is third on their depth chart and hasn’t started in five games. Is it time to drop him for a more reliable option, such as a starter or consistent backup? – Thomas B.

There are few things I hate more than goalie trios, Thomas. Playing you in fantasy hockey is one of those things, but that’s a conversation for another day.

I’d wait until after the deadline (which is a day before this mailbag gets released, yikes) to see if he’s moved to a better situation first, but if he’s not, I’d drop him. It’s worth noting that I clearly have a bias against goalie trios, but ask yourself this: am I wrong to? Goalie trios can be a nightmare of unpredictability and sporadic hope.

You don’t need that kind of “will he/won’t he” nonsense as we head into the playoffs. Scour the waiver wire for a replacement, and don’t be afraid to look for guys on hot streaks. Sometimes they’re season-savers and league winners. Hell, maybe it’s even time to shorten the bench up and replace him with a skater. Nothing wrong with that, either.

Reimer’s production will be unpredictable if he remains in a goalie trio.

Which goalies (pre-fantasy era) would be great fantasy players today? – Duke

This is a fun question. I know fantasy sports pre-date this by a bit, but for the sake of the exercise I’m going to make the cut off year 2000, and I’m not going to go back earlier than 1980. Okay fine, I’ll give one: Ken Dryden would’ve probably held up as elite today, playing a very different style.

I’m going to exclude guys who went on to be good fantasy producers after 2000; so say goodbye to Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour, Nikolai Khabibulin, Olaf Kolzig, Chris Osgood and even Curtis Joseph, though his post-2000 numbers aren’t great.

For fun: out of that group, I think Brodeur, Roy and even Hasek would be able to translate their games to play at an elite level today. Kolzig and Khabibulin would likely be good starters as well. Belfour I’m on the fence about – between his 5’11 stature, his off-ice issues and the demands that come with being a pro in today’s NHL, I’m not sure he’d pull it off. Joseph would be exposed as well, I think. Osgood… I mean he just kept finding a way, didn’t he? My instinct is to count him out but that was never a good idea during his playing career. I don’t know, though. I think being 5’10 ultimately sinks him.

I’m also going to cut out guys who only had 1-2 seasons of strong play, so there goes your Byron Dafoe’s and Jim Carey’s. Pelle Lindbergh gets a pass here due to his life and career being cut short in a 1985 car accident, though at 5’9 his height would unfortunately bar him from NHL success today anyway. That being said, it would’ve been something to see what kind of career he would’ve carved out if he’d continued to play. Phenomenal goalie for the short time he was active.

From the 90’s, I think you’re primarily looking at Mike Richter, Tom Barrasso and Ron Hextall. Barrasso and Hextall have the 6’3 frame that translates to today’s game, not to mention the high end skill. At 5’11, Mike Richter would be undersized, but he’d find a way with the abilities he had. Fantastic goalie. Overlooked too often when discussing the best goalies of his era.

Mike Richter with the textbook kick save.

Out of left field? Guy Hebert. He spent most of his career in Anaheim on the post-expansion Mighty Ducks, so he’s easily forgotten. Never had lofty win totals, never had the hardware, but man, was he a great goalie for those teams. His size (5’11) works against him here, but I think he’d be a Juuse Saros type in today’s NHL.

In the 80’s, beyond your Hextall’s and Barrasso’s, it’s tough. So many great goalies of that era – Andy Moog, Billy Smith & Rollie Melanson, Grant Fuhr, Pelle Lindbergh, John Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Vernon – were 5’10 or under. This applies to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as well, which is a large part of why I’ve discounted them entirely from the discussion. Nearly all of the great goalies from those eras are in the 5’9-6’0 range, and that’s close to a non-starter these days for NHL clubs.

One name that stands out? Mike Liut. He was a 6’2 workhorse who played for 13 NHL seasons from ‘79-‘80 to ‘91-‘92. For a time, he was as good as any goalie in the league. He took home the Ted Lindsay award (MVP as voted by the players) and finished 2nd to Wayne Gretzky for the Hart trophy in ‘80-‘81.

Mike Liut, looking like he’s going to both stop your shot, and rob you.

Looking back at his highlights, his style looks a lot more transferable to today’s game than most goalies of his era. I also know d*ck all about goalies, mind you. Maybe that should’ve been a disclaimer at the top. Would you have read this far in knowing that though? I don’t think so.

So, the final cut of theoretically fantasy relevant Golden Oldie Goalies is as follows:

Ron Hextall, Mike Richter, Tom Barrasso and Mike Liut, with Guy Hebert as a dark horse.

I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t expect the list to look like that when I first read this question. This was a fun exercise. It’s too bad goalies have to be so tall these days, because it would’ve been really fun if I’d been able to include goalies of all sizes.

Is this 7 day period of William Nylander being out due to COVID benefitting Alex Galchenyuk? He’s been moved onto the top line. – Birdzy

Birdzy with the follow-up Chucky question, I love it. I’m glad I get the opportunity to acknowledge I was wrong on this one. Though I hoped for it, I really didn’t see how Galchenyuk would find his way back to being an effective Top 6 forward.

How wrong I was, and how happy I am to see it.

He’s transformed. I don’t know what else to say – he’s a puck hound out there. He’s hustling and forechecking like never before. He’s playing both ways. He’s allowing offence to grow out of putting the fundamentals first, a concept he’s never had a great grasp on in the past.

Clearly, there was less wrong with his game from a physical & structural standpoint than I thought. My hat’s off to him, and to the Toronto Maple Leafs, not just for seeing something in him – you’d have to be blind not to – but for knowing how to extract what they saw. To many, he was a lost cause. To the Leafs, he was a code in need of breaking, and they’re on some Alan Turing, “Imitation Game” sh*t, so naturally they were like “Send that Enigma this way, bro”, and sh*t got done.

I debated scrapping that reference for a good five minutes, but I like the line it straddles.

Look, the Leafs are reportedly in the market to add a Top 6 forward right now, with Taylor Hall’s name being kicked around as the ‘big fish’, so any chance Galchenyuk gets to prove his worth in this Top 6 is a positive for him. If the opportunity to play on the top line with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews only came about due to William Nylander’s injury, that’s certainly a silver lining that he’s benefitted from.

In the end, he’s going to have to play his ass off to maintain that Top 6 spot, especially if they add a Top 6 player to the mix. As it stands, you’ve got Hyman, Marner, Matthews, Tavares and Nylander in that mix. Oh, also, Nick Foligno literally just got traded to Toronto as I’m writing this sentence. So, yeah. It’s a crowded house. I think Galchenyuk likely has inadvertently benefitted from Nylander’s injury, and it’s an opportunity he’s gonna have to run with if he wants to separate himself from the pack.

Early returns are nice – two assists and three shots on 17:37 of ice time against the Sens on Saturday.

Alex Galchenyuk has been a hell of a redemption story so far.

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

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