Trade Tips: Buying Barzal

Trade Tips: Buying Barzal

Over the past few seasons, Thanksgiving has been seen as the unofficial playoff cut-off. It seems early, but playoff races are tight, and falling behind too much in the first quarter of the season could be a death knell. Of the top eight teams in each conference entering Thursday, historically speaking, 75 percent of them will make the playoffs. 

For bottom feeder teams such as the Blackhawks or Sharks, the Thanksgiving deadline is a moot point. But teams in playoff contention now have to decide if they want to keep challenging for a spot or capitulate, and it's bound to have a significant impact on the fantasy value of certain players, especially those facing free agency in the summer. 

A trade out of Chicago for Patrick Kane, for instance, could immediately boost his fantasy value. A trade out of Vancouver for Bo Horvat, on the other hand, could negatively impact both his own fantasy value (because he might face more competition for minutes on a more competitive team) as well as the fantasy value of the other four players on the Canucks' top-five power play. 

Here are this week's trade targets. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Trade For

Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders (67 percent)

This is statistically Barzal's best season since his rookie year, and he keeps piling up the assists. It's pretty amazing, considering the players he's been setting up are usually not very good at scoring. Josh Bailey, Scott Mayfield and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have combined to score

Over the past few seasons, Thanksgiving has been seen as the unofficial playoff cut-off. It seems early, but playoff races are tight, and falling behind too much in the first quarter of the season could be a death knell. Of the top eight teams in each conference entering Thursday, historically speaking, 75 percent of them will make the playoffs. 

For bottom feeder teams such as the Blackhawks or Sharks, the Thanksgiving deadline is a moot point. But teams in playoff contention now have to decide if they want to keep challenging for a spot or capitulate, and it's bound to have a significant impact on the fantasy value of certain players, especially those facing free agency in the summer. 

A trade out of Chicago for Patrick Kane, for instance, could immediately boost his fantasy value. A trade out of Vancouver for Bo Horvat, on the other hand, could negatively impact both his own fantasy value (because he might face more competition for minutes on a more competitive team) as well as the fantasy value of the other four players on the Canucks' top-five power play. 

Here are this week's trade targets. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Trade For

Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders (67 percent)

This is statistically Barzal's best season since his rookie year, and he keeps piling up the assists. It's pretty amazing, considering the players he's been setting up are usually not very good at scoring. Josh Bailey, Scott Mayfield and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have combined to score 11 goals this season, with eight being assisted by Barzal. If Barzal had better finishers on his line, we might be talking about him as an MVP candidate. 

Regardless, with two goals under his belt, Barzal's shooting percentage is at 3.9 percent, and it's expected to keep climbing until it gets closer to his career markof 10.7 percent. The analytics crowd may call this "reversion to the mean," but in fantasy circles it's more proper to say, "I think he's going to score goals in bunches very soon." Now, Barzal has never been an elite finisher, but it's highly likely he's going to score more than the eight goals he's currently on pace for. 

Jordan Kyrou, LW/RW, Blues (72 percent)

When Kyrou gets hot, he really gets hot. After scoring just three goals with a minus-13 rating (!) in eight games in October, Kyrou now has 10 points in 10 games in November. Fantasy managers who were patient with Kyrou are getting paid off, and the Blues seem to be settling into a groove. 

What's helped Kyrou, and to a similar extent for Ryan O'Reilly, is simply better execution. With four players with at least five goals and another five players with four goals, the Blues have regained their status as one of the league's deepest teams. Kyrou is streaky, but he'll have no shortage of good players to play with, ensuring that any slump he suffers from will not last an entire season. 

Mika Zibanejad, C, Rangers (99 percent)

This one's for the analytically-inclined. Per naturalstattrick.com, Zibanejad is scoring 6.83 goals fewer than expected at 5-on-5, tied with Sam Reinhart for the highest difference in the league among forwards. He has maintained a point-per-game pace this season and nothing seems out of the ordinary, but the advanced analytics say Zibanejad's production should be a lot better than it actually is. Zibanejad's individual point production (IPP), which ranged between 70 and 80 percent over the past four seasons, sits at a career-low 62.5 percent, and his PDO is also at close to a career-low (0.981). 

Those numbers indicate Zibanejad hasn't had puck luck on his side, and it's certainly a little head-scratching that the Rangers' possession numbers have improved from last season yet Zibanejad's scoring numbers don't really show it. Over the course of the season, PDO tends to revert back to 1.000, which means there's a chance Zibanejad suddenly starts getting bounces in his favor, putting him on a path where he could score 90 points. Note, however, that Zibanejad's on-ice shooting percentage at 4.94 percent is well below what it should be (somewhere around 10 percent). I suspect this is because linemate Chris Kreider is — unsurprisingly — not scoring at a 52-goal pace this season. He's converting just 13.0 percent of his shots after shooting at closer to 20 percent over the past two seasons. 

Trade Away

Tomas Hertl, C, Sharks (58 percent)

Hertl's going to stay in the Bay Area long-term, but what of his sniper linemate Timo Meier? The Sharks have control of Meier's future since he'll be an RFA at the end of the season, but given their performance, it's become increasingly clear that the Sharks need a rebuild. We may be jumping the gun dealing Hertl so soon, but note that eight of his 18 points this season have involved Meier and 10 of them have involved Erik Karlsson, whose name is already in the rumour mill. It may be best to trade Hertl before his scoring inevitably drops when the Sharks gut their roster. 

Tony DeAngelo, D, Flyers (79 percent)

DeAngelo might be playing the best hockey of his career, averaging 25 minutes for the Flyers and quarterbacking the top power play, but it may not be enough. After scoring seven points with a plus-3 rating in October, DeAngelo has scored just three points with a minus-12 (!) rating in November. He'll continue to provide shots and blocked shots, but there's a dearth of scoring talent on the Flyers, and DeAngelo can only do so much himself, even on the power play. 

With Travis Konecny expected to miss the next couple weeks due to a hand injury, an issue which may affect his ability to score the rest of the season, the Flyers are robbed of their best player. The Flyers don't have any projected cap space, making it difficult to improve the team through trade, and their pipeline is pretty bare. Owen Tippett and Joel Farabee are now the Flyers' best scoring wingers, and though both may set career highs this season, neither are the type of top-line forward who can consistently finish the plays set up by DeAngelo.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason won the 2021 FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award, and was also a finalist on 2019. He joined RotoWire in 2013. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
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