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Fantasy hockey: Sell high candidates

As follow up to last week’s Black Friday-inspired view of potential steals on the fantasy trade market, here’s a complementary round-up of overachieving assets to deal away in the here and now. As always, expect to see some prominent names on this list. One key to fantasy success is knowing when to move a quality player for another who has yet to reach his potential, especially in satisfying a roster need.

Andrei Svechnikov, LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (Rostered in 96.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues): There’s no diminishing what Svechnikov has accomplished this Sophomore season: 11 goals and 18 assists in 28 games is more than most could expect. But now coach Rod Brind’Amour is again experimenting with Nino Niederreiter on a top line with Sebastien Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, instead of Svechnikov, and that’s concerning. In case he’s already peaked, consider tabling a deal in re-draft leagues only. This 19-year-old is going to be a star for many years to come.

Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, Florida Panthers (90.2 percent): His present-day third-line role is a bother. Seeing limited minutes alongside center Brian Boyle doesn’t measure up anywhere near skating with Aleksander Barkov or Vincent Trocheck. So if that’s how coach Joel Quenneville is going to play it moving forward, I’m shipping Hoffman before the inevitable drop-off in production truly manifests. While the power-play specialist will undoubtedly continue to contribute with the extra skater – that’s his jam – those special teams numbers may not suffice in justifying the retention of the winger otherwise. Depending, of course, on what’s on offer in return.

James Neal, LW/RW, Edmonton Oilers (85.4 percent): Target a fantasy league mate still wooed by Neal’s 14 goals and ship him away before the inevitable drop-off. Due to fall back to the second line once Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins return from injury (both soon), the veteran winger could then tumble to the third unit before the season is through – particularly if GM Ken Holland acquires a top-six rental before the trade deadline (betcha he does). And Neal isn’t going to score 25 goals on the power play, despite already up 10. He just isn’t.

Zach Parise, LW, Minnesota Wild (68.4 percent): As a long-time champion of the oft-underappreciated goal-scorer, it pains me to include Parise here. But I’m worried about his durability. While he came somewhat close with 74 contests last season, the 35-year-old – badgered all too much by serious physical issues for years now – hasn’t played a full 82-game campaign in forever (2011-12). So maybe think about dealing him while he’s enjoying excellent chemistry with linemate Kevin Fiala, and running hot with eight goals and three assists in 10 games.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, Ottawa Senators (62.3 percent): A great story from what otherwise foretells to be another have-not season for the rebuilding Senators, Pageau has 15 goals and six assists while often centering the top line. Really impressive stuff from the seven-year veteran. But he also sports a 21.1% shooting success rate, which is both uncharacteristic and unsustainable. And you can count on coach D.J. Smith experimenting with shuffling around his young forwards (see: rookie Logan Brown) as the season wears on. Deal Pageau now if the return makes sense.

Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (99.1 percent): Rielly hasn’t seemed his productive self since early November, and the change behind Toronto’s bench may not give the skilled defenseman the same boost it does others. Remember, the Leafs’ assistant captain was a Mike Babcock guy, one of a seeming miniscule handful. Since taking over, new coach Sheldon Keefe has already transitioned from bumping Tyson Barrie to the club’s top power play to then utilizing him as the only blueliner, further necessitated by the healthy return of Mitch Marner. That leaves Rielly – a former top-unit staple – competing on the secondary power play with the likes of Alex Kerfoot and Jason Spezzanot Auston Matthews and John Tavares. Doesn’t portend well for a blueliner who collected 21 points with the extra skater last season. Think about trading him before others take notice of the demotion. Rielly’s well-deserved reputation – it’s not like he isn’t still going to contribute – should net you an exceptional fantasy asset in return. Particularly from a fellow manager with a banged-up blue line.

Jacob Trouba, D, New York Rangers (85.5 percent): By the time April rolls around, the top-pair defenseman should squat comfortably third in blue-line production behind Tony DeAngelo and rookie Adam Fox – both of whom are filling more prominent roles with the man-advantage. After accruing three power-play assists through his first five contests, Trouba has one in the 21 games since (zero goals). A greater treasure for what he offers as a well-rounded defender, including his work on the penalty kill, the 25-year-old should be dealt now, while he’s on an unsustainable run of seven points in seven games. Then snag Fox off the wire for nothing.

Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins (96.9 percent): Workload is the worry here. While Rask has been stellar of late, so has “backup” Jaroslav Halak, in splitting starts evenly these past 10 days. Coach Bruce Cassidy himself has recently discussed the advantages of having two No. 1 netminders – his own words. So unless you’re content with approximately 45 starts from the Bruins’ No. 1A, my advice is to trade him before everyone else becomes more acclimatized to a near-equal workshare in Boston. Rask’s numbers – .933 SV% and 2.04 GAA – will never shine more than they do right now. Also, please know that Halak is available in more than 75% of ESPN.com leagues.

Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets (76.8 percent): An outrageous idea, right? Why would any fantasy manager of sound mind move the hottest goalie in the league? Because the up-to-two-month loss of defender Dmitry Kulikov on Winnipeg’s already vulnerable blue line will resonate. Because the Jets are already giving up too many shots attempts for a goaltender’s comfort. And because Hellebuyck will never sport greater fantasy worth – .944 SV% and only two regulation losses through 11 appearances in November – than he does at present. Just make sure to demand a rich return.

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