Hidden Keys to Making Winning Trades
Right about now, GMs in most leagues are starting to look more seriously at trading. The draft is a fairly distant memory, standings in certain categories are becoming more widely separated, and most of the valuable free agents are likely gone. But because trades can be so "make or break", it can be difficult to actually make a trade happen. When you approach another GM, he or she will be naturally skeptical that you're trying to pull a fast one. What's more, a lot of the old secrets about winning a trade - from "buy low, sell high" to "whoever gets the best player wins" - are now well known even among casual fantasy GMs. To win a fantasy hockey trade these days, you not only have to set it up so you get the best of the deal, but you actually have to make the deal happen! So how can you do both these things? The answer is by focusing on statistics and situations that are reliable enough to tilt the scales in your favor, but that also are hidden enough beneath the surface to not tip off the other GM.
Target players who receive a lot of power play time, but don't yet have results to show for it
Power play stats can be where many leagues are won and lost. Even if your league does not count some form of power play goals or points, your stats still will be affected by the goals and assists that are scored on the power play. Some players (most notably Teemu Selanne) seem to always find a way to be involved in power play goals, but for most others it can be hit or miss. How many times have you gone to look at the box score for a game that featured a lot of PP goals and where you where you had a couple of guys on each team who get regular PP time, only to see that your guys weren't involved in any of the PP goals?! The key to remember is that for most power play goals, 3 of the 5 players on the team who scores get points. What that means is it's actually harder not to get a power play point when you're on the ice than to get one! So over time, it stands to reason that those who get a lot of PP time will eventually find the score sheet at a rate that comes farily close to matching their time on the ice. Therefore, it also follows that good guys to target in trades are ones who so far this year are getting a ton of power play time (and are not at risk to be taken off the power play) but, for whatever reason, have not had that translate into PP points as yet.
Here are 5 players that are in the top 50 for power play ice time per game for this season but who somehow are not even in the top 100 for power play points (stats as of November 10th):
Brad Richards (8th in PP ice time per game)
Vinny Prospal (17st)
Cam Fowler (26th)
Ryan Callahan (43rd)
Marek Zidlicky (49th)
Yes, in some cases either these players or their teams are cold - or both - but the reality is that simply based on the law of averages these players are in line for more power play points down the road.
Get forwards who play top line minutes, and are on the ice when the other team's goalie is pulled
The best players to have on your roster are the ones who are on the ice when goals are more likely to be scored. That sounds so simple, yet it's often overlooked. We covered the power play above, but what's also an overlooked situation for when goals are more likely to be scored is when other teams pull their goalies. If you can get a 60ish point forward who not only plays in the top 6 and on the first or second power play unit, but also takes the ice in empty net situations when his team is leading, it can make that player a better option than a player who, on paper, should be comparable but for whatever reason does not find himself on the ice when his team has a 1 or 2 goal lead and the other team's goalie is pulled. This is because not only will the empty net goal (ENG) guy have a better chance to score more points, but ENGs also usually result in a plus.
Here are guys that were among the top 10 in ENGs for either of the past 2 years and who also have never scored 70 points in a season but are good bets for 50+ points this year, thus making them good hidden targets for trades:
Focus in the first quarter of the season on guys who could end up being moved to better teams at the deadline
Even casual GMs are aware of the "contract year" guy on draft day, or will be quick to grab a player after the trade deadline if the player's situation has improved. But the shrewd GM should be looking to identify players like that right now, as it's long enough after the draft that GMs might not remember which guys are in contract years, and it's still early enough that the trade deadline is not on people's radar. What's more, some of these guys can be obtained cheaply, especially if they're on a bad team now, since that often means they're not getting too many points and could be doing poorly in terms of +/-. But be careful, as a change in scenery does not always translate to improved performance - just look at someone like Alex Ponikarovsky last year.
For this season, among the impending UFAs on "bad" teams who not only could get moved at the deadline and end up in very good situations, but who also will likely be able to give you decent stats between now and then despite being on bad teams are:
Kristan Huselius (hurt now, but should be back for about half the season)
Hopefully this article has opened your eyes to some ways to find hidden value when making trades. There are likely many more pieces of beneath the surface information that can be factored into trades just like these three. The key to winning a trade is not which of these tricks you use, but to make sure you do your homework to be able to see things better overall than your trading partner.
Last edited by RizzeeDizzee; 11-10-2011 at 04:16 PM.