Fantasy Hockey: It’s time to trade Connor Hellebuyck

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Special to Yahoo Sports

This week’s fantasy hockey article includes Sid the Kid, CK20 rolling, the young d-man not named Makar or Fox also racking up points, a changing of the guard in net for St. Louis and Helly scuffling.

First Liners (Risers)

Sidney Crosby, C, PIT

That somewhat slow start Crosby got off to after returning from injury is but a memory now. He notched a hat trick and an assist Friday, giving the future Hall of Famer 10 markers and 21 apples in 29 games this season. Crosby earned career hat trick No. 15, his first since Nov. 28, 2018. The all-world pivot saw his four-game point streak end Sunday against the Jets, but he is just four goals shy of 500 for his career.

Andrei Svechnikov, RW, CAR

After enjoying a strong sophomore campaign in which he scored 24 goals and 61 points, Svechnikov’s offensive output dropped dramatically last season. He tallied just 42 points in 55 games, during which he scored 15 times. Svechnikov has had a rebound 2021-22 campaign, however, and been red-hot lately, reeling off three consecutive multi-point performances through Saturday and five in seven January games. The 21-year-old is up to 13 goals and 32 points in 34 games.

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Chris Kreider, LW, NYR

Kreider was profiled a few weeks ago, but his play deserves another mention. His hat trick Saturday extended the 30-year-old’s goal streak to five games. That streak was extended to six Monday. Kreider remains on pace for a career season, racking up a career-high 30 goals, 15 of which have come on the power play, and 43 points through 43 games. Those 30 goals are one ahead of Alex Ovechkin for the league lead, helping drive the decision to name Kreider a Metro Division All-Star for the second time in his career.

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers is having an incredible fantasy hockey season.
Chris Kreider’s fantasy hockey stock is through the roof of late. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Gustav Nyquist, LW, CLM

Nyquist missed the 2020-21 campaign after undergoing surgery to repair a labral tear of his left shoulder in early November. He was healthy for training camp and in the Opening Night lineup, tallying a goal. Nyquist went scoreless the next seven games and had just one assist in nine but found his game thereafter. Nyquist notched his NHL-leading fourth shorthanded goal Friday, three of which have come in January as part of his 10 points (five goals, five helpers) through nine games in the month. He is up to 10 markers and 11 apples in 38 games while skating on the top line.

Quinn Hughes, D, VAN

Vancouver got off to a horrific start to the season, resulting in a coaching change. The Canucks are playing better, but one constant has been the play of Hughes. Most impressive has been his performance in his own zone, which was an issue last season, partially seen by the minus-24 rating he posted. This season, Hughes is up a plus-11, showing his growth on that side of the ice without losing any of his scoring touch, as the star defenseman has 32 points (16 on the power play), 78 shots on net and 27 blocked shots in 39 games.

Alexandre Carrier, D, NAS

When you think of Nashville blueliners, Carrier’s name is not one that first comes to mind. But the 25-year-old is skating to the right of Roman Josi on the top-pairing and has shown he belongs in that spot. After putting up just three points in 19 games last year, Carrier has two goals and 12 assists in 38 games in 2021-22. Add 31 hits and 57 blocked shots along with a plus-nine rating and you have a blueliner contributing across the board.

Michael Houser, G, BUF

The end numbers may not end up pretty, but playing time is playing time, giving Houser a chance to notch wins. Houser posted a 2.98 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in the AHL prior to his promotion, but he has gotten off to a big start with the parent club, winning both games he has been between the pipes, allowing four goals in 74 shots. Aaron Dell splits time with Houser while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and others are sidelined for Buffalo.

Ville Husso, G, STL

Husso has played his way into, at worst, an even split of the time between the pipes for St. Louis with Jordan Binnington. The Finnish netminder stopped 38 shots for his fifth consecutive win Sunday. During his streak, Husso has allowed just six goals, improving to 8-2-1 with two shutouts, a 1.93 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage in 12 appearances. Coach Craig Berube has shown he will ride the hot hand and play a young netminder if warranted, boding well for Husso to see copious action in net. In addition, Binnington allowed seven goals Monday, before Husso relieved him, stopping 11 shots, which will aid his chances to keep the role.

Others include Vincent Trocheck, Mika Zibanejad, Matt Duchene, Tage Thompson, Clayton Keller, Brayden Schenn, Dylan Larkin, Mikael Granlund, Josh Norris, Nick Suzuki, Calle Jarnkrok, Joe Pavelski, Claude Giroux, Jesper Bratt, Seth Jarvis, Jeff Skinner, Jesper Fast, Jordan Kyrou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Artturi Lehkonen, Dominik Kubalik, Jake Guentzel, Filip Forsberg, Drake Batherson, Ivan Barbashev, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Durzi, Janis Moser, Tony DeAngelo, John Klingberg, Jacob Trouba, Torey Krug, Cale Makar, Mike Matheson, Morgan Rielly, Justin Faulk, Kaapo Kahkonen, Ilya Sorokin, Frederik Andersen, Linus Ullmark, Igor Shesterkin and Pavel Francouz.

Trade For

Tyler Seguin, C, DAL

Seguin was a faller just a few short weeks ago but, boy, has he turned his season around lately. His assist Friday gave Dallas’ No. 1 center three goals and three helpers in his last three outings. While Seguin was slow out of the gate in 2021-22, he’s up to 12 goals, seven assists, 99 shots on net, 41 hits and a minus-14 rating through 38 games. Offseason hip surgery prior to the 2020-21 campaign limited Seguin to three games, which might have contributed to his slow start, but he sure looks back on the beam now.

Training Room (Injuries)

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, WPG

Ehlers’ MCL injury, suffered Tuesday in a collision with Dmitry Orlov, landed him on long-term injured reserve Saturday, meaning he will miss the next nine games at a minimum. Just when Winnipeg is welcoming back Blake Wheeler from his knee injury, they lose Ehlers to a similar type of ailment. Ehlers tallied 25 points, including nine in his last 10 games, while averaging 18:35 of ice time this season and should return to his usual top-six role once healthy.

Others include players still on the COVID-19 protocol list, as well as Sean Couturier (upper body, COVID-19 protocols, out since Dec. 30, placed on long-term injured reserve Saturday), Jack Quinn (lower body, injured Thursday after notching a goal and assist, expected to miss significant time), Teuvo Teravainen (lower body, injured Friday, skated in warmups but didn’t play Saturday), Kaapo Kakko (wrist, injured Friday, placed on IR), Blake Wheeler (knee, activated off injured reserve and in lineup Saturday after missing nine games), Erik Karlsson (knee, missed Saturday’s game), Tyson Barrie (upper body, injured Thursday, missed Saturday’s game) and Carey Price (knee, expected to return to the ice in two weeks).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Rickard Rakell, C, ANA

Rakell signed a six-year, $22.8 million contract extension with the Ducks in October 2016, which looked brilliant almost immediately. He notched 51 points that season, then posted 24 goals and 25 helpers the following year, as he looked to be on the ascent. Unfortunately, Rakell’s output has gone south since, dropping to 43, then 42, followed by 28 points last season, driven partially by a major drop in shooting percentage. This year, Rakell has eight goals and 10 assists in 34 games, though he still gets top-six playing time.

Jordan Greenway, RW, MIN

Greenway entered 2021-22 coming off a second straight season of increased point production after notching 24 points in 81 games as a rookie in 2018-19. Drafted 50th overall in 2015, Greenway was projected to be a potential prototypical power forward. He has met the physical component of that role, racking up 184 hits in 125 games the last two seasons. But his failure to get shots on net — 43 in 31 games, about his average the last three seasons — does not bode well for future scoring. Greenway has notched four assists the last two games, so maybe he is becoming a facilitator rather than a scorer.

Zach Werenski, D, CLM

Hockey, like all sports, has ebbs and flows and peaks and valleys. Werenski is in a bit of a low point, notching two assists in his last seven games after returning from a two-game COVID-19 absence. We have seen many players struggle for a bit after returning, so that may just be the case here. Sit Werenski in your league and then re-activate him as he shows signs of returning to his prior form.

Others include Pavel Zacha, Jason Spezza, Jared McCann, Shayne Gostisbehere, Noah Dobson, Carter Hart and Martin Jones.

Trade Away

Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG

As someone who has Helly rostered in one of his fantasy leagues, having to continually add him to this side of the ledger is painful. But unfortunately, it’s warranted, as he has just one win in his last six starts, going 1-3-2, and his 2.80 GAA and .913 save percentage are below expectations. Hellebuyck only has 14 wins in 31 games this season while the Jets are on the outside looking in on the playoff race.

Winnipeg needs Helly to steal games as he did a few years ago to give the team a chance. If you are a believer, this could be a buying opportunity, but with Nikolaj Ehlers out, even with the return of Blake Wheeler, I am reluctant to jump on board.

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