As the NHL trade deadline quickly approaches and General Managers scramble to make the moves that will either put them into contention, or jump start a rebuild, fantasy general managers are in the same position. Some teams have the luxury of clearly identifying what direction they are going in. However, few teams in most fantasy leagues secure firm footing at either the top, or the bottom of the standings in their league. As such, many fantasy managers have a difficult decision to make. Am I a buyer, or am I a seller going into the trade deadline?
Typically teams that are “buyers” are teams that are trying to compete for a championship. These managers are willing to part with future assets. Draft choices and prospects in particular. Another asset that may be expendable is players who have drastically under performed for some reason. Injured players who have missed, or will miss significant time such as Mike Green, Andre Markov, or Sidney Crosby will all likely not contribute any points for the remainder of the season.
“Sellers” are teams who unfortunately have little to no chance of competing for a championship. They are willing to purge current producing players for an upgrade in the future. Players who may be at, or near the end of their career such as Teemu Selanne, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Ray Whitney are prime examples.
The key to making trades is finding a team that has what you need, and has a need for what you have in surplus. In such situations you can work out a win-win type of a trade.
The ideal situation would be for a team buying to acquire a player like Lidstrom by selling Markov. The buyer adds a major point producing player that gives them the title. The team selling looses a player who likely will contribute nothing next year, and the loss this season only improves their draft standing. Meanwhile assuming Markov returns to elite form next year becomes a key factor in their future success.
So how do you determine if you should go for it, or throw in the towel and look toward the future?
There are several key factors to consider. Games played, games remaining, games lost to injury, points per game, and obviously overall points standing. All of these factors need to be examined in comparison to the other teams in your league. The number of games played and remaining is extremely significant. If you are within striking distance of challenging for a championship but have played more or less games and have more or less games left must be factored into any decision. Games played are directly related to points per game. If you are scoring at a higher PPG rate but are behind in the standings because you have played fewer games, then it is reasonable to assume you can catch, and surpass the team in front of you. Conversely if you have fewer games to play and are behind in points, perhaps selling off the future in a futile attempt to catch a team just out of reach is unwise.
Knowing how to analyze your own situation and how to orchestrate trades will allow you to make the right decisions for the trade deadline.