Fantasy Hockey Trade Advice: Ryan Getzlaf a Sell-High Candidate

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf
December 11 2013 Anaheim CA USA Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf 15 reacts to a goal scored by right wing Corey Perry 10 against the Minnesota Wild during the second period at Honda Center Gary A Vasquez USA TODAY Sports

Any year-long fantasy sport will involve a series of transactions and most of your transactions will occur from the waiver wire. For the most part, though, the impact of these waiver wire players are minimal, as they are usually temporary replacements rather than long-term fill-ins.

When you get to the fantasy hockey trade market, typically it’s to fill a hole somewhere on your team, likely for the bulk of, if not the duration of, the entire season. The problem is that evaluating trades is a difficult thing to do. The way leagues are scored and players are valued varies so much, that a good deal in one league is a terrible deal in another league and vice versa.

This is where PDO helps. The concept of PDO is to determine which direction a player will regress moving forward. If you’re unfamiliar with PDO, I would read this before you get started.

With that said, here are some names of guys I would be looking to move on the trade market, especially if you have glaring holes elsewhere in your lineup.

Ryan Getzlaf (C-ANA), 1056 PDO

To be sure, Getzlaf has been an exceptional fantasy hockey value so far this year. With 38 points in 31 games, Getzlaf finds himself fourth on the point-scoring leaderboard in the NHL. For the season, this puts him in the Top 10 for fantasy skaters in a roto league, nestled in between Alex Steen and David Backes.

There are a few problems that Getzlaf owner should anticipate, however.

For the season, Getzlaf is shooting 19.5 percent, which is over 3 percent higher than any full season in his career, and in relative terms, it’s over a 30 percent increase from his career average. This has led to a higher goal total (16) this year in 31 games than all of last year (15) in 44 games, and the year before that (11) in 82 games.

What his goal pace is telling you is that he’s a 40-goal scorer this year, even though he’s never scored more than 25 in a season. Don’t be surprised if Getzlaf finishes the year with about half the goals scored in the second half of the season that he did in the first (which could still put him around 30 on the year).

Finally, about 20 percent of Getzlaf’s roto value is coming from his plus/minus rating of plus-15, which is tied for third among all NHL forwards. This is a function of the Ducks shooting over 13 percent as a team at five on five when Getzlaf is on the ice, which leads the NHL. In the 2011-2012 season, no player finished over 13 percent (Steven Stamkos led the NHL at 12.9 percent), and this year there are only three players over 12 percent, and one of them is his line mate Corey Perry.

The goals will stop going in for Getzlaf at this rate eventually, as will those of his teammates. When that does happen, the plus/minus will stagnate, or even decline, as will his goal totals. You’ll want to trade him before he hits that skid while the perception is that he’s a top 10 roto forward.

Mikhail Grabovski (C-WSH), 1040 PDO

It’s a weird thing because Grabovski isn’t even 100 percent owned in ESPN leagues (although a late push on Sunday put him awfully close) and yet he is a solid sell-high candidate.

In fact, he’s a must sell-high because there is going to be a lot of regression here all around for Grabbo.

On the year, Grabovski is shooting over 20 percent and I can’t begin to tell you how absurd that is. He’s always been a high-efficiency shooter – as his 12.9 percent career shooting efficiency will tell you – but he’s not this high. In fact, Grabovski has already achieved the same goal total this year as he did last year in nearly half the shots (80 compared to 44 this year).

Yes, a lot of this has to do with playing on the top power play. But he’s not going to stay hot forever, and it’ll be a crash when he does come down. Grabovski is only hitting the net with 1.35 shots per game, the lowest of any full season in his career to date. On top of that, he’s not really getting that much more ice time than he did in Toronto, it’s the second-lowest ice time rate in six years this year for him. Also, he’s actually getting less ice time on the power play this year with Washington than he did last year with Toronto.

Take all that into account, and add to it that he’s fifth among forward in the entire NHL in On-Ice shooting percentage (the category Getzlaf is leading in) at 11.2 percent. His line mates are Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer, there’s no way that shooting percentage stays that high.

There’s going to be a big reduction in the second half in goals for Grabbo, and he’ll likely be a minus-player. You can sell him now as “Ovi’s power play buddy” before that happens. I would do that.

Niklas Kronwall (D-DET), 1030 PDO

There are a handful of players that just continue to get it done year in and year out, and one of those guys is Kronwall.

Besides what he does in the fantasy game, his hits are legendary. I know I don’t want to get Kronwall’d, and you probably don’t either:

That’s just one of many, many bone-crushing hits he’s laid over the years. He’s just a fun defenseman to watch.

Besides the hits, he produces points. A lot of points. In fact, from 2010-2013, Kronwall was 21st among NHL defensemen in points with 102. Over that stretch, he’s only one of eight defensemen with 30+ goals, 100+ points and 100+ PIMs in the NHL. That list is short, and it’s elite.

In fact, nothing for Kronwall is really that out of line this year, except that darn plus-12 rating.

Over his previous 130 games, Kronwall was a minus-7 defenseman playing on largely the same Detroit team that we see today. This season, in 32 games, he’s a plus-12.

A lot of that has to do with him leading all NHL defensemen in On-Ice shooting percentage at 12-percent. If that number seems high, it’s because it is, by a lot: In the shortened season, his On-Ice SH% was 8.1 percent, and the year before that it was an even 9-percent (all of these are rounded to the nearest decimal). His line mates are performing at a rate that can be seen in smaller samples, like his 32 games this year, but unlikely to sustain itself over an 82-game season.

Once Kronwall’s plus/minus starts to pull back, he’s not going to be valued nearly as highly as he is right now. On the year, he’s a top 5 roto defenseman, with roughly one-quarter of his value coming from his plus/minus. If you wait a month, you could lose all that extra built-in value, and by then it’s too late to trade him.

These guys will all regress, Grabovski harder than others, but are all over-performing enough that you should be able to trade them for a like-player who’s not over-performing, or some sort of package to get an elite performer to fill needs elsewhere.

Good luck, and may the PDO be with you.

Big thanks to ExtraSkater.com, ShiftChart.com, Hockey-Reference.com and BehindTheNet.ca for all their continued work and resources. This article and just about anything else I do would not exist without them. 

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