By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The NHL holiday roster freeze began Monday and continues through Dec. 28, which means there won't be anybody switching teams. But that shouldn't stop fantasy managers from making moves as 2023 approaches. Here are this week's trade targets.
Brandon Hagel, LW/RW, Lightning (56% rostered)
With a 24-point increase in percentage rostered over the past day, Hagel finally becomes eligible to be featured in this space. It's not too late to hop on the Hagel bandwagon. He's been red-hot in December with five goals and nine points in nine games, but more importantly, has become a fixture on the top line next to Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point as well as on PP1.
He didn't fit in right away after being acquired from the Blackhawks last season, scoring just 13 points in 45 games for the Lightning during the season and playoffs, but he's certainly found a home now. The drop-off in production with the Lightning wasn't totally unexpected. His minutes were cut playing on a deeper team, and his shooting percentage with the Hawks was absurdly high at 22.3. Hagel's hot run in December has boosted his shooting percentage to 20.7 entering Wednesday's game, which is somewhat concerning, but note again that his role this year has significantly increased and he's averaging a career-high 18:45 minutes per game. Players who score their goals around the net like Hagel tend to have shooting percentages that skew higher anyway; while no one is mistaking Hagel for Chris Kreider, there have been other players in the past who don't have the most natural skill but manage to be a consistent source of goals, such as Tomas Holmstrom on the dominant Red Wings squads of the '90s.
Chandler Stephenson, C/LW/RW, Golden Knights (76% rostered)
There's no better insurance policy in the league. Just as Stephenson plays a variety of roles for the Knights and moves up and down the lineup with relative ease, his fantasy value is mostly derived from his triple-position eligibility and his usage in a top-line role on a very good team. When the Knights were healthy to start the season, Stephenson saw a small dip in his minutes, but once the injuries started to come, his ice time increased. He's been averaging 20 minutes per game over the past two months with 22 points in 25 games. He's also winning 62% of his faceoffs and has added 22 blocked shots and 41 hits.
In short, Stephenson is a valuable Swiss army knife who can contribute in multiple categories and is one of the most versatile options in roto leagues. Jack Eichel and Mark Stone, who comprise two-thirds of their top line, have some concerning recent injury histories. Eichel has already missed time this season while Stone has been bothered by a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Stephenson has barely missed any time since joining the Knights and is on pace for a career-best 72 points.
Charlie Lindgren, G, Capitals (48% rostered)
Darcy Kuemper is back and served as Lindgren's backup Monday against the Wings, but I wouldn't be so quick to dump Lindgren just yet. In fact, Lindgren's fantasy value probably just took a nosedive with the expectation that Kuemper will take back the starting job, making Lindgren easier to acquire. The sample size isn't huge, but Lindgren was very good in Kuemper's absence and at least deserves a bigger share of the workload going forward.
Remember, Kuemper's injury history has always been a concern, and the Capitals committed to Lindgren long-term even though he spent most of last season in the AHL. We're looking at a potential 1A-1B situation on a Caps team that's suddenly found its groove. If your fantasy team is short on goalies and there's nothing interesting in the free agent pool, stashing Lindgren might be a good idea since they might split the games the rest of the season.
Filip Forsberg, LW, Predators (93% rostered)
I'm absolutely done with the Preds. Their star players won't be repeating what they accomplished last season, they lack quality depth at almost every position and they're once again stuck in purgatory. While Forsberg is on pace to score 60-plus points, it's noteworthy that his shooting percentage is below 10 for the second time in three seasons. It's one reason why he's stuck at nine goals in a season where scoring is way up. Averaging three shots per game just won't cut it as a high-volume shooter these days.
Combined with the fact that he now only has LW eligibility, when in past years he's had both RW and LW, Forsberg's fantasy value has been very muted this season. It's possible he has some trade value left because of his reputation, but there are few signs that the Preds can pick up their play in the second half. You might be better off holding an under-the-radar scorer like Carter Verhaeghe, who is younger and has historically been a far more efficient finisher, or even Troy Terry, who's scoring at a similar pace but provides more upside with a bigger role relative to his team right now and in the future.
MacKenzie Weegar, D, Flames (73% rostered)
Weegar has yet to score a goal this season and has provided just seven assists through 32 games. He still has value in banger leagues that count blocked shots and hits, but for the most part, hasn't provided much else. It's time to accept that moving from a free-flowing, top-heavy, offense-first team that gave Weegar the green light to shoot the puck and generate offense to a more balanced team that emphasizes play at both ends of the ice has killed whatever fantasy value he may have had coming into the season.
It wouldn't be surprising if Weegar is rostered in just half of all Yahoo leagues soon due to his lack of offense, and if that's the case, there's still a window where fantasy managers can trade him. Teammate Noah Hanifin, for example, offers up similar peripherals but far better scoring and plays more minutes. He's rostered in 68% of leagues.