NHL team needs and how trades might impact your fantasy team

Elias Lindholm already has a new home with the Canucks, but other players will be on the move before the NHL trade deadline and impact fantasy teams. Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is 2½ weeks away. There are usually strong fantasy implications that flow from the annual exchange and flow of players. Some years it's more and some its less.

Like last season with the earlier trade of Bo Horvat by the Vancouver Canucks, one of the most impactful names to move has already found a new home, with the Canucks' deal for Elias Lindholm. Lindholm has had some big games and some quiet ones through his first eight games with the Canucks, but thanks to the magnitude of those big games, it's been a fantasy gain. He has 2.28 fantasy points per game with Vancouver so far, compared with 1.74 FPPG at the time of the deal.

The same can be said for the early returns of Sean Monahan with the Winnipeg Jets, another center moved as the next domino to fall following the Lindholm deal. With the Montreal Canadiens, Monahan's overall FPPG hovered at 1.66, but through six games with the Jets he's at 2.12 FPPG.

Both players' sum totals on the season were on the lower fringes of roster-worthy for fantasy before the deals, and both have been roster locks (in the admittedly small sample size) since.

But just how acquirable a fantasy asset remains can be a big part of the equation.

Make sure to check the fantasy trade deadline that your league has set up. The calendar date of the deadline has been creeping back in recent years. It means some leagues may have a fantasy trade deadline that precedes the NHL deadline, locking you into the roster you have before the flurry of last-minute deals.

(If your league has adopted such a setting, by the way, you should ask to have it revisited by your commissioner during the offseason. Trade deadline day is one of the highlights of the NHL season, and the potential to parlay the excitement into your fantasy league should not be missed.)

If team-to-team transactions are cut off in your league before the NHL's deadline, there is still opportunity on the waiver wire. While Lindholm was rostered in 88.7% of ESPN leagues at the time of his deal, Monahan was only picked up in 16.4%. (Since the deals, Lindholm is up to 91.8% and Monahan to 19.3%.)

If your trade deadline had passed, Lindholm wouldn't be an option because he'd be on a fantasy opponent's roster, but Monahan could be a target via fantasy free agency. That will be the case for some of the players moved at the NHL deadline, too.

As a primer for the fantasy landscape during the next 2½ weeks of player movement, let's talk about the holes to be plugged -- as opposed to the epoxy that will plug them.

New Jersey Devils get a goalie: It's never too late for the Devils to make some noise with Jack Hughes in the lineup. Vitek Vanecek can't get consistency in the crease, Akira Schmid couldn't rekindle his magic from last season and Nico Daws finally having some good games this week may be too little, too late. There is no question the biggest puzzle piece missing from this Devils team is in the crease. Any goaltender with some experience that the Devils trade for is going to come into a 70% crease-share scenario. With the Hughes-led offense in front of them, a goaltender could be a difference-maker down the stretch for fantasy. The Devils will still have 19 games left after the deadline, which could mean 12 to 13 starts out of a busy netminder.

Jacob Markstrom (32.4% available), John Gibson (89.2% available) and Elvis Merzlikins (93.7% available) are some of the more interesting possible acquisitions.

Edmonton Oilers get a winger: There is a very obvious top five among the Oilers forwards, which naturally leaves a role open to join some combination of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane on a nightly basis. Many have tried, but none have stuck in the role. From Connor Brown, Warren Foegele and now Corey Perry, another winger to play with the top two lines with consistency would help both the Oilers and the fantasy universe. An acquired player could also join a second power-play unit that, while limited in its minutes, usually is greeted by very tired penalty killers that were just chasing around McDavid and Draisaitl.

Florida Panthers get a winger: Another team with a prime wing spot available for fantasy is the Panthers. The offense of Nick Cousins rolling with Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett at even strength could be upgraded by the Panthers and be a boon for fantasy. While Tkachuk was slow to come around this season (lingering effects of his postseason domination last year?), he is back performing as one of the fantasy elite (top five in fantasy points last two weeks among skaters). A winger joining this situation has a chance to make the jump past the 2.0 FPPG threshold for the final stretch of the campaign.

There are tiers of wingers purported to be on the market. Some of the top-tier names discussed include Jake Guentzel (4.0% available) and Pavel Buchnevich (21.0% available). A tier down is where most teams do their shopping, however, and this list includes Vladimir Tarasenko (32.6% available), Anthony Duclair (95.6% available), Jordan Eberle (95.8% available) and Trevor Zegras (51.2% available).

Boston Bruins get an offensive center: With Lindholm and Monahan having already been traded, this is a tougher deal to make -- and it's debatable whether the Bruins could even upgrade past Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha with what's being suggested as trade bait. That said, some deals surprise us each season, and the Bruins definitely still aren't where they were last season following the loss of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. A new center here would definitely get dibs on playing with David Pastrnak and probably show up as part of the first power-play unit, too.

Among centers left being discussed as trade targets beyond Lindholm and Monahan, we are down to players such as Adam Henrique (79.0% available), Jack Roslovic (97.3% available) and Alex Wennberg (98.7% available). But again, some trades always catch us off guard, so maybe the Bruins find a creative way to upgrade at center.

Tampa Bay Lightning get some defense: The injury to Mikhail Sergachev for what looks like it could be the remainder of the regular season leaves some huge minutes available to anyone the Lightning manage to acquire to shore up the defense -- an obvious need after coughing up nine goals on Saturday and followed by a loss to the Ottawa Senators. Any addition here is going to get a ton of time to pile up the counting stats and share the ice with a Nikita Kucherov-led offense that can be as potent as anyone.

Chris Tanev (85.9% available), Noah Hanifin (15.9% available) and Sean Walker (92.3% available) are some of the top defenders being discussed as available as the deadline approaches.

These are just the more obvious examples of some of the teams that have needs. There are plenty of other destinations for players to move in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for the fantasy fallout as the transactions come.