Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) talks with Jason Zucker (16) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)

Fantasy Mailbag: Jason Zucker is a must-add after trade to Penguins


Roses are red, violets are blue, the NHL injury bug has hit, and so has the flu. My Valentine’s Day gift to you.

As we inch closer to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, many NHL general managers are scrambling to get a good gauge of what they truly have. Night after night, the list of walking wounded around the NHL continues to grow. Everyone’s hurt.

You know who doesn’t feel bad, however? The Pittsburgh Penguins, who are living proof that you can persevere despite the odds being stacked against you. Good news for Edmonton. Ditto for Columbus.

Amid all the injury talk, here are five players to target in daily fantasy and also the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool right now:

1. Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers (SN Fantasy Pool Value: 4)

In two games without Connor McDavid, Draisaitl has five points. Need I say more? The Art Ross Trophy frontrunner realizes it’s time to channel his inner Evgeni Malkin. I’m feeling it.

2. Brayden Point – Tampa Bay Lightning (SN Fantasy Pool Value: 3)

Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli, among others, are all banged up right now. Point is poised to prove his worth.

3. Zach Werenski – Columbus Blue Jackets (SN Fantasy Pool Value: 2)

With Seth Jones out long-term, Werenski will have to shoulder most of the load. Already in the middle of a career year, get ready for John Tortorella to ride the hell out his 22-year-old stud blueliner.

4. Denis Gurianov – Dallas Stars (SN Fantasy Pool Value: 1)

The rookie sniper will fly under the radar no more. The Russian potted his 17th goal of the season on Thursday night in Toronto.

5. Joonas Donskoi – Colorado Avalanche (SN Fantasy Pool Value: 2)

Throughout his career, the 27-year-old has demonstrated the ability to play up the lineup when need be. He proved it earlier this season and now he’ll have to go again with Nazem Kadri slated to miss the next four to six weeks.

Now to your questions:

Jim Rutherford’s at it again. I liked the trade quite a bit for both sides.

For my money, Jason Zucker’s move to Pennsylvania makes him a must-add in the fantasy world. Right away, he was slotted on the top line alongside Sidney Crosby. I would anticipate it taking a couple games before they find their footing together. Considering the Penguins’ loss of Jake Guentzel and their lack of depth at left wing, Zucker is a safe bet to play inside the top-six for the foreseeable future. I mean, this experiment can’t get much worse than the Alex Galchenyuk one. The former lottery pick was supposed to work wonders with Malkin. Clearly, that didn’t go according to plan.

I like the Zucker fit now and for the future. Grab him.

Damn, I’m sorry. If you can, re-claim him immediately.

Honestly, I’d put him in the top-70 to 90 range. For me, his current fantasy stock is comparable to that of the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers, Jaden Schwartz and Anders Lee. Depending on who he meshes with and where he fits in long-term, I can see the 28-year-old flourishing and finding J.T. Miller type success in Pittsburgh. Zucker is extremely underrated.

From a fantasy perspective, two players to look closer at in Denver now are J.T. Compher and Donskoi. Both will fill in up the middle to account for the loss of Kadri.

In general, I think the Avalanche will be OK. Kudos to Joe Sakic for addressing the depth situation last summer. Time and time again, the team has stepped up in the absence of core players. By the way, any player with offensive exposure to Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog should be on your radar.

Long-term, I love Miro Heiskanen. Short-term, I’ll side with Adam Fox.

Simply put, Dallas doesn’t score very much. The Rangers, on the other hand, are a free-wheeling bunch. Their puck movers on the backend set the table for their point producers upfront. New York isn’t making the playoffs. There’s no pressure. Despite that, they’re getting set to sell off some pieces. I don’t think offence will be a problem there to finish up the season.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have done it. Collectively, I prefer the three players you gave up over the ones you received. Essentially, you’re selling low on Sergei Bobrovsky and Brent Burns. And that’s OK.

That said, there’s no question you improved your goaltending situation. Bobrosky has been a fantasy nightmare this season. In fact, I’m just about ready to write him off for this fantasy season. Dallas is not afraid to use both their goalies. Keep that in mind.

I’m not as high on Tyson Barrie as others. Maybe top-10?

With July 1 and unrestricted free agency quickly approaching, I think Barrie is primed for a strong finish. Already, I’d say it’s been night and day, offensively speaking, under Sheldon Keefe as opposed to Mike Babcock. As long as he continues to anchor Toronto’s first power-play unit, Barrie’s a significant defender of interest in the fantasy world.

Honestly, I’d sell high on both right now, especially Elvis Merzlikins.

With Columbus severely banged up right now, regression is coming. Mark my words: these are unsustainable waters. Instead of taking your chances, might as well sell high and move on, right? From a who plays standpoint, I do expect a time-share system going forward. It’s pretty easy for Columbus to justify moving to a tandem over having one legitimate No. 1.

It’s kind of ironic that when Bobrovsky left, we all wondered about Columbus’ crease. It appears as though Tortorella and Jarmo Kekalainen had a great grasp of things. What a story.