Time might be right for fantasy owners to trade Drew Doughty or Erik Karlsson

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will be a game-changing free agent if he hits the market in 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By Janet Eagleson, RotoWire Senior Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports

Twitter blew up this week, first with Drew Doughty and then Erik Karlsson. Free agency in 2019?

Max contracts, baby. Max contracts.

Both the Kings and the Sens will be hard-pressed to make room for either man. The Kings are saddled with too many big, ugly contracts. The Sens? Eugene Melnyk can’t or won’t pay.

These two men changing teams will create seismic shifts in the NHL’s tectonic plates. They’ll do the same with fantasy.

Doughty will undoubtedly move east where the game isn’t as heavy and it’s far faster. He can and will make the players on an Eastern team into bigger stars.

Karlsson? He’s great in Ottawa, but in a bigger market and with even better forwards, he’s the ticket to the Stanley Cup.

It’s a bit odd that two of the top free agents of 2019 are talking about free agency now. It goes against the standard, aw shucks hockey approach where they give 110 percent, work hard and do things for their team, not themselves.

Some big, in-season trades could be in the mix. If not this year, then within 14 months. Hold onto your hats, folks. This is about to get fun. And change the NHL landscape forever.

Keeper leagues will be most dramatically affected if either man or both switch teams or are moved. The packages of prospects that will need to change hands will be gigantic.

But remember – deadline deals rarely deliver massive fantasy success. It just takes too long for new guys to fit into existing systems. So, don’t overrate their immediate impact (think Matt Duchene right now if you need an example).

Fantasy owners may need to pull the trade lever on a deal to move Doughty or Karlsson when an NHL trade occurs. The last thing you need is a fall-off in production with a small number of games to play.

Just a heads up. It never hurts to be thinking ahead.

Now for players who caught my eye this week:

Justin Braun, D, San Jose (3 percent Yahoo! owned) – Braun’s four-game helper streak was snapped Friday night. But his nine points overall are just three behind Brent Burns on the Sharks’ blue line. Burns will hit his separation gear soon enough, but right now, Braun is delivering better production than guys like Jacob Trouba (61 percent owned) and Justin Faulk (74 percent owned). That’s worth rostering.

Alex DeBrincat, LW/RW, Chicago (33 percent) – DeBrincat’s production has exploded in the last nine games and he needs to be on your roster STAT. He has scored eight goals and added four assists in those nine games and has 19 points in 25 games. That’s a 60-plus point pace for a sniping winger who is eligible on both sides. DeBrincat’s ownership jumped 22 percent in less than a day Friday. Go get him before he’s out of reach.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW/C, Columbus (2 percent) – Dubois’ overall numbers are weak, but his two helpers Friday night stretched his point streak to three games and four points (one goal, three assists). Dubois is a natural fit with Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson, and the trio is a beast in possession. His individual skills are outstanding and he’s already showing glimpses of a potential top-line pivot. At 19. I own him in multiple keeper formats and now he’s showing he might just offer single-year value, too.

Radek Faksa, C, Dallas (3 percent) – Faksa recorded his first career hat-trick Tuesday and is on pace for close to 50 points this season. His 22.5 shooting percentage is completely unsustainable over the season, but short-term, he’s a great roll. Faksa has five points, including four goals, this week against two pretty good teams (Chicago and Vegas). Center is deep, but streaming the hottest hands in and out of your lineup can be a powerful tool to gain a bit of ground.

Anton Forsberg, G, Chicago (14 percent) – Corey Crawford was put on the IR with a mystery ailment Friday and Forsberg is now the de facto starter in the Windy City. His numbers are queasy so far, but the Hawks are a good team. And hey – he’s not Laurent Brossoit. He’s mine. He should be yours, too.

Marian Gaborik, LW/RW, Los Angeles (12 percent) – Five games and four points – Gaborik is finally in the lineup and he knows how to put up points. Grab him now.

Michael Grabner, LW/RW, NY Rangers (13 percent) – I’ve mentioned Grabner’s Cy Young season before, so I won’t spend much time here. Other than to say his hat trick Friday night gives him nine goals in his last 12 games. And 13 overall. That’s enough for me.

Zack Kassian, RW, Edmonton (1 percent) – Kassian had been all but invisible for the first 20 games. But he has five points, 13 hits and five PIM in his last five games and he’s starting to look a little like the guy he was in stretches of the second half last year. Monitor and be ready to plug him in if he continues to contribute across many categories.

Denis Malgin, RW, Florida (0 percent) – Malgin potted the game winner Tuesday and did so in fine fashion. Right now, he’s riding shotgun on the kitties’ top line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, and that’s pretty much a guarantee for fantasy goodness. It might be a short-term situation until injuries heal, but that’s just fine. Milk it.

Jeff Petry, D, Montreal (9 percent) – Petry is the epitome of a short-term play. He has four points in his last four games, but that’s a by-product of Shea Weber’s injury. Petry is the one who stepped up in Weber’s absence and he’ll be the offensive go-to until big Shea returns. He’s in my lineup until then. Period.