Fantasy Hockey Drop Candidates: With injuries mounting and ice time falling, bid adieu to these skaters

Jeremy Lauzon #3 of the Nashville Predators
Jeremy Lauzon has just 11 points in 62 games, making him a good candidate to drop to make room for an addition to your fantasy roster. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Michael Finewax, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

The NHL trade deadline is this Friday, and plenty of wheeling and dealing is expected before the 3 p.m. ET deadline comes and goes. While the players below are not likely to be dealt, fantasy values will be shaken up across the board as players go from bad situations to good ones and vice versa. Let's consider some players rostered in ample Yahoo leagues who easily could be dropped.

Vitek Vanecek, G, New Jersey Devils (55% rostered)

Vanecek is currently out of action with a lower-body injury suffered Feb. 10. He has missed the last 12 games, and it doesn't seem like he is coming back anytime soon. The 28-year-old netminder was outstanding last season, going 33-11-4 with a 2.45 GAA and a .911 save percentage. Vanecek has struggled most of this season for a middling New Jersey squad, as he is 17-9-3, but has a 3.18 GAA and an .890 save percentage. I would let him go if he were healthy – and he's not – so it's time to place him on the waiver wire and look elsewhere between the pipes.

Darcy Kuemper, G, Washington Capitals (52% rostered)

Kuemper has been a very good goaltender – in the past. He has relinquished his starting role in Washington to Charlie Lindgren and has managed to play only once in the last seven games and started only six of the last 21 games. While Kuemper is likely to get a start this week, he is playing on a Washington team that is going nowhere. Kuemper is rostered in 52% of Yahoo pools, and it doesn't make sense as he is 13-12-3 with a 3.15 GAA and an .893 save percentage. He has not allowed less than three goals in any of his last five starts. It is not Kuemper's year in 2023-24, and while he could rebound next season, it's time to cut him loose this year.

Jeremy Lauzon, D, Nashville Predators, (42% rostered)

Lauzon has six goals and 11 points in 62 games. That places him in a tie for 141st in scoring among NHL defensemen. Lauzon is well worth keeping if you play hits, as he leads the league with 292, and chips in with blocked shots as he is tied for 79th with 89. But if you are not playing those categories, it's time to put Lauzon on waivers and pick up another defenseman – especially in shallow leagues.

Viktor Arvidsson, LW, LA Kings (37% rostered)

It has been a tough season for Arvidsson, who missed the first 50 games with back woes. He had two assists in four games and was seeing top-six action up front, but he suffered a lower-body injury that has kept him out of action for the last seven games and is on long-term injured reserve at this time. He is not eligible to return until March 16, with no guarantee he will be able to come back then. Arvidsson is a solid offensive player, but there are healthy options who are just as good in most leagues.

Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose Sharks, (32% rostered)

Hertl underwent knee surgery over three weeks ago to remove loose cartilage and doesn't appear to be close to a return. With the Sharks looking to finish as low as possible in the standings to have a shot at presumptive No. 1 pick Macklin Celebrini (who is a future superstar), there is no incentive to bring Hertl back quickly – or at all. Hertl had 15 goals and 19 assists in 48 games, his worst season since 2017-18 when he managed 22 goals and 24 assists in 79 contests.