The trade deadline is on Monday but a few NHL general managers have kindly consummated some early (prior to noon on Saturday) deals to pick apart for fantasy purposes. We’ll examine the rest of the trades in next weekend’s Fantasy Fare before beginning our gradual slide over to baseball.
A few eyes (these ones included) were opened a week ago when a look back at last season’s deadline trades revealed that only three of 14 players dealt to contending teams actually improved their production.
We’ll go out on a short limb and say that Jeff Carter will NOT be one of those this year — if only for the reasons that he a) was miserable ever since he landed in Columbus during the off-season, and b) he’ll get to skate with long-time Flyers sidekick Mike Richards. How the line shakes out could be interesting. When another ex-Flyer, LW Simon Gagne, returns from his concussion (he has started skating again), look for Carter to go back to RW with Richards playing centre. In the meantime, Richards, who had been playing LW on Anze Kopitar’s line lately, could stay on the flank with Carter at centre and Dustin Brown (if he, himself is not traded) on RW. Carter made his Kings debut late Saturday night (after our press deadline) so we’ll update that situation next week.
-- Antoine Vermette’s trade to Phoenix is a wait-and-see situation. He lined up between Shane Doan and Lauri Korpikoski on Thursday and, though he had no points and zero shots on goal, he did generate some good scoring chances and, not unexpectedly, played with the zeal that accompanies an instant drop into the playoff race. It hasn’t been determined, however, if Vermette will remain with that line, though quite frankly, we don’t see him dropping out of the top six, or the Yotes breaking up their red-hot No. 1 line.
-- The good news for owners of D Jack Johnson — the key piece going to the Blue Jackets for Carter — is that, out of Drew Doughty’s shadow, he should become the main point man on the Columbus power-play. The bad news is that without Carter, Vermette and perhaps Rick Nash, that may not represent much. Also, look for Johnson’s plus-minus numbers to take a hit.
-- Many observers had been noting how D Marek Zidlicky and the New Jersey Devils would be a perfect trade fit. The Devils needed an experienced, power-play point man while the veteran had been rotting in the Wild press box. With Jersey’s offence in high gear, look for Zidlicky to recoup much of his lost fantasy value.
-- Having Steven Stamkos as a regular linemate, by default, means that playing with anyone else might represent a hit to one’s fantasy value. So, we’re not expecting much beyond the norm from feisty winger Steve Downie, now on the Avs. He replaces Mark Olver on an emerging line with Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog, so at least he remains a top-six forward.
-- With Vincent Lecavalier hurt, Downie had been on the wing with Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. That spot has been taken by Teddy Purcell, who produced back-to-back three-point games playing with the Bolts’ two superstars.
BEAUCHEMIN KEEPS TRYING
Over the past month, Anaheim Ducks’ Francois Beauchemin has taken more shots on goal than any NHL defenceman with 40. Oddly enough, not one of those shots has resulted in a single goal or assist for the ex-Maple Leaf.
GAMES THIS WEEK
4 -- ANA, BOS, CGY, COL, FLA, MIN, NJ, NYI, NYR, STL
2 -- PITT, WPG
All other teams play 3 games
HOT AND NOT
Forwards, the past two weeks
Blake Wheeler WPG
8 GP, 3-12-15, plus-5
Teddy Purcell TB
9 GP, 3-11-14, plus-4
Bryan Little WPG
8 GP, 6-4-10, plus-2
- - - - - - -
Troy Brouwer WAS
7 GP, 0-1-1, minus-6
Nik Antropov WPG
8 GP, 0-0-0, minus-4
Mikhail Grabovski TOR
6 GP, 0-1-1, minus-1
Jonathan Toews remains out this weekend with what some are speculating is concussion symptoms … Pavel Datsyuk was his usual upbeat self following minor knee surgery Tuesday and figures he’ll return in around 10 days ... The earliest Jamie Benn (leg) could be back is Wednesday, and that will be a coin toss, the Stars say … The Bolts say Vincent Lecavalier (hand) will be back in about three weeks … Jason Garrison (ankle) is skating again, but there is no timetable for his return … Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) and Patric Hornqvist (upper body) were expected to make their most recent returns on Saturday night … The Sharks are now saying mid-March for Martin Havlat’s return from groin surgery.
With fantasy rating out of 5
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This would be strictly a stab-in-the-dark waiver claim, but one that could pay off should the Kings deal their young backup before Monday’s deadline to a team intent on giving him a lot more starts. If you are desperate for goalie stats, you could apply the same strategy to Predators’ Anders Lindback, or Senators’ Robin Lehner should Anderson’s recovery from finger surgery not go as quickly as hoped and Auld not meet the challenge.
D, Red Wings
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He scored a goal in his first game back in Motown and was a regular on the power-play. Hey, if pulling on a Red Wings jersey could suddenly make a fantasy stud out of Ian White, Quincey might be worth taking a chance on. Improved plus-minus will be an added bonus.
C, Blue Jackets
With Carter and Vermette out of the picture, the oft-scratched first-rounder is finally drawing back into the lineup on a regular basis and getting time on the power-play, though he’s still not yet playing top-six.
What do Wandell and Sharks D Douglas Murray have in common? They are both Swedes. Really. Wandell scored twice vs. the Wild on Friday and has three in his past three games to double his season total. But this has all the makings of a short-term blip, so no thanks.
-- Statistics do not include Saturday night’s games --