|ESPN.com: 2008||[Print without images]|
Trade deadline day never lets you down. There was a flurry of moves and even more rhetoric about what each move means. We care about the fantasy impact though; that's why you're here and that's why I wrote this.
I won't list every deal that went down and I'm not listing draft picks that were exchanged, but everything else is laid out below, including the impact on the team a traded player left, as well as the one he joins.
Can you really elevate Hossa's value in fantasy leagues? Not really, but I'd be pretty excited about owning him. He rarely played with quality linemates at even strength in Atlanta, so a guarantee to line up with Evgeni Malkin (and eventually Sidney Crosby) should bulk up his numbers. Depending on where Gill lines up and whom he is paired with, he could become an enticing mix of penalty minutes and plus/minus.
Sure, Jaroslav Spacek could be the beneficiary on the Sabres' power play, but I think Nathan Paetsch is someone to target in deep leagues. We know Spacek doesn't have a high ceiling as an offensive contributor; Paetsch has tons of upside. Bernier has been overrated time and time again in San Jose. He's a grinder who saw time with Joe Thornton to inflate his numbers on occasion. Pay no attention to him as a Sabre.
Shaking up the chemistry and camaraderie in Dallas is risky and makes me hesitant to be very excited about Richards' new role. Jokinen leaves a hole on the top line that head coach Dave Tippett has been rolling lately (Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Jokinen) and Richards most certainly will be a key part of the offense. Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano are a solid consolation prize and Richards, if nothing else, sheds his plus/minus anchor and becomes a No. 2 center (even if his production doesn't increase).
What did I tell you a week ago? Carey Price is going to be the goaltender that the Habs go into the postseason with. I would have never expected such an obvious anointment, but Price has shown time and time again that he has the wherewithal to handle the pressure and step to the plate. As a fantasy player, I value Price as a No. 1 goaltender and if he is available, pick him up now.
I really don't think the Lightning got that much worse in these deals. Richards is obviously a dynamic hockey player, maybe the best all-around talent in the game (power play, short-handed, even strength) but the Bolts weren't benefiting from his great play with a lack of talent in net. Smith is a nice hedged bet as a goalie. He has the rest of this season to prove his stellar play behind Marty Turco in Dallas was for real, and if he is not, the Lightning can continue to look at Karri Ramo and Riku Helenius as the goalies of the future. That means Smith is going to get a lot of leash to do what he can in goal this year. From a fantasy perspective, I think he represents the same kind of boom-or-bust pickup. If you need help in goal, Smith has the talent and opportunity to go on a nice run. Jokinen should also be targeted immediately in medium-sized leagues. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis have an opening for a new linemate and Jokinen is the best left winger the Bolts now have.
Olaf Kolzig hasn't been the answer for Washington of late, so Huet should get a chance to step in and play at least half the games right away. Good play would mean he plays more. So, essentially, Huet's value remains almost on par with his situation in Montreal lately, except that I'd be much more willing to invest in him now. Huet was on the losing side of a battle with Price, but he has the advantage over Kolzig in Washington. Fedorov has shown he has some gas left in the tank whenever he is healthy this season. He could be third-line depth or a first-line leader for the Capitals, depending on how coach Bruce Boudreau decides to use him. His value will depend on where he lines up. Nicklas Backstrom has proved more than capable of setting up Alexander Ovechkin, but there is also Alexander Semin to work with. So, at the risk of sounding repetitive Fedorov has similar value to what he had in Columbus: a No. 3 center in deep fantasy leagues.
Prospal may or may not slide into a top-six forward role. Though, to be fair, the Flyers have three solid lines that can score. He is likely a fill-in for the loss of Simon Gagne and could line up with Daniel Briere. The talent won't quite be on the level with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier for Prospal, but he will still march toward an 80-point finish.
Just when Ladd was earning top-forward minutes, off he goes to Chicago. He is a powerful young man who will eventually be a fantasy darling. Unfortunately, I think his red-hot February numbers fizzle now. There is chemistry in Chicago that won't get busted up to give Ladd quality minutes.
Ruutu fills the top-six forward spot left behind by Ladd's departure. Unless he finds some unexpected chemistry with Sergei Samsonov (which the two did not have in Chicago), Ruutu is still a nonfactor.
Christensen has the best combination of talent and readiness of the players coming into Atlanta, so I think he is the guy to speculate on. There is room for Christensen and Armstrong to get a chance at playing time with Ilya Kovalchuk. I think it's worth it to pick up Christensen to see what happens. His skill and shot have yet to translate to big points. Esposito joins Brett Sterling and Bryan Little as players who will be regular fantasy commodities in two years.
More than anything, by not trading Olli Jokinen the Panthers have committed to staying competitive for the rest of the season. That's very, very good for Tomas Vokoun owners.
Salvador can be a solid plus/minus contributor for deep leagues. He is a plus-12 as a Blue, and as a Devil could have an even better rating.
Bergeron will have his talent stifled in a talent-laden defensive corps in Anaheim. Any fantasy value he had is now gone.
This is the final vote of confidence for Henrik Lundqvist as the goaltender of the future for the Rangers. Montoya deserves a chance next year, so he'll get it somewhere else.
The minutes on the blue line could give Erik Johnson some more room to develop. If nothing else, pay attention to E.J. the next few outings to see if he can be an asset in shallow leagues (the only place he isn't widely owned).
The Canucks didn't get the scoring they needed and lost some peskiness. No fantasy implications, though.
With no one waiving a no-trade clause for Toronto, it means the Leafs have a pretty good group still together to run out the season. I'd be more than happy to own Vesa Toskala, Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Tomas Kaberle or Bryan McCabe on my fantasy roster.
Simon, Derek Boogaard and Todd Fedoruk? Are the Wild preparing for the Stanley Cup playoffs or the UFC?
Look for Stuart to have good short-term value, as Brian Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom work their way back from injury. I don't think Stuart has any value after March 10 though, so you may want to let him build up some value and deal him.
Jack Johnson is due for a breakout finish to the season now that Stuart, like Jaroslav Modry before him, has been dealt away.
Keeper leagues tag Montoya for a close look next year. He should get the chance to back up Ilya Bryzgalov and still projects as a No. 1 goaltender someday.
Hlavac was an interesting idea before the season began, but right now we know he can't have much impact in the NHL. He holds no value in fantasy.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.