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Friday, April 5, 2013
Fantasy Forecaster: Week 12

By Sean Allen
Special to ESPN.com

What started slowly eventually steamrolled into one of the more intriguing trade deadline days in several years, from a fantasy perspective.

We have actually had a couple of nights to digest a bit of what happened (in most cases), so let's have a closer look at the teams where fantasy values took a swing.

Brad Richards
Ryane Clowe could be the catalyst that turns Brad Richards' miserable season around.

New York Rangers: We'd be remiss in not talking about the Rangers first after what Derick Brassard and Ryane Clowe did hours after becoming members of the Blueshirts. Playing on the third line with big centerman Brian Boyle and playmaker Brad Richards, the newcomers were on the ice for three power-play goals on Wednesday night. They also chipped in one point each at even strength to finish at one goal and three assists for Brassard and two goals and one assist for Clowe. It was also Richards' first real sign of life in a long time.

Can the early success continue for the new Rangers, who also dealt away star forward Marian Gaborik at the deadline? Richards skated with Clowe and Norwegian forward Mats Zuccarello to form a line that is a traditional playmaker, power forward and speedy scorer combination, which always looks good on paper. There is also the fact that the new-look power play didn't dominate just any team on Wednesday; they did it to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is absolutely worth buying in on Clowe, who has a history as a power-play goal scorer and boosting your outlook on Richards as a result. Deeper leagues may want to consider a gamble on Brassard, but he is playing on the third line at even strength and may have value only on the power play.

Boston Bruins: If everyone was healthy, the Bruins would have had a tough decision that probably would not have been good for Nathan Horton. But as it were, Patrice Bergeron was on the sideline with a concussion for Jaromir Jagr's debut. That allowed Tyler Seguin to slide into the center role and Jagr to slide onto the top line with Seguin and Brad Marchand. The trio was responsible for the only goal as the Bruins won on Thursday night. So long as Bergeron is out, Jagr is gold for fantasy on this top line. While the situation gets murky if Bergeron makes a speedy recovery, given his history with concussions and the Bruins' somewhat comfortable lead in the standings, expect Jagr to spend much of the remainder of the season on the top line.

It's also worth noting that Wade Redden sat in the press box and was not on the ice with former defensive partner Zdeno Chara. Is it worth gambling on Redden re-connecting with his former Ottawa Senators mate? Yes, but only in deep leagues and where you are desperate for help or have a huge bench.

Minnesota Wild: To be completely fair, Charlie Coyle wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire with his opportunity on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. He wasn't out of place, but he didn't capitalize enough to hold the team off from acquiring a top winger like Jason Pominville. Pominville immediately stepped into Coyle's role on the top line and top power-play unit and will most likely remain there for the foreseeable future. Pominville is a versatile forward able to help make star players even better. Koivu and Parise have been pretty good as a duo, but Pominville makes this line a trio and truly a top threat in the NHL. Of possible fantasy free agents to look at, Jared Spurgeon comes to mind. Pominville offers an upgrade to the Wild's power play and Spurgeon is a part of the top unit.

Ottawa Senators: The Sens haven't had a chance to debut their new young top-six forward yet, but it looks like Cory Conacher will have a spot waiting for him on the top lines. The unit with Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg and Guillaume Latendresse has been performing well and will likely be left alone, but Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris have been looking for one more goal scorer to complete their trio. Conacher has tumbled off fantasy teams of late as he struggled down the depth charts with the Lightning, but he sure looked good when he was left alone to find chemistry with top forwards early this season, so who's to say he won't look good again? Given his availability and the role he will step into, it wouldn't hurt to grab him in most fantasy leagues.

Columbus Blue Jackets: So, remember when Marian Gaborik had a huge season (42 goals, 86 points) in 2009-10 with the New York Rangers? His linemates were Brandon Dubinsky and Vaclav Prospal. Remember when Gaborik had a huge year (41 goals, 76 points) in 2011-12 with the Rangers? His linemates were Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan. What do three of those four players have in common? They also currently play for the Blue Jackets.

Gaborik is surrounded by old linemates and friends in his new home. He debuted on a line with Prospal and Anisimov for most of the game, but spent plenty of time on the ice with Dubinsky as well. In fact, it was Dubinsky who also had a point on both of Gaborik's points in his Blue Jackets debut. This is a very intriguing combination and perhaps the one that could wind up having the largest fantasy impact of all the trades, both this season and next. With so many different possible recipes for success with the Blue Jackets, it's time to jump at the potential. Gaborik gets a boost, Dubinsky becomes a must-add and both Prospal and Anisimov are worth a look. In addition, Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson kept up with the action during Gaborik's debut. Things are looking up for the Blue Jackets.

Some final quick notes on other situations as they pertain to trades.

• Martin Erat skated on the third line in his debut with the Washington Capitals, but this is a guy who has been a consistent 50-point threat despite almost never playing with star power on his line. It would be interesting to see what happens if he got a shot with some of the Capitals' big-name forwards.

• Derek Roy did his job in his Vancouver Canucks debut and the whole team looked more confident for it. Roy's line with Jannik Hansen and Christopher Higgins not only played good defense, but picked up a goal as well. If Ryan Kesler comes back and upgrades the talent on the line, there could be real fantasy potential.

Looking for offense

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts have four games and an O:10 on the Forecaster this week. And once again the team has shaken up the forward lines. Due in part to the trade of Cory Conacher and the return to health of Benoit Pouliot and Vincent Lecavalier, the team now has three intriguing lines for fantasy. First and foremost, go and pick Pouliot back up. The forward missed most of March with a shoulder injury, but was rocking on the top line with Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos before being injured. He was returned to the top line Thursday night and scored two points. The next line features Lecavalier with AHL call-ups Richard Panik and Brett Connolly. Connolly is particularly interesting as one of the team's top prospects who has now established his success at the AHL level and is looking to stick in the NHL. He was top 10 in AHL scoring before the call-up. The third line is for deeper leagues and is actually bad news for Teddy Purcell owners. Purcell, Tom Pyatt and Alex Killorn connected on two goals in each of the past two games, but the long-term forecast would suggest that this will be a downgrade for Purcell if it sticks. But the overall result means deep leaguers might want to have a look at Killorn or Pyatt.

Calgary Flames: It's interesting that the Flames pull a four-game O:10 on the Forecaster for next week. Interesting may not be the best word to describe it actually, because the team looked lost Wednesday without Jarome Iginla or Jay Bouwmeester in the lineup. That said, the team is probably going to still score occasional goals, which means someone has to get credit for them. Mike Cammalleri and Alex Tanguay are quickly running out of possible linemates. Even Blake Comeau, who looked pretty good on the top line after Iginla was dealt, was sent packing via trade. Roman Horak, up from the AHL, played on the line on Wednesday and had five shots, but is probably not the answer. If forced to gamble on a Flames line for next week, given the good Forecaster rating, the best bet is the unit featuring Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak and Curtis Glencross. They aren't the most skilled trio on the team and are probably the third line on paper, but all three have shown a resiliency this season that is tough to ignore.

Looking for goaltending

Ben Bishop
Despite having played only 14 games, Ben Bishop has nine wins and is currently the 13th goaltender on the Player Rater.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ben Bishop. Get him. Now. Available in 50 percent of ESPN leagues, Bishop is the new starter for the Bolts, probably for the remainder of the season. Going and dealing for him at the deadline means that the team is not likely expecting Anders Lindback to return to health in short order. Mathieu Garon and Cedrick Desjardins were not getting the job done, so enter Bishop. A monster of a goaltender at 6-foot-7, Bishop has proved his mettle for the Senators this year. He deserves this chance as a starter and will more than likely seize the opportunity. That's not to say Lindback doesn't challenge him again when healthy, but a high ankle sprain on a 6-6 goaltender isn't going to heal overnight. Oh, you want to know about Bishop's debut with the Lightning? It was a 45-save shutout.

Boston Bruins: No one can claim to know the mind of a head coach and coaching staff when it comes to rotating a clear-cut No. 1 starter with a backup goaltender. That said, the Bruins are clearly looking to get Tuukka Rask as much rest as possible ahead of the postseason. Anton Khudobin has made it easy on the team by playing spectacularly in goal while being called upon with more frequency. It's not a wise idea to bet which of the four games the Bruins play next week will see Khudobin tabbed to start, but he'll likely be in goal for two of them. And two starts from a winning goaltender with a .929 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average is probably better in head-to-head leagues than most of your No. 1 goaltenders will provide.

Who's Hot/Not

This chart shows you the top and bottom teams in the NHL in goals and shots, for and against, during the past 21 days.

Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks: Looking at the performances by their upcoming opponents during the past three weeks, the Oilers and Canucks are looking good headed into the coming week. Not only are both teams showing marked improvement on offense, but they both catch the Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes. The Flames are allowing the most goals and the Coyotes are allowing the third-most shots on goal of late. Derek Roy and Jannik Hansen jump out as starts from the Canucks, while Nail Yakupov might find himself with a strong finish to his rookie campaign for the Oilers.

Hockey Challenge

Each week the Fantasy Forecaster will also include some advice for the ESPN Hockey Challenge. This is the salary cap game that allows you free reign over your fantasy hockey decisions within a $100 million fantasy budget. For more on the game and to sign up, click here.

The skeds: With a great rating on the Forecaster it's hard not to want to take both Steven Stamkos ($10.5M) and Martin St. Louis ($9.7M) for next week. But don't forget their linemate, Benoit Pouliot ($5.5M), at a much more reasonable price.

Brent Burns ($6.2M) is still the absolute must-start of the entire NHL in the Hockey Challenge. As an eligible defenseman playing as a forward, he is the best bang for your buck in the league.

The current hot streak by the Edmonton Oilers top line makes them very attractive for the coming week, as well. If you can afford it, Taylor Hall ($9.1M), Jordan Eberle ($8.6M) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ($7.9M) are due for a string finish to the season.

Not that the New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers or Winnipeg Jets have any players screaming to be started in the Hockey Challenge, but all three teams have only two games next week. So don't even consider them.

Finally, the Boston Bruins have a four-game week and a new-look top line with Jaromir Jagr ($8.0M) on the wing with Tyler Seguin ($8.8M) and Brad Marchand ($8.0M). Here's betting they continue to find chemistry during the next week.

Goaltending: Ben Bishop ($10.7M) becomes a great target not only because of the Lightning's schedule next week, but because of his somewhat discounted value as a starter. With no elite goaltenders aside from Tuukka Rask ($12.3M) facing a four-game week (and Rask is being rested with more frequency), stick with the goalies who have been dominating the Hockey Challenge for next week. That means Carey Price ($12.5M), Niklas Backstrom ($12.5M) and Antti Niemi ($11.8M) should be among your targets.

My roster for next week:
Niklas Backstrom, G ($12.2M / $12.5M on market)
Ben Bishop, G ($10.7M)
Ryan Suter, D ($8.3M / $8.6M on market)
Justin Schultz, D ($6.4M)
James Wisniewski, D ($6.8M)
Brent Burns, D ($5.9M / $6.2M on market)
Tyler Seguin, F ($8.8M)
Jaromir Jagr, F ($8.0M)
Brad Marchand, F ($8.0M)
Steven Stamkos, F ($8.7M / $10.5M on market)
Martin St. Louis, F ($9.7M)
Benoit Pouliot, F ($5.5M)