Front Line: Trade deadline recap

In most fantasy circles, the NHL's trade deadline day received a full "yawn" rating on the boring scale from a fantasy hockey perspective. Although the number of big-name players to change teams at the trade deadline has been in decline in recent seasons, we hit a full-scale talent recession on deadline day this season. In fact, there is an argument to be made that none of the deals that went down Monday have fantasy implications in a standard ESPN league.

I don't buy that, though. Certainly the Cody Hodgson-Zack Kassian trade is worth a look, and perhaps even Andrei Kostitsyn's move to Nashville. Of course, we also have a game in hand with Jeff Carter on the Los Angeles Kings and a new home for Wojtek Wolski (his fourth team in a little more than two years).

With that, let's get to it:

Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are not technically out of the hunt for a playoff spot, but as it stands now they're on the outside looking in. As such, there is little reason for them not to give Hodgson the ice time he needs to develop his game. As a rookie playing fewer than 13 minutes per game, Hodgson has still managed to notch 33 points from the Vancouver Canucks' third line this season. That's a much better scoring-to-average-ice-time ratio than any of the rookies ahead of him in points this season. With a minutes increase, Hodgson could even insert his name in Calder Trophy discussions with a strong finish to the season.

Finding his way to the top line would not have been a challenge for Hodgson three weeks ago when Derek Roy was still ice-cold, but Roy has picked up his game since being reunited with Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek on the top line. Even if Hodgson can't push Roy out, he should still skate an extra 4-5 minutes per game and play with Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis or Ville Leino. If there is room on your roster, consider gambling on Hodgson to make good on his talent with the playing-time opportunity the Sabres will provide him. He is available in 95 percent of ESPN leagues.

Andrei Kostitsyn, Nashville Predators: A reunion with his brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, would be more exciting if we didn't already have a history of the pair playing together with the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately, the name Andrei Kostitsyn has become synonymous with underachievement in the NHL, as Kostitsyn's purported talent has always outpaced his production. Sergei erased his contribution to the Kostitsyn legacy when he escaped the Habs' lineup in 2010-11 and led the Predators in points last season. The brothers rarely got ice time together when they were with the Canadiens outside of the 2008-09 season, when they played together with Robert Lang. Sergei had 23 points in 56 games that season, while Andrei had 41 points in 73 games, certainly nothing to write home about.

With Sergei playing a key role on the Predators' top line with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat, it's unlikely the brothers will be paired up right away. Andrei's most likely assignment is replacing Gabriel Bourque on the second line alongside David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist, but a top-six assignment is hardly guaranteed. If your roster is truly desperate for scoring, Andrei is a potential addition because a change of jersey and impending free agency could be enough to bring out his 40-goal potential that we have yet to see manifested in the NHL.

Wojtek Wolski, Florida Panthers: Already a name associated with deadline-day magic thanks to his 18 points in 18 games with the Phoenix Coyotes after a trade in 2009-10, Wolski's arrival with the Panthers may help out others more than himself. Giving the team another potential top-six forward, the Panthers have used Wolski's presence to create three strong offensive attacking lines. So far it's Sean Bergenheim (available in 89 percent of ESPN leagues), Mikael Samuelsson (available in 66 percent of ESPN leagues) and Stephen Weiss (universally owned) who have clicked. The trio accounted for three of the Panthers' four goals in a win against the Canadiens on Sunday. Bergenheim now has seven goals and 11 points in his past 13 games. For his part, Wolski scored in his Panthers debut and has manned the first power-play unit with Bergenheim and Versteeg. Wolski may prove to be useful, but there are better bets to pick up on the Panthers first.

Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings: The fact Carter has zero points and six shots on goal after two games with the Kings should not concern you too much. For whatever reason, coach Darryl Sutter has paired Carter with former teammate (not linemate, as discussed in last week's Forecaster) Mike Richards on the second line. This won't last long. Carter will get a chance to play with Anze Kopitar by bumping either Justin Williams or Dustin Brown from the top line, and that is when the production will start. The Kings are still in the hunt for a playoff spot and cannot afford to let Carter stagnate. Carter is still a decent investment as long as his price remains low for acquisition, and this slow start with the Kings might even bring down the asking price further in your league.

Zack Kassian, Canucks: Kassian has not been a full-time NHLer this season but has contributed seven points in 27 games for the Sabres. In the AHL, Kassian has poured in 26 points in 30 games for the Rochester Americans. But it's not Kassian's considerable offensive qualities that make him interesting for fantasy hockey; it's his tough attitude. His willingness to drop the gloves and throw around the body has been muted over the years, but he's still a likely candidate to pace 150 penalty minutes in a full season. Just ask Scott Hartnell, Corey Perry, David Backes or Milan Lucic owners what triple-digit PIMs can do for a player's fantasy value. In theory, Kassian should not be a factor this season, but in reality, the Canucks still haven't settled on a permanent second line, and Kassian may get a shot. David Booth, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond have yet to form a perfect pairing with Ryan Kesler on the second line, and Kassian could get a game or two to see if he fits with Kesler and one of the aforementioned wingers. Deep-league owners may want to preemptively grab Kassian, but the rest of us can wait to see what happens.

Some other deadline action will be in the "Quick Hits" section below.

Top 100 Forwards

Note: Sean Allen's top 100 forwards are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Evgeni Malkin, Pit (1)
2. Steven Stamkos, TB (2)
3. Daniel Sedin, Van (3)
4. Henrik Sedin, Van (4)
5. Claude Giroux, Phi (5)
6. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (9)
7. James Neal, Pit (10)
8. Scott Hartnell, Phi (11)
9. Corey Perry, Ana (12)
10. Marian Hossa, Chi (7)
11. Patrick Sharp, Chi (8)
12. Anze Kopitar, LA (18)
13. Jason Spezza, Ott (21)
14. Martin St. Louis, TB (24)
15. Jonathan Toews, Chi (16)
16. Ryan Kesler, Van (15)
17. Alex Ovechkin, Was (14)
18. Zach Parise, NJ (17)
19. John Tavares, NYI (20)
20. David Backes, StL (25)
21. Phil Kessel, Tor (13)
22. Patrick Marleau, SJ (26)
23. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (23)
24. Teemu Selanne, Ana (27)
25. Eric Staal, Car (34)
26. Marian Gaborik, NYR (29)
27. Joe Pavelski, SJ (31)
28. Joe Thornton, SJ (33)
29. Alex Burrows, Van (32)
30. Patrick Kane, Chi (30)
31. Jamie Benn, Dal (19)
32. Brad Marchand, Bos (35)
33. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (39)
34. Matt Moulson, NYI (36)
35. Tyler Seguin, Bos (37)
36. Taylor Hall, Edm (42)
37. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (40)
38. Dany Heatley, Min (41)
39. Jordan Eberle, Edm (38)
40. Ryan Callahan, NYR (44)
41. Jeff Carter, LA (62)
42. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (45)
43. Logan Couture, SJ (43)
44. Rick Nash, Cls (48)
45. Johan Franzen, Det (22)
46. Thomas Vanek, Buf (49)
47. Bobby Ryan, Ana (50)
48. Joffrey Lupul, Tor (28)
49. Radim Vrbata, Pho (51)
50. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edm (58)
51. Milan Lucic, Bos (47)
52. Alexander Semin, Was (53)
53. Patrik Elias, NJ (54)
54. Kris Versteeg, Fla (46)
55. Jason Pominville, Buf (55)
56. Adam Henrique, NJ (59)
57. David Krejci, Bos (52)
58. Gabriel Landeskog, Col (67)
59. Brad Richards, NYR (60)
60. Justin Williams, LA (64)
61. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (6)
62. Jordan Staal, Pit (95)
63. Stephen Weiss, Fla (73)
64. T.J. Oshie, StL (66)
65. Mikko Koivu, Min (56)
66. Olli Jokinen, Cgy (68)
67. Jeff Skinner, Car (61)
68. Jaromir Jagr, Phi (65)
69. Martin Erat, Nsh (70)
70. Chris Kunitz, Pit (71)
71. Max Pacioretty, Mon (69)
72. Dustin Brown, LA (87)
73. Mike Ribeiro, Dal (75)
74. Ryan O'Reilly, Col (81)
75. Erik Cole, Mon (72)
76. Ray Whitney, Pho (74)
77. Shane Doan, Pho (83)
78. Loui Eriksson, Dal (78)
79. Andy McDonald, StL (79)
80. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (76)
81. P.A. Parenteau, NYI (86)
82. Blake Wheeler, Wpg (93)
83. Wayne Simmonds, Phi (84)
84. Sam Gagner, Edm (80)
85. Steve Downie, Col (96)
86. Daniel Alfredsson, Ott (91)
87. Danny Briere, Phi (77)
88. Teddy Purcell, TB (92)
89. Milan Michalek, Ott (NR)
90. Tomas Fleischmann, Fla (63)
91. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (88)
92. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (57)
93. Derek Stepan, NYR (90)
94. David Perron, StL (85)
95. David Booth, Van (89)
96. Michael Ryder, Dal (NR)
97. Mike Fisher, Nsh (97)
98. Evander Kane, Wpg (99)
99. David Clarkson, NJ (100)
100. Andrew Ladd, Wpg (NR)

Rising and Falling

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (down 55 spots): A knee surgery that is expected to have Datsyuk out for two weeks is a much bigger deal at this point, when two weeks represents as much as 20 percent of the season. Datsyuk's ranking will improve as he draws closer to returning. In the meantime, his absence has a significant negative impact on Johan Franzen. In three games without Datsyuk, Franzen has zero points and a minus-6 rating. Get him to the bench until Datsyuk returns.

Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers (down four spots): By no means is it a direct inverse calculation, but it has been pointed out here before that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' presence likely will have a negative impact on Gagner. In two games back since aggravating his previous shoulder injury, Nugent-Hopkins has two points, while Gagner has none. Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky and Nugent-Hopkins make up the top line on paper when compared to Jordan Eberle, Ryan Smyth and Gagner, though RNH still must beat out Gagner on the top power-play unit before the complete reversal of fantasy fortune is complete. Hemsky, by the way, is very interesting in this current depth-chart arrangement and is available in 75 percent of ESPN leagues.

Steve Downie, Colorado Avalanche (up 11 spots): Downie has looked rock-solid alongside fellow power forward Gabriel Landeskog. With Ryan O'Reilly acting as playmaker, the trio has 20 collective points in four games since forming a line. For his part, Downie has two goals, five assists and a plus-7 rating. The Downie-Landeskog connection appears to be a match made in fantasy hockey heaven if these earlier indicators are to be believed. Still available in 21 percent of ESPN leagues, Downie's recent play has pushed his ranking up to No. 101 among all forwards this season. One thing to watch may be dwindling penalty minutes, as the "reforming" pugilist has stayed out of the box in three of four games with the Avs.

Scoring Lines

David Desharnais, Montreal Canadiens: It's quite possible we are all still taking Desharnais too lightly when it comes to fantasy hockey this season. While his numbers may belong in the top 100, his near lack of pedigree has kept him out of these rankings, and away from rosters in 28 percent of ESPN leagues. Going undrafted but performing well in the AHL isn't necessarily an indication of future NHL success, but after three and a half seasons of work in the minors, Desharnais has found a home centering Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole on the top line. Though it's Cole and Pacioretty who are expected to be the better fantasy performers, Desharnais is quickly closing the gap. A recent hot streak has equaled 10 points in nine games for the centerman and should be a strong enough statement to warrant his use in most fantasy leagues. He may still have some work to do for standard shallow leagues since Desharnais is a void for shots on goal and penalty minutes, but his team-high 15 power-play points help make his case.

Steve Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins: Though it may be an overly cautious play on our part, Sullivan hasn't cracked the top 100 despite looking red-hot with the Penguins' second line and top power-play unit. The argument for his exclusion would be the one point in seven games that Sullivan had before his recent run of eight points in five games. Clearly, he can go hot and cold in a moment. Playing as the fourth forward for both the first and second power-play units has certainly propelled Sullivan's recent run (note his five power-play points in his past four games). Still available in 80 percent of ESPN leagues, he might be the consolation prize if Jordan Staal was quickly scooped up in your league.

Power Plays

Teddy Purcell, Tampa Bay Lightning: The injury to Vincent Lecavalier has shortened the Lightning bench and boosted Purcell's even-strength value, but it has done absolute wonders for his play on the man advantage. In the four games Lecavalier has missed, Purcell has five power-play points and a total of 10 points in those contests. With Lecavalier expected to miss several more games and Downie out of the picture, Purcell gets to play with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis with no immediate threat of losing his role. The window is quickly closing on the opportunity to add him to your roster. Purcell should remain hot at least until Lecavalier's return in mid-to-late March.

Quick Hits

• With no timetable for Nathan Horton's return to action, Brian Rolston actually becomes mildly interesting from a fantasy perspective. He has been next to useless with the New York Islanders this season, but they also haven't given the veteran a role to relish. He may be called upon to play some top-six minutes with the Bruins, given the injuries to Horton and Rich Peverley. Rolston still possesses a killer shot and a scorer's instinct. Keep an eye on his assignment here.

T.J. Galiardi has more talent than most realize, and he is by far the best replacement candidate yet for a San Jose Sharks team that is still missing Martin Havlat from the second line. Galiardi may very well have some productive days ahead of him before Havlat is expected to return in a couple of weeks.

Blake Geoffrion had eight points in five games with the Canadiens' AHL affiliate after a Feb. 17 trade from the Predators' organization. He'll be up with the Habs this week to replace Andrei Kostitsyn on the roster and should at least be monitored in his first couple of games for ice time. If he plays more than 15 minutes, he should get upgraded to the watch list.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Hockey Writer of the Year. You can send him a note here or tweet him @seanard with the hashtag #FantasyHockey for a timelier response.