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Frozen Fantasy: Trade Bait

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

We all have at least one Ė a guy whoís playing way over his head. Your buddies are all whining and youíre gloating a little.

OK, a lot.

But there will soon come a point when that horseshoe youíre packing will start to feel a lot more like a suppository. And all that luck youíve been carrying will quickly slip away. So what should you do?

Trade his butt. And do it as fast as you can.

There arenít that many trades made this early in the season. But I think youíll get your biggest return of the year if you pull the trigger in the next week or so. It all comes down to the size of your stones.

Face it Ė John-Michael Liles is not going to top 90 points this season. Chris Stewart isnít a 50-goal man (yet). And Steven Stamkos will not score 70 goals and get 160 points. Ever.

Yes, at least one of these guys is already a stud. And one is clearly on his way to studdom. Itís really easy to hang on tight to guys like these. But even stars play over their heads every once in a while. And weíre seeing that early this year.

There are two types of owners Ė the calm and the panicky. Go hard after the latter Ė theyíre easy to identify by the volume of their whining. These guys are far more likely to overpay based on emotion. And theyíre far more likely to give up one or maybe two guys who are off to relatively slow starts just so they donít fall too far behind too soon.

And itís that two-for-one overpayment potential that could give you a major escalation in overall production by seasonís end.

Liles will be lucky to hit the 55-point threshold this year. He needs 44 points in his final 72 games to accomplish that feat. And even if Stewart hits 40 goals this year Ė and thatís an awesome tally Ė his current eight goals in 10 games will translate into 30 over his next 72.

And you may be able to leverage Stamkos plus a spare part into a pair like Sergei Gonchar (no goals, six assists in 10 games) and Vincent Lecavalier (five points in eight). Trust me Ė itís not that outrageous. I watched a car wreck like that happen in one of my own leagues last year. I only wish I was on the winning end of that deal.

Itís the epitome of that buy-low, sell-high mantra youíve heard a million times. But youíve never been able to pull it off to its full potential.

Now letís take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Troy Brouwer, RW, Chicago (12 percent owned) Ė Marian Hossa is hurt and opportunity is knocking for this 25-year-old power forward. Last season, he showed he could play on a scoring line and the Hawks will need to test those talents again now. Iím playing a hunch that itíll be Brouwer and not Bryan Bickell or Viktor Stalberg whoíll get to skate with one of (or both) Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Thatís a hard combo to resistÖ

Peter Budaj, G, Colorado (11 percent owned) Ė Craig Andersonís injury thrusts Budaj into a spotlight that heís never handled well. He can be good for short spurts and then flat-out abysmal; inconsistency has been his middle name. Did you see that woof on Matt Stajanís goal on Thursday night? And how far off the post was he on that Olli Jokinen snipe? Neither wouldíve gotten past Anderson. Itís a crapshoot to rely on Budaj for top-flight netminding numbers Ė super-flake John Grahame (below) could end up with more ice than this guy. Pick your poison if you need help between the pipes. I just hope you have a change of underwear nearby if you have to pick this guy up.

Ryan Callahan, RW, NY Rangers (16 percent owned) Ė Who is this masked man? Mr. Extra Effort has never been counted on for top-flight offense but heís delivering that right now. He has eight points in as many games and heads into Friday night on a four-game, six-point streak. I like him a whole lot more as a third-line pest who absolutely pounds (heís been top-five in hits for the last two seasons). But Iíll ride this point wave for as long as it lasts.

Cody Franson, D, Nashville (7 percent owned) Ė Nashville is to defensemen as Finland is to goaltenders Ė the best factory in the business. Franson is big with a great shot. And while he occasionally gets burned because of his gap control, heís quickly establishing himself as an able replacement for the injured Ryan Suter. He has two goals and two assists in his first nine games and heís getting ample power-play time. You can do worse. Much, much worse.

John Grahame, G, Colorado (0 percent owned) Ė This is just a hunch but Grahame appears to be the Avsí best bet to provide veteran help during Craig Andersonís injury absence. Admittedly, picking him up is a risk. But then again, so is relying on Peter Budaj to shed his track pants, Velcro shoes and passion for World of Warcraft to become a No. 1 starter in the NHL. Hey, I love a good miracle every now and then, too; I just donít see Budaj delivering one. I stashed Grahame, not Budaj Ė itís those Velcro shoes I just canít fathom.

Milan Hejduk, RW, Colorado (33 percent owned) Ė Hejduk is like the beer-league sniper whose once impressive game has been eclipsed by a bunch of cocky, young twerps. He has lost a step, his angles arenít that sharp any more and he now has to bring the beer, not just sip the suds of stardom. At 34, heís looking really old. But in the last week or so, he has slurped from the fountain of youth and has delivered three goals and nine points on a five-game streak. It wonít last. But he hasnít lost that sweet release. Grab him, use him and then drop his grey beard when he goes quiet.

Steve Montador, D, Buffalo (28 percent owned) Ė How anemic is the Buffalo offense? This gamer has six points in his first 10 games and is just one back of Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis for a share of second spot on the team stat list. Donít get me wrong Ė Montador is a decent player. But right now, this No. 4 defender is doubling as a point-producing horse and he has actually fired more shots on net than Derek Roy. Go figure. He canít keep it up but he wonít hurt you right now, particularly if youíve drafted a guy who just hasnít gotten out of the gate yet.

Brendan Morrison, C, Calgary (12 percent owned) Ė Five teams in two years Ė traded, cut and then picked up on waivers. Thatís enough to bring down a lesser man. But Morrison has skin as tough as a rhinoís and he has delivered close to a point-a-game in Calgary. Heís not done folks Ė roster him and ride that smile as far as you can. Nothing can seem to pry that grin off his mug right now.

Wayne Simmonds, RW, Los Angeles (31 percent owned) Ė I love this guy despite his occasional brain farts. Heís lightning fast and tough as nails, and was one of just nine guys with at least 40 points and 100 PIM last season. Heís a multi-category stud whose only drawbacks right now are his lack of power-play time and his propensity for stupid penalties (see that butt end earlier this week?). Heís skating with Michal Handzus and Alexei Ponikarovsky right now, and heís tracking toward a near 50-point, 150-PIM season. That almost makes him a god in sin-bin leagues where youíre all-too-often forced to roll a pylon to be competitive that one category.

Marco Sturm, LW, Boston (4 percent owned) Ė Sturm started skating this week and he could be back in three weeks. When he does, heíll slot into the Bruinsí top six, a spot where he delivered a team-high 22 goals last year. Stash him in your IR spot now Ė someone else will if you donít. Itís just that simple.

Alex Tanguay, LW, Calgary (25 percent owned) Ė General manager Darryl Sutter has done a lot of questionable things in the last 10 months. And admittedly, I thought signing Tangs was one of them. But low-and-behold, fancy pants is looking like the point-per-game guy he was when he first donned the orange and white in 2006-07. Heís a deft passer who can actually get the puck to finisher Jarome Iginla (now thereís something Iggy hasnít seen in years). And that means plenty of points are coming. He wonít be on the wire for long.

Now back to "that trade."

The deal really has to work for you. A guy like Stamkos will likely deliver another 80 points in his next 70 or so games. Thatís exceptional production. But thereís someone in your league whoíll be blinded by his current heat and forget about the practical realities of the rest of his season.

You wonít get a haul like this closer to the trade deadline. Thereís no way, at least not in a single-year league. But right now, you can prey on the weak and emotional.

Itíd be illegal in any other walk of life. But itíd be criminal not to take advantage if it fell on your lap.

Just promise me youíll at least think about it.

Until next week.