Nearly half of the NHL will play four games next week, by that time, the smoke will have cleared from the NHL trading deadline. This week, it's imperative you determine how the deadline has affected your existing roster and possible FA moves.
The Anaheim Ducks (@COL, vs. BUF, CAL, @LA) will start their four-game week on the road, head home to host the Sabres and Flames and then bus out to Los Angeles on Saturday. Since the first whispers of the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, the cheeseball inside of me has wanted the Ducks to trade Teemu Selanne back to the Jets. Even with the Ducks (7-2-3 in February) playing as well as they are, if they decide at deadline time that their turn around was too little, too late in a very tight Western Conference, you may look to the Ducks AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch for a bit of keeper league good news. Yes, a bit of a homer pick for me, hailing from Smithtown, NY, right-winger Kyle Palmieri has 48 points (30 goals and 18 assists) in just 36 games. Also, ranked sixth in AHL-scoring is left-winger Patrick Maroon. Maroon (25 goals, 30 assists) has 55 points in 53 games.
Starting this week, the slumping Boston Bruins' schedule (vs. OTT, NJ, NYI, @NYR) kicks things up a notch. After hosting Ottawa and into March (17 games), the only time the Bruins will play on back-to-back nights will be on the weekend, three times to be exact. That being said, it's entirely foreseeable that Tuukka Rask (11-8-3, .929, 2.05 GAA, 3 SHO) may actually be moved before the deadline. No one is really sure if the Bruins will be as busy as they were at last year's deadline. With Rich Peverley out four-to-six weeks and Nathan Horton's health (concussion) still in question, for now, Boston is attempting to help themselves internally. Recent call-up, center Carter Camper scored his first NHL goal in just his third game. Camper had 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in Providence of the AHL.
Yeah, you don't really sup up a rusting vehicle. Sinking fast (fell three spots in seven days) Calgary (vs. STL, @PHO, ANH, vs. DAL) willmost likely look to their IR for any additional scoring punch. Right-winger, David Moss (foot surgery) should be back with Mikael Backlund (shoulder) about two weeks behind him. No, I just don't see Coach Sutter getting any assistance from the brass before the deadline. Former first-round pick of the Coyotes (2000) center Krystofer Kolanos did register his first point of the season. Kolanos (18 goals, 22 assists, 41 PIM) was leading the Abbordsford Heat when he was called up to the big club.
Fresh Florida (@TOR, WPG, vs. NSH, OTT) he may call it, as Wojtek Wolski scored in his first game with the Panthers this past Saturday night. The goal was Wolski's first to hit the back of the net since April 23rd, 2011. This could be a great fit ladies and gentleman. Also making his Florida debut Saturday was former Predators right-winger, Jerred Smithson. Smithson had two shots on goal, plus-1 in nearly 13 minutes of ice time. After a two-game skid, it's also noteworthy, Tomas Fleischmann grabbed a goal in the win as well. Fleischman has 10 points in 12 February games. Perhaps Florida is on the mend instead of shopping for more trades as well. Goalie Jacob Markstrom (knee) recently had a 40-save effort since returning to San Antonio of the AHL. Jason Garrison (13 goals, 10 assists) also returned to the lineup with an assist in nearly 27 minutes of ice time. Garrison missed several weeks with a lower- body injury. Scottie Upshall (sports hernia), Dmitry Kulikov (knee), John Madden and Marco Sturm (knee) are all expected returns in late-March.
I'm not sure anyone knew what Colorado (vs. ANH, CLS, PIT, @MIN) was up to when they shipped out defenseman Kyle Quincey (six goals, 18 assists) for right-winger Steve Downie. Although Quincey scored in his second debut with the Wings, it seems Downie (14 goals, 19 assists) may have produced better dividends in the first week. Downie has two goals and three assists in the past two games while helping wake up left wing Gabriel Landeskog and center Ryan O'Reilly. Since Downie joined the team, the three have combined for five goals and ten assists and helping the Avs win three straight for the first time since the new year. Recently back from his own knee injury, center Matt Duchene, who was expected to skate with Landeskog and O'Reilly, has just one assist in four games. Right-winger Milan Hejduk (groin) is listed as day-to-day currently.
New Jersey (@NYR, BOS, WAS, NYI) will play on back-to-back nights twice this week. With 17 games scheduled in March, things could get ugly. But first, one last tilt in February against bitter cross-river rivals the Rangers. The Devils traded defenseman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft (originally Washington's) and a conditional third-round pick in the 2013 draft for Marek Zidlicky. Though Zidlicky waived his no-trade clause and is said to have a friendship Patrik Elias, only time will tell if Zids can return to a positive plus/minus type of player now that he has exited Minnesota.
Finally the Isles (@WAS, PHI, BOS, vs. NJ) stopped winning every other game. Unfortunately their streakiness took a bounce to the wrong side, and if not for two points in a shootout win against the Rangers, they would have gone winless. This week gets no easier, ending with the first of three straight games against New Jersey. A month consisting of 15 games and every single one will be against Eastern Conference opponents. In a move completely expected, the Islanders have placed left-winger Brian Rolston on waivers. Rolston has four goals, five assists and is a minus-12 in 49 games played.
For all the talk about the Rangers (vs. NJ @CAR, TB, vs. BOS) acquiring Rick Nash, they've been fairly quiet, seemingly staying put. Though moving Wolski cleared up $3.8 million on the Rangers cap, the New York Post is reporting it may cost the Broadway blues Brandon Dubinsky (six goals, 19 assists) and a slew of other prospects. Previously attached to those reports is Connecticut-AHL defenseman Tim Erixon, who recently suffered a neck strain. Carl Hagelin (10 goals, 15 assists) remains the offensive surprise of the season for the Rangers. Hagelin has 12 points in his last 17 games.
Chalk full of young talent from New Jersey, Minnesota (vs. LA,@MON, DET, vs. COL) will play two on the road and two from home. Formerly brief leaders in team points, the Wild are five points out of the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs and it's largely due to the efforts of Niklas Backstrom. Then Backstrom fell flat on his face this past Saturday night against Dallas, on the second half of back-to-back games. Acquired in the Zidlicky trade, Nick Palmieri had five goals, six assists and 24 penalty minutes in 25 games for the Albany Devils-AHL while Stephane Veilleux had 11 goals, 11 assists and 53 penalty minutes in 40 games for Albany as well. Though Kurtis Foster (four goals, 10 assists) isn't likely to catch on fire now that he's back in Minnesota, stranger things have happened. Foster (back), who is day-to-day, had put up a two goal, one assist effort earlier this month for New Jersey.
St. Louis (@CAL, EDM, VAN, SJ) is scheduled to spend 10 of their 15 games in the NHL's final full month of the season on the road. Several weeks ago, we talked about the Blues dire need to attend to the goalie traffic jam in their system. Recently named MVP at the AHL All-Star game, 25-year-old goalie Ben Bishop (24-14-0, 6 SHO,.928 SV%, 2.26 GAA)has been traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Ottawa's 2013 second-round draft-pick. This move shows Blues management has a lot of confidence in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott for many seasons to come. It seems the only big move St. Louis needed to make was made back in the beginning of the season when they hired Ken Hitchcock. If St. Louis were to go a bit stale, you may see them call their Peoria-AHL affiliate, as center T.J. Hensick (19 goals, 45 assists) is third in the league with 64 points.
Other transaction trends
Clearly Edmonton (@WPG, vs. STL, DAL) felt Ales Hemsky (five goals, 21 assists, 27 PIM) is the type of veteran player to help lead their squad of young guns. The Oilers gave Hemsky a two-year ($10 million) extension.
Reports are the Phoenix (vs. VAN, CAL, CLS) Coyotes may stay in Arizona. One of their building blocks, Oliver Ekman-Larsson snapped the snide with his first goal since January 7 on Saturday. After a minus-1 in his Coyotes debut, recently acquired center Antoine Vermette went plus-2 with two hits and one shot on goal this past Saturday. Vermette (eight goals, 19 assists) has been centering the Yotes' second line of Shane Doan and Lauri Korpikoski.
With Craig Anderson (hand) out, you could see Ben Bishop make his Ottawa Senators (@BOS, vs. CHI, @FLA) debut in March.
With Tampa Bay (vs. MON, NYR, @CAR) clearly waving (departure of Dominic More, Pavel Kubina, Steve Downie) their white flags and now Vinny Lecavalier (hand) out, you may see Yzerman give some of their younger talent a shot in the month of March. Left-wingers Cory Conacher has 62 points (29 goals, 33 assists) in 55 games while Pierre-Cedric Labrie has 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 30 games, both with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL.
Other notable schedule trends
Washington (vs. NYI, NJ, PHI) starts a stretch where they will play six of their next seven games at home. Buffalo (@ANH, SJ, VAN) heads West while Carolina (vs. NSH, NYR, TB) continues their six-game road trip with three more difficult games. After a 3-2 shootout loss to Florida on Saturday, the Hurricanes are likely to miss out on the playoffs. Doesn't mean you can't cash in on Justin Faulk. Turning 20 years old in March, the former 2nd-round draft pick has enjoyed February, notching five points (three goals, two assists), seven penalty minutes, 13 blocked shots and 25 hits. After spending most of February on the road, the last thing Chicago (vs. TOR, @OTT, DET) needs is a few more games on the road. Vancouver (@PHO, vs. STL, BUF), 11 of 15 games at home in March. Winnipeg's (vs. EDM, FLA) Blake Wheeler is arguably one of the hottest forwards in the NHL. Wheeler, who registered for 15 CBS points last week, has a six-game point streak, which includes three goals and 10 assists over that period. I personally found Wheeler available in both of my leagues last week.
FEB 27 Devils at Rangers 7:30 NBCS
FEB 28 Kings at Wild 7:30 NBCS
FEB 29 Penguins at Stars 7:30 NBCS
MAR 4 Bruins at Rangers 12:30 NBC
MAR 4 Flyers at Capitals 7:00 NBCS