The NHL trade deadline is all but a national holiday in Canada. But this past Monday would best be described as a veritable dud, both for on-ice and fantasy impact.
There were 16 trades that moved 32 players and 11 draft picks on deadline day; just one pick was a first rounder. And the biggest names were two former World Junior Championship players, Zach Kassian and Cody Hodgson.
What a letdown. The air is leaking out of this great Canadian holiday. Even the deals made in the days leading up to deadline day were somewhat anticlimactic.
Yes, even the Jeff Carter – Jack Johnson deal.
Deadline trades – whether NHL deals or fantasy ones – are a total crapshoot. The big deals almost never deliver what NHL teams thought they could. And they often don’t help your fantasy squad.
Carter and JJ included.
Carter is happy now. So happy, in fact, that his face has frozen into a perma-grin. But I think the move actually worsens his fantasy value – Darryl Sutter isn’t exactly offensively focused. Carter might be just a 65-point guy in La-La Land.
And Jack Johnson? He’s a player whose on-ice decisions cannot be remotely anticipated … in large part because he doesn’t even know what he’s going to do when he grabs the puck. Fifty points? Keep dreaming.
There are a few bulbs out on that tanning bed for sure.
There are only a few deadline deals that I think provide the possibility of immediate fantasy improvement – Ben Bishop to Ottawa, Tom Gilbert to Minny, Steve Downie to Colorado and Marek Zidlicky to Jersey. And maybe Zach Kassian … if he sticks with the Orcas instead of toiling in the A.
Sometimes, there’s more value on the wire. Let’s take a look at who caught my eye this week.
Sean Bergenheim, LW, Florida (5 percent owned) – Bergenheim’s signing was looking like a dud at the end of January – seven points in 28 games played and several stints on the IR. But February was kind to the breakout player of last year’s playoffs and he has racked up 12 points in 14 games. He had five points and a whopping 23 shots – best in the NHL from last Thursday to this – in the four games heading into that horror show in Winnipeg. Deep leaguers should take a look.
Ben Bishop, G, Ottawa (4 percent owned) – Can Robin Lehner carry the Sens to a top-three finish in the East? Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge Lehner lover. His shutout Sunday over the Bruins was great but the kid is just 20 with eight NHL starts. And he was in the middle of sketchy AHL season before his recall. It’s not that Bishop has any more starts– he has an eight ball in his jock, too. It’s just that Bishop is 25 and was on a roll in the AHL before the deal. And that has to count for something. Why does it matter? Craig Anderson (67 percent owned) had surgery to repair a tendon in his pinkie. Trust me when I tell you I’ve had a similar surgery and my wrist/hand was held in a fixed 90-degree angle with my pinkie pointing straight down for seven weeks. Tendons do not heal quickly. Alex Auld has been awful this year. And if Lehner falters under the glare of a playoff run, Bishop will get the call. Stash and wait.
Trevor Daley, D, St. Louis (7 percent owned) – Daley catches my eye at least a couple times every season. He’s mobile, athletic and a good passer, but he’s never really figured out if he’s a shutdown type or a scoring type. He does get offensively inspired every once in a while and he’s there right now. He’s on a five-game point streak (five helpers) that’s the longest of his career. It’ll likely end soon but maybe – just maybe – he can patch together a decent run to season’s end.
Ray Emery, G, Chicago (15 percent owned) – Emery is a real battler. He’s made a stunning recovery from potentially career-ending hip surgery and he’s playing simple, confident hockey. And that’s what’s going to give him the majority of the Hawks’ starts going forward. Corey Crawford (87 percent owned) has a serious case of the yips – remember, this is just his second full season – and his head is playing serious games with his on-ice performance. The D in Chicago just seem to be more relaxed in front of Emery and coach Joel Quenneville is not a patient man. I just don’t think he’ll be willing to keep throwing Crawford out there with the team’s tenuous hold on a playoff spot. Razor could be incredibly valuable over the next 17 games.
Matt Hackett, G, Minnesota (1 percent owned) – Grab him now. Niklas Backstrom’s injury Thursday night looks like a popped groin – he couldn’t even get himself onto his knees after kicking away Erik Cole’s first-period shot. Hackett is an exceptional talent and Josh Harding (19 percent owned) is just coming off a lower-body injury himself. The two of them could be sharing the load toward season’s end. And goalie points are the hardest fantasy commodity to find.
Roman Josi, D, Nashville (1 percent owned) – This Swiss Miss has talent but his name has always been mentioned after the likes of Ryan Ellis (5 percent owned), Jonathan Blum (AHL) and even Cody Franson (5 percent owned) when he was still in town. That shouldn’t be the case. He had an outstanding offensive season last year in the AHL and has shown bursts of it in the NHL. But it took the arrival of the gigantic stabilizer named Hall Gill (go figure, eh) to give him the confidence – or room – to spread his offensive wings. He has four points – two goals and two assists – in his last four games and could provide even more as the Preds prime the pump for a playoff berth. Take a look.
Zach Kassian, RW, Vancouver (2 percent owned) – I hope game one in blue and green is a true indication of how the Orcas plan on deploying this talented winger. He was on a buzz line with Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre but he spent almost half of his time with Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond. And he almost jammed home his first goal in his new uni. He could be a decent deep-league contributor in formats that also count hits and PIMs.
Nikita Nikitin, D, Columbus (2 percent owned) – Jack Johnson is now the flavor of the month in Ohio but it’s Nikitin who’ll deliver more fantasy points by season’s end. Yes, you read that right. JJ looks like a lost puppy right now (same old approach in a brand-new city) but Nikitin has picked up right where he left off when he went down with that knee injury. He ripped a PPG on Thursday night and has three points in the five games since his return. Don’t grab him if you can’t take the hit in plus-minus. But if you can...
Matt Niskanen, D, Pittsburgh (18 percent owned) – Niskanen’s game lifted off the last time Kris Letang was out and we’re back to that point again. He may only have two points in his last 24 games but take a look back at December – six of his nine points that month came on the PP. Get him now – someone else will if you don’t.
Teddy Purcell, RW, Tampa Bay (34 percent owned) – Purcell’s ownership has jumped 11 percent in a week. But I still cannot believe a guy riding a seven-game, 14-point streak – and one who has points in 11 of his last 12 games – is owned in just one-third of Yahoo! leagues. Go figure. He was the third-highest player on the Yahoo! player rater this past week and ninth-best over the last two weeks. Check your wire again, just in case.
Steve Sullivan, LW, Pittsburgh (7 percent owned) – Sullivan was on fire before he left Wednesday’s game with what is believed to be a ‘minor’ lower-body injury. I sure hope it is minor – he’s riding a six-game, nine-point streak with five of those nine coming on the power play. In fact, more than half of his point production this season has come with the man advantage. And that’s good enough to be tied for 25th on the NHL’s power-play production list. Yah, good ol’ Sully; seven-percent owned Sully. Now, his usual partner on the point (Kris Letang) is out with concussion symptoms but that didn’t stop the old guy last time – he showed he could click with Matt Niskanen when the two ran the Pens’ PP in December. Snap him up. It’s all about risk-reward at this point in the season and you can always drop him in three or four days if his injury is more than just a tweak.
Colin Wilson, LW/C, Nashville (8 percent owned) – Wilson doesn’t thrill me. But his game has grown enough for me to give him a little bit of credit. He has already matched his career high in points (34) from last year and he has five points in his last six games. And now that Paul Gaustad has arrived to do the heavy lifting as the checking-line center, Wilson is free to shift to the wing to use his size and skill to dominate along the wall. He’s on a 45-point pace but he might just tick that up a couple before season’s end.
Marek Zidlicky, D, New Jersey (16 percent owned) – Who says craigslist doesn’t bear fruit? That ‘QB-wanted’ ad the Devils posted piqued the interest of someone in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and a long-distance deal was consummated. Zids will get copious amounts of PP ice time in the swamp alongside guys like Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and even super-sniper David Clarkson. ‘Nuf said?
Back to the deadline deals.
Don’t get me wrong – I think a guy like Cody Hodgson might be a real steal. That trade may have actually been an actual old-fashioned hockey trade.
But his value won’t take a jump until the team trades Derek Roy. And that won’t happen until summer.
I like the Ben Bishop to Ottawa deal because his chance is soon. But which deals were winners on Monday? The Bruins picked up the decidedly unsexy Brian Rolston to fill the role Mark Recchi filled that season. And they also grabbed Greg Zanon, the shot-blocking machine.
They’re depth moves that just might help them repeat as the Stanley Cup champs. They just won’t help your fantasy teams or mine.
Until next week.