NHL trade deadline day is five days away, but the freak show has already begun. It's now Miller time in Bud country.
What is this world coming to?
Ryan Miller is now in Missouri with a real shot at the Stanley Cup. He's also about three-and-a-half hours closer (by plane) to his wife in L.A. But is he a happy man?
He should be. At least he can now get a nonstop flight to LAX.
Friday night's blockbuster is a hockey trade through and through, something that doesn't often happen. It doesn't guarantee the Blues a Cup. It doesn't even make them a favorite. But it does put them in the thick of things with the Ducks and the Blackhawks. And we both know the West is best.
But I digress.
The fantasy implications for Miller, Chris Stewart and Jaroslav Halak are immense. Steve Ott? Not so much. Miller and Stewart go up; so does Jonas Enroth, who might just get half of the Sabres' remaining starts. I don't need to tell you what happens to Halak. Or Brian Elliot. Or even Jake Allen (in keeper formats).
The Sabres did really well. They moved before the Hurricanes could dilute the trade pool by tossing Cam Ward into the deep end. They got two more picks, one of which gets a serious upgrade if Miller inks a deal with the Blues. The Sabres now have 10 combined picks in the first two rounds in the 2014 and 2015 Drafts. And assets in Halak and Matt Moulson that could net a couple more picks.
Their revolution really IS being televised. At least in Buffalo.
The NHL trade deadline is usually really, really boring. But not this year. This one could be a blast if Martin St. Louis, Cam Ward, Ryan Kesler, Martin Brodeur and Alexander Edler actually make it to market. Then again, all of those names could stand pat on their current teams. But I'll bet at least one of those guys get moved.
Crack a cold one and get ready for a ride. This might actually be fun.
Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.
Daniel Briere, RW/C, Montreal (4 percent owned) - Briere is playing like a man who wants to be traded. Oh yeah, wait - that's what he and the Habs both seem to want. He has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last two games and that might just remind possible dance partners that he can still twerk with the best of the young-uns. Playoff-bound teams know he's a point-per-game playoff performer with more than 100 postseason games under his belt. He might just deliver a late-season boost for your fantasy squad.
Peter Budaj, G, Montreal (9 percent owned) - Budaj won't win you a championship, but he'll keep you from losing one. He's good enough to be used in short doses and that's exactly what the Habs are doing with him right now. Carey Price will be back, but Budaj is the defacto starter until that happens. Use him if you're desperate to hold your position.
Christian Ehrhoff, D, Buffalo (40 percent owned) - OK, so the guy is owned in two of every five leagues, so what's he doing here? Trade target, my friend - trade target. Go ask about him, but play it coy. He turned around his play when Ted Nolan stepped behind the bench, but not that many people noticed. But now he has come out from the Olympic break on absolute fire - try a three-game point streak that includes a two-goal game. Couple that with a possible trade out of the land of fires and his value will spike up even further. Act now or you won't get a chance.
Jonas Enroth, G, Buffalo (3 percent owned) - Will Buffalo deploy newcomer Jaroslav Halak to protect the twine tent? Or will they leverage him in a trade before Wednesday? It's hard to say, but he's a free agent at season's end and he's probably not going to sign a deal to play behind the league's worst defense. So Enroth could be in a "show me" role, at least for a week or so. The Sabres are starting the post-Olympic period with a burst of nitrous oxide, so Enroth might just be a decent short-term snag.
Zemgus Girgensons, LW/C, Buffalo (1 percent owned) - Girgensons is on a high - he helped Latvia to its best-ever finish in international hockey at the recent Olympic Games. He and his Latvian brethren pushed Canada in the quarterfinals, but ultimately lost 1-0. Now the Latvian Locomotive is back on NHL ice and he has poured in three points, including a couple of helpers, in his last two games. His three points have come against quality opponents (Boston and San Jose), so this is real. He's super confident right now and that's scary...for his opponents. I'm buying.
Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, St. Louis (0 percent owned) - Bu-bye, Chris Stewart, hello, Dmitrij - your time has come. He's talented and emotional, and that means points and PIMs. The Blues are formidable from top to bottom, but there's not a lot of pure offensive talent in that lineup. Jaskin has that talent and now has a chance to show some of it. His best is a long way off, but right now, he's the kind of talent that will bring fantasy owners short burst of multi-category goodness. What do you have to lose?
Dwight King, LW, Los Angeles (2 percent owned) - He's a grinder. And grinders don't usually bring a whole lot of value - they're usually one-category wonders. But King will give you a little bit of everything - points, hits, shots and plus-minus. He had a goal, an assist, three hits, five SOG and a plus-5 rating in two games just before the weekend. He can really help, particularly if you're trying to balance off the shortcomings of a one-zone wonder.
Brooks Laich, C, Washington (1 percent owned) - Laich does the dirty work for his linemates. He'll be the first man into the zone and he'll muck out the puck. And that means lots of offense when you skate with guys like Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Oh yah, baybee - go get him now. He'll move around in the top six, but he'll get time with those two studs. Cha-ching. Cash him in now.
Anders Lee, C, NY Islanders (0 percent owned) - You know when you get that feeling that a guy might just overachieve? I got that gut Thursday night while watching Mr. Lee against the Leafs. Sure, he's probably a third-line guy, but he won't take that thought lying down. He has size, skill and heart, along with a nose for the net. And that resulted in two goals in a win over Toronto. The Isles have no choice right now but to give their kids the keys to the car. And something tells me Lee will deliver more offense than uber prospect Ryan Strome will before season's end. Yup, you read that right. That'll change over future seasons, but right now, Lee seems to have the goods.
Olli Maatta, D, Pittsburgh (20 percent owned) - This hulking teenager saw his ownership double in just a couple of days this week and little wonder - he's now "the man" in Pittsburgh. Or at least until they bring someone in at the deadline. Kris Letang and Paul Martin are both out for a while, so Maatta has stepped into the void, particularly on the power play. He snagged a power-play goal Thursday night and ended up with two points on the night. He's impressive - cripes some people see a young Ryan Suter in him. I won't go there (yet), but I'm willing to have him on my squad. You should be, too.
Back to Miller time.
My condolences to those of you who have players moved to "lesser" situations. It hurts. Hey - I own Brian Elliot, too.
But don't freak out until you analyze the full standings. Most of these potential moves will have only minor impacts on your fantasy roster. That is, unless you were counting on Chris Stewart to shore up your plus-minus.
Mind you, I think we should talk if you were doing that.
There's one-quarter of the season left. The impact of most of these deals will be felt far more acutely on the ice than in the fantasy arena. I'm keeping the faith - Elliot is my third goalie and I'll be dropping him anyway when Pekka Rinne comes back.
Hey - it's better than playing in an AL baseball league and having a guy traded to the NL. It's all about perspective.
Until next week.