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Neutral Zone Wrap: Win, Lose or Draw

Evan Berofsky

Evan Berofsky enjoys writing. Seriously. When he’s not trying to shove hockey miscellany down your throat, he gets his kicks playing tournament Scrabble(TM). If you have anything to say about Evan’s work (or need any hot word tips), feel free to contact him at or follow him on Twitter (@evanberofsky).

What was supposed to be hockey's busiest 24 hours turned into the most boring show on Earth. The buildup to February 27th led many to believe a blockbuster trade or two would be completed. Rick Nash was as good as somewhere else. Carolina seemed ready to trade every defenseman on their roster. And the Leafs were poised to add that veteran netminder everyone claimed was necessary for their survival.

But, alas, nothing significant took place. In fact, 16 separate instances of nothing. Frankly, the best moves were carried out during the previous two weeks. The highlight of D-Day turned out to be the Buffalo Sabres' ability to upgrade and sneak a first-round pick for a middle-of-the-road forward (Paul Gaustad). Let's not forget about the Sharks adding some toughness. And who knew the Predators could be so aggressive?

So which fantasy players benefited from the most recent round of transactions? And which guys will be worse off? Remember, these examples do not necessarily have to be the ones involved in the trades; they merely can be affected by whatever happened around them. Here are a few notables, taken from deals dating back to February 13th:

The Winners

Jeff Carter/Mike Richards, F, Los Angeles

After a lonely eight months apart, the most dangerous duo since Hekyll and Jekyll have been reunited in Hollywood. And since the Wonder Twins left Philly, each of their brief stays proved to be disappointing. While Carter (25 points in 39 games with Columbus) could claim the excuse of skating with the NHL's worst club, Richards (31 in 56) has squandered his chances in the Kings' lineup. Call it a new system, playing second fiddle at center, or maybe he just missed playing with his best friend. Now that they have each other, they're set to make fireworks…hopefully on the ice.

James Reimer, G, Toronto

Everyone in the organization has faith in you, except perhaps yourself. Maybe that's the result of both you (one win in seven with 26 goals allowed) and your team (a dubious 1-9-1 run) sucking the last few weeks. But management obviously didn't feel the urge to grab a solid goaltender that could usurp your top billing. And don't worry, Jonas Gustavsson nor anyone else in the system could possibly pass you as #1 in the near future. We think.

Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota

The little defender who could will be able to think he can more clearly now, as veteran Marek Zidlicky has jumped to Jersey. The 22-year old wasn't necessarily having a poor second year up to now (22 in 61 with 12 PPPs), but he was always in the shadow of the former senior statesman when it came to power-play duty and general responsibilities (as health permitted). Spurgeon has so much to offer offensively, even with other recent additions Kurtis Foster (now on his third club this season) and Tom Gilbert (missed a month thanks to Daniel Carcillo) joining the mix.

Daniel Winnik, F, San Jose

While he has never become the biggest point producer in the shed, Winnik was being pursued by several suitors on Monday. The regular numbers (18 in 63) will not impress the average fantasy participant, but the 6'2" 210-pound winger will supply the frontline grit San Jose has sorely lacked. So expect a few penalty minutes and some shots on goal. And don't be surprised if Winnik hits a point or two sliding into the spot beside Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski on the second line.

Marek Zidlicky, D, New Jersey

The Czech blueliner may be 35, but he has maintained his scoring skills over the years. And yes, Zidlicky still plays a mean power-play (and gets nearly three minutes a night). With weapons such as Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, and David Clarkson, the opportunities are present. And without any other legitimate D threats in Jersey (save for Adam Larsson and Matt Taormina when they're ready), there's no telling how many points he can rack up.

The Losers

Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa

No one will ever let Anderson near a kitchen again after cutting his finger cooking (don't worry, we'll discover the real reason someday). The Ottawa starter's prospects haven't improved, as little is known as to his return. But don't worry about hurrying back, as the Sens acquired St. Louis giant Ben Bishop for a 2nd-round selection. And Anderson's eventual successor, Robin Lehner (two impressive victories, including a shutout at Boston), is looking like the second coming of Patrick Lalime between the pipes.

Matt Carle, D, Philadelphia

Since Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman arrived in mid-February, Carle's minutes - both in regular (down from 23 to 21) and man-advantage (down from two to one) - have dwindled. Kubina has swiped a chunk of the special-team duty, while Grossman's superior defensive abilities have provided him a greater role (and three in five doesn't hurt). This shouldn't come as a shock to seasoned observers, as Carle has always been stuck behind at least two better D-men for the majority of his career.

Tyler Ennis, F, Buffalo

Just when the points started flowing again for Ennis (three-game streak headed into Thursday), the Sabres go out and bring in a young, highly touted center like Cody Hodgson (33 in 63). It appears the two are projected to skate on the same unit, but the ex-Canuck should pick up more of the spoils in all areas. Even dismissing his bad luck with injuries (out a total of 34 games), Ennis still hasn't earned his place this season - and it shows in his shifts (hovering around 15 minutes per contest). Meanwhile, Hodgson begins his Buffalo stint with a clean slate and significantly more leeway.

Andrei Kostitsyn, F, Nashville

The family reunion is heartwarming and all that, but the reality remains the elder Kostitsyn (24 in 53) has to adjust to a totally different style of play in Music City. Despite a stable of speed demons, Montreal implemented a methodical wait-and-see offensive approach (and look where that got them). Nashville, on the other hand, like to run-and-gun and take more chances on the attack. The learning curve is steep enough to except a slow progression from the new acquisition. So if you own this particular Kostitsyn, plan accordingly.

Rick Nash, F, Columbus

All the stories surround your departure and you end up staying put. What a tease. Oh, and guess what? A few key forward pieces (Carter, Antoine Vermette, Sami Pahlsson) have been removed and shipped elsewhere. Good luck with that and your $7.5-million salary! Well, at least you attempted to save the franchise from future stagnation by requesting a trade. And hey, there's always 2012-13 and beyond.