For the Week March 1-8 -- Trade Deadline Week
Monday 3 p.m. Eastern all eyes in the NHL will be fixed intently on the trade tickers around the league to see all the moves. Like we did last week, we focus on some of the big names that might be in play, and some who already have new addresses.
Big Names Possibly On the Move
Patrick Sharp C/W, CHI - There's chatter that Sharp might be the first piece to be moved out of a high-priced Blackhawks squad. The record-breaking extensions of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have made the cap situation in the Windy City difficult, and a lot of teams could use Sharp's talents heading into the playoffs. The team at the forefront of the rumors is Washington, a place where Sharp could really do well for fantasy GMs. His last five years have seen him hover at just less than a point per game, and this year, he's been on the wing with Brad Richards' introduction to the lineup. If he moves to Washington as predicted, he'll likely be lined up on the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom line; that could be a stellar move. Pay attention because he could be the biggest move of the deadline.
Keith Yandle D, ARI - His trade -- if and when it comes -- will be the highlight defensive move of the deadline. Yandle is a fantastic fantasy player, and we have owned him in most of our leagues for many years. Premier defensemen, when traded to better teams, often benefit greater than forwards who do likewise. If Yandle moves to a team in need of defensive help, with an offensive upside -- say, Montreal or Tampa Bay -- his already impressive production could take a sizable leap. He contributes well in all categories, save for plus-minus, which is less about him and more about his team. Put him on a top-four or top-six team in the league, and he has the tools to be a top five defenseman in the NHL.
Tyler Bozak C, TOR - As the bottom has fallen out of the Leafs' season yet again, more and more talk has revolved around a complete rebuild. With the trades of Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli, Daniel Winnik and David Clarkson in rapid succession, it seems Bozak is the next player up for discussion. Since his arrival in Toronto and rapid elevation to first-line center, he has been hounded with constant criticism. He's not big enough, he's not fast enough, he's not a true No. 1 center; he's been pounded for everything that he's not. What the critics miss is that he is a fantastic second-line center who is a solid two-way player, a great faceoff man and he's on a reasonable contract for the next few years. His career-high 49 points might not turn many heads, but his numbers are about on par with Antoine Vermette (see below), and he's still younger with more upside. If he gets traded to a contender, and placed in a role where he can excel, his numbers will tick upward significantly. While he seems genuinely happy playing in Toronto, it seems difficult to imagine, considering how bad the Leafs have been this year, and how unrelenting the media have been on them.
Joffrey Lupul W, TOR - Alongside Bozak, one of the Leafs' better pieces that might be headed out of town is this 31-year-old winger. Few doubt his talent or commitment, and his 404 points in 634 career NHL games show he can be productive. The only question that everybody has is whether he can stay healthy for a playoff run. In the five seasons he's played in Toronto, he's played in 213 of 376 games -- little more than half. Any trade that sends him on his way is most assuredly going to have a number of conditional picks based on his ability to play. Fantasy GMs should invest carefully; he will be good when he plays, so there's the temptation to keep him when he starts performing. Don't be fooled -- if he gets moved to a good team, send him packing. He isn't dependable enough down the stretch to rely upon, and your team could better be served using him as a trade target.
Key Players Traded
Kimmo Timonen D, CHI - Hindsight being what it is, it shouldn't have come as a surprise, but it did. Every day that ticks off the calendar, it becomes more evident that the Flyers are not playoff bound, and Timonen really only has this year left in the tank. Likely as a favor to his years of service, he was traded to Chicago to try to win his first Stanley Cup. To fantasy owners who somehow had the foresight to stash him on IR earlier, he's found money. To those who forgot about him and have deep pools, add him immediately. He will be good once he's back on the roster, and in Chicago, he's likely to have top-four time (when he's up to speed) and second-line power-play time. If the rust hasn't slowed him down too much, he could be a half-a-point-per-game player again. He'll also be given consistent ice time down the stretch as the Hawks rest key blueliners for the playoffs. All signs point to a solid add for fantasy GMs, and a good fit for the Hawks.
David Clarkson W, CLS - We felt bad for him in his time with the Leafs -- at least, as bad as one can feel toward someone making millions of dollars a year. When he was signed, everybody knew he was coming off a career season and wasn't likely to hit 30 goals again. Expectations and contract size led to constant criticism. His trade this week was hailed as a victory -- even though the Leafs likely will never get a single player-game out of Nathan Horton. Essentially, the jokes of him being traded for a sack of pucks is all too true -- except we didn't even get a sack of pucks. His playing style is perfectly suited to what the Blue Jackets are trying to do, and we think he'll actually flourish in Ohio. Nobody is suggesting a return to the 30-goal performance we hoped for, but Columbus should expect between 40 and 50 points from him next season. That said, he'll likely start the remainder of this season on the top line with Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen. Smart GMs will watch his performance carefully -- PIMs are a natural assumption, but he might very well turn into a much better Antoine Roussel as soon as this month.
Tomas Fleischmann W, ANA - He's perennially flown under the radar his entire career, and has never been recognized as being a solid fantasy player (when he's been in a situation to be one). Florida has been a train wreck the past few years, with this season's run at a playoff spot nothing short of miraculous. When he had a decent team, Fleischmann put up career highs in goals (27), points (61) and power play points (22). Now that he's moving to Anaheim, he's going to surprise a lot of people. He's lined up with Rickard Rakell and fellow newcomer Jiri Sekac on the third line, but we wouldn't be surprised if Fleischmann gets a peak at the top line currently filled by Kyle Palmieri in short order. We also wouldn't be surprised if he finds a way to keep that spot for the rest of the season. Mid-depth poolies should flag him and watch intently; deep poolies should find a spot for him if they can. He'll be valuable in the fantasy playoffs.
Devante Smith-Pelly W, MTL - We had the good fortune to watch DSP when he played in the Memorial Cup a few years ago with Mississauga. He's a gritty, skilled winger that is about due to really break onto the scene in the NHL. We think this trade was a fantastic one for Montreal, and gives them yet another player who can play a rough style of hockey that will be so valuable in April and beyond. Unfortunately for fantasy GMs, he's just not ripe enough yet to devote a spot, and he won't be there for some time. We think he'll be a 50-point player in the NHL in the next two years, but that's not nearly good enough or soon enough for most standard leagues. If you're in a dynasty league, consider picking him up -- he was a point-per-game player in Junior and half-a-point-per-game player in the AHL with plenty of PIM.
Antoine Vermette C, CHI - Vermette's name was batted around for weeks in trade rumors, and Saturday night he was finally dealt to Chicago. But we don't think this trade offers the fantasy upside some assume. Vermette was the top center on an absolutely horrible Arizona squad, but on the Blackhaws he is a 32-year-old depth center five years removed from his career-best year of 65 points. His 35 points this year in 63 games is decent enough, but consider that he has had almost 20 minutes of ice time a game, with almost three minutes of PPTOI per game -- absolute top-shelf opportunities, granted on a poor team -- and he's still around half a point per game. With the Blackhawks, he'll likely be at best a third-line player. He'll also be lucky to find himself on the power play. All that doesn't bode well for his production potential -- he might not be as valuable as many think.