The fantasy take on the upcoming trade deadline – this week featuring the Eastern Conference
Ilya Kovalchuk has already been dealt, but there are still some smaller deals out there that could have serious repercussions on your fantasy squad. Here are some things to watch out for. All cap figures are according to Cap Geek.
Cap Room – over $9.6 million (pro-rates to $42+ million acquired salary)
Status: Just on the outside looking in, but right in the mix for the final spot. However, already having dealt Ilya Kovalchuk and Kari Lehtonen and with Slava Kozlov reportedly requesting a trade, the writing is on the wall here (and rightfully so). They are sellers. Besides Kozlov, Colby Armstrong, Maxim Afinogenov, Jim Slater and Pavel Kubina are the notable pending UFA’s.
Fantasy Outlook: As this team cleans house, youth will be served. Brian Little, Evander Kane and Niklas Bergfors stand to benefit greatly. Rich Peverley’s decline should also stabilize and rebound, as he will become one of the few go-to guys on the team and will be needed more than ever to provide offense. Afinogenov has seven points in 19 games and his value is plummeting. The strategy here would be to await a trade. Once he’s moved, interest in your league for him will rise and at that point you should deal him – because on another team he won’t do any better than the seven points in 19 games. Kozlov is a player who will benefit from a move. However, at 37, he is no better than a 60-point guy now.
Any young player who is moved to Atlanta stands to benefit from added ice time and more forwards move out then come in, then Spencer Machacek, Riley Holzapfel and Brett Sterling will get the call up. Sterling would have clear re-entry waivers, but would certainly clear. The small, skilled goal-scorer has had a ton of chances already, but as with all small players (see St. Louis, Martin; Sullivan, Steve; Gionta, Brian), nothing happens until they reach 26 or 27 (Sterling is 25). And as with all small players not drafted in the first two rounds, Sterling is beyond “long-shot” status and is only worth a pick-up in times of desperate need and only after he is recalled.
Cap Room – $0.00
Status: Surprisingly in the playoffs – and with games in hand – despite a very bumpy first 60 games. The Bruins are struggling to score and will be buyers at the deadline in hopes of addressing that. They would need to move out more salary than they bring in, which means it would be nice to shed the salaries of Michael Ryder or even Marco Sturm. To get a team to take those salaries, while at the same time acquiring an upgrade, they Bruins would most certainly have to part with some of their hundreds of picks in the first two rounds of 2010 and 2011. Young prospects could also go. The pot has to be sweetened somehow, and veterans who aren’t scoring but making several million dollars will need a pot sweetener or two to go with them. Vladimir Sobotka is an excellent candidate as he is not used a whole lot and is a restricted free agent in the summer.
Fantasy Outlook: Sobotka on a new team will be gold, likely becoming a 60-point type player immediately and inching up to 70 over the course of a few years. He needs to be in the top six to do this and that won’t happen in Boston. Ryder would benefit from a new environment, but needs to be paired with a top center to be effective and given that any team that acquires him would be a seller, the odds of that team having a top center are pretty slim. Sturm is industrious no matter who his linemates are and he should be a 55-point player regardless of where he ends up. This is just an “off” season.
Cap Room – $1.8 million (nearly $8 million of acquired salary)
Status: In the playoffs and definite buyers. The Sabres may not do anything at all, but if something does happen expect it to be a veteran puck-moving defenseman and/or a top-six winger. Clarke MacArthur will be a restricted free agent and could be moved as part of the package going the other way.
Fantasy Outlook: Any winger they acquire will be tried out on the Derek Roy/Thomas Vanek line – an obvious fantasy boost. If a defenseman is brought in, look for Chris Butler to get bumped off the first power-play unit. This will really hurt his output, as 11 of his 19 points have come with the man advantage. The power play should get a lift though, which bodes well for Roy and Vanek finishing strong.
Cap Room –$1.7 million (pro-rates to a $7.5 million-plus acquired salary)
Status: They have hurt their chances at Taylor Hall thanks to a recent hot streak. The Canes are actually just nine points out of a playoff spot. Despite this, they will be sellers and Ray Whitney is the top name on the trading block. Joe Corvo is also a pending UFA. The team wants picks and prospects – lots of them.
Fantasy Outlook: As players are shipped out, the likes of Jiri Tlusty, Zack Boychuk and Drayson Bowman will all get extended looks. Tlusty and Boychuk could actually tally 10 or 12 points in the final 20-odd games with the added ice time and responsibility. Wherever Whitney ends up, he will be a 65-point type player, but expect an early points surge when he first lands in the new city.
Cap Room –$3.8 million (pro-rates to a $16.6 million-plus acquired salary)
Status: In the playoffs – had they not lost their last six games. As it is, they are now out of the postseason picture and fading fast. They will be sellers. Injuries have taken a toll this year. Defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Jordan Leopold are the only potential UFA’s and both could be dealt for picks and/or prospects.
Fantasy Outlook: Seidenberg to Ottawa is rumored to be a done deal. If that’s the case, he’ll become their power-play quarterback along with Erik Karlsson. Chris Campoli would be on the outs. Seidenberg’s production will improve on another team, as Florida has been unable to score goals. If the Panthers do indeed get rid of two defensemen, the door opens wide for Dmitri Kulikov to garner lots of added ice time.
Cap Room – half a million
Status: In the playoffs, but hanging by a thread as they have played 63 games – as many as or more than any team in the league. Their problems could be solved soon as Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn are due back to the lineup soon. If they want to be daring, they could fill a lot of holes and garner a lot of assets by trading Carey Price and riding Jaroslav Halak all the way.
Fantasy Outlook: A fresh start would do wonders for Price, but a move like that would surprise me. He is too valuable to the Habs. The team is too close to the cap and will need to move somebody to free up space to sign Tomas Plekanec, Price and Halak. Price may be the easiest cap hit to move that brings the most return.
New Jersey Devils
Cap Room – About $2.2 million
Status: Stanley Cup contender. Any future deals will likely be small, as they have already landed the prize of the season in Ilya Kovalchuk. However, Scott Niedermayer rumors persist.
Fantasy Outlook: When Paul Martin’s wrist finally heals, it will inject more offense from the blue line. Landing another puck-moving defenseman could hurt Andy Greene’s numbers (again).
New York Islanders
Cap Room – nearly $18 million - they need to worry about the cap floor, if anything
Status: Still distantly in the mix for the final spot, but they will be sellers. That’s the smart move as the rebuild is not yet complete. The Isles could use two or three more top six players for their future, as well as a top two-way defender. Martin Biron is on the block, and don’t be surprised if Andy Sutton, Richard Park and Jeff Tambellini are on the move as well.
Fantasy Outlook: With a fresh start, Tambellini could surprise. His inconsistency didn’t play well on Long Island, but a different coach could get the most out of him. With added ice time from moving players out, Blake Comeau could continue his hot streak (four points in two games leading into the break) and he may be worth a look if two forwards are moved out with one or none coming back.
New York Rangers
Cap Room – nearly zero
Status: On the outside looking in. The Rangers will have to work hard to steal that last spot, but the organization is never one to give up. So they are buyers, despite no cap space. They already acquired Olli Jokinen and Jody Shelley, so any future deals will be small ones. And they will need to shed salary. They could use an experienced backup goaltender – and they picked up the perfect one in Alex Auld, at half the cap hit due to re-entry waivers.
Fantasy Outlook: Any small deal that the Rangers get done by March 3 will have little impact fantasy-wise, unless Henrik Lundqvist gets hurt – in which case Auld will of course have value.
Cap Room –$1.4 million (pro-rates to about $6.1 million in acquired annual salary)
Status: The Sens have already acquired Matt Cullen and the rumor is that landing Dennis Seidenberg is a done deal. They are easily in the playoffs and will now work on shoring up scoring depth. Ryan Shannon has been locked up for a couple more years now and so he will remain in the mix. Teams that are buying tend to move young pending restricted free agents to bring in older unrestricted free agents. This would put Brian Lee and Chris Campoli as possible trade candidates. Jonathan Cheechoo has already cleared waivers and is in the minors now.
Fantasy Outlook: Both Lee and Campoli can be decent fantasy options if they are moved to a team that has the room to play them on the power play. Any forwards brought in will be to the detriment of the aforementioned Shannon.
Cap Room – zero
Status: They are in the Top 8 in the East and will probably stay there even if they do nothing. A rumored deal involving Daniel Briere for Marty Turco would probably require too much salary acrobatics to make it work. But they do need to bring in a goaltender and moving Briere would certainly be a preference of the Flyers as it would give them a lot of breathing room.
Fantasy Outlook: Briere would flourish on any other team. No longer sharing so much power-play time and becoming the go-to guy again would do wonders for his numbers. It would be a difficult trade to pull off, but not impossible. If he moves, Claude Giroux stands to benefit the most. Any goaltender whom the Flyers get will reward fantasy owners with a pile of W’s.
Cap Room – a shade over $700,000
Status: Stanley Cup contender. As usual, the Pens could use a top-six winger. Last year they added Bill Guerin at the deadline and Chris Kunitz a few weeks before that. The season before that they added Marian Hossa. This time around, they are pressed much closer to the ceiling. Landing a middle-of-the-road top-six winger such as Alexei Ponikarovsky would require salary being moved out. The Pens are buyers, don’t get me wrong, but they will be hesitant to move a roster player – yet they have to if they want to fit a new winger under the cap. It will be an interesting situation to watch.
Fantasy Outlook: As usual, any winger this team acquires will set off a “cha-ching” sound in their fantasy owner’s head.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Cap Room – nearly $9.5 million
Status: Surprisingly on the cusp. The team could go either way. UFA’s include Alex Tanguay, Kurtis Foster and Antero Niittymaki. They could be moved if they go into sell mode. Paul Ranger, who has missed all season for personal reasons, could be moved if they are in buy mode, as Ranger is a potential RFA. Talk of Vincent Lecavalier, of course, will never die.
Fantasy Outlook: I would think that on any team Lecavalier can get 100 points, so a move won’t impact him either way. It may help kick start him down the stretch though.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Cap Room – zip - $0.00
Status: The Leafs are sellers and the public is well aware of who is going to go. Alexei Ponikarovsky is gone for sure. Wayne Primeau as well. Tomas Kaberle rumors persist and he will likely be moved – though I can’t imagine why, as he is a steal for his price. The team will continue to stock up on picks and good prospects.
Fantasy Outlook: The youngsters will flourish, including Tyler Bozak and Viktor Stalberg. The added ice time should bump their production. If Kaberle goes, then look for Carl Gunnarsson to take turns with Francois Beauchemin lining up beside Dion Phaneuf on the top power play.
Cap Room – $4 million
Status: Stanley Cup contender and currently first in the entire league. The Caps are definitely buyers and they created some cap room by shipping Michael Nylander to the AHL. So what do the Caps need? More leadership and playoff experience, perhaps. They could get that in the form of a faceoff specialist and fourth liner. They could always use some depth on defense as well.
Fantasy Outlook: Nobody they will bring in will have fantasy value. If a decent prospect gets moved out, then his value would rise simply from the fact that the depth chart he moves onto will likely be a little thinner.