As much as many experts predicted the salary cap would reduce overall trade activity in the NHL, this years deadline is shaping up to be as busy as ever.

Because of the point awarded for the shootout loss, there are more buyers and fewer sellers, which is going to mean some serious bidding wars are going to develop. They top players involved in rumors are out East (Brad Stuart and Peter Forsberg), but ... this column isn't the "Wild East" so let's focus on the other conference.

lombardiDepth is the name of the game come playoff time, and the teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West (Vancouver, Edmonton, Dallas, Minnesota, Colorado) are going to want to add a forward and/or a defenseman. Calgary already made a move for Conroy, hoping he would return to form with Iginla on the top line. I’ll eat a bit of crow as last week I stated he wouldn’t take away much ice-time from Lombardi, which he clearly has thus far. Next week I will cover the deadline in further detail, and specifically the fantasy impacts of the various rumors and proposed deals.

Colorado is really slipping out of the playoff race fast. But there are many positives thus far in the season, and none larger than the play of Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny. Wolski has shown flashes of an elite first line winger, and Stastny looks to be a reliable two-way creative forward. I recently traded for Wolski in a keeper league that I had no shot of winning this season. He has a huge upside and will reach it pretty quickly. Colorado just doesn’t have the defensive depth and the bottom six players like Laperriere and Laaksonen have put up very disappointing offensive totals.

Players to keep an eye on:

Kristian Huselius – Huselius has been one of the hottest players in the NHL for the past month. He is the key catalyst on the Flames power play, as his patience with the puck and vision has really set the table for players like Langkow and Iginla. At $1.2 million, he is also one of the biggest steals in the league. Look for him to continue to grow and now is the time to make a move, as he looks well on the way to developing into an elite player.

Markus Naslund – After posting a goalless month of December, Naslund has quietly been putting up points again for the Canucks. While he is no longer in the elite class of wingers, he still is a valuable fantasy player for at least another season after this one. His value really plummeted early on in the season so he might be pretty easy to acquire in your league.

Next week’s column will have a more in-depth look at the fantasy impacts of the trade deadline. Feel free to post questions or comments about your fantasy teams and I will answer a few of them in next week’s column.

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