|Opportunity is Knocking||Tweet|
|Written by Jim Gunther|
|Monday, 12 February 2007 06:30|
Fantasy owners should pay close attention to the NHL as the trade deadline approaches. Within the next month, you may have an opportunity to pull off a trade or even pick up a player that could make a big difference. There have been all kinds of rumors regarding potential trades. Last seasons big trade involved Joe Thornton going to the Sharks. That trade made a huge impact not only in players’ stats, but also in how the team finished.
Some NHL teams trade to rebuild for next season, others look to solidify themselves for a strong playoff run. Injuries and lack of productivity can also play a factor. Look for several unrestricted free agent veteran players to be involved in the mix. The moving of players also allows teams to further develop third and fourth line players in a new role as well as call up some talented minor leaguers. Be sure to watch a few of these young guys as their stats and numbers might not stand out at the end of the season.
Do not be surprised if Buffalo, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and San Jose keep their current roster for the playoffs. The following teams may make some trades to solidify a playoff run; Rangers, Ottawa, Dallas, Carolina, Nashville, Colorado, and Vancouver.
The Rangers Coach Tom Renney is still not happy. The team has too many defensemen role playing forwards. Their weakness is scoring especially from the second, third and fourth lines. Look for them to try to address their weakness before the trade deadline. The speedy center Matt Cullen has not been the strong second line scoring threat they had expected. Peter Forsberg has been among the few that have been rumored to fill that second line center position. He could be a great passing asset for the sharp shooting Brendan Shanahan. While Forsberg has been plagued with injuries, he claims he is feeling much better.
Besides the Rangers, Ottawa has also been mentioned to be interested in Forsberg. Although Ottawa is a team on the rise, they have also lacked a strong second line center. The combination of fellow Swedes, Forsberg and Daniel Alfredsson could be deadly.
Dallas is a defensive minded team like the Devils. Veteran Mike Modano is back in the lineup, but admits he is sluggish. The team has done well despite numerous injuries to several key forwards and defensemen. Look for them to add a player that fits their style of play. In terms of fantasy any addition they make will probably not produce many points.
Carolina has plenty of scoring talent. As witnessed last season, they added several players for a run at the Stanley Cup and it worked. This season their weakness has been defense. If the return of Tim Gleason and Frantisek Kaberle are not the answer they might look to trade for another defensemen especially one that could run the powerplay.
The recent injuries to Kimmo Timonen and Marek Zidlicky could make Nashville scramble for defensive help. The Predators have plenty of forwards to spare. Do not be surprised if a right winger is moved. Such a move could allow the talented Alexander Radulov to get more ice time.
The Avs have a good mix of veterans and young players. Peter Budaj has been solid in goal. Jose Theodore could be the odd man out. He could be moved to a rebuilding team such as Florida. This season’s additions of Alex Auld and Ed Belfour have not solved their goaltending problem.
Vancouver has reappeared on the playoff radar mainly because of Roberto Luongo. Markus Naslund has not been the major scoring threat he was in the past. The Sedin Twins can only do so much. Brendan Morrison’s name has been mention all season long as trade bait. The team needs more scoring if they are going to ever make a serious run.
Last season veterans Doug Weight and Mark Recchi were traded to the Hurricanes with the goal of winning the Stanley Cup. That plan worked. Do not be surprised if St. Louis veterans Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk follow that same path. Both have proved they can still score. Their leadership in the locker room can be a key asset. St. Louis needs all the help they can get and will be looking to get some good young players as they continue to rebuild for the future. Blues General Manager John Davidson is very familiar and friendly with the New York Rangers. His good relationship could be the necessary grease to do the job.
With 48 points, the Boston Bruins are within reach of the 8th spot in the Eastern conference. Last season they moved Thornton in the hopes of rebuilding. The likelihood of them reaching the playoffs however is slim. While Bergeron, Savard, and Chara have played well, the team had some set backs that it has not recovered from. Look for them to possibly trade defensemen Brad Stuart and forward Brad Boyes. Many teams look to add defensemen for the playoffs. Stuart can also score. Teams rumored to be interested in him include playoff contenders such as Anaheim and Ottawa as well as non playoff contenders Philadelphia and Chicago. Anaheim may no longer be interested as Chris Pronger has recovered and is back in the Anaheim lineup and the latest reports state Scott Niedermayer's injury is not severe.
The recent trade of Craig Conroy to Calgary for Jamie Lundmark does not have major fantasy value. While Conroy exceeded expectations by scoring 2 goals in his first game with the Flames, do not expect him to keep it up. Conroy had spent 4 seasons with the Flames prior to being on the Kings. The Flames were familiar with him as a player as well as with his work ethic and thought he would be a good, solid addition to the team. The healthy return of Jarome Iginla possibly on Friday will have a bigger impact on the team’s top two lines.
The Coyotes have not had the season they had hoped. While Yanic Perreault has been great, do not be surprised if one of their other talented forwards such as Shane Doan or Ladislav Nagy is moved in an effort to bring in new blood and chemistry for next season.
Keep an eye on these youngsters: