Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rookie Keepers

Every new NHL season adds a new crop of rookies and a bunch of new opportunities for owners to grab the next player that may help their team go forward. At this point, we should all be aware of the sophomore slump, as we have seen many current NHLers go through it and either rise above or crumble under the pressure.

This year in the NHL we have observed many rookies make immediate impact on their clubs. But just because they play a lot of minutes does not necessarily make them keeper-worthy. The long-term value has to be great to keep these players over others that may have already found their role in the league.

1. Bobby Ryan – Ryan has finally emerged and found a place on the top two lines in Anaheim. He currently has 43 points in 49 games and 22 PIMS and looks stronger every game he plays. Ryan will be a looked-upon a cornerstone in the Ducks organization in the coming years and will mesh well with current stars Getzlaf and Perry.

2. Kris Versteeg – Versteeg came out of nowhere this years and surprised fantasy owners. Surely a waiver pickup in your league, he leads all rookies in scoring with 45 points in 65 games. Versteeg plays a power-forward type of game that allows him to create room on the top two lines in Chicago. A fantasy bonus is that he also puts up PIMS. Look for him to continue his strong play next year and upgrade his numbers.

3. Derick Brassard – Brassard was lost earlier this season to injury. He was on a great pace of 25 points in 31 games on a Columbus team that is dying for a number-one centre. Brassard possesses excellent scoring instincts and fits well with sniper Rick Nash. Look for him to be a point-per-game scorer next season barring any major injuries.

Worth a long look – these guys almost made the grade, and if you cannot find a better option, then these players are worth taking a risk on.

1. Steve Mason – Mason is having a sensational rookie campaign and is leading Columbus right into a playoff position. Leading the league with nine shutouts, Mason has truly excelled in the Ken Hitchcock system of hockey. Columbus has given Mason the reins by trading Pascal Leclaire to the Senators. He will be the starting goalie for the Jackets next season; the only question is whether or not another rookie will displace him as he did Leclaire.

2. Pekka Rinne – Rinne was virtually unknown in the NHL at the start of the season. Sitting on the bench for the first half of the season, Rinne has beat out fellow teammate Dan Ellis as the starter in Nashville. Rinne is a huge goalie at 6’5”, covers a large amount of net, and has put up great number at every level of play. The concern with Rinne is that next year he will be in a tandem with Ellis as Nashville looks for a true number-one guy.

3. Drew Doughty – Doughty has excelled in his first year of play, outplaying fellow first-round defenders Schenn and Bogosian. He has put up 21 points in 65 games and 42 PIMS on a young and improving Kings team. Averaging 23 minutes off ice time a night, Doughty will only get better with time. Look at Doughty to be in the top pairing on the Kings for years to come.

Being in a keeper fantasy pool is a lot of responsibility. As a dedicated owner, you need to ensure that you have amassed the best possible talent carrying forward. The above-mentioned players should help you keep your team moving in the right direction and help you reach your goal.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Downer for Downie

The AHL board of governors have voted to uphold a suspension to Steve Downie of the Norfolk Admirals.

Read the complete TSN article here.

Fantasy Outlook: Steve Downie was suspended for 20 games on March 5 for striking an official with his stick. The initial suspension was appealed by Norfolk but the decision was upheld.

Fantasy owners may have thought that Downie being moved from the deep Philadelphia organization to the thin Tampa squad would result in more playing time. Since being traded to Tampa, Downie has played in 23 games. Not a scoring threat, he has 3 goals and 3 assists with the Lightning. Downie has also amassed 54 penalty minutes in that time. While in Norfolk, Downie has 8 goals and 17 assists, along with 107 PIMS.

Owners should beware when drafting Downie next year. If your league rewards PIMs and you can grab him in a late round in your draft, do it. That being said, don't expect him to be a full-time player. The NHL is moving towards greatly reducing fighting, and that could severly penalize Downie's fantasy value. He has the ability to be a character guy but he has a target on him. Any slip up in the NHL or AHL and he will be looking at another lengthy suspension.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fantasy Q & A: Barker or Hemsky?

This question from Kevin:

I am in a fantasy keeper pool and have to decide whether to keep Ales Hemsky or Cam Barker. I like Barker's upside and he is just a Rookie. What are your thoughts?


Hey Kevin,

Thanks for the question.

What you are struggling with is the ultimate keeper question...a proven player who may have maxxed out on his potential vs a young player still oozing with potential and upside.

My thoughts would be to keep Hemsky and try to shop Barker to another team. I appreciate Barker's impressive 30 points in 49 games (pro-rated to 50 points in 82 games) as a 3rd year player (note he is not a rookie as he has played over 30 games the past two seasons). My problem is that Barker is already starting to carve a niche for himself as a Powerplay specialist. Joel Quenville does not trust him to play 5 on 5, and a lot of his minutes are coming on the Powerplay (though it should be noted that he is getting some time short-handed as well). Chicago was also shopping him at this year's deadline. 

All is good for Barker right now because he is producing on that uber-talented Powerplay. My concern is that once a Powerplay specialist stops producing, he begins to see his minutes decline (in games where he has not received any PP time, his minutes were under 17 and as low as 11). Remember Bryan Berard and Marc-Andre Bergeron, both valuable fantasy Dmen when producing, have been healthy scratches when they are not. I am not saying Barker will fall into this category but I need to see a few more years of this kind of production and elevating ice-time before I buy in.

Hemsky on the other hand, is an under-rated keeper RW. Always a threat to be a PPG player, he seems to be missing that last gear to become an elite fantasy keeper (whether that comes from untimely injuries or not playing with a front-line centre). At 25, he is still young enough to have some untapped potential and could be a top fantasy contributer for the next 7-8 years. Hold on to him and enjoy the ride.


The New Broad Street Bully

Philadelphia trades Scottie Upshall and a 2011 2nd round pick to Phoenix for Daniel Carcillo.

Gretzky fell in and out of love with Carcillo over the past year. Danny was all the rage for the Coyotes in the first half of last season but his antics got tiring. A bit of a head case, Carcillo would snap at any given time, often costing the Coyotes with bad penalties and game misconducts. Gretzky was much more stern with Carcillo this year but that translated to Carcillo struggling to put up points. Once considered a 40 point, 200 PIM player, Carcillo is off to Philadelphia to try to get his offensive game back. Upshall is a good 3rd liner with some offensive upside. It will be interesting to see where he nets out in the Coyotes depth chart as they seem to have quite a few borderline 3rd/2nd liners.

Fantasy Outlook:

Daniel Carcillo: Last year's 24 points and 324 PIMS (in just 57 games) made Carcillo a hot commodity in leagues that reward PIMs. This year, he is on pace for just 12 points and 223 PIMS. The move to Philly should help in both categories. GM Paul Holmgren has already said that Carcillo will be a top 9 forward and he expects him to contribute some offence. Philly already shipped out one head-case this season in Steve Downie (who by the way is serving a 20 game suspension in the AHL for sticking a referee) and will not allow Carcillo to hurt the team on the ice. Look for Danny to contribute with a few points down the stretch and be a valuable player in the playoffs. I like Carcillo as a great pickup next year in fantasy leagues with PIMS. I see him putting up 30-35 points and 200 PIMS for the Flyers next season, making him a nice mid-late round pick at next year's draft.

Scottie Upshall: Upshall has always been able to provide energy and timely scoring but has struggled to stay healthy, and stay on a scoring line. With a career high 30 points in 2007-2008, he seems to have limited offensive upside. Upshall should develop into a very good 3rd liner in the desert but has very limited fantasy value. He'll get a chance to play more offensive minutes in Phoenix but will eventually lose ice-time to the Yotes' younger, offensive studs Turris, Mueller, Boedker, Tikhonov and Hanzal. Look for him as a late round depth player or waiver pickup next year.

Marks' Take:
Carcillo will get every chance to fit in with the Flyers. However, they have walked down this road previously with Steve Downie. If Carcillo can't control himself and be productive, he could very well find himself playing in the AHL.

Down the QEW

Toronto trades Dominic Moore to Buffalo for Carolina's 2009 2nd round pick.

Motivation: After Moore and Brian Burke could not get any closer on a contract extension, Dominic was held out of Tuesday's game and the writing was on the wall. Moore has had an outstanding year in Toronto with more ice-time and responsibility. Setting career highs already with 41 points in 64 games, Moore was looking for a big pay raise but Burke wasn't willing to commit to paying him 2nd-liner salary. In the end, Burke held out as long as possible and shipped Moore 90 minutes south to division rival Buffalo. The 2nd round pick is astonishing considering Moore was a waiver pick up a year ago.

Fantasy Outlook:

Dominic Moore: The move to Buffalo is not a good one for Moore owners. Trying to prove he can be a 2nd line centre, he now slots behind Tim Connolly and Derick Roy on the depth chart. Moore will notch a few points down the stretch but will be more valuable to the Sabres as a checking line centre and face-off specialist. Look for him to finish the year with around 48 points. As a pending UFA, he will have to sign somewhere and try to prove himself again. Would not be surprised to see him return to Toronto for a more modest salary. A late round pick or waiver pick-up next season.

Marks' Take:
Moore priced himself out of Toronto and was shipped down the road. He will fit in nicely in Buffalo by replacing Kotaliks' speed with grit and consistency. Look for Moore be a character player helping the Sabres reach their goal of the playoffs. He will add the odd point but his production will fall.

Big Nik in Big Apple

Toronto trades Nik Antropov to NYR for 2009 2nd round pick and a conditional draft pick.

Brian Burke made it clear that he would be moving Nik to the highest bidder at the deadline. He waited all-day Wednesday for that desired 1st round pick but in the end settled for New York's offer of a 2nd and conditional 3rd in 2010 (if Rangers make the playoffs, 4th if they do not). New York gets a big winger with skill to help get their lifeless offence going.

Fantasy Outlook:

Nik Antropov: Many thought Nik would disappear this year, no longer able to ride Mats Sundin's shotgun. Instead, Nik is on pace for a career-high 58 points getting top ice-time with a poor Maple Leafs squad. Nik has proven he can stay healthy and contribute over the past two seasons and should supply some secondary scoring for the Rangers. Look for Nik to finish with 6-8 goals and 12-14 points down the stretch. I could see him developing nice chemistry with Nik Zherdev and re-signing with the Rangers. Nik should be a decent mid-round selection next year but is a pending UFA so watch where he lands. Look for him to continue to put up 50+ points for the next few years.

A Hurricane of a Trade

Carolina trades Justin Williams to Los Angeles for Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2009 2nd round pick. Carolina then trades Patrick O'Sullivan and the 2nd round pick to Edmonton for Eric Cole and a 5th round pick.

After heated contract negotiations last summer, O'Sullivan just did not deliver as the top 6 player Lombardi thought he was getting. O'Sullivan has a history of turning coaches and teammates off and seemed to have overstayed his time in LA. Carolina was looking for the Big winger to help get Staal going again...they went with someone they knew had chemistry with Eric. Justin Williams is a talented winger who just cannot stay healthy. He'll look for a fresh start in LA.

Fantasy Outlook:

Patrick O'Sullivan: I have liked O'Sullivan for a while now as he flashes great speed and skill. Watching him this season, he has become more of a complete player but doesn't bring skill night in and night out. His speed could be electrifying on the fastest ice in the league and he could be the perfect compliment for the playmaking Sam Gagner. On pace for just 46 points after a career-high 53 last year, look for O'Sullivan to finish the season with 12-14 points. I also like his game in the playoffs, if Edmonton can make it. For next year, I like him as a sleeper if he can connect with some of the Oil's young talent. Think 55-65 points next season and a great mid-round pick.

Eric Cole: Cole was supposed to be magic this season with his size and speed on Edmonton ice. After struggling out the gate, he just couldn't seem to be that dominant winger he showed flashes of in Carolina. A mid-season surge while clicking with Sam Gagner didn't last and Cole is currently on pace for a mere 34 points this season. Look for him to play on Staal's wing and finish the season strong (13-16 points). At this point, he is a non-keeper but a nice bounce-back candidate next year. Watch where he lands in the off-season though as he is a UFA. 

Justin Williams: After two healthy, productive seasons, Williams only played 37 games last year but did end up at almost a PPG. This year, he has battled even more injuries but just hasn't produced when he is playing. With just 10 points in 32 games, have the injuries finally caught up to him. Justin is not the same player that would use his great speed to crash the net. Now a perimeter player, he is going to have to become more of a playmaker to stay relevant in fantasy (think Paul Kariya after battling injuries). A gamble for the Kings as the 26 year-old is signed through the next two seasons at $3.5 mil. Look for Justin to continue to struggle in LA with 6-8 points down the stretch. Going into next season, he becomes a high-risk/high-reward player drafted in the late rounds. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Striking Oil

The Edmonton Oilers acquire Ales Kotalik from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2nd round draft pick.

Fantasy Outlook: The Oilers continue to search for experienced depth and a winger that can mesh with Ales Hemsky.

Kotalik will fit well into Edmonton's fast paced brand of hockey. He has great speed and a rocket shot. A skilled winger, Kotalik is a streaky player and leaves fantasy owners frustrated over his inconsistent output.

Keep an eye on this Kotalik. If he is able to fit in on the top line in Edmonton, he may be able to put up more consistent numbers. Current owners should not expect too much right away. Be patient to see which line he ends up on and if he can develop chemistry with his new linemates.


Migrating to the Windy City

The Anaheim Ducks trade forward Samuel Pahlsson, defenceman Logan Stephenson and a conditional draft pick in 2009 to Chicago for defenceman James Wisniewski and forward Petri Kontiola.

Fantasy Outlook:
Pahlsson was a key component with the Anaheim Ducks, helping them win their Stanley Cup two seasons ago. He will primarily be used as a shut-down guy on the Blackhawks, but will also be able to help with his playoff experience in a young Chicago dressing room.

Fantasy owners should not pass over Pahlsson in a roto league format. He is is tied for 2oth in the league in faceoff percentage and takes key draws. He is an option in a deeper draft if you are looking to upgrade your faceoff category prominence.

James Wisniewski will have the opportunity to learn from two top defencemen in today's NHL. He goes to Anaheim as a depth guy for the time being. He will have to sit tight as Anaheim sorts out their defensive depth chart this off season.

If Wisniewski ends up staying in Anaheim, he could end up third on the depth chart, providing one of Pronger or Niedermayer leave. He would be a good option late in a draft next season as he in an offensive minded player. Current owners should expect that he puts up the average point and pairs with either Neidermayer or Pronger.


Chris' Take:
I like this move for Anaheim. Whitney and Wisniewski should be the top pairing for the Ducks in 2010-2011. Wisniewski has some untapped offensive potential and is more likely to QB the talented Powerplay then Whitney. Look for him as a nice sleeper option next year when Pronger is traded or Scotty signs with Vancouver.

Another Broadstreet Bully

The San Jose Sharks have traded defencemen Kyle McLaren to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 6th round draft pick.

Fantasy Outlook: McLaren was banished to the AHL even before the regular season started and was forgotten, until now.

This is a marriage for the Flyers as McLaren fits the perfect mold of a Broadstreet Bully. He is a hard hitting defenceman that will add depth to a depleted Philadelphia blueline. McLaren has a chance to reacquaint himself with the NHL and should be able to fit in nicely.

* Breaking News

Kyle McLaren has has failed his physical with the Philadelphia Flyers and the trade with the Sharks has been voided.

If your league values penalty minutes, McLaren may be an option next season. Look for him late in the draft as a depth defenceman if he can hang on with a team.


Broadway Bound

The Phoenix Coyotes have traded defenceman Derek Morris to the New York Rangers for defencemen Dmitri Kalinin and forwards Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.

Fantasy Outlook: The New York Rangers were able to add an aggressive d-man with a bit of offensive ability rolled in.

Morris will fit into the top 2 pairings in New York and provide some grit that they were missing on the back end.

Fantasy owners should be cautious when looking at adding him via the waiver wire. Morris has 12 points in 57 games this season and should not expect an outpouring of points the rest of the way. He is a decent depth option in you need to fill a bench spot.

The Phoenix Coyotes have reloaded their roster obtaining players that have been exiled from their previous teams because they under perform or their contracts are too heavy.

The 3 new Coyotes have no fantasy appeal and owners should steer clear of of these desert dogs.


Voted Off the Island ... Finally

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired veteran goal scorer Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders for a conditional draft pick in 2009.

Fantasy Outlook:
It was just a matter of time before Guerin was traded. After the whole ordeal of sitting out the game between the Islanders and Sabres because of a pending deal, he was finally traded.

Even though his better days are behind him, Guerin's leadership and goal scoring prowess should only increase playing on the wing of one of the two leading point scorers in the league.

Guerin will provide adequate support to the Penguins top 6 and should be able help a fantasy owner if they already have him on his roster. Guerin has no keeper value as he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and is a question mark as to where he will end up. If he is available on your waiver wire I would advise you to pick him up, but I would suggest you do not trade for him as the owners of this vet will be asking for a steep price, selling him as Crosby's winger.


From Pretender To Contender

The Boston Bruins have acquired veteran Mark Recchi and a 2nd round pick in 2010 from Tampa Bay for defenceman Matt Lashoff and forward Martins Karsums.

Fantasy Outlook: The Bruins have added an invaluable leadership presence to a team that is looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. Recchi, 41, is not a stranger to being traded on deadline day having been moved 5 times late in the season.

This veteran will surely bring the leadership the Bruins were expecting when trading for him. However, owners should not readily run out and pick him up if he is available, until he has developed chemistry and consistent linemates on his new team.


What's a Bruin?

The Boston Bruins trade Petteri Nokelainen to the Anaheim Ducks for defenceman Steve Montador.

Fantasy Outlook: The Boston Bruins have added a hard hitting, depth defencemen for a prospect center.

The Anaheim Ducks continue to remodel their club by moving out another veteran and adding youth and a cheaper contract. Montador didn't look like he fit into their long terms plans after the acquisition of Ryan Whitney from Pittsburgh.

Montador has little fantasy value but will be looked upon to add stability and grit to the Bruins rock solid team. Owners that currently have him on their team should expect more of the same from the big d-man.


Backing Up the Backup

The Phoenix Coyotes trade Mikael Tellqvist to the Buffalo Sabres fora 4th round pick in 2010.

Fantasy Outlook:
In what is looked at as a small deal in the NHL world, Sabres fans should be relieved. Darcy Regehr has a addressed an issue that has been looming since star goalie Ryan Miller went down with a high ankle sprain.

This move may mean one of two things: Ryan Miller's ankle is sprain is worse than Buffalo is letting on, or the Sabres have given up hope on Patrick Lalime.

The reason this has fantasy implications is because it affects Buffalo's confidence and owners of Ryan Miller should be concerned.

Do not look at Tellqvist as an adequate replacement for Miller. If you have the opportunity to replace Miller with another #1 guy, go for it. If not, add Tellqvist from the waiver wire - only if you have room on your bench.


A Second Time Around

The Colorado Avalanche trade defenceman Jordon Leopold to the Calgary Flames for Lawrence Nycholat, prospect Ryan Wilson and a 2009 second round pick.

Fantasy Outlook: Calgary made a huge move to secure a top 5 blueline corps. Leopold will help Calgary be one off the monsters in the Western conference.

Colorado was looking to dump salary and Calgary was the beneficiary. The Avalanche receive a late 2nd round pick in 2009 which should help ease the wound from losing Leopold to free agency in July.

This transaction has limited fantasy appeal. Leopold will play well helping the Flames strive for the Stanely Cup. He is, however, buried behind Phaneuf as the power play quarterback and will put up limited points in the final games.

Look for Leopold to be with a new team come July 1st as this is a playoff rental. He will have a better fantasy outlook come July 1st as he will be looked upon a young veteran on another team.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From Desert Dog to Urban Cowboy

Phoenix trades Olli Jokinen and a 3rd round pick to Calgary for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a 1st round pick.

Phoenix was desperate to get rid of Jokinen as he did not fit into their system or dressing room. Calgary, like Montreal, have been looking for a top-line centre for a couple of years now. They finally get their guy and re-unite him with his old Florida coach Mike Keenan, the coach who Olli credits his development to.

Fantasy Outlook:
Olli Jokinen: Things can only get better for Jokinen as he has struggled to fit in with Phoenix and has an underwhelming 42 points in 57 games (on pace for 54). He should get every opportunity to mesh with Jarome Iginla and both players should see an instant spike in production - even though Jarome is one of the hottest players in the league right now. Look for Olli to finish strong with 22 points in the last 19 games. Next year, Jokinen should return to his point-per-game standard and could possibly challenge his career-best of 91 points, set in 2006-2007. Jokinen once again becomes a very good keeper and a 2nd round pick in your annual draft. For Iginla owners, this should also help him get back to the 90-100 point range.

Matthew Lombardi: At 26, Lombardi is a player that needs to break out soon. Is he a productive 3rd liner or can he play on one of the top two lines? He has struggled the past two seasons to replicate his career numbers of 46 points in 2006-2007. This year, he has showed some promise but hasn't been able to fit into a permanent role on one of Calgary's top two lines. Lombardi is known for his great wheels and decent hands. With all the young talent in Phoenix, he could become one of those complimentary players that is good for 55-65 points a year (see Kunitz, or Dumont). Look for Lombardi to get some decent ice-time in the desert and finish with 12-13 points in the final 19 games. If he meshes with Mueller and Doan, he could end up closer to a point-per-game to finish out the season. Next year, Lombardi will be fighting the talented youngsters in Phoenix for ice time but could post 50-55 points. Look for him as a sleeper in the middle-to-later rounds of your draft. At this point, he is a non-keeper.

Brandon Prust: If you're in leagues that reward PIMS then you may be interested in taking a flyer on Prust. With Phoenix moving Carcillo to Philadelphia today, Prust becomes their resident enforcer. He currently has 79 PIMs in just 25 games and will be relied upon to bring the fists night in and night out in the desert. No keeper value and a "PIM specialist" waiver wire edition for next year.

Capital Investment

What looked like an inactive trade deadline as of 2:42pm EST, heated up after 3pm. Over the next few days we will break down the meaningful fantasy hockey deals and their implications for both this year and keeper leagues.

Ottawa trades Antoine Vermette to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick in 2009.

Ottawa is looking to solve their goaltending issues, which seem to date back to Joe Nieweundyk scoring twice on Patrick Lalime from impossible angles as the Leafs knocked Ottawa out of the playoffs...again. Columbus needs skill and speed up front and will give Vermette every opportunity to become a number 1 centre.

Fantasy Outlook:
Antoine Vermette: Struggling to produce this year after self-proclaiming that he could score 35-40 goals this season, Vermette has over-stayed his welcome n Ottawa. They relied on him for secondary scoring and he just didn't deliver with just 28 points in 68 games. Vermette was also Ottawa's best faceoff man so Hitchcock will give him every opportunity to be the number 1 centre in Columbus. With his speed, Vermette could click with the big and fast Rick Nash, forming a fearsome twosome. Look for Vermette to finish with 13-14 points in Columbus' final 18 games and end the season on a real high note. As for next year, Vermette will rotate with Derrick Brassard as Nash's pivot and should surpass his career numbers (53 in 2007-2008) producing upwards of 60 points. A low-end keeper or mid round pick in next year's draft - could be a nice sleeper pick.

Pascal Leclaire:

Leclaire put up an impressive 9 shut-outs in 2007-2008, which coincides with the healthiest year of his career. A constant band-aid boy, Leclaire (why do I get the urge to call him Lalime?) has always had a solid pedigree but struggled to put together two good, healthy seasons. With Steve Mason's accelerated development, Columbus felt Leclaire was expendable. The big question though is how much of Leclaire's and Mason's success comes from their talent and how much comes from Ken Hitchcock's meticulous defensive system? In my opinion both goalies have had inflated success in that system and I think Leclaire will be exposed in a soft Sens system. Leclaire doesn't feel he will be able to return this season due to his ankle injury. Next season, I see him as an average starter on an average team, say 28 wins, 2.86 GAA, .907 Save %. With those numbers, he should be available in the middle rounds of your draft and has minimal keeper value.

Keep checking back for more breakdowns and how it affects your fantasy team.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

From Black to Blue

Sean Avery is once again a Blueshirt. The New York Rangers have claimed the controversial winger on re-entry waivers from the Dallas Stars.

Click here for full details from TSN.

Fantasy Outlook: The hockey world knew that this transaction was going to take place. It was just a matter of time before it happened. Sean Avery will bring something unique to the Rangers.
That being said, Avery will continue to be a top six winger and a super-pest. He will be a contributor to the Rangers by creating more room for the more talented players if he can stay out of the penalty box or Tortorella's doghouse.

I think that Avery's value has dipped and I caution owners to beware when they are contemplating the keeper value of him. IF he can contribute, and IF he stays away from controversy then he will remain a keeper because of his points and penalty minutes.


Staying Wild

Minnesota Wild have signed franchise goaltender Niklas Backstrom to a 4 year, $24 Million contract extension.

Click here for full details from TSN.

Fantasy Outlook:
The Wild have locked up the cornerstone of their franchise for another 4 years. In three season in Minnesota he has an amazing record of 84-39-18 with a 2.19 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

This keeper is a true keeper. He has excelled in Minnesota's stingy offensive system and has at times carried them on his back. He is an elite talent on a team that wins games by a one goal margin.

He will never be looked at in the top 5 goalies in the league because of the team he is on, but draftees should keep an eye on this guy as he can put up top 5 numbers and possibly fall in any draft past the first couple rounds. If he is available in any league jump on him and hold him close.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Havelid To The Swamp

This trade has just broke as per TSN - click here

Fantasy owners can now rejoice, the first trade of this deadline week has finally been completed. Atlanta has traded veteran defenceman Niclas Havelid to New Jersey for rookie d-man Anssi Salmela.

Fanatsy outlook:
Hang on tight fantasy owners. Don't rush out and pickup Havelid. The 35 year old rear guard was strictly brought in for depth purposes. New Jersey is a defence first oriented system and that will only hinder Havelids non-spectacular numbers to date.
Anssi Salmela is a rather unknown d-man in North America but has put up decent numbers in Lowell in the AHL this season.

If there is any fantasy upside on this deal, it is that Salmela could be looked at as a future fantasy keeper in very deep leagues.


The Calm Before The Storm ???

They say patience is a virtue.
The whole league is holding their breathe waiting for the dominoes to fall.

The rumour mill has been working overtime and with less than 48 hours left before the deadline, I am sure the stories will get even crazier.

Here at Just Fantasy Hockey, we will be breaking down every trade and how they affect you on your fantasy hockey team.

Please check back often to get the latest on the breakdowns ...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trade Breakdown: Pittsburgh and Anaheim

Pittsburgh trades Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi.

I know this is a few days late but thought we would chime in with the fantasy implications.

Ryan Whitney: Whitney has struggled this year after coming back from foot surgery and just hasn't been able to fit in with the Penguins after looking like a key building block last year. Currntly on pace for 16 points in 37 games, Whitney is far off his career best point-per-game of 59 in 82 in 2006-2007. Don't look for a spike in those numbers in Anaheim as Chris Pronger may or may not be moved but Scott Neidermayer is staying put. Whitney should see his value jump next year though as he may very well be the top Dman in Anaheim and quarterbacking a talented powerplay. Look for him to have 45-50 points next year and be a solid fantasy Dman for the next few years. Think top 15 Dman.

Chris Kunitz: The 29 year-old Kunitz has the potential for a huge fantasy spike here if he can be the winger that finally clicks with Sidney Crosby. Many talented players have tried (Hossa, Sykora, Satan, Recchi) but none have seemed to find that natural chemistry (Hossa had a decent playoff on Sid's wing but they never seemed to know where eachother was on the ice and it seemed forced, not natural). Kunitz is a talented player that seems to compliment studs like Selanne, Getzlaf and Perry but has strugled to find consistency. If Chris and Sid get on the same page, it could be just what both players need to jump to that next level (for Sid that next level is NHL domination). Kunitz should flirt with a point-per-game down the stretch. Signed for three more years, he could have a career year next year...think 75 points. He is now a legit keeper option.

Eric Tangradi: Tangradi is having a great year in Belleville this year with 38 goals and 88 points in 54 games. At 6'4 and 220, Eric has the size and skill to be an impact player for the Pens down the road. Between Tangradi and Luca Caputi, Pittsburgh finally has some skilled wingers in the system and both could see time flanking Sidney or Geno in the next few years. Tangradi is now a great option as a long-term keeper.

Trade # 3: New Jersey and Toronto

New Jersey trades David Clarkson, Matt Halischuk, 2009 1st round pick, 2009 2nd round pick and 2010 2nd round pick to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle and Jamal Mayers.

Reason: New Jersey is looking more and more like the team to beat in the East. The superstar emergence of Zach Parise, the offensive support of Elias, Zajac, Langenbrunner and Rolston, and the return of a well-rested Martin Brodeur has Brent Sutter's boys looking like the beast in the east (honourable mention to the Bruins). Their only weak spot? Paul Martin as their top puck-moving Dman. The Devils need an elite puck-possession Dman to get the puck to their speedy forwards. Kabs can also play upwards of 30 minutes a game and be the horse that Sutter needs. With defensive specialists like White, Oduya and Salvador, Kaberle's defensive shortcomings should be masked in the New Jersey system.

Brian Burke is looking to hit a home-run in his first deadline with the Leafs and the only way he does that is by moving his top asset.  Clarkson is a Burke-type player, tough and can skate, and will quickly become a fan-favourite in Toronto. Halischuk is another Burke prospect with good speed and a lot of heart (you may remember him scoring the winning goal in overtime against Sweden in the 2007 WJC Gold Medal game). Not overly big but uses his body well. The key for Toronto are the picks. The Leafs have traded a lot of their picks over the next few years and Burke's number one mission was to get those picks back. He gets two high picks in this year's deep draft and recoups the 2010 2nd rounder Toronto traded to Montreal for Mikhail Grabovski. Burke has said all along that he would not move Kaberle unless he gets blown away, but the size, youth and draft picks from New Jersey gets the deal done.

Some may think New Jersey is giving up too much in the way of draft picks in this deal but Halischuk is not the high-end prospect that Burke is looking for so the picks become a bigger part of the deal.

Salary Cap Implications: New Jersey is currently $2 million under the cap and can afford to take on Kaberle's remaining modest contract while Mayer's and Clarkson almost cancel each other out. 
Fantasy Spin: Kaberle should finish very strong quarterbacking a talented NJ powerplay. Look for him to finish with about 15 points in the last 18 games for the Devils. Next year he should be back up to 60+ points (career high is 67 in 05-06) as the Devils will remain a top team for the next few years. This makes Kaberle a top 10 Dman again...something he hasn't been with Toronto over the past few years.

Mayers will be a useful checker for the Devils but provide minimal fantasy value. 

Clarkson will see a slight increase in TOI in Toronto and could finish with 20 goals and 35 points. He will also be eager to drop the mitts to impress his new boss so PIMS could raise slightly. Clarkson could be a 20-25 goal scorer with 45 points and 100+ PIMS next year for Toronto making him quite valuable in leagues that reward PIMs.