Hockey News: Keith Tkachuk

Updated: February 26, 2007, 3:17 PM ET
By Darryl Dobbs | Special to ESPN.com

The NHL trade deadline is February 27 and for many hockey pools its deadline is close, if not, exactly the same time. Those of you in one-year pools may not have as many big decisions to make as keeper-league poolies, but the pressure is still great and the need for swift action is equally strong.

The key element to look for, as far as the rest of the season goes, is to find which players are going to pop over the final six or seven weeks. With players being moved from one team to another, you'll need to know whether these transactions will increase or decrease a player's production. Take for instance, Keith Tkachuk, who headed to Atlanta and now has an obvious upside in his production. His season in St. Louis was below average; he had 43 points in 61 games and was on pace to score less then 60 points. While he lost three games in the deal (Atlanta has played three more games than St. Louis), he was put on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk, who will see to it that Tkachuk puts up a point per game going forward.

What is not as obvious is the fact the aforementioned Kovalchuk is having a miserable season, putting up less than a point per game while suffering through a weak merry-go-round of pivots such as Steve Rucchin, Glen Metropolit and Niko Kapanen. With Tkachuk on his line, Kovalchuk will transform back into his old superstar self (it seems silly to slap "old" on a 23-year-old, but you get the picture).

What is also not as obvious is the fact Slava Kozlov gets the majority of his points on the power play. Although he will remain on a line with Marian Hossa when the team's at even strength, Tkachuk will siphon away Kozlov's power play minutes. These are the types of subtleties the one-year fantasy owner must act on.

In keeper leagues, the strategy is completely different. In a typical 12-team league, you will probably have four teams that are definitely going for it, four teams that are not and four teams that are making that tough decision -- push for the trophy or rebuild for next season. If your pool includes the playoffs, then the value of certain players is impacted more if they are moved to a new team. For instance, that former Columbus player you own (i.e. Anson Carter) is now on the defending Stanley Cup champions and now a team built for some playoff damage in your pool is calling you and inquiring about him.

As an aside, if the above example actually happens, see to it you move Carter. As soon as Erik Cole returns to the lineup, Carter's production will plummet, so get a return on him while you can.

For teams rebuilding in their keeper leagues, the best advice I can offer is this -- if you have a player with points, unless it's a top 10 fantasy player (see my rankings ), shop him around. Get a player of equal or greater value in return for giving away his points (again, see my rankings), plus a draft pick or a prospect. All too often I see rebuilding teams give away a player with points straight up for a player of equal value without as many points. In essence, these teams are giving away points without compensation. You're in the driver's seat. You have the points, so you should be rewarded for them.

For keeper-league teams going for the gusto -- if you truly have a chance at top spot, don't let a high asking price stop you. Get the deal done. I know a lot of owners who balk at high asking prices and wind up being second or third for five or six years in a row, never winning the title. What is the point of that? Wouldn't you rather be first once or twice and last the other four years?

First place gets remembered; second place doesn't. Let me put it this way -- who was second place in your pool last year? That's what I thought. The only way you know the answer is if you finished second.

Farm Report: The Phoenix Coyotes have recalled Yanick Lehoux from San Antonio of the American League. With Mike Comrie and Ladislav Nagy out of the picture (as a result of trades), the Coyotes have room for Lehoux on a scoring line. Lehoux has great talent, but his health has been questionable. He has been injury-free this season and leaves the AHL with 62 points in 59 games, good for sixth in league scoring. As a 24-year-old, Lehoux still needs to be more consistent at the NHL level. Keep an eye on him, as early production will mean continued production.

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Pool Look appears every Monday and Wednesday only on The Hockey News.com. Want to speak with Darryl about fantasy hockey? E-mail him at dobber@dobberhockey.com.

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