Commentary

Are You For Real?: Mike Smith, Modano, Rivet

Updated: February 27, 2008, 5:18 PM ET
By Victoria Matiash and John Pereira | Special to ESPN.com

That's it. All she wrote. What you see is what you get.

The trade deadline is at long last behind us, and aside from minor league call-ups, the teams are set for the final surge to the postseason. With the exception of one or two bizarre transactions (Cristobal Huet to the Capitals for a burger and fries), most of them made sense for the squads involved. But what's the fantasy fallout?

Although some big names were shuffled about (Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell etc.), we "Are You For Real" writers want to take a look at the collateral damage. Let's have a gander at a couple of players who will be affected by Tuesday's trades despite not going anywhere. And we want to talk about Mike Smith, too.

Mike Smith, G, Lightning

Mike Smith
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezMike Smith has been good as a backup ... can he be just as good as a starter for the Lightning?
When is leaving a genuine playoff contender for a league basement-dweller a good thing? When it means you get to start almost every game as opposed to one in four games. Mike Smith isn't complaining too much about shimmying down the NHL's pole of superiority since he gets to be a legitimate No. 1 with Tampa Bay. But how will it affect his fantasy value? Now that he has crawled out from Marty Turco's shadow, is he for real?

Victoria: No, he isn't for real. Not yet anyway. Don't get me wrong, Smith has been solid since entering the league with Dallas last season, and he fully deserves a shot at starting. And there's no denying a rise in fantasy value when anyone leaves the backup position to become a No. 1, but I'm still a little wary in this case. Full disclosure: As a Smith owner myself, I'm looking to trade him. Not because he's not talented, but the responsibility of being a starter on any team is a heavy one. There's not a lot of season left to allow for the mental adjustment period that Smith needs. Tampa Bay isn't the kindest of places for netminders, either. The team ranks 29th in goals allowed, and you can't completely blame that on bad goaltending. Here's the deal: Smith could flourish or fall on his face. Deep in net, I'm not willing to take that gamble, but if I was struggling, I'd give him a go.

John: I don't see things in the same negative light as you do, I guess. I'm quite happy to see Smith head to Tampa Bay, for a couple of reasons. One, I think he will be a productive starting goalie this season and will mature into a good No. 1 NHL goaltender down the road. And two, I own Turco, and I'm happy Smith isn't chasing him down for starts anymore. Smith, at times, has been brilliant this season. He has won his past three starts with a 1.67 goals-against average, has two shutouts and was named the NHL third star of the week once, despite being a backup. I really don't think the Lightning are as bad as their record indicates; a good goaltender could be what ails them. I definitely like his upside, though I would temper my high expectations for him this season.

Mike Modano, C, Stars

One of the pre-deadline blockbuster trades involved Tampa Bay sending Brad Richards to Dallas. A great move by the Stars in their quest for the Cup, but now there could be too many cooks in the kitchen. Richards plays center. So does Mike Ribeiro. And Mike Modano. Uh oh.

John: This situation is confusing. The Stars will most definitely split up their offense between two lines, but among their top six forwards, at least three of them are natural centers. What will coach Dave Tippett do? I don't know. But I imagine Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow will remain on the top line, while Modano and the newly acquired Brad Richards team up on the second line.

Victoria: You don't trade for a guy who costs around $8 million per season and plunk him on your third line. You don't split up one of the hottest partnerships in hockey (Ribeiro/Morrow). And you don't "demote" your solid second-line center unless you have to. Therefore, I'm in full agreement with you here, John: Modano and Richards will have to learn to skate together. This isn't a big a deal, really. Although Modano is most comfortable at center, Richards has played on the wing in the past. Steve Ott, a lefty-shooting center like Richards, has been skating alongside Modano recently, and he has produced well. Nothing against Ott, but if I can slide one of the best playmakers in the game in there instead, I'm doing it. Even Richards seems to have foreseen this happening, implying in a recent post-trade interview that he was open to playing wing on either of the top two lines. And when these chips fall into place, Modano's fantasy value takes a significant leap. He is most certainly for real.

John: If this is the case, I agree then, and we can upgrade Modano significantly for the rest of the season. Richards is one of the best all-around players in the NHL and he'll make his teammates better. In all likelihood, Modano will be the main beneficiary of the Richards deadline day deal.

href="javascript:newWin('http://insider.espn.go.com/nhl/players/fantasy?statsId=1275')">Craig Rivet, D, Sharks

Craig Rivet
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty ImagesCraig Rivet has been a pleasant surprise this season, but his role could change with Brian Campbell now in the fold?
Rivet has been a lovely fantasy surprise this season. He leads all San Jose defensemen with 29 points in 60 games, and he leads the team with 91 penalty minutes. The 16 power-play points certainly don't hurt either. But what happens now with Brian Campbell joining the team from Buffalo? Can Rivet continue to put up good fantasy figures with one of the best offensive defensemen added to the roster?

John: Unlike Modano and Smith, Rivet's value is hurt by his team's deadline trade. Rivet was forced into a role he never had before and has responded well. While someone like Matt Carle has struggled this season, Rivet has been productive in quarterbacking the Sharks' power play, but there's no longer room for him on the ice with the man advantage. Brian Campbell now has the enviable task of leading a power play consisting of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo. Make no mistake, Rivet will be a good source of penalty minutes and the odd point, but his ownership numbers will certainly begin to drop, and they should.

Victoria: Absolutely. You have to feel sorry for the guy, considering the success he has had this season, but there's no way his role will be as large with Campbell added to the mix. He had a good run, but it's over. If I owned Rivet, I'd try to dish him off now, before his numbers slide significantly.

Victoria Matiash and John Pereira are fantasy hockey analysts for ESPN.com.

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