Commentary

Front Line: Post-trade deadline wrap

Updated: March 1, 2011, 3:55 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

That was not the blockbuster trade deadline everyone had hoped for.

It's already been said plenty of times and was not entirely unexpected. It also translates to the fantasy impact of Monday's trade action as well. There were only 16 trades made and only a half dozen or so have a fantasy impact and even fewer if you are only accounting for forwards (as I must).

I'm listing the following players impacted by the deadline moves in the order in which they are most likely to help your fantasy team. That means availability plays a role. Dustin Penner is definitely the player with the biggest swing in fantasy value, but he is already owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues. That means the potential for him to impact your team (if you don't own him) is not very high.

Jason Arnott, Washington Capitals: I won't back away from the comment I made in last week's Forecaster that Arnott's value with a different team should increase tenfold. Given the nice change of scenery and his availability in 35 percent of ESPN leagues, he has the most potential off the waiver wire following the minimal amount of trades on Monday. Arnott has not fit in with the New Jersey Devils this season. While he was one of the better Devils under coach John MacLean, the team as a whole was atrocious. Now that the Devils are winning, it is quite obvious Arnott is not a huge puzzle piece under coach Jacques Lemaire. He had just two points in 13 February games even though the Devils won 11 of those contests.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have failed to cobble together two consistent scoring lines with the current mix of top six forwards. However, adding Arnott to the mix gives the team a clearly established second line center (with Nicklas Backstrom anchoring the top line). While Backstrom will certainly play with Alexander Ovechkin, there is no reason coach Bruce Boudreau won't experiment with Alexander Semin as a linemate for Arnott. With Semin's all-around vision on the ice and Arnott's 30-goal-scorer mentality, the combination could give the Caps that secondary punch that helps make the whole team better. Arnott is also an experienced power-play performer and he could well secure a role with Backstrom, Ovechkin and Semin on a four-forward power play with the newly acquired Dennis Wideman blasting shots from the point. Only an injury should stop Arnott from netting more than 15 points during the final 19 games, with many of them on the power play.

Brad Boyes
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesBrad Boyes scored 76 goals in his first two full seasons with the Blues (2007-2009), but only 14 last season.

Brad Boyes, Buffalo Sabres: Again, the bigger overall impact goes to Penner, but with Boyes available in 64 percent of ESPN leagues, he is probably of more use to most of you. Boyes was just ousted by Chris Stewart as a top-six forward for the St. Louis Blues. While his production has been disappointing compared to recent season, Boyes still has 41 points in 62 games, which is nothing to sneeze at. You might even notice that his 41 points would rank him second on the Sabres this season. Boyes will definitely snag a role in the top six and potentially tap into his former 40-goal potential while playing alongside an elite playmaker in Tim Connolly. But even if he is stuck on the second line, Boyes has the versatility to also feed goal scorers like Drew Stafford or Thomas Vanek. Give coach Lindy Ruff a few games to work out the kinks and Boyes will start tickling the twine for the Sabres down the stretch. He may not be the sure-fire pickup that Arnott is, but in deeper leagues I'd definitely gamble on an available Boyes.

Dustin Penner, Los Angeles Kings: Here we come to Penner, whose overall stock increased the most on Monday. To benefit from the jolt to his fantasy value you will either have to own him already or pay a hefty price tag in trade; the newest addition to the Kings top six is owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues. Penner is the answer to a question that I'm sure coach Terry Murray has asked himself all season long: Who is my sixth forward? Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll have formed the most successful line for the Kings this season, when you consider the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The problem with leaving the trio together too long, though, is the tendency for Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown to stagnate without a consistent third member of the top line. Andrei Loktionov, Brad Richardson, Marco Sturm and Scott Parse have all failed the long-term test on the line, so Murray is forced to slide either Williams or Smyth into the role to get Kopitar and Brown going again. Enter Penner. To be honest, thinking about Penner and Brown slamming into the corners on the same line together should actually have opposing defenders a little scared. Brown and Penner offer very similar forechecking and garbage goal potential to go with Kopitar's elite skill. This combination can only be extremely successful or completely incompatible; there is no middle ground. Luckily for Penner, there are other options among the Kings top six if it doesn't work, but I strongly suggest it will.

You may be able to get a top-50 forward in trade for Penner, and that's a deal you should make every time, as becoming a top-50 forward is the best case scenario for Penner, and there is no guarantee the chemistry will be there. If you own Penner and need more of a sure thing for your fantasy roster, his trade value will not be any higher than it is right now (before he laces up for his first game as a King).

I'm going to lump Niclas Bergfors and Sergei Samsonov now of the Florida Panthers and Rob Schremp now of the Atlanta Thrashers all together in a paragraph here, because the fantasy advice regarding all three players is very similar. Bergfors and Schremp, in particular, have a similar story during recent seasons: They ooze talent yet have not found a secure home to capitalize on it. While Bergfors performed admirably at the end of last season and beginning of this season with the Thrashers, he quickly became a resident of coach Craig Ramsay's doghouse. As a Panther, Bergfors will definitely get a shot at the top line between now and the end of the season. If he clicks with Stephen Weiss, it could be good news for his fantasy value. Sergei Samsonov, though much older, has had a similar story. I wouldn't go near him with a 10-foot pole prior to seeing his role with the Panthers, but he also has top line potential on a squad that has been purged. As for Schremp, his role with the Thrashers is far from a guaranteed top-line assignment, but there is a chance. Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler have been getting along fine lately, but the door is open for a second line assignment for Schremp. Nik Antropov, Anthony Stewart and Evander Kane have a combined minus-15 and just four points in the past six games. I should make it explicitly clear that all three players are a gamble, but if I were in a deep fantasy league I might pre-emptively snatch up Schremp or Bergfors, just in case.

You might have noticed there has been minimum discussion on one of the traditional "fantasy spins" after deadline day: The hole left behind by a departed player. But to be honest, very few of these deals involved top-six forwards for their respective teams. In fact, Penner is the only forward to move to be established in such a role and the Edmonton Oilers swing their lines around enough that there is no clear winner in his absence (Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle may get a touch more power-play time).

And that is that folks. Back to our regularly scheduled Front Line programming.

Top 100 Forwards

Note: Sean Allen's top 100 forwards are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Daniel Sedin, Van (1)
2. Steven Stamkos, TB (2)
3. Alex Ovechkin, Was (3)
4. Corey Perry, Ana (4)
5. Henrik Sedin, Van (5)
6. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (6)
7. Martin St. Louis, TB (7)
8. Anze Kopitar, LA (11)
9. Jeff Carter, Phi (9)
10. Jonathan Toews, Chi (14)
11. Nicklas Backstrom, Was (12)
12. Alexander Semin, Was (13)
13. Dany Heatley, SJ (10)
14. Eric Staal, Car (15)
15. Alex Burrows, Van (16)
16. Ryan Kesler, Van (8)
17. Rick Nash, Cls (21)
18. Claude Giroux, Phi (19)
19. Brad Richards, Dal (20)
20. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (22)
21. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (24)
22. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (23)
23. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (25)
24. Patrick Kane, Chi (30)
25. Bobby Ryan, Ana (26)
26. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (27)
27. John Tavares, NYI (31)
28. Joe Thornton, SJ (29)
29. Mike Richards, Phi (17)
30. Danny Briere, Phi (18)
31. Patrick Sharp, Chi (32)
32. David Backes, StL (33)
33. Teemu Selanne, Ana (34)
34. Scott Hartnell, Phi (35)
35. Loui Eriksson, Dal (28)
36. Johan Franzen, Det (37)
37. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (38)
38. Phil Kessel, Tor (71)
39. Chris Stewart, StL (40)
40. Logan Couture, SJ (41)
41. Justin Williams, LA (36)
42. Milan Lucic, Bos (50)
43. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (43)
44. Dustin Brown, LA (44)
45. Brenden Morrow, Dal (45)
46. David Krejci, Bos (46)
47. Jordan Staal, Pit (47)
48. Steve Downie, TB (48)
49. Ryan Smyth, LA (49)
50. Patrick Marleau, SJ (51)
51. Thomas Vanek, Buf (52)
52. Mikael Samuelsson, Van (53)
53. Martin Havlat, Min (55)
54. Drew Stafford, Buf (57)
55. Marian Hossa, Chi (58)
56. R.J. Umberger, Cls (67)
57. Paul Stastny, Col (59)
58. Shane Doan, Pho (60)
59. Patrik Elias, NJ (61)
60. Andy McDonald, StL (85)
61. Devin Setoguchi, SJ (NR)
62. Mike Cammalleri, Mon (79)
63. Dustin Penner, Edm (NR)
64. Alexander Steen, StL (63)
65. Andrew Ladd, Atl (64)
66. Nathan Horton, Bos (81)
67. Mike Ribeiro, Dal (66)
68. Joe Pavelski, SJ (73)
69. Brian Gionta, Mon (68)
70. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (69)
71. Daniel Cleary, Det (NR)
72. Jason Arnott, NJ (NR)
73. Olli Jokinen, Cgy (72)
74. Ales Hemsky, Edm (93)
75. Todd Bertuzzi, Det (74)
76. Dave Bolland, Chi (75)
77. Marian Gaborik, NYR (42)
78. Stephen Weiss, Fla (54)
79. Nikolai Kulemin, Tor (76)
80. Mark Recchi, Bos (77)
81. Patrik Berglund, StL (NR)
82. Brad Marchand, Bos (78)
83. Jeff Skinner, Car (39)
84. Michael Grabner, NYI (80)
85. Taylor Hall, Edm (82)
86. Ray Whitney, Pho (NR)
87. T.J. Oshie, StL (83)
88. Matt Moulson, NYI (86)
89. James Neal, Pit (56)
90. Mikhail Grabovski, Tor (87)
91. Ryane Clowe, SJ (88)
92. Jason Spezza, Ott (90)
93. Patric Hornqvist, Nsh (91)
94. Shawn Horcoff, Edm (92)
95. Brendan Morrison, Cgy (95)
96. Jiri Hudler, Det (NR)
97. Jason Pominville, Buf (96)
98. Brian Rolston, NJ (97)
99. Martin Erat, Nsh (99)
100. Radim Vrbata, Pho (NR)

Rising and Falling

As a quick disclaimer: With only 20 or so games left in the season for most teams, you will start to see some wild swings in the rankings. Twenty games is very limited window to affect fantasy value, and a hot or cold streak can easily bite into a majority of the remaining schedule.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (up 33 spots): As has been well documented in this space since the trade that landed Joffrey Lupul with the Leafs, Kessel has been on fire. With seven goals and 11 points on his past seven games, Kessel is primed to finish the season as he was expected to perform throughout it. I may have even been too hard on him by only bringing him into the top 30. If the Kessel owner in your league thinks he can cash in on a hot streak by selling high, take him up on the offer. Kessel is as good a bet as anyone to finish the season on a high note.

Daniel Cleary, Detroit Red Wings (debuts at No. 71): Start playing regularly with one of the game's best overall forwards and you are bound to have some fantasy relevance. Cleary has taken off alongside Pavel Datsyuk on the Red Wings top line. He finished the month out with 12 points in his past 11 games. Cleary is available in more than 35 percent of ESPN leagues.

Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers (down 12 spots): This is not to say Briere won't keep scoring to finish the season, but a point needs to be made here about line consistency. Briere played his best hockey this season with Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino as linemates. The trio have been broken up and Briere has just six points in his past 12 games. There has to be a correlation.

Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks (down eight spots): Maybe I am just coming down a bit sooner from the same Kesler high we were all experiencing this season, but I don't see him returning top-10 value from here out. I'm still okay with top-20 for Kesler, but I expect the Canucks to lean on the Sedin Twins down the stretch and for the Kesler train to slow down just a bit. One point and a minus-5 in five games tells me it's already started.

Devin Setoguchi, San Jose Sharks (debuts at No. 61): Pair the two hottest young Sharks of late with the steadfast veteran center that makes beautiful plays and you have a recipe for success. Setoguchi, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton appear to make the perfect combination. Setoguchi has seven goals in seven games while Couture and Thornton have a combined 12 assists. Do the math and it works out pretty close.

Scoring Lines

Matt Calvert, Columbus Blue Jackets: It wasn't a strong recommendation, but I put Calvert in this space last week in regards to Derick Brassard's injured hand. Since then Calvert has managed five goals and an assist in three games on the Blue Jackets second line with R.J. Umberger. As long as Brassard, and now Kristian Huselius, leave vacancies in the top six Calvert is worth short-term consideration.

Mikkel Boedker, Phoenix Coyotes: The speedy Boedker has rarely left the recently hot Radim Vrbata's side in recent weeks and is a mainstay on the Coyotes power play. To that end he has six assists in his past four games. Not coincidentally, he has broken double-digit minutes in all four games after averaging fewer than 10 minutes per game on the season.

Power Plays

Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers: He is disappearing for stretches, but overall Callahan has been the Rangers most consistent producer of late. With seven points in his past seven games, it is notable that five of those seven points came on a power play that just got a heck of a lot better with Bryan McCabe on the point.

Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs: While Lupul might not be scoring enough to be a consistent fantasy asset, he is doing a fair share of his work on the man advantage. With three of his five points for the Leafs on the power play, he could certainly be considered for some specialty work off a fantasy bench for those owners that like to micro-manage.

Infirmary

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: You may have noticed the conspicuous absence of Crosby from the top-100. The Penguins have 18 games left. With no indication that Crosby is recovering soon, we have to assume he is out at least another two weeks. At best, that gives him 11 games to maintain value over anyone on the top-100 rankings. That is likely the best-case scenario at this point. It's time to call it quits on hoping for a return. If you can't sell him for a spare part or reserve him to the IR, it is time to *gulp* drop him.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Hockey Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him here.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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