Booth rises, Samuelsson falls after trade


While there may be reasons to view the swap of shooters by the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks as a win-win trade, there is only one big winner in the fantasy realm.

Here's a clue: His name rhymes with 'tooth.'

The Canucks sent the streaky and high-shooting Mikael Samuelsson along with struggling veteran Marco Sturm to the Panthers in exchange for goal scorer David Booth and AHL centerman Steve Reinprecht. In the NHL realm, both teams end up with a new member of the top six and a backup veteran forward to play minimal minutes. In the fantasy realm, Samuelsson moves from beside arguably the best No. 2 center in the league and a power play with the past two Art Ross Trophy winners to the Panthers' second line with Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky.

Booth gets to move in to Samuelsson's old digs.

Now, not only did Samuelsson go on streaks during the past two seasons where he was a top-10 fantasy producer, but his role with the Canucks kept him consistently among the top 100 forwards through many an injury. Booth comes with a similar 'fragile' label, but with a better goal-scoring acumen.

In 2008-09, Booth broke out for the Panthers with a 31-goal, 60-point season to become a fantasy favorite in many leagues. The fact he contributed 11 power-play goals and fired the puck with aplomb made him a great fit for fantasy owners looking for secondary scoring. Unfortunately, a concussion limited him to just 28 contests in in 2009-10. Then last season, he played all 82 games but with just 23 goals and 40 points (and a fantasy-killing minus-31). It's pretty easy to explain the difference in production from his past two healthy seasons. In 2008-09, Booth played on a line with Nathan Horton and Richard Zednik; last season, he was on a line with Steve Bernier and Mike Santorelli. The difference in quality of those lines should be self-evident.

Now on a Canucks team where he will regularly play with Ryan Kesler (a junior national teammate of Booth) and Christopher Higgins (a teammate from last season), Booth could finish the season with with 35 goals, 280 shots and a plus rating of significance. Plus, he will assume Samuelsson's role on the power play with Kesler, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, so feel free to toss in 25 power-play points to boot. In other words, Booth has serious fantasy value now. He enters the rankings at No. 63, but if he can show the consistency that Samuelsson always lacked as the Canucks' No. 4 forward, that number will improve with his production.

Going the other way, Samuelsson will have a tall order to crack the Panthers' top line of Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg, which has been solid so far this season. The Panthers' power play has been top-five in the league so far, as well. It's difficult to immediately envision how the team will use Samuelsson, but for now, he gets to stay in the top 100. If Samuelsson can bump Fleischmann from the top line and power play, he could continue to earn some decent fantasy numbers. If he ends up buried on the Panthers' second line or second power-play unit, his value is lost.

Back on the Canucks roster, this spells bad news for Cody Hodgson, who struggled with just two points in the first eight games of the season. Hodgson is now definitively out of the top six and will have to showcase his value on the Canucks' third line. If he earns his way up the depth chart again, it will be because someone got hurt (still a possibility). Reinprecht is just as likely to be playing in the AHL as he was at the time of the trade.

Sturm would need to catch lightning in a bottle by landing next to the perfect complementary linemate with the Panthers to regain fantasy value. That is something unlikely to happen.

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. Alex Ovechkin, Was (2)
3. Steven Stamkos, TB (3)
4. Sidney Crosby, Pit (4)
5. Henrik Sedin, Van (5)
6. Anze Kopitar, LA (6)
7. Corey Perry, Ana (7)
8. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (8)
9. Jonathan Toews, Chi (9)
10. Ryan Kesler, Van (10)
11. Brad Richards, NYR (11)
12. Martin St. Louis, TB (12)
13. Nicklas Backstrom, Was (19)
14. Evgeni Malkin, Pit (13)
15. Zach Parise, NJ (15)
16. Bobby Ryan, Ana (16)
17. Claude Giroux, Phi (23)
18. Rick Nash, Cls (25)
19. David Backes, StL (20)
20. Eric Staal, Car (22)
21. Thomas Vanek, Buf (40)
22. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (14)
23. Phil Kessel, Tor (30)
24. Alexander Semin, Was (27)
25. Patrick Kane, Chi (36)
26. Patrick Marleau, SJ (28)
27. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (29)
28. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (24)
29. Dany Heatley, Min (21)
30. Johan Franzen, Det (31)
31. Danny Briere, Phi (32)
32. John Tavares, NYI (38)
33. James Neal, Pit (53)
34. Milan Lucic, Bos (34)
35. Joe Thornton, SJ (35)
36. Jeff Carter, Cls (18)
37. Mikko Koivu, Min (37)
38. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (26)
39. Mike Richards, LA (17)
40. Jaromir Jagr, Phi (39)
41. Nathan Horton, Bos (33)
42. Marian Hossa, Chi (41)
43. Patrick Sharp, Chi (43)
44. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (44)
45. Chris Stewart, StL (45)
46. Jason Spezza, Ott (61)
47. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edm (93)
48. Jeff Skinner, Car (46)
49. Alex Burrows, Van (47)
50. Logan Couture, SJ (48)
51. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (49)
52. Teemu Selanne, Ana (51)
53. Marian Gaborik, NYR (52)
54. Martin Havlat, SJ (56)
55. Derek Roy, Buf (54)
56. Paul Stastny, Col (63)
57. Shane Doan, Pho (57)
58. David Krejci, Bos (42)
59. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (59)
60. Joe Pavelski, SJ (60)
61. Devin Setoguchi, Min (50)
62. Brandon Dubinsky, NYR (64)
63. David Booth, Van (NR)
64. Patrik Elias, NJ (65)
65. Jamie Benn, Dal (73)
66. Mike Ribeiro, Dal (66)
67. Brenden Morrow, Dal (68)
68. Matt Duchene, Col (58)
69. Jason Pominville, Buf (92)
70. Gabriel Landeskog, Col (69)
71. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (70)
72. Mike Cammalleri, Mon (62)
73. Simon Gagne, LA (85)
74. Dustin Brown, LA (72)
75. Tyler Seguin, Bos (100)
76. Vaclav Prospal, Cls (94)
77. Michael Grabner, NYI (67)
78. Taylor Hall, Edm (74)
79. Ryane Clowe, SJ (75)
80. Teddy Purcell, TB (76)
81. Milan Michalek, Ott (99)
82. Drew Stafford, Buf (77)
83. Justin Williams, LA (89)
84. Loui Eriksson, Dal (81)
85. Joffrey Lupul, Tor (98)
86. Scott Hartnell, Phi (82)
87. Jordan Eberle, Edm (83)
88. Stephen Weiss, Fla (84)
89. Dustin Penner, LA (71)
90. Mikael Samuelsson, Fla (78)
91. P.A. Parenteau, NYI (86)
92. Valtteri Filppula, Det (NR)
93. Brian Gionta, Mon (88)
94. Wayne Simmonds, Phi (NR)
95. Tomas Fleischmann, Fla (90)
96. Steve Downie, TB (91)
97. Kris Versteeg, Fla (NR)
98. Jiri Hudler, Det (95)
99. Chris Kunitz, Pit (96)
100. Tim Connolly, Tor (97)

Rising and Falling

Sometimes you have to step back and take a real harsh look at the rankings. Some players may be riding on former glory or tainted coattails in their current position. Almost three weeks of hockey is enough to spot some trends (both good and bad) that may not let up anytime soon. It's also not enough, in every case, to call something a trend with some teams having as few as six games played. There are some big changes in this week's rankings as some trends expected to continue are identified.

Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings; Jeff Carter Columbus Blue Jackets (down 22 and 18 spots, respectively): As the top two centermen for the Philadelphia Flyers, Richards and Carter delivered top-30 fantasy value year in and year out. Both traded in the offseason, the new pastures haven't turned out to be as green for either player. Carter, in a good situation on paper as he's skating with Rick Nash, had three points in the first two games, zero points in the next three games, and then he broke his foot. He should return soon (it was a hairline fracture), but early indications suggest Carter still has some work to do to find the right chemistry with the Blue Jackets. Richards, on the other hand, has fit in perfectly with the Kings and is doing his job more than adequately. Unfortunately for fantasy purposes, his job as a No. 2 center doesn't make for the same kind of statistics he used to put up with the Flyers. There is no No. 1a and 1b lines with the Kings. Anze Kopitar is clearly centering the team's top scoring line and Richards job is to hold down the fort somewhat defensively on the second line.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (up 46 spots): There is a chance this huge jump in the rankings is one week premature, but here is betting the Oilers cannot justify demoting a player with five goals and two assists in his first seven NHL games to the WHL. Once Nugent-Hopkins plays his 10th game of the season, a year of his entry-level contract is burned up. But he is the team's leading scorer, the catalyst of the top line and one of the main reasons the Oilers are off to a decent 3-2-2 start. The boost in the rankings is ahead of the official decision that the Oilers are keeping RNH for the season and puts him where he belongs in the ranks if there were no threat of a demotion looming.

David Krejci and Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins (down 16 spots and up 25 spots respectively): These ranking moves are directly connected to each other and are because it is becoming difficult not to like Seguin as the Bruins' No. 1 center over Krejci. Since taking over the role after Krejci was hurt three games into the season and keeping it once Krejci returned, Seguin has three goals and three assists in five games as the top pivot. Meanwhile, Krejci is playing on the third line now that he has been usurped. If this swap holds, these players will continue trend toward each other in the rankings. Seguin still needs a few more games to cling to his current role ahead of Krejci. After all, it's only been two games with everyone healthy. But you can see from the small sample size how the values would be turned upside down. Seguin has four points and a plus-4 in those two games, while Krejci has zero points and a minus-3.

James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins (up 20 spots): Here's the thing with Neal: He is putting up these points without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin! Seriously, eight goals in 10 games is a fantastic start to the season and things will only get better for Neal as the team's all-world centermen return to the ice in the coming weeks. Crosby is taking contact in practice and is warming up to being ready to go. Malkin is going to be back from his sore knee in the next couple of games. No matter how the lines shake out, Neal is going to benefit from having two superstars skating for the Penguins. Also, it's hard not to see Crosby, Malkin and Neal all together for the power play.

Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators (up 15 spots): While we all focused on the fact that most AHL teams could score with regularity on the Senators, we forgot about the fact that the offense can put up enough points any given night to overcome the four-, five- and six-goal deficits against them. Spezza and Milan Michalek are clicking like they never have in the past, as Spezza has 11 points and Michalek has 10 in the first eight games of the season. There is still some risk in the fact that Spezza has shown a propensity for injury, especially in the past two seasons. The plus/minus is not going to be pretty either, considering both players have been scoring like crazy yet have just a minus-5 combined rating. Still, the top line of the Sens offense, which includes Colin Greening (four points, available in 99 percent of ESPN leagues) at even strength and Daniel Alfredsson (five points, available in 3 percent of ESPN leagues) on the power play, deserves a little more respect.

Scoring Lines

Alexander Steen and Jason Arnott, St. Louis Blues: Looking at the way the Blues are scoring goals, it is hard to decide which forward might have the most value over the course of the season. However, it's easy to say which Blues forwards have been the best so far. Alexander Steen (available in 18 percent of ESPN leagues) has three goals and three assists in eight games, a plus-4 rating and a team-leading 26 shots on goal. Though the lines have been changing often for the Blues, Steen has been stuck beside veteran Jason Arnott (available in 72 percent of ESPN leagues) most of the time. Since Arnott is first on the team with seven points, there is an argument to be made that Steen and Arnott make the team's top line. Most recently, the duo was paired with Jamie Langenbrunner, but if David Backes returns from an upper-body injury soon, it will be Matt D'Agostini with Steen and Arnott.

Tim Connolly, Toronto Maple Leafs: There was some suggestion Connolly (available in 56.5 percent of ESPN leagues) might have played in Saturday's game against the Montreal Canadiens. Even though he didn't suit up, that is an indication he is getting pretty close. The timing would be perfect, given that Tyler Bozak is banged up. Bozak has performed so well to start the season with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul that Connolly might not just step onto the top line when he is healthy. Emphasis on the "might" though, as Connolly was the team's "big" free-agent signing in the offseason and will need to be displayed properly when back. This week could be Connolly's debut with the Maple Leafs, and with the way Kessel (14 points in seven games) and Lupul (eight points in seven games) have been playing, you don't want to miss out on the chance to own the team's No. 1 center.

Troy Brouwer, Washington Capitals: The avalanche of points is coming very soon for Brouwer (available in 98 percent of ESPN leagues) and this may be the last chance to pick him up while no one else is looking. Brouwer rarely leaves the side of his linemates for the Caps both on the team's top line and top power-play unit. Maybe you've heard of his linemates, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin? While Backstrom has 10 points and Ovechkin has seven, Brouwer has only three points in the Caps' first seven games. Something has to give soon though. He is playing with too much talent on a regular basis not to start picking up some points, if even by simple proximity. Brouwer was on the ice for both Mike Green power-play goals in the 7-1 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (as well as assisting on the final goal). Get Brouwer now, while the getting is good.

Power Plays

Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton Oilers: Horcoff is about 12 years too old to roll with the kids at even strength, but on the power play, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle let Horcoff pretend he's cool enough to hang with these future superstars. As the fourth forward on the Oilers' top power-play unit, Horcoff is getting some ice time in with the young guns line. He only has two power-play points right now, but that could change in the future as the unit stays together and begins to improve. He's worth a look in deeper leagues right now.

Quick Hits

Tyler Ennis better hope his lower-body injury doesn't keep him out too long. With zero points through seven games, Ville Leino might not have to do much to steal Ennis' spot on the Buffalo Sabres' second line with Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. … In case he is sitting on your bench overlooked, Martin Havlat has two points in two games since coming back from injury to join the San Jose Sharks' second line. He is skating with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe, as expected. … Valtteri Filppula is available in 66 percent of ESPN leagues and is centering the Red Wings top line so far this season with Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler (combined 18 points in six games). … Eric Staal is minus-10 through eight games with only four points to show for it. That is serious cause for concern and is enough reason to start considering how you can pawn him off on a fellow owner. Not reason enough to act on that yet, but start considering it. Clearly, the Jussi Jokinen-Jeff Skinner connection is the one that matters for the Carolina Hurricanes right now.

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.