- Sean Allen
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The trade deadline looms large Monday, but it seems the NHL general managers have conspired to take all the wind out of the all-day coverage that has become synonymous with deadline day. With the trades of the past few weeks, there might not be anyone left to move Monday.
Since Feb. 9, 46 players have changed addresses, 34 of which could be considered everyday NHLers. There are sure to be some more moves between now and 3 p.m. ET Monday. It's hard to guess which players might move, but there are a few consensus players we can have a cursory look at.
Andrew Cogliano, Edmonton Oilers: I'm starting with Cogliano, because of the players listed here, he has the combination of availability, skill and upside. He is available in virtually every ESPN fantasy league (0.2 percent ownership). Cogliano has shown flashes in the past of the ability that made him a first-round pick in 2005. His rookie season in 2007-08, with 45 points, was actually his best showing, and it has been a downhill spiral since then. Cogliano has speed and playmaking ability, and his situation reminds me of Guillaume Latendresse, Wojtek Wolski and Benoit Pouliot last season: prospects who needed a change of scenery to start performing. If he moves to a winning team, he likely would be one of my first recommendations coming out of deadline day.
Jason Arnott, New Jersey Devils: Arnott is available in just more than 30 percent of ESPN leagues. The arguments around whether he actually will get moved go both ways, as the Devils are winning again but Arnott has not been a big part of it. He offers scoring and veteran savvy down the middle. Teams in need of a good anchor at center, such as the Chicago Blackhawks or even his former Nashville Predators, potentially would increase his value tenfold.
Brad Richards, Dallas Stars: Richards and the rest of the players I will speculate about are, for all intents and purposes, universally owned. So while you can't pick them up off the wire, a value change could be reason to seek them in trade. It will be hard for Richards to gain or lose much value, so long as he comes through his concussion sooner rather than later. Short of going to the Vancouver Canucks, there is no possibility of Richards being demoted to a second line. What you need to watch with Richards, whether he is traded or not, is who is playing with him. He makes his wingers much better with his vision on the ice. If he is traded to a team with a highly skilled yet fledgling winger, look out. If Richards stays with the Stars, there still is the matter of who plays with him in lieu of the departed James Neal. Jamie Benn and Jason Williams are two candidates to consider.
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers: Hemsky is a point-per-game player when healthy. Right now, he is healthy and firing on all cylinders ahead of the deadline. A move to a team stronger than the Oilers wouldn't boost his offensive production, but it would boost his peripheral stats and allow him to be a top fantasy option. With a better plus/minus and more power-play points, Hemsky could be a top-30 player.
Stephen Weiss, Florida Panthers: Minus-9 with just three points in his past seven games, Weiss isn't exactly building his "street cred" ahead of the deadline. Still, he is an established playmaker who certainly would benefit from increased talent on his line. Really, any team willing to trade the right pieces for Weiss is bound to be an improvement. If he moves at the deadline, he too could become an instant top-30 player for the remainder of the season.
We also had a couple of moves Thursday that should affect the fantasy landscape.
Cory Stillman, Carolina Hurricanes: In 170 games with the Hurricanes from 2005 through 2008, Stillman had 149 points. He did a lot of the damage on a line with Eric Staal and certainly has the potential to recapture some of the magic. In fact, the line of Staal-Stillman-Erik Cole could well be reunited, just to see what happens. I'd hold off on Stillman in shallower leagues because some years have gone by since this trio last skated together, but you never know. He is worth keeping an eye on.
Alexei Kovalev, Pittsburgh Penguins: Like Stillman, Kovalev returns to the scene of past success. The difference is that Kovalev was last with the Penguins in 2003. This is not the same team, and there is little hope of recapturing chemistry since no players from that team remain. Any value from Kovalev hinges entirely on the return of Sidney Crosby, and then hinges on Kovalev playing alongside him. With James Neal, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis fighting him for playing time, that is no guarantee. I'd wait to hear good news about Crosby before getting excited.
O (offense) and D (defense) matchup ratings are based on a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup), and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 21 days' statistics, its performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as its opponents' numbers in those categories. The Games T / H column lists the team's total number of games played as well as home games (T / H), and lists the cumulative rating from 1 to 10 of that week's matchups.
New York, New York: Four-game weeks for both the New York Islanders and New York Rangers might not rate extremely well on the Forecaster, but both teams offer plenty of fantasy options for a week in which there are few other standouts. The Isles have been clipping along with 45 goals in their past 11 games. Michael Grabner is responsible for a lot of those goals but has hit a bit of a cold patch, with no goals in five games. Matt Moulson is the one scoring like it's going out of style now. He is widely available for games against the Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils. Kyle Okposo is another option, playing on a line with Grabner, and joining John Tavares and Moulson on the power play. As for the Rangers, there is an opportunity for several players to step up in the wake of Marian Gaborik's concussion. A week against the Buffalo Sabres, Wild, Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers offers plenty of chances for Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Callahan, Wojtek Wolski or Derek Stepan to recapture the buzz that surrounded them at earlier points this season.
Jersey for sure: News that Zach Parise potentially could start practicing March 3 is just the cherry on the sundae for a Devils team that has been streaking since early February. A winner of eight straight, the team has plenty of fantasy options for owners who abandoned it (rightly so) earlier this season and now want to get back on board. I've been promoting Brian Rolston since coach Jacques Lemaire took over, and his hot play continues. Although there are down stretches for Rolston, overall he has 17 points in his past 19 games. Might I point out that he has just 22 points this entire season? Rolston is drafting off Patrik Elias as a linemate so there is no reason to think he'll be cooling down anytime soon. On the backend, I'll be the first to admit I'd never heard of Mark Fayne until the past two weeks. Even in the AHL, Fayne had only four points in 19 games. However, Lemaire has him deployed on a top pairing with Henrik Tallinder and as the power-play quarterback with a talented first unit. In his past six games, Fayne has four points and a plus-7.
• With no Mikko Koivu, the Wild are using a top line consisting of Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Martin Havlat and John Madden. I like the defensive aspect Madden adds to the unit, but Bouchard is where the money is for fantasy. He had a goal and two assists against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, and five shots on goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
• As much as he might be in your personal fantasy doghouse from last season, you can't hold a grudge against Devin Setoguchi. Playing with Joe Thornton again, he has five goals in his past three games. He is still owned in barely half of ESPN leagues.
• Those in deep leagues might want to take a look at Eric Brewer as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He won't score many (any) points, but in two games, he already is a plus-3 with his new offensively adept team.
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.
2hAdam Rubin and Kieran Darcy