Commentary

Open Ice: Who's moving at the trade deadline?

Updated: March 2, 2009, 12:20 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

With all the rumors flying ahead of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline, you want to be proactive, not reactive, when making moves in your fantasy league.

With that in mind, let's sift through some of the players reported to possibly be on the move and look at the potential impact if they do.

Tomas Kabarel
Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI/Getty ImagesTomas Kaberle missed a month of action but returned Saturday to tally an assist.
Tomas Kaberle, D, Maple Leafs: We will start with an easy one. Kaberle, if traded, is almost guaranteed to be in a better situation by Thursday. He has reportedly offered up a list of teams for which he will waive his no-trade clause, and thus should be shipped out to greener pastures. Kaberle, when paired with the right defensive partner, can be a 60-point defenseman. If he lands on a team with a proficient power play, you'll see a big uptick in his points. Try to squeeze in a deal for him now.

Chris Pronger, D, Ducks: Anaheim may not be able to afford Pronger long term and could part with him now for the right deal. Obviously, Pronger will still be Pronger wherever he lands. However, Ryan Whitney would become useable again if Pronger goes. Stuck behind Scott Niedermayer and Pronger in the pecking order right now, Whitney needs to steal power-play time from one of them to remain a fantasy asset. If Pronger were traded, that would be a lot easier. Maybe you should hang on to Whitney until Wednesday before looking for other options.

Bill Guerin, RW, Islanders: Also a pretty big no-brainer, Guerin should be picked up now instead of waiting to see where he lands. Guerin has 46 points so far this season, but his biggest drawback is a minus-15. Considering that he will end up on a team headed for the playoffs, we can expect that to change. Fantasy owners shouldn't be concerned with whomever takes Guerin's place on Long Island.

Jay Bouwmeester, D, Panthers: You could argue that Bouwmeester plays a style of game that won't be affected much by whatever team he is on, but then again, we've never seen him anywhere else. Either way, look to Keith Ballard as a solid pickup if Bouwmeester packs his bags. Paired with Bryan McCabe on the power play, defensemen have been known to put up good numbers (see Kaberle, Tomas).

Tim Connolly, C, Sabres: With Connolly, it's a bit tougher to nail down the shifting values, as the big winner in any trade involving him are the wingers on the team on which he lands. A consummate playmaker (when healthy, of course) Connolly could make a scoring winger with no top centerman very happy (Rick Nash, anyone?). Drew Stafford gets a natural downgrade as he would be losing Connolly as a center, but Paul Gaustad would move up the Sabres' depth chart and could become relevant in deeper leagues thanks to his propensity for penalty minutes.

Nik Antropov, C, Maple Leafs: Unfortunately for Antropov owners, a move to another team likely would hurt his value since he wouldn't be the No. 1 offensive weapon. It's tough to part with someone based on concerns over a potential drop in value, but if you see an even swap for Antropov, take it. Tim Stapleton -- he of two NHL games with a shootout winner and goal on his résumé -- could become a regular on Toronto's top unit without Antropov.

Kari Lehtonen
Norm Hall/NHLI/Getty ImagesKari Lehtonen has a career-worst 3.17 GAA this season, but a change of scenery could help him.
Kari Lehtonen, G, Thrashers: He's been linked in some reports to the Flyers, and it's hard not to get excited about any change of scenery for Lehtonen. Touted as one of the better goalie prospects when he first came up, his development has been somewhat stalled in Atlanta. If he moves to a playoff-bound team, he would present a solid opportunity for fantasy players. Lehtonen is available in more than 85 percent of ESPN leagues. Why not pick him up now and see what happens?

Marian Gaborik, RW, Wild: Considering that the Wild's biggest need for a playoff run is more scoring, the team may decide to hold on to Gabby. He is expected to join the team for practices in the coming weeks for a late-March return. Available in 30 percent of ESPN leagues, Gaborik is someone to pick up regardless of whether he is on the move. He'll score goals no matter where he is.

Olli Jokinen, C, Coyotes: Can we get through a trade deadline without Jokinen being a suggested target? It does seem a bit far fetched for Phoenix to ship him out of the desert, but if the right deal came along it wouldn't be a shock. If he does move, Peter Mueller should be picked up. If Jokinen goes, Mueller could slide back into his natural center position and play with Shane Doan again.

Niklas Backstrom, G, Wild: This seems like one of the most "out there" possibilities on deadline day, but anything can happen. The Wild don't have Backstrom re-signed yet, and they know they have a future star waiting in the wings with Josh Harding, so it certainly seems like a move that could happen with the right deal. If Backstrom heads to another squad, Harding is going to become an instant top-10 goaltender.

Erik Cole, RW, Oilers: A huge disappointment in Edmonton, Cole is on pace to finish with half the points he achieved in his career-best campaign in Carolina two seasons ago. Certainly a trade back to the east coast would do him some good. Maybe even his former team is interested. He is useless in fantasy leagues at the moment, but should he be traded, you want back on board with this power forward.

Whatever happens on deadline day, be sure to remember to assess the void that any player leaves behind and who would benefit. Those are usually the best players to pick up in fantasy. Now, a few non-trade deadline related recommendations.

Sunny Days Ahead

Anton Babchuk, D, Hurricanes: No one has ever doubted his talent as an offensive defenseman, but we've never seen him apply it at the NHL level with consistency. However, Babchuk has goals in three straight and eight points in his past 11 games.

Sean Bergenheim, LW, Islanders: Something tells me there is going to be a lot more ice time to go around on Long Island after Wednesday, and Bergenheim could benefit. The slow-developing Finn has seven points in his past eight games.

Drew Miller, LW, Ducks: He has had only one game to prove himself since Chris Kunitz was dealt to Pittsburgh, but Miller skated on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He managed an assist, so expect him back there again going forward.

Steve Sullivan, RW, Predators: The Sullivan of old has returned. Going back 10 games, Sullivan has 10 points. He has been playing with Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont, so get on board already.

Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. 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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