The festive hoopla surrounding "Trade Deadline Day" is quirky and unique. Many hockey fans (myself included) will devote several hours of the day itself to ongoing TV, radio and internet coverage. But that commitment is a gamble for broadcasters and viewers/listeners alike. You see, unlike any other sporting event, there's no action guarantee. You could take the day off work, settle in front of the TV with drinks/snacks/buddies and nothing of importance could happen. Zilch. Or worse, a trade of little to no consequence. Then you're stuck with reporters and analysts, in an attempt to fill time, discussing the infinitesimally minor exchange of "Irrelevant Player A" for "Irrelevant Player B". The viewers know the trade is small potatoes, the analysts know it's immaterial, but they have to dissect it ad nauseam because nothing else is happening. And while the broadcasters blather on, watching the clock and waiting for the phone to ring, a couple of sub-mediocre skaters get more media attention than they ever would otherwise, simply because they were shipped on "T.D.D." Ha, I love it. Can't wait.
Fortunately, I don't think we're facing too much of a trade deadline letdown this year. Judging from underground rumblings, there's going to be a fair bit of movin' and shakin' come Tuesday afternoon. Perhaps even a surprise or two as well. So, at this point, it appears Mike Ditka's refusal to participate in "Dancing with the Stars" will continue to reign as the largest disappointment in the sporting world. 'Cause, man, that would have been awesome.
What happens when Olli Jokinen gets moved to another team? How does his value change? Any idea on where he ends up?
Jessie from Parts Unknown
What happens to Jokinen when he gets traded? He'll move to another city, wear some different colors and won't give any more of a darn about winning than he does right now in Florida. But he'll continue to score, so it doesn't matter. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but Olli's overflowing bucket of natural talent could really use a few tablespoons of edgy competitiveness.
However (and moving away from unrelated editorials), Jokinen's value will only improve if he gets moved. Nothing against the Panthers, personally, but with the exception of Nathan Horton, there's not much there. Jokinen could really flourish if given the opportunity to play with some other top-tier skaters. And no team is going to bother picking up his two-year, $10 million contract unless they intend to use him on the top line. The money isn't unreasonable, but it's still an investment. Plus, he hasn't exactly been lighting it up of late as it stands. Jokinen has only one assist in the five games since losing Richard Zednik. And while his production won't take a hit playing elsewhere, his plus/minus rating will only improve. That's if he is traded, which is still far from a sure bet.
As for where he lands, if anywhere, your guess is as good as mine. We've all heard the rumors about San Jose, Minnesota and Calgary, but that's all they remain at this stage, rumors. Personally, I'd love to see him with the Flames, skating alongside Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius, but surprisingly, Darryl Sutter hasn't approached me for my opinion yet.
What do you recommend as a strategy in the stretch-run period? Is there any evidence of penalty minutes decreasing for teams? I've made a point of picking players that are on hungry teams and my focus is on offense, penalty minutes and goalie categories. I'm in fourth place in a 14-team head-to-head league with Joe Thornton, Daniel Briere, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Daniel Alfredsson, Nathan Horton, Michael Cammalleri, Sean Avery, Chris Kunitz, Wade Redden, Mike Green, Ryan Whitney, Bryan McCabe and Brent Seabrook. My goalies are Martin Brodeur, Rick DiPietro and Niklas Backstrom.
Arpy from Vancouver, BC
It seems everyone has a different opinion on home-stretch strategies. Some like to bank on players fighting for a playoff spot; others swear up and down that those out of the pressure-filled postseason race are more relaxed and productive. I don't like to overanalyze the issue. Sticking with the best fantasy players, on good squads and bad, is the most straightforward, and greatest, course of action. We have no idea who will take on the supreme spoiler role on a lousy team or who will flop under the pressure of being a playoff contender. So let's not over-complicate the issue. Monitor your team daily, track who's hot and who isn't, make the proper adjustments, and you'll be fine.
As for the penalty minutes' issue, I examined Sean Avery's and Chris Neil's numbers in March and April of last season. They both spent 35 minutes in the box over that period, keeping near pace with their season's output overall. Considering the Rangers were fighting for a spot in the postseason up until the very end, and the Senators were not, it appears the scrappy types will remain scrappy, regardless.
Overall, your roster is in good shape fantasy-wise for the final haul. There's a nice balance of scoring and toughness on both offense and defense and your trio of goaltenders is exceptionally good for a 14-team league. The only player I might want to move is Horton, as his value drops significantly if Jokinen leaves Florida. Keep an eye on that possible transaction.
After missing almost four months, Bieksa is healthy again and the Canucks couldn't be happier. Vancouver's corps of blueliners has left much to be desired in the scoring department this season, and the team expects a boost from their top-producing defenseman of last season. In last Thursday's first game back, Bieksa logged over 15 minutes of ice-time, fired three shots and spent a couple of minutes in the sin bin. Not bad for a debut after such a long sabbatical. I would give him a couple of games to get fully back into the swing of things, but considering he racked up 42 points and 134 penalty minutes last season, there's no reason to leave this guy unowned. Especially if your defense is "not good".
And if it's really that lousy, and you're interested in any other freebie defensemen, have a look to see if Detroit's Derek Meech is available. Bearing in mind how devastated the Red Wings' blue line is at the moment, Meech could provide some nice numbers, short-term. But in the meantime, don't mourn the temporary loss of Rafalski too much. He'll be back before you know it (read: a week).
Victoria Matiash is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.
You can send her E-mail for potential use in "The Vicky Files" by clicking here.