The trade deadline is still two weeks away, but GMs seemed to have moved the calendar forward a bit this season. The deals that went down last night may ultimately overshadow anything that transpires at the end of the month. So what does all this mean from a fantasy hockey perspective? I'll break down a few here:
Anderson (COL) for Elliott (OTT)
I speculated at the start of the season that the Senators would deal for a goalie by the trade deadline; however, I envisioned it under very different circumstances. A deal like this is obviously not about this season for either side. The same applies to the fantasy hockey world. Don't expect a rash of owners running out to pick up either goalie, as they essentially left one losing situation for another. If you're in a keeper league, there's more to consider. Both goalies seem to have some upside to offer. Anderson is slightly more proven than Elliott, based on last season's star performance; however, Elliott hasn't had much opportunity to prove his worth.
The big question is which environment will be more goalie-friendly next season and beyond? Clearly, the Senators are entering full-fledged rebuild mode at this point. Alfredsson is winding down his career. Spezza seems to be lingering in no-man's land and may not be in Ottawa come March. Phillips is also rumored to be on the block. What does that leave for Anderson to look forward to in the coming years? Lots of shelling pucks out of his own net.
On the other side of the country, the Avs are still on a steady progression back to contender status. Last season was a pleasant surprise, and this season is not really a sign of a step back, and much as a slower step forward. The future in Colorado is much brighter than the future in Ottawa, and Elliott now has a clear path to the number 1 job. If you're in a keeper league, Elliott's value just went up, while Anderson's just tanked.
Kaberle (TOR) for Colborne and picks
I'm not going to look too far in the future to study Colborne's future or the impact of the 1st rounder Toronto just swiped back from Boston. Fantasy owners must only concern themselves with Mr. Kaberle right now. Kaberle has been a steady fantasy star for the past decade in Toronto, at times being the only fantasy option worth owning in Blue. The question out there is to wonder what Kaberle might have done in his career had he been moving pucks to some more prolific offensive weapons around him. He'll get his first chance at answering that question this week, as he joins a Bruins team far more gifted up front than the Leafs squad he's leaving behind.
Kaberle was already having another solid season as it were, averaging .64 ppg, heavy on the assists. While the Bruins have been getting plenty of scoring up front, they were missing that offensive dynamo from the blueline. On paper, it seems like a perfect match. It doesn't always play out the way it's supposed to in the real world, but all the signs point to a very strong finish to the 2011 season for Kaberle in Boston. If you've got him in your lineup, you can smile bigger today.
Johnson and others (STL) for Stewart and Shattenkirk (COL)
Perhaps the biggest deal of the day technically came early Saturday morning. It's the one that years from now may prove to be a franchise maker or breaker, and it could go either way. St. Louis and Colorado both gave up significant potential in their quest to be better next season. For fantasy owners, the impact could be immediately felt.
We'll start with Erik Johnson. Johnson's season has been one of the biggest disappointments to fantasy owners in 2010-11. He was projected to be a top 10 option on defense and to this point has delivered nothing worth mentioning. While the Avs have hit a major slump in the past few weeks, they still feature a much more offensively-gifted set of teammates than what he's leaving behind in St. Louis. Johnson should get ample opportunity to prove his offensive worth in Colorado, and don't be surprised to see his numbers climb. He's actually available out there in some leagues, and it's certainly worth taking a chance on him at this point if he's there.
On the other side are two fantasy options that looked like studs back in the fall, but have hit a wall since then. Stewart missed a good chunk of time with a broken hand and since then has struggled to find his game. He's even been a healthy scratch on a Avs team suffering from injury problems. A fresh start in St. Louis may also benefit Stewart in the short term. Despite the short-term set back, Stewart remains one of the top emerging power forwards in the league. He should get adequate ice time with the Blues and owners should see his numbers climb as the seasons winds down.
Shattenkirk also stands to benefit from a change of scenery in the short term. After an insane start to his NHL career in December, he's struggled in the past month, now riding an 8 game dry spell. Any change is welcome when you're in that kind of funk. All around, fantasy owners of any of these guys can look forward to better production to finish the year.
As proven last season with the like of Wolski and Stempniak, the most significant deals from a fantasy perspective can often be the ones that fly under the radar at first. Of the other four deals that transpired yesterday, the one that seems to have some potential is Ian White going to San Jose. White never really took off in Calgary or Carolina, but that doesn't mean he's without promise. Beyond Dan Boyle, the Sharks don't have many defensive options that can carry the puck like White. He should see some time on the power play. White's available in most leagues and is worth taking a chance on in his new colors.