In this week's edition of CBCSports.ca's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1, we take advantage of a fortnight of hindsight to break down the winners and losers from the NHL's trade-deadline day.
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All stats are through Wednesday's games.
Who's been the best deadline-day acquisition?
Jesse: With apologies to Lee Stempniak (and more apologies there to Leaf fans), it's Peter Mueller. The 21-year-old racked up at least a point in each of his first seven games with Colorado after arriving on March 3, piling up four goals and seven assists in that span. The key to Mueller's resurgence? Opportunity. He's averaging 16:58 of ice time under Colorado coach Joe Sacco. That's a whopping 3:33 more burn per game than Mueller was getting in Phoenix, where he struggled over the last two seasons to build on his promising rookie campaign of 2007-08. And Wojtek Wolski, the guy Mueller was traded for on deadline day? He had a decent four points in his first six games with the Coyotes. Considering Phoenix was getting next to nothing out of Mueller, looks like the trade worked out OK for both sides.
Jordan: Don't worry about Stempniak, Jesse. Leaf fans have Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak to cheer for. With so many players shipped out of Toronto, including Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Hagman to name a few, these two youngsters have been given the opportunity to play on the team's top line. And they've impressed, playing alongside sniper Phil Kessel. Kulemin's currently riding a six-game point streak, which includes four goals and eight points. His undrafted centreman, Bozak, has scored in nine of 14 games since January and has six points in his last four games. In addition, Bozak has emerged as a force in the faceoff circle, if your league counts those stats. And if you need more convincing about Bozak, check out Tim Wharnsby's recent blog.
Who's been the worst deadline-day acquisition?
Jordan: Not that Oiler fans need to be kicked while they're down, but I have to go with Ryan Whitney. As much as Whitney has been a good fantasy player in recent years, he hasn't done much of anything since his trade to Edmonton for fellow defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky. Whitney has no goals, two assists and is minus-4 since heading to Alberta. And after watching him play the Leafs last weekend, I can honestly say that he just doesn't seem to have any fight in him right now. After all, Whitney has had a tumultuous ride over the past year or so. First he got traded away from the Penguins, who proceeded to win the Stanley Cup without him, and then he was forced to leave a Ducks squad with a solid core of players. Now he's tasked with trying to lead the worst team in the league. But that's part of the business and he simply hasn't produced. There's no use hanging on to Whitney any longer.
Jesse: I'm not sure it was the worst acquisition, but Buffalo's pickup of Raffi Torres is a good example of the silliness that has taken over deadline day. Sabres GM Darcy Regier made two deals, sending forward Clarke MacArthur to Atlanta for a third- and a fourth-round pick, then getting Torres from Columbus for defenceman Nathan Paetsch and a second-rounder. The picks basically cancel each other out, and Paetsch barely played for Buffalo, so Regier more or less swapped MacArthur for Torres. MacArthur has 15 goals and 29 points this season, while Torres — a free agent this summer — has 19 goals and 31 points. Pretty much the same production. But the Torres name carries more caché from his Cup run with Edmonton four years ago, so the move placated Buffalo fans who were crowing that their GM is too passive. And that seems to have become the real point of deadline day.
Who's the fantasy pickup of the week?
Jesse: No one is as hot and as readily available as Eric Fehr. Owned in a paltry seven per cent of Yahoo! leagues, the Capitals winger has scored in consecutive games and now has 19 on the season (he added his 20th on Thursday night by extending his scoring streak to three games). Fehr looks like more than just a flash in the pan: he was the 18th overall draft pick in 2003, and at age 24 could be just coming into his own. Plus, who doesn't want to grab a piece of that awesome Washington attack? The Caps have scored 46 more goals than the next highest-scoring club (which is Vancouver, if, like me, you didn't know).
Jordan: I'm going with a bit of a sleeper here. New Jersey defenceman Paul Martin just returned from a broken arm that sidelined him for 59 games and, if not for his injury, Martin would have played for Team USA at the Olympics. Though Martin isn't exactly a premier sniper on the back end, he's averaged 14 power-play assists and a plus-20 rating in his past two seasons. And in his return to the Devils lineup on Wednesday, he scored a goal and logged a solid 18 minutes of ice time. It's also worth keeping an eye on recalled winger Michael Grabner, who will be replacing the injured Mikael Samuelsson on Vancouver's second line. Before succumbing to an injury of his own, Grabner scored five points in nine games for the Canucks earlier this season.