Fantasy Hockey: Trade deadline predictions

In this week's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1, we speculate on the impact a potential deal may have on some of the players (Tomas Kaberle and Alex Kovalev to name a couple) who are expected to be moved ahead of the NHL's trade deadline on Feb. 28.
Toronto defenceman Tomas Kaberle is one of the bigger names rumoured to be on the trading block. ((Lou Capozzola/Getty Images))

With the NHL's trade deadline less than two weeks away, anxiety is running high among the players whose names keep popping up in deal rumours.

Sure, the prospect of having to adjust to a new city, find a new apartment and make new friends can be nerve-racking. But what about us poor fantasy owners, losing sleep over whether our players' numbers will fall off if they're moved to a new team?

With that in mind, this week's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1 is about assessing the impact a potential trade may have on some of the players rumoured to be on the move. It's all speculation at this point, but we'll try to help you get the jump on your competition and maybe even catch a bit more shut-eye leading up to the deadline.

In addition, we give our advice on which moves to make this week in your league.

Looking for a league to join? Try CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Fantasy Pool  presented by Kia. The winner will make like Phil Kessel and walk away with a new car.

Like what you see in this column? Follow Jordan and Jesse on Twitter.

All stats are through Wednesday.

1. Which defencemen could be affected by a trade?

Jesse: The hottest rumour right now is that Tomas Kaberle will be traded (really this time!) from Toronto to Boston, so let's deal with that first. On the surface, you'd think it would benefit a player to head from the No. 27 scoring team (2.52 goals per game) to the No. 5 club (3.05). But Kaberle has it pretty good in Toronto, where he leads the team in power-play time by a very wide margin at 4:24 per game. That's the 13th-highest rate in the league among players who have appeared in at least 20 games. Good thing too, because 22 of Kaberle's 38 points have come with the man advantage. To expect the same production from him, the team that acquires Kaberle will have to supply him with plenty of power-play ice. Will Boston? Quite possibly, because outside of Zdeno Chara (3:17), no Bruins defenceman sees more than 2:15 of power-play time per game. A trusty blue-liner seems to be just what Boston craves, so this could be the ideal landing spot for Kaberle. And for his fantasy owners.

Jordan: It seems natural to transition from Kaberle to one of his former defence partners. Bryan McCabe is almost fully recovered from his broken jaw and finger and is expected to come off the injured reserve this week. Though Florida is still technically in playoff contention (they're seven points back of eighth-place Carolina), the Panthers may decide to move their captain because he hasn't been all that productive this year and he's set to become an unrestricted free agent at season' s end. McCabe is owned in 66 per cent of Yahoo! leagues, but with just two assists since the end of December and 21 points this season, he could be a player to grab from a fellow manager for little in return before he potentially gets traded to a contender.

If you're scanning the waiver wire, blue-liner Chris Campoli may surprise you, and he's a cheap buy. He has severely underachieved in Ottawa with just 14 points in 2010-11, but he hasn't exactly been a go-to guy. Campoli is averaging 1:12 of power-play ice-time, which is likely why he's owned in only two per cent of Yahoo! leagues. What's noteworthy here is that Campoli is heading toward unrestricted free agency, and the last time he was traded at the deadline (in 2009 from the Isles to the Sens), he finished strong, with 13 points in 25 games.

2. Which forwards could be affected by a trade?

Jordan: Last week, Milan Hejduk was playing with Peter Forsberg and Matt Duchene. Next week, he could be playing somewhere other than Colorado. Like McCabe, Hejduk is heavily owned (69 per cent) and would require a trade in your league, but with "Foppa" retired (again) and Duchene now out indefinitely, the chances of the Avs climbing out of 14th place in the West to make the playoffs are looking less and less realistic. As a result, Hejduk's production is likely to slip unless the only franchise he's ever known decides to gives him another shot at a Stanley Cup before this summer's free agency.

For a waiver-wire steal, look no further than Alex Kovalev, who's been playing well of late, but is owned in just 15 per cent of Yahoo! leagues. In seven games in February, Kovalev has five goals and eight points. With the fire sale well underway in Ottawa, the Sens have almost no incentive to keep the unrestricted free agent to-be. Imagine Kovalev playing alongside Alex OvechkinJoe ThorntonHenrik ZetterbergSidney Crosby  or even the Sedins. You'll wish you had picked him up then.

Jesse: Jason Arnott has a modest 24 points in 57 games this season, and his production has declined since defensive-minded Jacques Lemaire took over as New Jersey's coach on Dec. 23. In 24 games under Lemaire, Arnott has four goals (0.17 per game) compared with nine in 33 games (0.27 per contest) under axed coach John MacLean. Arnott's average ice time is down too, from 16:43 in November (his last full non-Lemaire month) to 15:20 in January to 13:26 in February (though that last number is skewed by a 9:03 game), and he's not seeing a whole lot of power-play time either (2:10 a game). Arnott, 36, is getting long in the tooth, but he's only two years removed from scoring 33 goals in 65 games with Nashville. A new team could reinvigorate him if it needs power-play help, so he may be worth grabbing now while he's owned in just 16 per cent of Yahoo! leagues.

3. What's your move of the week?

Jesse: Max Pacioretty was the second-most added player of the day on Wednesday, and with pretty good reason. The third-year winger's goal against Buffalo on Tuesday night extended his points-scoring streak to five games and put him in double digits in goals for the first time in his career. Pacioretty, a former first-round pick, is seeing more scoring opportunities playing on a line with solid veterans Tomas Plekanec (19 goals) and Brian Gionta  (21), and he's owned in only 17 per cent of Yahoo! leagues.

Jordan: It's hard to believe that Calgary's Brendan Morrison  doesn't currently find himself on more fantasy rosters. As the Flames have caught fire of late in a tight Western playoff race, so too has Morrison. He's owned in just 13 per cent of Yahoo! leagues even though he has points in 11 of his last 13 games (four goals and 11 assists over that span).