Several big trades have gone down this week and each one of them will have an impact in your fantasy hockey league. This is how you should play it.
Mike Fisher to Nashville
Nashville: On one hand, Fisher becomes a No.1 center, whether he’s deserving of it or not. His linemates - possibly Martin Erat and the red-hot Sergei Kostitsyn - are nice upgrades. On the other hand, Fisher has joined a defense-first system. I like him for a rather large production spike early on, but eventually he will settle into what would be a 55-point pace. His presence should help his wingers take a few more offensive risks, so I like a small bump in both Erat’s and Kostitsyn’s numbers.
Ottawa: Chris Kelly will see a small bump in numbers now that he is a second-line center. Some power play time will open up for the likes of Ryan Shannon and rookie Bobby Butler, so watch and see how they respond, but they are not worth a pick up right now. Milan Michalek, a common linemate of Fisher’s, could suffer. However, with Daniel Alfredsson currently injured, I anticipate Michalek will play with Jason Spezza, which is actually an upgrade.
Al Montoya to the Islanders
Montoya gave fantasy owners a nice teaser back in 2009 when he finished the season in Phoenix and started four of five games, winning three of them and posting a shutout. The summer signing of Jason LaBarbera, however, pretty much closed the door on Montoya’s NHL career with the Coyotes. But break out the defibrillators - Montoya will get another chance. It’s a nice birthday present for the former sixth overall draft pick (in 2004), who turns 26 Sunday. The Islanders are hurting between the pipes and as well as Mikko Koskinen played Thursday night, Montoya will get his chance to start - if he does well he will carry the bulk of the workload. That could mean as many as 11 wins down the stretch, which is 11 more than we figured he’d get just seven days ago.
Joffrey Lupul/Jake Gardiner for Francois Beauchemin
Toronto: Lupul was stuck on the third line in Anaheim. His terrible back injury re-wrote what could have been a nice story about his rise to stardom, as he was clicking with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for about two weeks back in 2009 before everything fell apart. Three things could happen here: One, his back injury dogs him for the rest of his career and he never becomes more than a 60-game, 40-point player. Two, he recovers from his injury, but the time off stunts his development to where he’s nothing more than a 20-goal scorer. Three, he gets back on his horse and becomes the potential 30-goal, 65-point player we figured him to be about three years ago. The latter is certainly feasible and worth taking a flyer on. In his first game, Lupul was lining up with Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur.
As for Jake Gardiner, he is a solid defenseman with a lot of offensive upside. I think he’ll be an NHLer and a power play quarterback, but he’s not a blue-chipper (i.e. a guarantee) by any stretch. But in Toronto, he’ll have more of an opportunity and I can see him joining the Leafs in the fall of 2012.
Anaheim: With Lupul out of the mix, Dan Sexton will get more ice time and Matt Beleskey will get more cups of coffee; keeper league owners should be happy about that. Beauchemin’s presence on the blueline will roll back the ice time of both Luca Sbisa and Cam Fowler. The latter has been putting up a nice amount of points, but his plus/minus has been scary. Expect the plus-minus to improve and the point production to decline for the short-term.
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