With the second half of the NHL regular season beginning, it's evaluation time among the teams around the league.
In the coming weeks, teams will be deciding on whether or not they are "buyers" or "sellers" at the trade deadline (March 4).
The same thing applies for the fantasy hockey world.
For those of you in keeper leagues, you'll have to try and gauge your team's chances of making the playoffs. If you're in the basement with no chance of making the playoffs, it's time to start rebuilding.
Aging vets like Daniel Alfredsson, Cory Stillman and Rob Blake, to name a few, can be shopped around the league in hopes of bringing in a good young player or two in order to build around. It's important to get maximum value out of your team's aging stars, as underselling them could potentially harm your team's chances of climbing out of the basement next season.
Draft picks are helpful too, and can be added to any deal to "sweeten the pot," as they say.
If your team is a contender, or playoff-bound, adding a veteran or two can really boost your chances for victory, just like in the NHL.
Be careful not to sell your future, though!
A good fantasy GM knows who his true keeper prospects are, and who are the expendable ones.You don't want to end up as the GM that traded a young Boston prospect by the name of David Krejci for Ales Kotalik (true story, only luckily for me, I was the GM who got Krejci)!
For redraft leagues- aka one year leagues- it's important not to become too trigger-happy when it comes to making trades for risk of getting burned. Trading a player who didn't produce as expected in the first half, for a player that did produce as or better than expected in the first half, can backfire. More often than not, what happens is, the player you traded goes on to have a better second half than the player you acquired. Sound confusing?
Case in point, Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier might not be on that first page of the league's top point producers, but he is at the top of the second page. As you may or may not have known, Vinny had shoulder surgery this past summer. It's affected his play all season, and the Lightning being a laughing stock of the league for most of the first half certainly didn't help.
Towards the end of the first half though, things are starting to come together a little better for the Lightning, who have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. Lecavalier has looked noticeably better on the ice and on the stat sheets, with eight goals and 17 points in his last 13 games and a plus/minus of plus-six.
Now, Tampa Bay making the playoffs is a long shot at best, but Lecavalier rebounding in the second half to post another very solid season statistically, barring an unforeseen injury of course, is very likely.
Other players who should rebound in the second half
Buffalo's Jason Pominville, LA's Anze Kopitar, Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Chris Osgood, Ottawa's Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, Phoenix's Olli Jokinen, Carolina's Eric Staal, Minnesota's Brent Burns, and Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Now there will be others, but those are the main ones.
Players who are strong candidates to fall off in the second half
Atlanta's Todd White, New Jersey's Travis Zajac and Brian Gionta, Chicago's Kris Versteeg, Calgary's Mike Cammalleri, Dallas's Loui Eriksson, NYI's Doug Weight, LA's Kyle Quincey, Ottawa's Filip Kuba, Carolina's Cam Ward and Buffalo's Ryan Miller.
So beware the second half slump! Playoff bound teams should avoid being too stagnant, as a lack of movement may be the difference in whether or not you get that all-important first-round bye...or just barely missing the playoffs. I've seen it happen on numerous occasions, and have even fell victim to it myself.
Another tip is always to make certain that you're scouring the league's free agent list throughout the entire season. It sounds simple enough doesn't it? With most things, it's about having consistency.
And then again, sometimes the best move is making no move at all.
It's a crazy fantasy hockey world we live in, isn't it? Sometimes it's all in the hands of the fantasy hockey gods, who so unmercifully control it all...good luck!