The NHL’s trading deadline was far more exciting than the NBA’s trading deadline, especially for fantasy hockey owners who had to keep up with their players’ new teams, new situations and new linemates.
Now that the traded players have been with their new teams for a few weeks, we can gauge which guys’ fantasy values have skyrocketed or plummeted since they changed uniforms.
So here are the fantasy hockey winners and losers of the NHL’s trading deadline:
Martin St. Louis, New York Rangers (RW)
Neither Father Time nor opposing defenses and goaltenders can slow down the 38-year-old St. Louis. While younger, faster, bigger forwards are lucky to have 40 points per season these days, St. Louis has 64 points in 70 contests and has averaged over a point per game over the past several seasons.
But St. Louis has not netted a goal and has just three points in 11 games as a Blueshirt. He is a plus-three and has been getting shots on goal, yet his name has not appeared much in the scoring summaries of box scores since he switched sides.
New York’s offensive system under head coach Alain Vigneault is usually favorable to snipers like St. Louis, and the opportunity to reunite with former linemate Brad Richards should eventually lead St. Louis back to being a point-per-game guy, but for now, getting traded has not helped his fantasy worth. Loser!
Thomas Vanek, Montreal Canadiens (LW)
Vanek had quietly been having a superb fantasy season in the fantasy Siberia that is Long Island before being dealt to Montreal, scoring 53 points in 60 contests. As he also proved with the Buffalo Sabres many times, Vanek can put up points no matter how bad his team and teammates are.
Besides shoot-first sniper Max Pacioretty, Montreal’s roster was not loaded with goal-scoring wingers before Vanek arrived. His presence on the top line and on the top power-play unit was desperately needed.
So far, so-so for Vanek. He has four goals (two on the power play) and one assist in his nine games with the Canadiens. His ice time has decreased since Montreal has a deeper and more talented set of forwards, but once he gets more acclimated with his new team, he should be better down the stretch, especially since he will want a big payday in free agency. But for now…loser!
Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning (RW)
Callahan’s fantasy worth will be tied to whether or not he skates alongside franchise player Steven Stamkos. If he is on the top line and piling on power-play minutes with Stamkos setting him up, Callahan could become close to a point-per-game player.
Callahan’s time with Stamkos has been limited, though, and that has limited his scoring chances. The gritty winger only has two goals and four assists in his opening 10 games as a second-line guy with Tampa Bay.
Some of Callahan’s best qualities, such as his leadership and physicality, are wonderful for the NHL but do not translate into anything positive in fantasy leagues. He has never scored 30 goals or 55 points in a season. His best fantasy quality has been his power-play goals. Callahan had scored 38 in the four seasons leading into the 2013-14 campaign.
Callahan is not doing himself any favors if he thinks some team will lavish him with a long-term contract worth $6 million a year in the offseason. David Clarkson ruined it for forwards when he conned Toronto into overpaying him last offseason ($36.75 million over seven years). Unless Callahan bribes the Tampa Bay coaching staff to get him more ice time with Stamkos, he would have been better off sticking it out with the Rangers. Loser!
Matt Moulson, Minnesota Wild (LW)
Moulson went from the worst team in the NHL to a playoff contender that will give him ample opportunities to line up with competent scorers and players who actually play defense. Have this guy scratch off your next instant lottery ticket and maybe his luck will rub off on you!
Yet the biggest boon to Moulson’s fantasy value due to getting dealt is how his plus/minus will improve. Buffalo killed plus/minus ratings like zombies kill the good guys on The Walking Dead. Most of Minnesota’s skaters have been plus players, and only two have a rating worse than the minus-eight Moulson was this year with the Sabres.
Moulson has eight points in 10 appearances and is a plus-two with his new organization. While his point production per game might only slightly increase with Minnesota, his plus/minus should only get better and not worse. Eat a Juicy Lucy and celebrate! Winner!
Marian Gaborik, Los Angeles Kings (RW)
Los Angeles needed a goal-scoring forward as badly as John Tortorella needs an anger management class, and Gaborik needed a change of scenery just as badly. So when Los Angeles acquired the talented but enigmatic winger at the deadline, it made a lot of sense.
Los Angeles believes in a defensive-minded system, something that does not appear to mesh with Gaborik’s freewheeling style on paper. But Gaborik played in one before during his glory days with Minnesota and was able to still score around a point per game despite having his offense reined in.
Gaborik has not done much to help fantasy owners since donning a Kings jersey. He has a pair of goals and a pair of assists to go along with a minus-one rating in nine lackluster games. Fantasy owners could have picked up guys on their league’s waiver wire who have done more recently.
You would have thought going to a team with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter as its centermen would be optimal for Gaborik’s goal-getting skills, but Los Angeles has scored fewer goals this season than Gaborik’s former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Time could prove me wrong, but I think Gaborik would have been better off staying put or being dealt somewhere else. Loser!
Ales Hemsky, Ottawa Senators (RW)
Getting out of Edmonton can do wonders for a player’s fantasy value. So can playing on the same line with a playmaker like Jason Spezza. Both things have gone in Hemsky’s favor over the past month, so after a couple years of being a fantasy has-been, he has returned to being a fantasy wunderkind.
Spezza and Hemsky have clicked quicker than Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan did. Since coming to Ottawa, Hemsky has scored eight points and Spezza has 12 points in the nine games they have played together.
It is almost guaranteed that either Spezza or Hemsky (if not both) will get injured between now and the end of the season. Their respective injury histories make for good reading on trains and toilet bowls. But Hemsky is doing a ton more now than he had been in Edmonton, so he and his fantasy owners have been the biggest winners since the trade deadline. Winner!!!