A trade normally changes a hockey player’s fantasy value, and it usually changes it for the better.
A player’s fantasy value goes up or stays the same the majority of the time when he is traded. This is because the team that acquires him usually has a plan in place that affords the player more power-play time, a spot on a higher line and just more ice time overall than what he was getting with his old team.
A lot also has to do with the player’s new teammates. When players are traded from cellar-dwelling squads to playoff contenders, the talent level of his new linemates is bound to be better, and hockey is a game where sometimes you are only as good as the people around you are.
Here is a look at fantasy hockey’s trade deadline winners, starting with the biggest name that was dealt on deadline day:
Keith Yandle, New York Rangers (D)
The biggest prize of the trading deadline, Keith Yandle has scored 50 points from the blue line on two different occasions in his career and is on pace to do it again this season. That is why the Rangers traded two high draft picks, a top prospect and a decent defenseman to acquire him.
The good news for Yandle’s fantasy value is that he goes from hapless Arizona to one of the best teams in hockey. This will do wonders for his plus-minus, which was an astoundingly awful minus-55 over his last two seasons in Arizona.
And Yandle will be running the point on a power play with Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis and Derek Stepan on it. The Coyotes had no forward on that talent scale for Yandle to play with.
The bad news for Yandle’s fantasy value is that his ice time will likely take a hip check. He was averaging 24 minutes per game with Arizona, but with Marc Staal, Ryan McDonough and Dan Girardi eating up major minutes on New York’s blue line, Yandle’s average ice time will hover around 20-22 minutes on most nights.
Yandle’s point-per-game average will probably stay the same as his better teammates and lesser ice time will even each other out. His plus-minus will have nowhere to go but up, though, so he comes out ahead on this deal. Winner!
Erik Cole, Detroit Red Wings (LW)
Erik Cole is a quality forward who brings scoring ability and veteran leadership to the Red Wings as they make a push for the Stanley Cup. But while his change of scenery will improve his fantasy worth, it will not make him relevant or overly worthy of a glance from fantasy owners.
Cole has not had much fantasy value the past three seasons, although he should get to 20 goals and 45 points by season’s end, which is not bad for a second- or third-line player. Unless he sneaks onto a line with Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg, though, the bump for his fantasy value in Detroit will be on the small side. Not a big winner, but still a winner!
Marek Zidlicky, Detroit Red Wings (D)
The 38-year old defenseman has been quarterbacking power plays about as long as Tom Brady has been quarterbacking the New England Patriots. Marek Zidlicky has topped the 40-point plateau six times over his solid career, including just last season.
Going to Detroit could help Zidlicky return to his point-every-other-game form and will certainly help his plus-minus after the lowly New Jersey Devils dragged it down. He may be available in some leagues, so pick him up if you need some depth on your fantasy squad’s back end. Winner!
Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers (RW)
Father Time has taken a long time to devise a plan to slow the ageless Jaromir Jagr down, although the sure Hall of Famer is in the midst of the worst year of his storied career. But going to the youthful and exuberant Panthers could inject some last-second life into Jagr’s heavy legs.
Getting thrust into the middle of a playoff race and playing alongside several exciting youngsters could be the equivalent of Jagr being dumped into a fountain of youth. I would not be surprised to see Jagr score 15-to-18 points over 21 contests with his new team. Winner!
Antoine Vermette, Chicago Blackhawks (C)
Antoine Vermette goes from being the second-leading scorer and the top forward on a terrible team to being a complementary piece on a Stanley Cup contender. If this is good for his fantasy value is debatable.
Other than a surprising 65-point campaign during the 2009-10 season, Vermette has been a middling two-way center with average-at-best fantasy worth throughout his career. But part of his problem was that he played on some horrible Ottawa, Columbus and Phoenix/Arizona teams that did his offensive stats no favors.
Vermette was a career-low minus-23 before being traded to Chicago, so his plus-minus will rise by osmosis from being with the Blackhawks. He will be slotted into a top-six forward spot with Patrick Kane injured, so between playing with All-Stars and getting power-play time with skilled skaters who can actually score, Vermette could be a late-season surprise in fantasy leagues down the stretch. Winner!
Curtis Glencross, Washington Capitals (LW)
Is there anyone named Alex Ovechkin in Calgary? No. Is there anyone named Nicklas Backstrom in Calgary? Nope. That is all you need to know.
While Calgary is improving and has some skillful players on their top two lines, Curtis Glencross was not playing alongside anyone in the caliber of Ovechkin and Backstrom. With Washington needing scoring punch on its top two lines, Glencross was a good get.
Granted, Glencross is not Jari Kurri. He scores between 15 and 25 goals per season and is known more for being a rugged forward with good defensive instincts than a sniper who can put the puck in the back of the net.
But if Glencross can play or bribe his way onto the top unit with Ovechkin and Backstrom, nobody’s fantasy value will skyrocket higher after the trade deadline than Glencross’. And while Glencross could just as easily be stuck on the second line and score the same point-per-game average he had in Calgary, the upside in Washington makes him … a winner!