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Fantasy: Follow these four rules for trade success, avoiding busts

Dobber Hockey
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(Note: Our friends at Dobber Hockey are back for some fantasy fun. All stats are through Wednesday night's games; this feature will be found on Thursdays here on Puck Daddy.)

Trade deadline day has come and gone, but many hockey pools have their trade deadline a few days after the NHL's. Before you go and sell the farm for that final piece to the puzzle, make sure you aren't going to be giving a competitor a huge long-term boost. And before you go and ship off your superstar for youth and prospects, make sure the risk is worth it.

Follow these four rules and you will become pretty successful at fantasy hockey trading.

1) Evaluate trades with a three-year scope. This isn't the NHL and you aren't trying to blow it up to build a winner five years down the road (like Dale Tallon with the Florida Panthers or Steve Tambellini with the Edmonton Oilers). Take a look at the players in the trade -- will any of them realistically be fantasy-relevant in your pool within the next three seasons? If not, pass. No rebuild should take more than two or three years in the fantasy game. Perhaps you could give Tambellini a team to test that theory...

2) Quality trumps quantity. If you are getting the best player in the trade, chances are you are going to come out ahead. Look at several NHL trades over the past few years: Joe Thornton(notes) to San Jose, Dany Heatley(notes) to San Jose, Dan Boyle(notes) to ... San Jose. I'm detecting a theme here. The most successful poolies are always looking for ways to upgrade from two players to one, or three players to two.

3) All unproven players carry an inherent value of risk. No matter how good a prospect could one day become, there is a certain level risk associated with him. Don't underrate the value of NHL experience and success. Does this mean you should go out and trade Jordan Eberle(notes) (above) for Ray Whitney(notes)? Not in a million years (unless you are trading Eberle to me). Give me a proven 60-point producer over a potential 70-point producer any day of the week, though.

4) The last rule is the most important, because so many people fail to apply it. Young players do not always get better. We all get caught in this trap. A player has a career year at the age of 21, so naturally he will put up even better numbers at 22, right? Vancouver's Adam Banks Mason Raymond(notes) is a great example of this. He had a spectacular 2009-10, scoring 25 goals. However this season he has reverted back to his rookie struggles and is on pace to barely crack 15. If actual reasons exist for the player to experience a production increase (better team, better linemates, trending that direction), don't ignore them. But don't think all young players are going to improve because they are supposed to.

Goals (with percentage owned in Yahoo! Leagues)

Matt Calvert(notes), LW, Columbus Blue Jackets (7%)

Last season, Calvert was the third wheel on a dominant line with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) with two former top ten draft picks -- Brayden Schenn(notes) and Scott Glennie(notes). He scored 47 goals in his final year of junior, 13 more than Schenn and 15 more than Glennie. Being a fifth-round draft pick (and not Luke's younger brother), he didn't receive the same amount of attention as the other two. That has quickly changed in 2011, as Calvert has scored 10 goals in his first 21 NHL games. Like New Jersey's Zach Parise(notes), Calvert combines tenacity and a motor that doesn't quit with a very high skill level. The 5-9 forward is showing all of the signs of a classic overachiever early into his NHL career.

David Jones(notes), RW, Colorado Avalanche (11%)

One of the reasons Colorado felt they could move Chris Stewart(notes) was the play of Jones. He has lost a step in his skating after ACL surgery two years ago, but he is on pace for 30 goals and is suddenly the only big body in Colorado's top six. He's not nearly as physical as Stewart, but he uses his size well and possesses a terrific shot. The Avalanche don't have much in the way of big young wingers on the farm, so look for Jones to get every opportunity to produce both in the short and long term.

Assists

Mikkel Boedker(notes), Phoenix Coyotes, LW (1%)

I was all set to write about how Phoenix had successfully copied the all-Czech blueprint used many years ago by the Rangers (a short-lived trio featuring Jan Hlavac, Petr Nedved(notes) and Jaromir Jagr) with their Boedker, Martin Hanzal(notes) and Radim Vrbata(notes) line, and then I remembered that Boedker is Danish. He might as well be Czech with how in sync the trio has been over the past few weeks. After a slow start to his professional career, the former fourth overall pick is showing why he was highly touted as a prospect. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett is notorious for favouring his veterans in important roles, but Boedker has earned his trust and will be a big part of any playoff push in Phoenix.

Plus/Minus

Adam McQuaid(notes), Boston Bruins, D (4%)

In addition to being the league leader in the plus/minus category, McQuaid also possesses one of the best nicknames in the NHL (Darth Quaidar). He may never be able to completely harness the powers of the Dark Side, but he seems to be figuring out the NHL game quite nicely. He's big and nasty, and a smart defensive player as well. The Bruins are a terrific even-strength team, so expect his pluses to continue to outnumber his minuses.

Ian White(notes), San Jose Sharks, D (11%)

Since acquiring White, the Sharks have won five straight games. He has played over 20 minutes in all but one of those games, and he is also seeing some time on the man advantage. With his puck-moving ability and right-handed shot, he has filled a huge need on a very mediocre blue line. Look for a very strong finish to the season from White as he is playing for a new contract.

Shots-on-Goal

Bobby Butler(notes), Ottawa Senators, RW (1%)

The former college scoring star has found a temporary home on Ottawa's "top" line, alongside Jason Spezza(notes) and Colin Greening(notes). (One of those players is not like the others...) Butler has a nose for the net and he isn't afraid to shoot the puck. The Senators are playing for next season, and Butler is auditioning for a full-time scoring role.

Blake Wheeler(notes), Winnipeg Jets Quebec Nordiques Atlanta Thrashers, RW (8%)

The rangy forward has 24 shots on goal in five games since coming over from Boston. Over a full 82-game season, that projects out to 393 (or five more than Alex Ovechkin(notes) is currently on pace for). The Thrashers have toyed with the idea of moving Wheeler back to center, a position he played in college. He says he is more effective at right wing, although 11 goals in 58 game before the trade doesn't exactly scream effective.

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Middle-of-the-Pack Jack says ...

"Mike Green keeps getting injured and he was never that good defensively. The Capitals have changed their style of play and he also has John Carlson(notes) coming up behind him on the depth chart in Washington. He won't score 30 goals or hit 70 points again."

We say: Green has had a brutal year in terms of injuries, and he has looked tied down in Washington's new system. The Capitals shifting to a defensive strategy is like trying to put a hybrid engine in a Ferrari -- the fit doesn't make sense. Trying to completely shift the culture of a team takes more than a few trades and speeches. Expect a huge bounce back season in 2011-12. He may never hit 30 goals again, but 70 points is well within the realm of possibilities. Green is a dynamic player and his value won't ever be lower.

Jeff Angus is the manager and senior writer over on DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter at @angus_j.

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