NHL Skinny: Learning a trade

NHL Skinny: Learning a trade
By Matt Romig
February 13, 2008

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports
GOALIE HOT SEAT
OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Ray Emery
Skinny: Coach John Paddock called Emery "our best player" in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to Buffalo. That's nice, but in the win-and-stay-in game, a defeat means a start for the other guy. The Ottawa Sun reports that Gerber gets the call Wednesday. Stay tuned.
DETROIT RED WINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Dominik Hasek
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: The Detroit Free Press reminds us that coach Mike Babcock said earlier in the season that he plans to end his goalie rotation around Game 60. Osgood will start the 60th game Friday, but only because Hasek is sidelined with a hip flexor injury. Osgood is struggling and Hasek is not, but you have to wonder if the Dominator's health will keep the rotation alive another 10 games or so.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Antero Niittymaki
2nd Chair: Martin Biron
Skinny: The rotation was placed on hold as Biron started three straight, but all three landed in the loss column, which prompted another Niittymaki start Tuesday. The result: a fourth straight defeat despite 43 saves on 47 shots. Best guess is coach John Stevens continues to use both heavily until one or the other gets in a groove.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING RED HOT
1st Chair: Karri Ramo
2nd Chair: Johan Holmqvist
Skinny: Holmqvist has cooled off a bit, which is what streaky goalies do. After winning four straight on the road, he's just 2-1-1 with a 2.74 goals-against average in four post-All Star starts. Ramo may have bought himself another start with a close-in save on Sergei Kostitsyn in the final seconds of a 3-2 win over Montreal Tuesday.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin
2nd Chair: Patrick Lalime
Skinny: Coach Denis Savard went against his word and started Khabibulin Sunday. It was reward for a job well done in a 3-1 win over Calgary. Khabibulin has helped Chicago earn a point in three straight road games, stopping 96 of 101 shots in the process. Lalime's challenge appears to be losing steam.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS HOT
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Marc-Andre Fleury
Skinny: Fleury is expected to start Wednesday for the Pens' Wilkes-Barre/Scranton branch in an AHL tilt against Norfolk. Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien told the Citizens Voice that he'd like to see Fleury start three or four games, but these things are generally reevaluated game-to-game. Conklin has won three of four in February, but with pretty average supporting figures (2.75 GAA, .904 save pct.).
NASHVILLE PREDATORS WARM
1st Chair: Chris Mason
2nd Chair: Dan Ellis
Skinny: Ellis (about 72 percent owned) is 2-0-1 in his last three starts with a .926 save percentage. Mason, meanwhile, is the 3rd ranked goalie in fantasy over the last month. Can't argue with either guy's performance of late. We'll continue to see Mason in at least three of every five games.
MINNESOTA WILD WARM
1st Chair: Niklas Backstrom
2nd Chair: Josh Harding
Skinny: Backstrom was yanked Tuesday after 40 minutes despite trailing only 2-1 in a game Minnesota was dominating statistically. Coach Jacques Lemaire took issue with the goal Backstrom allowed on a Jared Stoll shot. It remains to be seen of there is any fallout, but Backstrom has been the sharper of the two this month.
MONTREAL CANADIENS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Carey Price
Skinny: Price gets the start for Montreal Wednesday, a game that will mark his third appearance in four games. He took over for Huet on Feb. 9 after Montreal's starter allowed three goals on four shots in under five minutes. In five February starts, the once-impenetrable Huet has a 3.71 GAA.

Most of you are hockey fans. As a result, you don't need to be told the NHL trade deadline is Feb. 26. It's just about all we'll hear about over the next two weeks. There will be trades. Big names will be moved. And, if recent history repeats itself, all the shuffling will have little impact on the outcome of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But it really is fun though, isn't it.

The other date some of you may need a refresher on is March 6. That's the deadline for trades in Yahoo! leagues that utilize the default trade deadline. Doesn't exactly mirror the real-life deadline, but it does give owners the chance to react to those deals in the real world. Just make sure you're following the wires and, of course, looking beneath the surface to find the fantasy impact of these deals.

MID-WEEK UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do ASAP: The first pre-deadline deal to go down resulted in Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore landing in Ottawa. They both fell flat in their debuts with the Senators, and as usual the most impacted player fantasy-wise wasn't involved in the deal at all (see market movers note on Andrew Ladd). You really have to look beneath the headlines when it comes to these deadline trades. Example: There was quite a stir in Atlanta today when Marian Hossa and Don Waddell were the only two absentees from an optional skate. A Hossa deal would be big news, yes, but for fantasy purposes, nobody is going to cut the Thrashers forward based on a trade. The players most likely to be impacted by a Hossa trade would be Bryan Little and Darren Haydar, a pair of Thrashers prospects who have yet to be given full opportunity to shine at the NHL level. If Hossa is dealt and Atlanta doesn't NHL-ready forward help in return, those guys could benefit.

Forget what I said about: Caps prospect Eric Fehr did finally pick up his first point of the season Sunday, but did so after starting on Washington's fourth line with Matt Pettinger and Boyd Gordon. He played fewer than 10 minutes. Fehr had some fantasy potential playing opposite Alexander Ovechkin, but the Caps are currently going with an Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Viktor Kozlov configuration on the No. 1 line.

One-timers: Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews returned to the lineup Sunday and picked up an assist on a Patrick Sharp goal. He's available in about 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues. … After dressing for back-to-back games, Canadiens right wing Michael Ryder will be a healthy scratch Wednesday. The Montreal Gazette reports that Sergei Kostitsyn will start on Saku Koivu's line. … Newly acquired winger Patrick Eaves (shoulder) participated in the morning skate with his new Carolina teammates Tuesday, but is about a week away from returning to game action. … Ryan Smyth will play Thursday, according to the Denver Post.

BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Ryan Malone, LW, Pit – I'm sure I swore off including Pittsburgh's forwards in this space. Might have swore it off more than once. But Malone is a tad bit irresistible these days. Entering play Wednesday, the Pens forward was on a five-game point streak that includes four goals and three assists. Overall he has 13 points in his last nine games. Right now you can't go wrong with any member of the Ryan Malone-Evgeni Malkin-Peter Sykora line.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Samuel Pahlsson , C, Ana – Deep-league alert: With Doug Weight out for a week with a shoulder injury, Pahlsson filled in between Teemu Selanne and Todd Bertuzzi for Tuesday's win over Colorado. Pahlsson scored a goal and has points in three of four games. Of course, that goal Tuesday came after he was reunited with super-checkers Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer, so there's no telling where things go from here.

Andrew Ladd, LW, Car – Ladd got bumped up to second-line duty when Cory Stillman was shipped to Ottawa. He joined Rod Brind'Amour and Sergei Samsonov while Ray Whitney lined up alongside Eric Staal and Erik Cole. Ladd scored two goals Tuesday, was a plus-2 and has five points in his last five games.

Jason Williams, RW, Chi – You may remember that this guy had 19 points in 20 games before a groin strain led to hernia surgery in late November. Williams skated Tuesday, may resume contact drills Wednesday and, if all goes well, could be back in the Chicago lineup Sunday against Colorado.

Tim Connolly, C, Buf – The good news: Connolly had two assists Tuesday in his second game back after missing a month with various ailments. The bad news: He's limited in his non-game activity and may have to sit on the second night of back-to-backs.

Jiri Hudler, RW, Det – Hudler has a modest two points in two games with Dan Cleary sidelined with facial injuries. The lineup vacancy resulted in an extra four minutes of ice time in the game immediately following the injury.

Dick Tarnstrom, D, Cls – He recorded an assist in 18:07 of ice time Sunday in his Columbus debut. He'll keep the puck moving on the power play, which should keep his point total moving at a rate of about 0.5 per game.

Tyler Arnason, C, Col – Eight point in four games was a nice run. The question: Can he sustain even a fraction of that with Paul Stastny and Ryan Smyth returning from injuries?

Kris Letang, D, Pit – Nice run here of five points in four games, three coming on the power play. His season figures would look a lot better if his early-season shootout heroics were included.

Brett Clark, D, Col – The Denver Post is reporting that Clark will miss "considerable time" after suffering a dislocated shoulder in Tuesday's game against Anaheim.

Simon Gagne, LW, Phi – Gagne says he hopes to play again this season after suffering yet another concussion over the weekend. The timetable currently sits at a couple of weeks, but it's fair to say his fantasy value for the remainder of the season is minimal.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League
Still a tight battle as two points separates first from third and five teams are within seven rotisserie points of first place. Rotowire-Maingot occupies first place on the strength of solid weeks from Ryan Whitney, Olli Jokinen and his quartet of goalies. Recent player adds across the league include Jared Boll (muscle, anyone?), Kris Letang, Shane O'Brien and Scott Hartnell.

Matt Romig is a senior editor for Yahoo! Sports. Send Matt a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 9:04 pm, EST

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