NHL Skinny: Stumping for Stumpel

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports

GOALIE HOT SEAT
BOSTON BRUINS RED HOT
1st Chair: Tim Thomas
2nd Chair: Andrew Raycroft, Hannu Toivonen
Skinny: Thomas carried Boston back into the playoff chase. Unfortunately, staying there required a team effort the Bruins weren't willing to provide. Boston lost its fifth straight game Sunday and lost Sergei Samsonov at the trade deadline, events that undermined Thomas' best efforts, as the goalie recorded a .941 save percentage while facing nearly 40 shots per game in a busy week. So what does Boston do now? Raycroft stayed put at the deadline, but wants to play (he got the loss Sunday). Toivonen is facing shots again in practice. Expect all three to see action down the stretch.
SAN JOSE SHARKS RED HOT
1st Chair: Evgeni Nabokov
2nd Chair: Vesa Toskala
Skinny: Nabokov is listed as day-to-day with an abdominal bruise suffered when he stopped a Sandis Ozolinsh slapshot in overtime Tuesday. The bruise may not be the only thing keeping him out of the lineup. The Sharks are desperate for points, and Toskala has been more effective of late. Toskala has won six of his past seven starts. Nabokov's loss Tuesday was his fourth straight. Coach Ron Wilson has displayed a willingness to ride the hot hand in the past, so Toskala is the short-term go-to guy in fantasy leagues.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Robert Esche
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki
Skinny: Too close to call right now. Niittymaki had the upper hand before allowing six goals, including a pair of softies, in a 6-5 loss to Buffalo Saturday. Esche got the start Sunday as planned and was solid, but not good enough in a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh. No word yet on who may start Wednesday at Florida.
MONTREAL CANADIENS HOT
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: David Aebischer
Skinny: Word around the league was that Huet was wearing down after making 11 straight starts. Good luck convincing the Rangers or Bruins that he needs a breather. Huet recorded back-to-back shutouts to close the week, a scoreless streak that began hours after the blockbuster trade that saw Aebischer go to Montreal in exchange for former Hart winner Jose Theodore. Presumably Montreal's new acquisition will lighten Huet's workload, but at this point the Canadiens would be foolish to throw this job up for grabs.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING HOT
1st Chair: John Grahame
2nd Chair: Sean Burke
Skinny: Tampa Bay took a long look at goalies at the trade deadline, a sign that the team isn't sure either Grahame or Burke can lead it deep into the playoffs. Right now, just getting a goalie deep into a game is a victory. Grahame has allowed 24 goals in his past five starts, alarming numbers when you consider he was pulled early twice. Burke also got yanked back on Feb. 9, then allowed four or more goals in each of his next two starts. There's nowhere else to turn now, so expect Grahame to get another shot after Burke failed Saturday.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS WARM
1st Chair: Ed Belfour
2nd Chair: Mikael Tellqvist
Skinny: Tellqvist started Saturday – No surprise given that Belfour had endured a full 65 minutes plus a shootout less than 24 hours earlier. Tellqvist played well – he stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 5-1 win – which will do little to silence those Toronto supporters who think the team needs to go young in net. Coach Pat Quinn may be coming around. According to the Toronto Sun, the coach plans to meet with both goalies Monday, and a plan to give Tellqvist about a third of the starts down the stretch will be ironed out.
EDMONTON OILERS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Dwayne Roloson
2nd Chair: Ty Conklin, Jussi Markkanen
Skinny: The addition of Roloson at the trade deadline was supposed to take care of that sticky situation in net for the Oilers. So far, not so good. Roloson allowed 13 goals in his first three starts, all Edmonton losses. The race for the final playoff spot is tightening. Roloson will be given time to sharpen his skills after a period of relative inactivity backing up Manny Fernandez in Minnesota, but don't expect the Oilers to slide too far back before giving Conklin or Markkanen another shot.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Vacant
2nd Chair: Pascal Leclaire, Marc Denis
Skinny: Prediction: Leclaire will start Monday. Not exactly a bold forecast given that Columbus has instituted a goalie rotation and Denis got the last start. Columbus is still playing some decent hockey. The Blue Jackets have won three of four and are just about a .500 team with Rick Nash in the lineup. Take a look at Denis as a spot-start candidate Wednesday against the struggling Blackhawks.
It was all just a fantasy: Roberto Luongo in a Kings uniform … Olli Jokinen solidifying Ottawa's No. 2 line … A new center for Jarome Iginla, and a wing for Patrick Marleau … That fresh start for Todd Bertuzzi – Sure, a record number of deals went down Thursday at the trade deadline, but few – ok, none – of the blockbuster variety.

Get used to it. With a salary cap in place, the trade deadline becomes a time for fine-tuning, for adding blue-line depth, or a backup goalie. Gone are the days of luxury add-ons. That high-priced forward you don't necessarily need but can't resist buying will have to sit in the showroom. The Skinny takes a look at some deals that did go down and the weekend's other comings and goings:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

The Colorado Avalanche didn't deal for Jose Theodore with the intent of grooming Peter Budaj as a No. 1 goalie. Sure, it was Budaj that Colorado drafted in the third round of the 2001 draft. Sure, Thursday's trade is another sign that the Avs feel Budaj is better, at least fundamentally, than the departed David Aebischer. Budaj was solid during the Olympics, too, but make no mistake about it: Colorado will view the Theodore trade as a success only if Budaj remains a backup for the rest of his days with the Avalanche.

There's a catch, of course. Theodore is hurt. The former Hart and Vezina winner probably won't play again in the regular season (though Colorado insists salary cap issues won't prevent them from playing him when he's ready), so for the final 16 games – give or take a night off here and there for rest – Budaj is the man. Sign him now if he's available in your league. Budaj won his first two starts after the deal, allowing a lone goal against Chicago and shutting out Calgary. Now neither opponent lights the world on fire offensively, but the bottom line with Budaj is you have a solid fundamental goalie playing behind a sound defense. Rank him ahead of established netminders like Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour and Olaf Kolzig.

How many shifts does it take to shake off an underachiever's tag. As far as Ottawa is concerned, Tyler Arneson, acquired Thursday in a deadline deal with Chicago, left the label in the Windy City. The Senators thought enough of Arneson to make him an integral part of their playoff run. If coach Bryan Murray is worried about how he'll fit in, he didn't show it Friday when he gave the 26-year-old center a marquee line pairing with Daniel Alfredsson.

As if to officially put his Chicago troubles behind him, Arneson recorded an assist on his second shift in an Ottawa uniform. Are fantasy owners sold yet? Probably not – and for good reason. Center is a deep position, and even with a sharp increase in production, Arneson is unlikely to crack the top 20 (he currently ranks outside the top 50 at the position). His value, for now, is limited to deeper leagues and leagues that don't break out forwards by position. If he can continue to skate with Alfredsson – and the Senators appear ready to keep their top forwards on separate lines – he's a guy to keep an eye on.

Line changes: New arrival Niklas Nordgren started Saturday's game on Pittsburgh's top line with Sidney Crosby, but the left wing failed to log 10 minutes of ice time in either of his first two games with the Pens. … If Daniel Alfredsson sticks on Tyler Arneson's line, Ottawa needs a new line partner for Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Patrick Eaves got the first shot at securing the job Sunday, and Antoine Vermette remains a candidate. … Luc Robitaille was upset by his demotion to the Kings' fourth line for the start of Saturday's game. … Sharks rookie Steve Bernier has been effective on San Jose's freshly-dubbed "Heavyweight" line, though he spent most of Saturday's game in the penalty box.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Jozef Stumpel, C, Fla
    Count Stumpel among the many who were happy to see captain Olli Jokinen re-sign with the Panthers. The Stumpel-Jokinen-Martin Gelinas line has been red hot since before the Olympic break. Stumpel had a goal and an assist Saturday to run his streak of consecutive multi-point efforts to four games. Since Jan. 24, a string of 14 games, Stumpel has been one of the most productive center-eligible players in the game, recording six goals, 16 assists and a plus-10 rating.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Curtis Sanford, G, StL – The rebuilding effort in St. Louis has paid immediate dividends, with Sanford as a prime fantasy beneficiary. He has won seven of his past nine starts and boasts a 1.38 goals-against average in five March starts.

Oleg Kvasha, C/LW, Pho – Kvasha made his Phoenix debut Saturday skating on the team's top forward line with Shane Doan and Steve Reinprecht. The former Islander recorded an assist in 13 minutes of ice time to snap a five-game scoreless drought.

Jeff Friesen, LW, Ana – He still needs to get his lungs back and learn a new (yet familiar) system, but Friesen has a shot to rescue a lost season in Anaheim. He scored his fourth goal of the season Sunday skating primarily on a line with Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald.

Ric Jackman, D, Fla – Some foreign numbers have appeared next to Jackman's name in box scores. In two games as a Florida blue-liner, he is a plus-3. Jackman was a minus-20 in 49 games with the Penguins. The Panthers are also looking for him to invigorate what has been a struggling power play.

Robert Nilsson, C, NYI – Keep both Nilsson, the Isles' first-round pick in 2003, and Jeff Tambellini, another first rounder acquired from Los Angeles at the trade deadline, on your radar. The two joined captain Alexei Yashin on a line Friday, with Nilsson scoring the tying goal in an eventual shootout win.

Ryan Whitney, D, Pit – A long-time Skinny favorite, Whitney was a beneficiary of Mark Recchi's trade-deadline departure. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Whitney was in line to take Recchi's spot alongside Sergei Gonchar on the power play. Whitney picked up a power-play assist Sunday and now has seven points in his past six games.

Petr Prucha, RW/C, NYR – Prucha played his first game in more than a month Sunday, assisting on a goal in just over 12 minutes of ice time in a 3-2 loss. As he gets his legs back, Prucha will once again be a guy to turn to for a push in the goals category in fantasy leagues.

Derek Roy, C, Buf – Just one goal on Sunday for Roy, who already has two hat tricks to his credit in March. Buffalo has exploded offensively of late, with Roy, Thomas Vanek (5 goals in 6 games), J.P. Dumont (7 points in 5 games) and Daniel Briere (10 points in past 5) all getting a piece.

Christian Ehrhoff, D, SJ – San Jose didn't land a playmaking defenseman at the trade deadline, perhaps because Ehrhoff has elevated his play of late. Saturday he took 10 shots on goal, the final slapshot resulting in the game-winning goal. The 23-year-old has three goals and seven assists in the past 10 games for the Sharks.

David Aebischer, G, Mon – A starter in Colorado, Aebischer will have to wait out Cristobal Huet's hot streak before getting his shot in Montreal.

Jeff O'Neill, C/RW, Tor – The doghouse door swung open yet again for O'Neill Saturday, and he crawled right in as a healthy scratch against Philadelphia.

Michael Ryder, RW, Mon – Ryder found himself on Montreal's fourth line Saturday, the result of a dry spell that has seen him score just one goal in 10 games.