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What does this blockbuster deal between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues mean for fantasy owne …

With less than a week remaining until the NHL’s trade deadline, it’s common for us fantasy owners to get caught up in the excitement, hoping for our players to be traded to greener pastures. However, it’s not uncommon for a trade to actually devalue a player from a fantasy perspective, as his role on a contending team can often be less fruitful than that on his current club.

In this week’s piece I focus on a number of the bigger names being bandied about in trade talks and evaluate the impact a change of scenery might have on their fantasy value.

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Ryan Miller

Miller seems to be the biggest prize available to teams in the trade market and the Buffalo netminder certainly stands to gain the most from a change of scenery. There is virtually no team Miller could be traded to that would present him with a poorer situation than the one he’s currently part of with the Sabres. Blues? Great. Capitals? Sure. The team is reported to be working on an extension offer for the goaltender, but his desire to become a free agent at season’s end has been well-documented so I think Buffalo would be foolish not to send him packing. If you’re a Miller owner, keep your fingers crossed and hope he gets traded somewhere, anywhere.

Verdict: Hope for a trade

Thomas Vanek

Miller’s former teammate has performed admirably during his stint on Long Island, having accumulated 40 points in 44 contests with the club, but the season-ending injury suffered by John Tavares during the Olympics dramatically changes the landscape for him. It’s very likely that the Islanders have come to terms with the fact that any chance they had of sneaking into the playoffs evaporated with the tearing of Tavares’s knee ligament and Vanek should therefore be expendable. It’s hard to envision the Austrian-born winger not receiving a significant amount of premium ice time with whichever team he ends up with so it would be in the best interest of his fantasy owners if he were dealt.

Verdict: Hope for a trade

Matt Moulson

As the player dealt to Buffalo in the Thomas Vanek deal, Moulson probably hasn’t enjoyed his new surroundings a whole lot, as he has amassed just 26 points in 42 contests, which is a far cry from the pace he had established as the triggerman for John Tavares with the Isles. Since the Sabres are playing for nothing but personal pride and Moulson is scheduled to hit the free agent market this summer, it’s a virtual certainty that he gets traded, but his fantasy outlook definitely hinges on the team he joins. On a team in need of scoring he could be a power-play mainstay, but on a defensive-minded contender he could easily get pushed down the depth chart. Do you feel lucky?

Verdict: Undetermined

Martin St. Louis

Whether he admits it or not, there’s enough evidence to suggest that St. Louis would be willing to change zip codes under the right circumstances.  It’s unclear whether he would accept a trade to any team outside of the Rangers, but I’m comfortable predicting that there is no better situation from a fantasy perspective than the one he’s in right now with the Lightning.  Not only is the veteran among the league leaders in terms of power-play ice time, but the return of a hungry Steve Stamkos now appears imminent, which can only serve to boost his value. I own him in a couple of leagues I play in and I hope dearly that he has sent Steve Yzerman a fruit basket in an attempt at reconciliation.

Verdict: Hope he stays put

Ryan Callahan

The pending free agent is reportedly seeking a long-term contract from the Rangers that would earn him somewhere in the area of $50 million so unless the team experiences a sudden change of heart it’s expected he’ll be dealt prior to Wednesday’s deadline. From a fantasy standpoint, perhaps a new challenge is just what the Blueshirts’ captain needs to help him kick start his game. Callahan’s offensive stats have been down across the board this season so staying on Broadway doesn’t seem like an appealing option for his fantasy owners. While there’s always uncertainty about the role he might be assigned on a new club, it’s a roll of the dice I’d be willing to take if I owned him in any leagues.

Verdict: Hope for a trade

Andrei Markov

The Canadiens are playing with house money at this stage considering Markov has not missed a game due to injury in either of the past two seasons after missing a total of 144 in the previous two campaigns. General Manager Marc Bergevin has reportedly offered a one-year, $6 million contract to the veteran blueliner, but there’s speculation he could be dealt if he turns down the deal in the hopes of obtaining a longer-term pact in the summer. I’m of the opinion the Habs should move Markov if he’s not willing to re-sign with the club, however I would be surprised if Bergevin was actually willing to weaken his roster in a year when his team is likely to make the postseason. In any event, his fantasy owners should realize that playing on the top power-play unit alongside P.K. Subban is one of the better gigs around for an offensive rearguard like him. 

Verdict: Hope he stays put

Ryan Kesler

Of the players I have listed, Kesler and St. Louis are the only two who are not currently playing in the final year of their contract, which makes the likelihood of them being traded that much slimmer, despite rumors they may have requested deals. In the case of Kesler, the Canucks are unlikely to move him unless the return is significant so I don’t believe he’ll actually be traded and I think that should be viewed as a positive by his fantasy owners. Although his scoring numbers this season are not what might have been expected from him at the start of the year, his peripherals suggest he is generating scoring chances at an impressive rate. Let him ride it out with Vancouver.

Verdict: Hope he stays put

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