The NHL trade deadline is March 5 but the more important deadline for deals is on March 6 as that is the final date in Yahoo! pools.
There is a certain smartness to trading and a lot depends on what kind of league you are in. I'm going to talk about keeper leagues and one-year pools.
I play in a dynasty (same as a keeper) league that started in 1993. You are allowed to keep up to 12 players each year with the proviso that a player cannot be kept for more than three years unless you sign him to a long-term deal after the second season.
The Art (Vandelay) of the trade in a keeper league is that if you are going for it...GO FOR IT!
Most hockey pools have a ton of players on the waiver wire. Our league allows you to roster three goalies, six defensemen and 13 forwards with eight players on reserve. We are a 14 team league, so a total of 420 players are owned. Each NHL team has a 23 player roster so that still leaves 270 players available on the waiver wire.
There are so many players that are similar, especially in points that it really does not matter which player you take. Heading into action on Wednesday, there were 70 players between 33 and 42 points. In a 12 team league you would have on average six players from this list. There are also 15 players between 48 and 56 points.
The point I'm making is that there are plenty of similar players to grab the following year so if you have a chance to win then give up your assets.
Let's say you have a keeper like Tuukka Rask. You took him a couple of years ago when he was a backup to Tim Thomas and now he's signed to a long-term contract but still have him at an outstanding price of less than $20. You are offered Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Malkin, Duncan Keith and a forward from the group of players between 33 and 42 points. Do you make the trade?
Of course you do, because arguably you get just as good a goaltender (certainly a lot better in the last month) and you're adding an outstanding forward, an outstanding defenseman and good player from the secondary list.
In contrast, why would you trade for a so-called keeper in this second tier (like a fairly priced James van Riemsdyk) when there are 69 players who are similar to him in any given year? Unless your league is so deep that you go 650 players or more in a pool, I wouldn't do it.
Be smart when giving up and when going for it. Don't try to hold back and go for it while making sure you have enough for next season as that should guarantee that you will always finish in the middle of the pack and contend for a check or a playoff spot once every five to ten years.
As far as trading in a yearly pool, there is more to it than meets the eye. In a roto-style pool, go after the categories that you need help in and give up excess.
Most poolies seem to feel that goals and assists are the most important categories in a roto-pool but the truth is that all categories are the exact same. Penalty minutes or plus/minus is just as important as goals and assists as you get 12 points for finishing first in a 12 team league, 11 points for second place and so on. You do not get more points for winning a category by 200 rather than one or two.
Let's say that you have a huge lead in goals and assists and you cannot be caught at this stage by anyone. You need help in penalty minutes and can easily pick up five points in the standings with a top notch enforcer.
Consider the following scenario. You have Sidney Crosby and if you deal him to a certain team for Tom Sestito and Antoine Roussel (I know that you will be able to get a lot more for him but for the purpose of this debate, we are talking about a smart deal here that no one else would consider; this is all you are asking for). The team that gets Crosby will pass the team that is currently close to you in goals and assists with this deal, giving you a bigger lead and you will get a few extra points in penalty minutes as you are picking up the top two players in the league. One thing you do not have to worry about in yearly pools is that the trade will come back to bite you the following season.
This deal makes sense in terms of winning and it is definitely outside the box. Don't be afraid to make this move if it helps you win despite what fellow owners may think.
Pittsburgh @ Buffalo
The Penguins were down early as the Sabres took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Drew Stafford but it was all downhill from there as Pittsburgh scored five straight goals to win easily. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin led the way for the Penguins as they each had a goal and an assist. Harry Zolnierczyk, who was recalled from the minors earlier in the day, opened the scoring for the Penguins with Crosby scoring the winner in the second period and Malkin adding the insurance marker. Brian Gibbons with his fourth of the season and James Neal found the back of the net in the final stanza. Ryan Miller, who is on the trade block as he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, stopped 29 of 34 shots to pick up his league-leading 22nd loss while Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves as he leads the NHL in victories with 31. Zenon Konopka and Ville Leino were healthy scratches for the Sabres while Chuck Kobasew sat in the press box for the Penguins.
Chicago @ Anaheim
The top two teams in the Western Conference battled for the last time during the regular season and Corey Crawford came up with his first shutout of the season to lead Chicago to a 2-0 win over the Ducks. The Blackhawks were 2-0-1 against Anaheim and that will give them plenty of confidence should both sides meet in the Conference Finals. Crawford was outstanding as he made 29 saves to up his record to 22-8-10 with a 2.36 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Marian Hossa had a maintenance day on Tuesday and came out flying with a goal and an assist as he now has 24 goals and 50 points this season. Jonathan Toews scored with 2:31 remaining in the third to wrap things up, potting his 19th goal of the season as he gets set to go to Sochi. Hossa is going as well as he finished second in Olympic scoring in 2010 with nine points, one behind his Slovakian teammate Pavol Demitra. Demitra perished in the tragic plane crash in Russia almost two-and-a-half years ago.
The Ducks did not score but do not overlook defenseman Hampus Lindholm in pools over the next couple of seasons. He is a keeper. Lindholm was drafted sixth overall in the 2012 Draft and the rookie has five goals, 19 points and a plus-24 rating in 56 games. He should get plenty of Calder Trophy consideration although it appears that Nathan MacKinnon is the current favorite to win.
Dallas @ San Jose
Tommy Wingels was the hero with his overtime goal 1:52 minutes into the extra frame to lead the Sharks to a 2-1 win over Dallas. Martin Havlat opened the scoring with only his fourth goal of the season. It has been a humbling experience for the 32 year-old winger who also set up Wingels for the winner. Havlat could always be counted upon to pick up points as a top six forward but that is no longer the case as he has only four goals and 10 points in 27 games. It was thought that he had a bad season in 2012-13 when he had only eight goals and 18 points in 40 games but he has managed to go below that average this season. Valeri Nichushkin scored the lone goal for Dallas as his 12th goal in his rookie campaign, tied the game on a wrister, 6:27 into the third stanza. Alex Stalock stopped 19 shots to improve his record to 8-4 as he picked up his first win in his last three starts. Kari Lehtonen also turned aside 19 shots but he took the OT loss.
Steve Stamkos has not recovered enough from his broken leg and will not represent Canada at the Olympics. ... Look for Martin St. Louis, Claude Giroux or even Eric Staal to replace him. ... Pavel Datsyuk is looking to return to action on Thursday as he has missed 14 games with a knee injury. ... New Buffalo GM Tim Murray said on Wednesday that he would be willing to trade any player and that trade talks have picked up in the last few days. Look for Ryan Miller and Matt Moulson to be dealt before the March 5 deadline. ... Tyler Toffoli will remain on the Kings top line Thursday, alongside Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. ... Jaroslav Halak will get the start on Thursday against the Bruins. ... The NHL has a moratorium on trades during the Olympic break that begins at 3:00 PM ET Friday.