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Neutral Zone Wrap: Deadline winners and losers

by | Rotowire.com
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What was supposed to be hockey's busiest 24 hours turned into the most boring show on Earth. The buildup to February 27th led many to believe a blockbuster trade or two would be completed. Rick Nash was as good as somewhere else. Carolina seemed ready to trade every defenseman on their roster. And the Leafs were poised to add that veteran netminder everyone claimed was necessary for their survival.

But, alas, nothing significant took place. In fact, 16 separate instances of nothing. Frankly, the best moves were carried out during the previous two weeks. The highlight of D-Day turned out to be the Buffalo Sabres' ability to upgrade and sneak a first-round pick for a middle-of-the-road forward (Paul Gaustad). Let's not forget about the Sharks adding some toughness. And who knew the Predators could be so aggressive?

So which Fantasy players benefited from the most recent round of transactions? And which guys will be worse off? Remember, these examples do not necessarily have to be the ones involved in the trades; they merely can be affected by whatever happened around them. Here are a few notables, taken from deals dating back to February 13th:

The Winners

Jeff Carter/Mike Richards, F, Los Angeles

After a lonely eight months apart, the most dangerous duo since Hekyll and Jekyll have been reunited in Hollywood. And since the Wonder Twins left Philly, each of their brief stays proved to be disappointing. While Carter (25 points in 39 games with Columbus) could claim the excuse of skating with the NHL's worst club, Richards (31 in 56) has squandered his chances in the Kings' lineup. Call it a new system, playing second fiddle at center, or maybe he just missed playing with his best friend. Now that they have each other, they're set to make fireworks…hopefully on the ice.

James Reimer, G, Toronto

Everyone in the organization has faith in you, except perhaps yourself. Maybe that's the result of both you (one win in seven with 26 goals allowed) and your team (a dubious 1-9-1 run) sucking the last few weeks. But management obviously didn't feel the urge to grab a solid goaltender that could usurp your top billing. And don't worry, neither Jonas Gustavsson nor anyone else in the system could possibly pass you as No. 1 in the near future. We think.

Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota

The little defender who could will be able to think he can more clearly now, as veteran Marek Zidlicky has jumped to Jersey. The 22-year old wasn't necessarily having a poor second year up to now (22 in 61 with 12 PPPs), but he was always in the shadow of the former senior statesman when it came to power-play duty and general responsibilities (as health permitted). Spurgeon has so much to offer offensively, even with other recent additions Kurtis Foster (now on his third club this season) and Tom Gilbert (missed a month thanks to Daniel Carcillo) joining the mix.

Daniel Winnik, F, San Jose

While he has never become the biggest point producer in the shed, Winnik was being pursued by several suitors on Monday. The regular numbers (18 in 63) will not impress the average fantasy participant, but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound winger will supply the frontline grit San Jose has sorely lacked. So expect a few penalty minutes and some shots on goal. And don't be surprised if Winnik hits a point or two sliding into the spot beside Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski on the second line.

Marek Zidlicky, D, New Jersey

The Czech blueliner may be 35, but he has maintained his scoring skills over the years. And yes, Zidlicky still plays a mean power-play (and gets nearly three minutes a night). With weapons such as Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, and David Clarkson, the opportunities are present. And without any other legitimate D threats in Jersey (save for Adam Larsson and Matt Taormina when they're ready), there's no telling how many points he can rack up.

The Losers

Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa

No one will ever let Anderson near a kitchen again after cutting his finger cooking (don't worry, we'll discover the real reason someday). The Ottawa starter's prospects haven't improved, as little is known as to his return. But don't worry about hurrying back, as the Sens acquired St. Louis giant Ben Bishop for a 2nd-round selection. And Anderson's eventual successor, Robin Lehner (two impressive victories, including a shutout at Boston), is looking like the second coming of Patrick Lalime between the pipes.

Matt Carle, D, Philadelphia

Since Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman arrived in mid-February, Carle's minutes - both in regular (down from 23 to 21) and man-advantage (down from two to one) - have dwindled. Kubina has swiped a chunk of the special-team duty, while Grossman's superior defensive abilities have provided him a greater role (and three in five doesn't hurt). This shouldn't come as a shock to seasoned observers, as Carle has always been stuck behind at least two better D-men for the majority of his career.

Tyler Ennis, F, Buffalo

Just when the points started flowing again for Ennis (three-game streak headed into Thursday), the Sabres go out and bring in a young, highly touted center like Cody Hodgson (33 in 63). It appears the two are projected to skate on the same unit, but the ex-Canuck should pick up more of the spoils in all areas. Even dismissing his bad luck with injuries (out a total of 34 games), Ennis still hasn't earned his place this season - and it shows in his shifts (hovering around 15 minutes per contest). Meanwhile, Hodgson begins his Buffalo stint with a clean slate and significantly more leeway.

Andrei Kostitsyn, F, Nashville

The family reunion is heartwarming and all that, but the reality remains the elder Kostitsyn (24 in 53) has to adjust to a totally different style of play in Music City. Despite a stable of speed demons, Montreal implemented a methodical wait-and-see offensive approach (and look where that got them). Nashville, on the other hand, like to run-and-gun and take more chances on the attack. The learning curve is steep enough to except a slow progression from the new acquisition. So if you own this particular Kostitsyn, plan accordingly.

Rick Nash, F, Columbus

All the stories surround your departure and you end up staying put. What a tease. Oh, and guess what? A few key forward pieces (Carter, Antoine Vermette, Sami Pahlsson) have been removed and shipped elsewhere. Good luck with that and your $7.5-million salary! Well, at least you attempted to save the franchise from future stagnation by requesting a trade. And hey, there's always 2012-13 and beyond.

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Player News
Joakim Nordstrom
Nordstrom, Blackhawks Agree On One-Year Deal
Joakim Nordstrom, C, CHI
9/2/2015
News: Joakim Nordstrom signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blackhawks on Wednesday, Brian Hedger of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Joakim Nordstrom waited several months before agreeing to his qualifying offer, but he's at least in the fold to compete for a spot in the Blackhawks' crowded bottom-six ranks. The forward recorded no goals and three assists in 38 games with the parent club last season, so a return trip to AHL Rockford could be in the works to open 2015-16.

Tom Sestito
Penguins Sign Sestito To PTO
Tom Sestito, LW, VAN
9/2/2015
News: Tom Sestito signed a professional tryout contract last week with the Penguins, Josh Yohe of DKonPittsburghSports.com reports.
Analysis: As a tough guy who gobbles up penalty minutes, Tom Sestito doesn't seem to mesh well with coach Mike Johnston's vision of rolling out four lines with scoring ability. Don't expect him to crack the Penguins' 23-man roster out of training camp, barring a litany of injuries.

Evgeni Malkin
Pens' Malkin Healthy Heading Into Camp
Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Evgeni Malkin is healthy heading into training camp, NHL.com reports. "[Malkin] was injured before the playoffs last year; he's in skating already," Johnston said.
Analysis: The Penguins are expected to tinker with their top-six ranks in training camp after adding Phil Kessel to the mix in the offseason, but it's expected that Kessel will play on the top line with Sidney Crosby, while Evgeni Malkin centers a line of Patric Hornqvist and a yet-to-be-determined left winger. Regardless of which player among David Perron, Chris Kunitz, and rookie Sergei Plotnikov ultimately settles next to Malkin, staying healthy is more essential to the star center's fantasy production than anything else. Malkin has missed 103 regular-season contests over the last six years.

Peter Budaj
Kings Ink Budaj To Tryout Offer
Peter Budaj, G, LA
9/2/2015
News: Peter Budaj has signed with the Kings on a professional tryout contract, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Peter Budaj struggled while seeing limited ice time with AHL St. John's in the Winnipeg organization last season, going 0-9-6 with a 3.55 GAA and .888 save percentage. The 33-year-old clearly seems to be on the downswing of his career, but as a veteran with 296 NHL appearances on his ledger, he could provide insurance in goal for the Kings at the minor-league level.

Markus Soberg
Jackets' Soberg Out 4-6 Weeks
Markus Soberg, RW, CLB
9/2/2015
News: Markus Soberg (groin) will miss the next four-to-six weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a sports hernia, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: A sixth-round pick by the Blue Jackets in 2013, Markus Soberg was hampered by an abdominal injury throughout much of last season, ending up with 13 goals and 17 assists in 61 games for OHL Windsor. It's unclear whether he would've been able to make the jump to Columbus this season even if healthy, but the surgery will certainly delay his progress to North American hockey.

Marcel Goc
Ex-Blues Center Goc Returns To Germany
Marcel Goc, C, STL
9/2/2015
News: Marcel Goc signed a one-year contract Tuesday with Adler Mannheim of the German Ice Hockey League.
Analysis: Marcel Goc will return to his native country after failing to attract NHL interest following a nine-point campaign while skating as a fourth-line player in 74 games for the Penguins and Blues. At 32 years old, Goc's career in North America could very well be over.

Maxim Lapierre
Ex-NHLer Lapierre Signs With Swedish Club
Maxim Lapierre, C, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Maxim Lapierre signed a one-year contract Tuesday with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: After skating in 80 games with the Blues and Penguins last season while scoring two goals and nine assists, Maxim Lapierre was unable to generate much interest from other teams as a fourth-line option in free agency. Rather than having to enter an NHL training camp on a professional tryout offer, Lapierre determined it was in his best interest to take the guaranteed money overseas in attempt to rebuild value. The 30-year-old's deal with MODO contains an option for a second season, allowing him to return to North America next summer if he so chooses.

Bryce Salvador
Ex-Devil Salvador Announces Retirement
Bryce Salvador, D, NJ
9/2/2015
News: Bryce Salvador (back) announced his retirement Wednesday in an article on The Players' Tribune.
Analysis: Bryce Salvador skated 14 seasons in the NHL, recording 24 goals and 86 assists over 786 games. The 39-year-old spent his final eight years in the league with New Jersey, captaining the team for the last three seasons. Injuries dogged him later in his career, but his leadership and sound positional play from the blue line were attributes that outweighed his lack of offensive contributions. He'll remain in the New Jersey organization as an ambassador for the sport.

Patrick Kane
Image Conscious Hawks Fielding Trade Calls On Kane
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
9/1/2015
News: The Hawks have apparently fielded speculative trade calls about Patrick Kane from more than five different teams, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. There is no indication the Hawks would trade him, but the team is extremely image conscious and there are suggestions they feel "disrespected" by Kane's alleged actions this summer.
Analysis: No charges have been laid in the investigation into an alleged rape of a woman at Patrick Kane's home. The team has largely remained quiet on the issue, but it was already displeased that he used the Hawks' Stanley Cup rally to proclaim he intended to act like a fool again while celebrating the Cup win. Optics matter to the Hawks and the team may be forced to do something to maintain its image. Others have been quick to distance themselves from Kane. He has been quietly removed from the cover of EA Sports NHL '16 video game and his former OHL squad (London Knights) dropped the moniker "Team Kane" from its annual training camp agenda. Camp is only a few weeks away and things could change dramatically for Kane and the Hawks before then.

Valeri Nichushkin
Stars' Nichushkin Says Injury Is Behind Him
Valeri Nichushkin, RW, DAL
9/1/2015
News: Valeri Nichushkin missed most of last year after an early-season hip injury, but is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. In an update at the Stars' site he said, "Everything feels so good now. I don't feel pain anymore."
Analysis: The promising young winger played only four games before getting injured, then played just four of the team's final five games after coming back. If healthy, he is expected to get top six minutes this season playing wing for either Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza, which should make the big winger a potential fantasy sleeper.

 
 
 
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