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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
Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Expected To Play Next Week
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
1:32 PM
News: Coach Bruce Boudreau said that he expects Clayton Stoner (lower body) to be available when the Ducks resume play the Canucks on Tuesday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner was a late scratch for the Ducks' final game before the All-Star break this past Wednesday due to the lower-body ailment, which he sustained the previous weekend against the Kings. It appears to be just a minor concern for Stoner, whose availability for the game against the Canucks should be confirmed when he returns to practice Monday.

Stephen Johns
Hawks' Prospect Johns Suffers Knee Injury
Stephen Johns, D, CHI
8:10 AM
News: Stephen Johns, who is considered one of the top Blackhawks' top prospects at AHL Rockford, suffered a knee injury on Monday and is expected to miss two-to-three weeks, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: The 22-year-old defenseman suffered a head injury Nov. 26 that forced him to miss nearly two months. After his return last week, he skated in only three games before being dealt yet another setback on the health front. He has six assists and is plus-13 in 23 games with Rockford, his first season as a pro after finishing four years at the University of Notre Dame.

David Rundblad
Hawks' Rundblad Making His Mark In First Half
David Rundblad, D, CHI
7:56 AM
News: David Rundblad has been showing some good stuff in the first half as one of the last pair of defensemen on the Blackhawks, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman told ESPN Chicago.
Analysis: David Rundblad scored goals in back-to-back games earlier this week and has collected three goals and six assists in 27 games this season. The games skated is the most in his six seasons in the NHL, including stints with Ottawa and Arizona. Bowman gave Rundblad raves so far this season, but it will be interesting once rookie defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk returns from a leg injury which could be as early as mid-February. "I think David has probably grabbed the reins the most of all those guys," Bowman said. "He's (Rundblad) really shown he's kind of emerged as a guy that's getting more comfortable. He's always had the talent. I think as a young defenseman it's trying to gain the game-to-game confidence. He's moved from the left side to the right side. Having not only not played the left side much, that was an adjustment for him, but I thought he got pretty good at it."

J.T. Miller
Rangers' Miller Continues Roller Coaster Ride
J.T. Miller, C, NYR
12:33 AM
News: J.T. Miller will begin the second half of the NHL season on a five game point-scoring drought.
Analysis: After logging four points in three games after the new year, J.T. Miller has found himself in a rut. With the 23-year-old Ohio native most likely focused more on play without the puck and occasional centering duties, he's a safe bet to continue the roller coaster ride in traditional production. Although the highly regarded first-round pick (2011) has a decent five goals and 10 points in 23 games this season, standard format owners should only have him on their radar, not their roster.

Martin St. Louis
Rangers' St. Louis Enjoying Final Year Of Pact
Martin St. Louis, RW, NYR
12:20 AM
News: Martin St. Louis logged four points (all assists) in three games leading up to the All-Star break.
Analysis: Having not suffered anything more than a three-game slump all season, the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent has really kept his foot on on the proverbial gas pedal this season. Despite slumping in the first two months with the team last season, with 14 goals, 36 points through 44 games played, it's safe to say the 15-year veteran has still got the touch.

Cam Talbot
Talbot Logs Solid First Half
Cam Talbot, G, NYR
12:05 AM
News: Cam Talbot (2.15 GAA) is 4-4-1 with a .926 save percentage in 11 games played this season.
Analysis: He's arguably one of the best handcuff (for owners of Henrik Lundqvist) options in fantasy hockey this season, when he plays. While the organization prepares for a combined 29 games in February and March, only two will be on a back-to-back occurrences next month. However, the team will play four back-to-back occurrences in March, increasing the 27-year-old's chances of the starting nod.

Anton Forsberg
Call-Up In Store For Jackets' Forsberg
Anton Forsberg, G, CLB
1/23/2015
News: Anton Forsberg will be recalled from AHL Springfield at the conclusion of the NHL's All-Star break, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: The Blue Jackets confirmed Friday that No. 1 netminder Sergei Bobrovsky is dealing with a right groin injury that figures to sideline him for "a while," creating a need for the team to bring up an extra goalie. Anton Forsberg previously operated as the team's No. 2 option in goal when Bobrovsky missed a month of action with a left groin injury earlier in the season, but his outstanding play at Springfield could allow him to earn more work during the upcoming stint with the club. Curtis McElhinney currently tops the Jackets' depth chart for now, but he's been far from reliable this season, submitting a 4-6-1 record, 2.98 GAA and .907 save percentage over his 15 games. Should McElhinney's struggles wear on coming out of the break, don't be surprised if coach Todd Richards turns quickly to Forsberg, who has a tidy 2.04 GAA and .927 save percentage for Springfield.

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jackets' Bobrovsky 'Out A While' With Groin Injury
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLB
1/23/2015
News: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen confirmed Friday that Sergei Bobrovsky's lower-body injury is related to his right groin area, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. "It's gonna be a while," Kekalainen said of Bobrovsky's recovery timetable.
Analysis: Sergei Bobrovsky previously suffered a groin strain on his left side back in December, missing about a month of action due to the injury. It would seem reasonable to expect a similar length of absence this time around, though the Blue Jackets should have a better indication of his eventual return date once he's able to start skating. Regardless, it's a costly blow to the Blue Jackets, who were already on the periphery of the Eastern Conference playoff race. With their top netminder out of commission, look for Curtis McElhinney and expected AHL call-up Anton Forsberg to vie for starting duties in the interim.

Ryan Murray
Jackets' Murray (Knee) Could Be Cleared Next Week
Ryan Murray, D, CLB
1/23/2015
News: General manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Ryan Murray (knee) could be cleared to return next week, Shawn Mitchell of the COlumbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Ryan Murray resumed practicing almost two weeks ago and would seem to be progressing steadily in his recovery from the knee issue, which has been problematic since he underwent arthroscopic surgery in March. The rearguard was limited to just four games before his knee starting bothering him again, which has kept him out of the lineup since Nov. 1. The Blue Jackets will proceed cautiously with bringing him back in the fold due to the multiple setbacks he's already suffered with his knee, but it does appear likely we'll see him back in action again at some point in February.

Artem Anisimov
Jackets' Anisimov Could Be Cleared Next Week
Artem Anisimov, C, CLB
1/23/2015
News: General manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Artem Anisimov (triceps) could be cleared to play next week, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Artem Anisimov has been sidelined since late November with the injury. He's been limited to skating on his own to this point, but Kekalainen's words suggest he could be close to rejoining the team for a full-contact practice. Once that happens, the Blue Jackets will likely have a better inkling of a possible return date for the center.

 
 
 
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