As we approach the NHL trade deadline (March 3), fantasy owners have to start to figure out which players may be dealt so they can plan accordingly. We can only sit and wait as things shake out, but we have to wonder -- will Ilya Kovalchuk be joining a better top line than what Atlanta has to offer; will Vincent Lecavalier finally leave Tampa Bay; will veteran Ray Whitney be shipped to a contender? Time will only tell, but be alert and ready to make some deals based on what happens once the real deadline arrives.
Ray Emery started his seventh straight game between the pipes for the Flyers and stopped 31 of 32 shots. He is unquestionably Philly's starting goalie, and you can start him with confidence while the Flyers continue their playoff push. The ongoing line juggling continued for the Flyers: on Saturday Scott Hartnell was bumped up to the top line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne -- Hartnell scored a power play goal with Richards and Gagne assisting on it. Their second line consists of Jeff Carter centering Danny Briere and Darroll Powe -- Briere scored his 18th goal with Powe and Carter assisting on it. You get the drift, the lines worked. It was about a month ago when Islanders forward Josh Bailey seemed to be scoring with ease (5 goals and 8 assists in nine games). Well, after five straight games without a goal (and just one assist during that time), Bailey finally scored again. He's too streaky and too risky -- stay away from him for now.
Mike Cammalleri. Montreal's leading goal-scorer left the game in the third period after suffering a potentially serious knee injury -- hopefully we will know the extent of the injury by Monday, but this could be a crucial blow to any fantasy squad that has Cammalleri. Alexei Kovalev continued his second half hot streak notching a goal and an assist -- he now has 3 goals and 7 assists in his last 10 games. The Russian veteran proved in '08-09 that he thrives late in the season -- target him in a trade for your playoff push. Jason Spezza has certainly proved he is healthy, scoring for the fourth straight game since returning from his injury -- he also has 17 shots on goal in that span.
Anze Kopitar appears to have regained his touch for Los Angeles. The team's leading scorer notched a power-play goal and added an assist against the Bruins. Following a torrid start to the season and a subsequent slump, Kopitar has 7 goals and 16 points during 13 games in January. Marc Savard, who returned to action on Friday night following an eight-game absence due to a knee injury, notched his second assist in as many nights. Savard is currently playing on a line with Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan -- Savard should obviously be owned, Lucic and Satan are worth a flyer in deep leagues. Jonathan Quick outshined soon-to-be Team USA teammate Tim Thomas by stopping 31 of 33 shots for the win.
GAME STAR: Alex Burrows
2 goals - 1 SHG, 2 assists, +3, 4 SOG
2 goals - 1 SHG, 2 assists, +3, 4 SOG
Cam Ward was as good as he has been all season as he turned aside 39 of 41 Chicago shots. The Carolina netminder earned his fourth straight win and appears to be shaping into form as the Hurricanes make their run -- start him with confidence. With an assist on Jussi Jokinen's 17th goal, Eric Staal now has 8 goals and 2 assists since being named captain six games ago. Hawks forward Marian Hossa had a goal and assist giving him a quiet 17 points in his previous 15 contests. Despite being held pointless, I can't say it enough: Troy Brouwer deserves a shot in almost all leagues at this point. He's getting plenty of ice time skating on Chicago's top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. If that's not enough reason to grab him then take a look at his numbers -- 3 goals in his last three games for a total of 17 on the season.
Andy McDonald continues to put up consistent numbers for the Blues. After scoring a goal on Saturday, McDonald now has 17 goals and 35 points this season. He is a solid option for depth on your bench -- he also has 13 power-play points (if your league counts them). David Perron had an assist giving him 2 goals and 4 helpers in his past six games. The Columbus defense was very involved in the 3-2 win: Fedor Tyutin scored a power-play goal (third goal overall), and Kris Russell added the overtime winner (his sixth goal of the season) with Marc Methot assisting. None of them should be owned, but Russell and Tyutin both possess some potential. Blues forward David Backes scored his 11th goal and has put together a solid January with 10 points in 12 games.
Bryan Little put up 31 goals last season and a lot of people drafted the Thrashers forward with high expectations. He's been a disappointment. Even after scoring twice on Saturday, Little only has 8 goals and 22 points in 51 games this season. Some may think a turnaround is coming, but I'm thinking last season was just a bit of a fluke. Preds winger Martin Erat notched a goal and an assist, giving him four points in his last three games. Joel Ward returned to the lineup after missing three games and recorded a goal and an assist -- with 25 points on the season, Ward is probably not owned in many leagues. While Thrashers forward Rich Peverley didn't have any points on Saturday, he still has already blown past his career high in goal and assists. Last season Peverley set career highs with 13 goals and 22 assists, this season he already has 17 goals and 25 assists.
Shane Doan must have read what I wrote about him two weeks ago when I claimed that he has been "one of the bigger disappointments in the fantasy world" -- after a goal against the Rangers, he has 5 goals and 7 assists in his last seven games. Doan is finally proving his value now. In a battle of backups, Phoenix goaltender Jason LaBarbera outlasted New York's Chad Johnson. After making six straight starts, Henrik Lundqvist missed the game due to the flu. It is uncertain whether or not he will be able to play on Sunday at Colorado. Ryan Callahan has started the last three games (1 goal during that span) on the top line with Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal. Rangers coach John Tortorella changes his lines frequently (including midway through Saturday's game against Phoenix), but Callahan would be worth a roster spot if he can hold onto his recent promotion. Marian Gaborik finally got his 30th goal of the season -- he had been stuck at 29 for five games.
Jay Bouwmeester had two assists against Edmonton, his first multi-point effort since Nov. 21. The former No. 3 pick in the NHL Entry Draft has to be the biggest disappointment for fantasy defensemen this season. Bouwmeester was dealt to Calgary last summer at the Entry Draft and did an outstanding job, forcing many of us to believe he would be among the NHL's elite blueliners this year. That has certainly not been the case. With just 2 goals and 18 assists, Bouwmeester has done nothing but disappoint. The talent is still there, it just seems like he has taken on more of a defensive role for the Flames, thus hurting his fantasy value. I still think Bouwmeester could step things up for the remainder of the season, making him a phenomenal buy-low target right now. While he didn't have a point on Saturday, Dustin Penner is just about the only Oiler worth owning in fantasy leagues. With starter Nikolai Khabibulin out with back surgery, their goaltending situation is a disaster. The usually reliable Sheldon Souray has just 13 points in 37 games this season -- but broke his hand in the third period. Penner is really the only legit fantasy producer with 22 goals and 22 assists, and somehow a shocking plus-6 rating on one of the League's worst teams. On a side note, Jarome Iginla recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick, as he had 2 goals and 2 assists and a fight with Souray in the third period.
Manny Malhotra was bumped up to the second line. Well here we are and Malhotra is still on the second line. He tallied an assist on Saturday and has eight points in his last seven games -- give him a shot in deeper leagues. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (upper body) has been out three games. His replacement: Jason Demers. All Demers did on Saturday was score two power-play goals (San Jose had four PPGs in the game) and he now has three points in his last two games. Demers will probably end up back in the AHL when Boyle returns, but it's nice to see the kid produce while he's up in the Show. NHL hits leader Cal Clutterbuck scored his first power-play goal of the season and 10th goal overall for Minnesota. After putting together back-to-back two-goal games, Joe Pavelski scored his 15th goal, a power play marker and later added an assist -- he has a total of 13 points in his last seven games.
There are six games on Sunday with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes all playing on back-to-back nights. While there's an outside chance you don't have an open roster spot, check free agency for these players if you can fit them into your squad:
Ryan Callahan, RW, NYR – As stated earlier, he has been skating on the top line with Gaborik and Prospal -- he also has 152 shots on goal this season. Give him a shot and keep him until he gets demoted from the first line.
Tomas Holmstrom, RW, DET – He might not be available, but if his owners dropped him when he got hurt, grab him before it's too late. Holmstrom has been out since Jan. 5 with a foot injury but is expected to return on Sunday against the Penguins. It's assumed he will be back with his usual linemates Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Kris Letang, D, PIT – Alex Goligoski has missed the past two games, and if he is unable play on Sunday, Letang will again step in on Pittsburgh's top power-play unit. Seven of Letang's 19 points on the season have come in the last 12 games so he is certainly worth a shot if available.
Matthew Lombardi, C, PHX – Lombardi can be especially helpful if you're in need of assists. The Coyotes center has 26 assists on the season and a goal and 5 helpers in his last five contests.
SUNDAY'S PROJECTED GOALIES:
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 12:30 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay (Antero Niittymaki) at Washington (Jose Theodore), 3 p.m. ET
NY Islanders (Rick DiPietro) at Florida (Tomas Vokoun), 4 p.m. ET
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) at New Jersey (Martin Brodeur), 5 p.m. ET
Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov) at Dallas (Alex Auld), 6 p.m. ET
NY Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at Colorado (Craig Anderson), 8 p.m. ET
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