NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has you covered all season long with the weekly Fantasy Hockey Mailbag. The most compelling questions posed each week will be answered in an effort to provide you with the best chance to succeed in your particular league.
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ELI FROM TORONTO was offered a trade where he would receive Alex Ovechkin in exchange for Jonathan Toews.
Ovechkin may have sported the second-highest average draft position in Yahoo! fantasy drafts this year, but – expectations aside – it's quite clear that Toews has inspired more confidence in his fantasy owners as we approach the 30-game point in the season. Toews (17 G, 15 A, plus-11, 12 PIM, 8 PPP, 97 SOG, 11 hits) has the NHL's third-best goal total and is tied for fifth in points. While both players are at the same level in power-play production, shots on goal and PIMs, Toews' rating is superb while Ovi's is sub-par. Ovechkin (9 G, 12 A, minus-8, 14 PIM, 8 PPP, 104 SOG, 78 hits) offers a key element in leagues that categorize hits, but there's not much else for his owners to be proud of in this comparison of elite forwards.
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 21
SOG: 104 | +/-: -8
The Capitals' top line has seen Nicklas Backstrom
flourish but Ovechkin and Alexander Semin
underachieve. Their season has been wildly unpredictable, and reached a boiling point with the team's recent coaching change. Ovechkin has played with more vigor over his last few games under Dale Hunter
, but his line's regression from a 294-point season in 2009-10 remains alarming. With Ovi posting only two goals in his last 14 games, your best bet remains to reject the trade and continue to invest in Toews and Chicago's offensive depth. Toews recently welcomed back Patrick Kane
back to his natural position (RW) on the Blackhawks' top line. Toews was producing at a high level before the change, and has been just as effective since – with four goals, three assists and a plus-3 rating in his last four games. The versatility of Chicago's lineup – together with Toews' youth – simply makes his situation more promising from a fantasy standpoint than that of Ovechkin.
KEVIN FROM BUFFALO is in a keeper league and is trying to swing a deal. He would trade James Reimer, Pavel Kubina and Max Pacioretty and receive Cam Ward, James Wisniewski and Paul Stastny. With Carey Price as his clear No. 1 netminder, he is seeking point-production on the blue line.
Wisniewski (1 G, 12 A, minus-15, 19 PIM, 5 PPP, 40 SOG, 17 hits) is a legitimate power-play asset on the blue line, unlike Kubina – who is skating at practice but remains on IR with a lower-body injury for the Lightning. Kubina (1 G, 3 A, even rating, 26 PIM, 0 PPP, 23 SOG, 44 hits) gets you solid hit and PIM totals, but sees only 48 seconds of power-play ice time per game for Tampa Bay. Wisniewski logs an average of 4:14 per game as the Blue Jackets' power-play quarterback. Columbus is on the rise after a miserable start to the season, and Wisniewski should build up his forgettable rating if the team continues to improve. If he rediscovers his 10-goal form from a season ago, this deal could mean even bigger things for your roster.
Goalie - CAR
GAA: 3.37 | SVP: 0.896
As far as the other pieces in the deal, Reimer (4-2-2, 2.96, .896, 1 SO) is back after missing 18 games with a concussion, but is 0-2-1 with 11 goals allowed in three outings since his return. Ward (9-13-3, 3.37, .896, 1 SO) was pulled Friday at Winnipeg and has allowed three-plus goals in six of his last eight games, but he remains a proven workhorse in net – leading the NHL with 26 starts in net. If Carolina's coaching change pays dividends and the acquisition of Jaroslav Spacek
improves the Hurricanes' defensive front, then you may be in luck. There's no doubt that Ward has been shaky, but he hasn't gotten much support either.
Lastly, Pacioretty (10 G, 10 A, plus-2, 16 PIM, 3 PPP, 90 SOG, 27 hits) has been a consistent point-producer for Montreal and an elite SOG force. Stastny (8 G, 7 A, minus-5, 12 PIM, 8 PPP, 67 SOG, 15 hits) was placed on IR this week with a torso injury, but remains a significant piece to the puzzle for Colorado on the PP. If his injury worries you, try to restructure the deal to see if you can instead obtain a healthy forward. Be sure to use the fact that you are willing to part ways with a prominent scorer like Pacioretty as leverage in trade negotiations.
JOSH FROM HAMILTON, ONTARIO is in a non-keeper league and is interested in picking up Craig Smith. Among the players he is considering dropping are Danny Briere, Dustin Brown and Brandon Dubinsky.
I would not drop Danny Briere
, so that hopefully narrows your choices down to two. Briere (8 G, 13 A, plus-3, 30 PIM, 9 PPP, 63 SOG, 15 hits) is an experienced weapon in Philadelphia's offensive scheme, and, despite a number of scoring droughts this season, his overall numbers are up-to-speed with his capability – especially on the power-play.
Center - NSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 22
SOG: 77 | +/-: 1
Smith (8 G, 14 A, plus-1, 20 PIM, 9 PPP, 77 SOG, 20 hits) has been exceptional on Nashville's secondary line and has been one of the top rookie performers in the League. His power-play prowess and strong point total are reasons why you should nab him immediately before someone else in your league does. I would suggest you drop Dubinsky (1 G, 11 A, plus-5, 51 PIM, 1 PPP, 35 SOG, 63 hits) in Smith's favor, as the Rangers' strong play has still failed to spark the four-time 40-plus point scorer. Dustin Brown
has put up decent numbers considering the severe power outage in Los Angeles. The Kings rank last in the NHL in goals per game entering Saturday's action, but Brown (5 G, 10 A, plus-2, 22 PIM, 7 PPP, 71 SOG, 84 hits) has certainly outperformed Dubinsky in most categories to this point in the season, with his strongest play coming on the man advantage.
GEROME FROM TORONTO plans to offer Ryan Callahan, one of his best all-around producers, in a trade where he would acquire Evander Kane.
I'm running out of adjectives to describe how well-rounded of a fantasy asset Evander Kane
(15 G, 8 A, plus-7, 25 PIM, 5 PPP, 109 SOG, 65 hits) has become this season. I highly suggest trying to pry Kane from
Right Wing - NYR
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 19
SOG: 82 | +/-: 2
his current fantasy owner. The Jets have won four straight games, and Kane has three goals, two assists and a plus-six rating in that span. What's more, Kane has been one of the most prolific scorers in the game over the last few weeks – regardless of his team's success – making him an invaluable asset to any fantasy team.
If your league counts hits, Callahan (11 G, 8 A, plus-2, 29 PIM, 5 PPP, 82 SOG, 87 hits) has the clear edge in that category, but you may need to include another reliable point-producer to make this deal happen. Kane has put up more goals and significantly more shots than Callahan this season. Definitely try a straight-up deal right off the bat, because the comparison is close, but if that doesn't work do not hesitate to offer a depth point-producer as well.
RICHARD FROM ST. LOUIS is torn on a trade offer he received in his league. He would ship out Ryan Miller and receive Jimmy Howard.
It may boggle your mind as to why anyone would offer up Howard (16-6-1, 1.89, .930, 3 SO) for Miller at this time, but it's definitely understandable in a way. Miller is traditionally one of the most dominant goaltenders in the League, but between his slow start and his concussion suffered on Nov. 12 against the
Goalie - DET
GAA: 1.89 | SVP: 0.930
, he has not yet been able to truly reap the benefits of Buffalo's additions of Christian Ehrhoff
and Robyn Regehr
to bolster their blue line. Miller (7-6-1, 2.80, .910, 1 SO) missed nine consecutive games for Buffalo, but is 2-0-1 in three outings since returning. The 31-year-old looked sharp in a 2-1 win Friday against the Florida Panthers
, signaling that he is regaining his form as the No. 1 goaltender for the Sabres.
But when you look at the fact that Howard has won 37 games in each of the last two seasons, and also how he has vastly improved both his goals-against-average and save percentage from last year, this trade is a no-brainer. While the Detroit Red Wings
have been streaky to say the least this season, Howard has weathered the storm by leading the NHL with 16 wins in 23 games played. He has already matched his career-high in shutouts, and is in the midst of a sizzling stretch of eight wins in his last nine decisions. With youth on his side compared to Miller, Howard is the way to go.
To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at PJensen@NHL.com.