The trade deadline has come and gone in the NHL and the same holds true for most fantasy hockey leagues. For those of you in contention for first place, more time is now spent focusing on which categories you need to improve during the final few weeks, and if there are any players available on the waiver wire that can help you in that regard. For those of you who have no shot at winning this year, now is the time to focus on next season (provided you are in a keeper league, of course). Once trading opens back up in the summer, the build for the future will continue. Trading for unproven prospects and young players is always a risk, but there are ways to mitigate that. (Reading DobberHockey is a great start!) There are several young players who are ready to step in and produce next season in the NHL, and you may be able to get a few of them below value this summer.
Grabner has recently been called up to the Canucks, and he will skate on the second line for the next few weeks with Mikael Samuelsson nursing a banged up shoulder. Grabner has always been a bit of an enigma for Canuck fans –always billed as a pure sniper with consistency issues, he has had a few disappointing training camps in Vancouver that have made many question his ability to play his game at the NHL level. He scored 39 goals in 55 games during his final season with the Spokane Chiefs, but was benched and called out by his coach on a few occasions for poor effort. Grabner has worked hard since joining the Moose in 2007 to improve both his consistency and effort level. He scored 30 goals last season in Manitoba, and has 15 in 38 games this season for the Moose.
Grabner's play away from the puck has improved in the AHL, but he still is as streaky as ever offensively. Of his 15 goals, three came in the first four games. He then went 14 without scoring again, and then had seven more in his next seven games. He played great for the Canucks earlier this season during a nine game call-up, scoring twice and adding three helpers (he also fired 31 shots on goal). Those nine games went a long way to silent some of his doubters. Grabner was able to use his speed on a consistent basis to beat NHL defensemen, and he did not look out of place without the puck. He sustained a freak ankle injury playing soccer before a game, and subsequently lost his spot with the Canucks. For the next few weeks at least, he will be given every opportunity to contribute at the NHL level.
The Canucks won't admit it, but he has a spot to lose in the lineup next season. Pavol Demitra is set to become an unrestricted