Monday, Tom Collins nailed a pretty solid Top 10 list that covered the 10 hottest names on the block leading up to the NHL’s Trade Deadline on February 26. So I won’t get into those players, but I’ll add a few of my own to that list, in no particular order. Some names I’ve mentioned before…

Jordan Schmaltz – He still hasn’t played since an injury in early January, but he’s a restricted free agent this summer and he’s also no longer exempt from waivers in the fall. The Blues are deep on defense so he is definitely a chip they can play to land a winger. If he goes to a rebuilding team, and of course if he returns to full health soon, then he could contribute to a fantasy squad right away.

J-G Pageau – I think Pageau will go. I also, as I mentioned before, think he’s a fit for the Penguins and is totally GM Jim Rutherford’s M.O. If they acquire him, he’ll be the third-line center which is a huge upgrade in terms of fit and an upgrade to last year’s Nick Bonino. It would also allow Jake Guentzel to go back to the wing in the top six, providing his owners with solid end-of-season production.

Mats Zuccarello – I kind of like the St. Louis Blues for this, or perhaps the Sharks or Stars. Dark Horse team would be the Flames. But I think Zuke goes to a Western team if he gets moved.

Michael Grabner – The Blues are another fit in terms of Grabner’s speed, but also the Flames. However, wherever he goes I believe his production will drop off a cliff. I think the Rangers were the best fit for him in terms of putting points on the board. But in my opinion he’s as good as gone.

Ryan McDonagh – McDonagh is probably the most expensive trade chip in the league and frankly I don’t think the Rangers should trade him. Hell, trade Kevin Shattenkirk before McDonagh! But much like Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson, McDonagh is a free agent after 2018-19 so his name has been mentioned in hockey trade circles.

Tomas Plekanec – There are no shortage of teams in need of Plekanec’s experience, and most NHL GM’s tend to place a lot of value in reputation and historical skill sets. So they’ll overrate the defensive and offensive aspect that he brings to the table based on the Plekanec of two years ago, and as such will overpay.

Josh Leivo – I don’t think the Leafs will trade James van Riemsdyk nor Tyler Bozak, because those two essentially become Toronto’s “rentals”. However, non-roster regulars like Leivo could certainly go. And Leivo has actually asked for a trade. The return would be a low draft pick or the famous “future considerations”. But the Leafs may be hesitant because this could blow up in their faces.

Kasperi Kapanen – I like Toronto’s team as is, though they could use some help and experience on the blue line. If they do nothing (as I would do – because Deadline prices are a rip-off), then that’s great. But if they do add a defenseman, Kapanen and Soshnikov (see below) are the players who could go.

Nikita Soshnikov – Toronto doesn’t want to lose this asset to the KHL, but they also don’t have room for him. His name has been swirling in trade rumors for weeks. On a new team he could be a 40-point guy who piles up the hits.

Kevin Bieksa – Anaheim will probably keep fighting to get into the playoffs, but two weeks is a lot of hockey. If they start to slide in the standings they may look at trading this 36-year-old veteran with an expiring contract for something like a second- or third-round draft pick plus a middling prospect.

Petr Mrazek – Detroit will have to either qualify him at over $4.5 million (uh, no), or let him become unrestricted. Neither is probably acceptable, so perhaps he gets moved at the deadline to a team who wants a backup in need of a fresh start. If Detroit does this, then they may have their eye on signing a pending UFA such as Aaron Dell, Jonathan Bernier or Carter Hutton to co-start with Jimmy Howard next year.

Radim Vrbata – A pending UFA could be had on the cheap, with teams in need of veteran wingers who could score as interested parties. Pittsburgh, for one.

Patrick Maroon – A UFA this summer, Maroon is a big body with decent hands coveted by many teams looking to go deep in the postseason. Perhaps the Oilers could use him to land a couple of promising defense prospects?

Gustav Nyquist – Nyquist, like many Red Wings, was (stupidly) given a no-trade clause. The Wings have to get out of some of these, so why not ask him to waive it? He is signed through 2018-19 and then becomes unrestricted. The Wings could really re-stock the shelves with a couple of picks and/or prospects that they would get in return. He hasn’t turned out to be the star they’d hoped he would become by now.

As usual, as I have since 2006, I’ll be breaking down the trades from a fantasy standpoint as they happen. Talk about putting my constitution and recovery to the test…it will be a big day! It all goes down two Mondays from now – be here!


There was all this talk over the weekend about Soshnikov and how the Leafs ‘had’ to make a move before his AHL conditioning stint was up. But then Monday arrived and nothing happened because…he was put back on IR.


Why didn’t I, or anyone else in the media universe, think of that?

If we knew that a player could just be put back on IR again, then there wouldn’t have been any talk of a pending trade. None at all. Because we all know that Loophole Lou Lamoriello would just do that. As Elliotte Friedman said yesterday in his 31 Thoughts: “Soshnikov was running over people in the AHL yesterday”. So Soshnikov is fine, he’s just on the IR now because Loophole Lou is a weasel. Kovalchuk, Mogilny (plus a few that I remember happening in New Jersey but for the life of me can’t remember the player names)…we see Loophole get out of unbreakable predicaments time and time again. He won’t be forced to trade, he won’t be forced over the cap and he won’t be forced to…well, pretty much anything. The Leafs are one team right now that you can never say “The Leafs have to…” because no, they don’t have to. Loophole Lou is on the scene!


David Pastrnak has been demoted. Talk about being a hardass, Bruce Cassidy is really pushing this guy by giving him absolutely no leash and holding him accountable for any miscues. Pastrnak had points in 14 of 16 games. Then he goes pointless and a minus-2 on Saturday against Buffalo and since then he’s played 25:44 total in two games. A Top 30 scorer getting bumped to the checking line to me is ludicrous, but it’s happened a couple of times this season.

David Backes was moved up to the big line and put up two assists. He has five points in his last four games.


With a goal last night, Yanni Gourde now has a seven-game points streak. And points in 10 of his last 11. I was asked on Twitter the other day what his upside was and to be honest, it’s ever-changing in my mind. I was high on him as a prospect, loved the way he worked his way up from being undrafted. Then last year I saw him in a couple of AHL games when they were in town to play the Marlies and I watched specifically him and came away unimpressed. I guess that’s why I’m not a pro scout (nor is anyone who says to me “have you even seen the game?” sorry had to get that dig in there!). So when he started the season, I had his upside at 70 points. But he’s on pace for 62 as a rookie. Does that mean 80 is feasible in several years? I’d often maintained that Gourde was similar to Marchessault in terms of “against all odds” and “just needs a chance”. But while Marchessault never got a chance with Tampa, other than a brief 10-game stint when Tyler Johnson was hurt…Gourde is getting that chance. So the Lightning get to enjoy Gourde’s breakout after missing out on Marchessault’s.

Steven Stamkos had 34 points in 19 games to start the season, which means 30 points in 38 games since.

Since January 6, Andrei Vasilevskiy is 7-6-0, 3.42 GAA and 0.901 SV%. Tampa Bay is the team to beat, in my opinion, but right now they are relying on their depth a lot more while the stars go through a rough patch.


Evander Kane has four points in his last 20 games. So, uh…there goes that career season. That big contract year. With Jack Eichel out, and Eichel has been the primary linemate for nearly all of Kane’s points this year, Kane owners are in trouble.


The Caps blew a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 in OT. I caught the end of this game (I mostly watched the Penguins last night) and it was just so obvious how much of a game-breaker Mark Scheifele is. The tying goal and a beauty setup for the winner. Plus the opening goal. Plus he set up another beauty in overtime that was missed.

With an assist last night, Lars Eller has 14 points in his last 18 games. He has 29 points on the season and his career high is 30. Four of those 14 points are via the power play. He’s seeing secondary PP time this year after not seeing much at all in three prior campaigns. At 28 years old he could be finally showing a bit of the potential that we thought he had when he was 20. Not that he’s going to Bailey or Marchand his way to stardom suddenly in his late 20’s, but on a team in need of depth scoring such as Washington I can see him surprising next year with 50 points. Man, that seems bold just re-reading it. But I’m just not used to seeing a solid 18-game run from him like this.


I mentioned the last time I wrote the Ramblings two weeks ago that Columbus “may” have finally solved their power-play woes. Well they picked up two more PP goals last night, with Zach Werenski assisting on both of them. I can’t stress enough how important the power play is to owners of key Columbus players.

Boone Jenner had an assist, three SOG, six hits and two BLKS last night. In the last six games he has four points, 16 SOG and 20 hits.

Cam Atkinson has six points in eight games since his return from injury. Only one came on the PP though, so again – if the power play really is turning around for this team he is the No.1 beneficiary.


Mat Barzal didn’t get five points last night. I think it might be easier if we just report when he doesn’t do that as opposed to when he does.


In the last 21 games, Travis Konecny has 20 points. He’s playing with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier and the results have been so successful that Jakub Voracek can remain on the second line and get Wayne Simmonds and Nolan Patrick going. That being said, while Voracek continues his hot play (12 points in 10 games) it hasn’t caught on with Patrick, who is pointless in four. Simmonds has seen an improvement though. A closer look reveals that Voracek had seven of those 12 points via the power play. So his spot on the second line at even strength has weakened his production a little.

Jesper Bratt had one point in 10 games before picking up a pair of assists last night.


And now to the game I actually watched. Zach Aston-Reese was moved up to the Sidney Crosby line (Conor Sheary on the other side) and scored his first two NHL goals. I drafted him in one of my keepers last summer and was disappointed in his AHL start. In fact, I was starting to think that I would have to drop him in September. But he’s really come along for Wilkes-Barre with 15 points in 14 games (after starting with 14 in 27). He’s a gritty player who was a little over-zealous early in his pro career with the dumb penalties. Looks like he’s got it figured out, and once again the Penguins may have found yet another rookie to end the season on Crosby’s line!

Speaking of rookies on the Crosby line, last year’s entrant – Jake Guentzel – also scored two. He played with Phil Kessel and Riley Sheahan. What all this means is that Evgeni Malkin is stuck with Bryan Rust and Carl Hagelin…and Dominik Simon is on the fourth line or possibly press box going forward. Though frankly I’d sit Hagelin and play Simon on that line.

I’m going to dig into the Dion PhaneufMarian Gaborik trade in the morning with a breakdown. It was a cash deal, strictly about money for Ottawa. But it does have some interesting fantasy implications, particularly for the Senators…


Justin Faulk went into yesterday’s game with four goals on the season and came out of it with seven. It really doesn’t take long for a player to get his overall numbers on track. Faulk will need a couple more games like that, but that’s all it would take to get him back to a 40-point pace.


Jonathan Quick got the hook last night (four goals on 20 shots). Mike Condon got the hook last night (four goals on nine shots). Scott Wedgewood got the hook last night (concussion protocol).


Chicago shut down Jonathan Marchessault but they still couldn’t stop Vegas nor a Vegas comeback. David Perron’s two points gives him 51 in just 50 games. I traded him for two crummy draft picks last summer, believing that even on Vegas his 50-point days were done. Apparently not. The trade may have cost me the win. I made a ton of dumb mistakes last September and I’m starting to believe that I should have been banned from drafting or making moves for at least 60 days after getting discharged from the hospital. I can’t think of a single good thing I did in that time, hockey-wise.

The Blackhawks thought they had something in Jordan Oesterle. Frankly, I did too. He had seven points in six games back in early January and proceeded to get about 23 minutes per game for the next 13 games. But he was pointless despite all the power-play time. And he was minus-9 over the last five games. So that led to his being a healthy scratch last night. These are the windows that bubble players like Oesterle cannot let close.


Tomas Hertl was injured last night and so the Sharks bumped Brent Burns up to play the wing. That’s an interesting turn of events, and worth keeping an eye on.


The Canucks recalled late-bloomer Philip Holm from Utica. The 26-year-old rearguard could have an early Tim Heed-like impact on the score sheet and is one to watch early on. That being said, I don’t think he has any long-term potential though. Only the short-term adrenalin-induced production…


The Habs signed goaltender Charlie Lindgren to a three-year one-way deal. So there’s their backup goalie for the near future and a solid Carey Price fill-in if Price has another injury-filled season.


Everything is still going well for me health-wise, so in March I’ll be stepping things up and appearing here every Monday. Ideally things will remain on track and I can take things even further in April. Until then, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks – to cover Trade Deadline Day!