While many heavily rumored stars stayed put this NHL trade deadline day, there were a number of significant deals involving players who have already began making immediate impacts. Olli Jokinen was definitely the biggest name that got moved last Wednesday, going to the Calgary Flames for Matthew Lombardi. Jokinen, who I had projected to have a big year in Phoenix, has been a model of inconsistency thus far, probably because of the weak group of Coyotes’ wingers up front. In Calgary, he has already shown some definite chemistry playing centre with Jarome Iginla, scoring twice in his first game. His fantasy value has certainly improved, particularly in keeper leagues as Jokinen is not just a “rent-a-player” – his contract expires the summer of 2010, so unless traded this offseason, he will remain a linemate of Iginla’s through ’09-10.
The next most significant deal that occurred was a ménage-a-trois affair involving the Los Angeles Kings, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Carolina Hurricanes. The Kings dealt Patrick O’Sullivan to the Hurricanes for Justin Williams. The Hurricanes then sent O’Sullivan to the Oilers for Erik Cole. Oddly, the one of the three arguably having the most disappointing season may now be the most valuable, and that’s Erik Cole. Patrick O’Sullivan now finds himself amongst a slew of young, moderately-talented forwards in Edmonton, much like himself, and will have to fight for ice-time. Justin Williams is also having an off-year, and won’t contribute much for the Kings this season as a broken hand may keep him out of the lineup until April. The Hurricanes’ Erik Cole has stormed out of the gates, posting 1 goal and 4 assists in his first two games with his former club. But it’s the impact he’s had on his teammates that has been the most astounding – the ‘Canes have outscored opponents 15-4 in the two victories. Eric Staal, who has had a bit of a slow year, has tallied 8 points playing with his old linemate, not to mention the freak performance he had Saturday, scoring 4 goals and adding 2 assists in the Hurricanes 9-3 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning. You can bet the ‘Canes will be putting a call into Cole’s agent before this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Aging veterans Mark Recchi and Bill Guerin went to the contending Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins respectively, and while neither will play on their teams’ top line, they should be good for a goal every few games.
The other two fantasy-relevant deals that occurred involved the Toronto Maple Leafs trading forwards for draft picks. Nik Antropov is now a New York Ranger, playing on a line with Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky, and has 1 goal and 2 assists in two contests since the trade. Dominic Moore was sent to the Buffalo Sabres, where he’ll likely see second and third line duty, and as a result, a decrease in production. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jason Blake, who formed strong chemistry with Moore this season, could also see a points dip over the last month of the season.