Itís the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline and teams are making moves to bolster line-ups for a playoff run or working on the rebuild. Lets break down the latest transactions.
Buffalo Sabres trade Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani to the Vancouver Canucks for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.
By far this is the biggest deal of the day. Vancouver needed to add some muscle and got that big time in Kassian. Kassian is 6-3 and 214 pounds; most reporters are calling Kassian Vancouverís answer for Milan Lucic. Kassian is a power forward with an offensive upside. In the OHL, Kassian put up 192 point and 358 PIMs in 213 games. Kassian has bounced between the NHL and AHL this season; with Rochester he has 15 goals and 26 points in 30 games. Kassian has the potential to be a Lucic type player (30 goals, 65 points and 120+ PIMs) and is the kind of player the Canucks needed. Remember power forwards tend to take a little longer to develop.
The addition of Gragnani to this deal is very interesting as his is a very skilled, offensive defenseman with fantastic upside. Gragnani showed how special he is in last yearís playoff where he showed great poise and skill with the puck while scoring seven points in seven games. In 283 AHL games he has 47 goals and 206 points, thatís 0.73 points-per-game. He has struggled this season Buffalo with just 15 points 59 games and has expressed his frustration, so a change in scenery will be what he needs. He could be the steal of this trade deadline.
The Sabres get the best player in this deal and of the trade deadline. Hodgson was stuck on the third line in Vancouver behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler so there was no chance of him producing to his full potential there. With the addition of Sami Pahlsson today it opened the door to trade Hodgson for a power forward. Hodgson will get to play with better wingers now that he will get second line minutes. He is on pace for 20 goals and 42 points and thatís based on third line minutes with Vancouver, expect him to push 60-65 points next year and has the potential to be a 80-85 point player for Buffalo down the road.
Sulzer is a depth defenseman who can be play any role asked of him. He can run the second power play unit or play the shutdown role, as he is safe and smart in his own end. Sulzer should see more ice time now that he moves up to a fifth or sixth spot on Buffaloís depth chart but he will be asked to be defensive-minded because they already have three solid offensive-minded defensemen.
Anaheim Ducks trade Andrew Gordon to Vancouver for Sebastian Erixon.
Gordon is a speedy winger who will give the Canucks depth in the bottom six forwards. He can kill penalties and has shown solid offensive production in the AHL. Gordon will be sent to the Chicago Ice Wolves of the AHL where he will finish the season. Once the NHL playoffs start there is no salary cap so Gordon will be brought up then to bring speed and depth when needed. Erixon is a small, puck-moving defenseman from Sweden. Erixon has eight points in 30 AHL games with Chicago. He is a project defenseman with minimal offensive upside.
Toronto Maple Leafs trade Dale Mitchell to Anaheim for Mark Fraser.
Fraser is a fourth line player who is a Brian Burke kind of player. He is 6-4 and 220 pounds with solid hockey sense but plays a physical game. Fraser will have to fight for ice time as he is bouncing between the AHL and NHL. Fraser doesnít hold any fantasy value. Mitchell put up decent numbers in the OHL where he averaged a point a game with 294 points in 293 games but he has not had the same success at the next level. Mitchell has split time between the AHL and ECHL over this season and last season. Maybe a change in scenery gets Mitchellís career back on track.
Chicago Blackhawks trade John Scott to the New York Rangers for a fifth-round draft pick in 2012.
Scott is a monster; he is 6-8 and 270 pounds. He is a heavy, blueline who is not afraid to throw his weight around or drop the gloves. At 6-8 there wonít be many guys who intimidate him. The Rangers will likely need to go through the Boston Bruins to get to the Cup Finals so maybe Scott is their answer to Charaís size and physical presence. If your pool rewards penalty minutes, hits and/or fights then Scott has some fantasy value. In 29 games this season, Scott has 48 PIMs and four fighting majors.
Boston trade Steven Kampfer to the Minnesota Wild for Greg Zanon.
Zanon is another rental defenseman for the Bruins as they continue to add depth to their blue line. Zanon is a defense-first so donít expect him to challenge a struggling Joe Corvo for power play time. Zanon will be a stud NHL playoff defenseman for the Bruins, but wonít have a fantasy impact.
Kampfer is a puck-moving defenseman with a little offensive upside. Kampfer produced at over a point every two games in his final two season in the NCAA with Michigan. Last season with Providence in the AHL Kampfer scored 16 points in 22 games, so the potential is there for him to put up points. Kampfer is bouncing between the AHL and NHL this season and dealing with some injury concerns. He is a project player with an offensive upside.
Aaron Brouwer is the co-creator of fantasyhockeycoach.com. FHC is a free fantasy hockey service that developed a ranking system combining post-lockout statistics, current factors and our own hockey knowledge. Brouwer writes a weekly fantasy hockey column for The Star Phoenix, Fantrax, Inside Hockey and Bleacher Report. Email Coach Brouwer at [email protected] or check us out on twitter at twitter.com/fanhockeycoach.