Front Line: Trades fallout

Between injuries and trades, it has been a wild week to keep track of for fantasy purposes. We lost two more stars to concussion-like symptoms and two to hand injuries. A pair of potential 30-goal scorers (maybe not this season) were moved and a pair of power-play units improved with the addition of mobile defensemen.

That is a lot of stuff to go down in the matter of a few days. Most of the news actually impacts players that fall within the top-100 rankings, so I will simply forego a lengthy introduction and fit all the player news I can into the Rising and Falling section.

Top 100 Forwards

Note: Sean Allen's top 100 forwards are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Daniel Sedin, Van (1)
2. Steven Stamkos, TB (2)
3. Alex Ovechkin, Was (3)
4. Corey Perry, Ana (4)
5. Henrik Sedin, Van (6)
6. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (7)
7. Martin St. Louis, TB (8)
8. Ryan Kesler, Van (9)
9. Jeff Carter, Phi (10)
10. Dany Heatley, SJ (11)
11. Anze Kopitar, LA (12)
12. Nicklas Backstrom, Was (13)
13. Alexander Semin, Was (14)
14. Jonathan Toews, Chi (15)
15. Eric Staal, Car (16)
16. Alex Burrows, Van (17)
17. Mike Richards, Phi (18)
18. Danny Briere, Phi (19)
19. Claude Giroux, Phi (20)
20. Brad Richards, Dal (5)
21. Rick Nash, Cls (21)
22. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (24)
23. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (22)
24. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (25)
25. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (26)
26. Bobby Ryan, Ana (27)
27. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (28)
28. Loui Eriksson, Dal (23)
29. Joe Thornton, SJ (29)
30. Patrick Kane, Chi (32)
31. John Tavares, NYI (35)
32. Patrick Sharp, Chi (34)
33. David Backes, StL (36)
34. Teemu Selanne, Ana (37)
35. Scott Hartnell, Phi (39)
36. Justin Williams, LA (40)
37. Johan Franzen, Det (41)
38. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (42)
39. Jeff Skinner, Car (44)
40. Chris Stewart, StL (45)
41. Logan Couture, SJ (46)
42. Marian Gaborik, NYR (30)
43. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (49)
44. Dustin Brown, LA (50)
45. Brenden Morrow, Dal (51)
46. David Krejci, Bos (65)
47. Jordan Staal, Pit (68)
48. Steve Downie, TB (53)
49. Ryan Smyth, LA (54)
50. Milan Lucic, Bos (55)
51. Patrick Marleau, SJ (73)
52. Thomas Vanek, Buf (56)
53. Mikael Samuelsson, Van (57)
54. Stephen Weiss, Fla (48)
55. Martin Havlat, Min (52)
56. James Neal, Pit (38)
57. Drew Stafford, Buf (67)
58. Marian Hossa, Chi (59)
59. Paul Stastny, Col (33)
60. Shane Doan, Pho (60)
61. Patrik Elias, NJ (92)
62. Brandon Dubinsky, NYR (61)
63. Alexander Steen, StL (69)
64. Andrew Ladd, Atl (72)
65. Evander Kane, Atl (62)
66. Mike Ribeiro, Dal (58)
67. R.J. Umberger, Cls (63)
68. Brian Gionta, Mon (64)
69. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (88)
70. Sidney Crosby, Pit (66)
71. Phil Kessel, Tor (79)
72. Olli Jokinen, Cgy (NR)
73. Joe Pavelski, SJ (70)
74. Todd Bertuzzi, Det (NR)
75. Dave Bolland, Chi (83)
76. Nikolai Kulemin, Tor (71)
77. Mark Recchi, Bos (80)
78. Brad Marchand, Bos (98)
79. Mike Cammalleri, Mon (78)
80. Michael Grabner, NYI (74)
81. Nathan Horton, Bos (75)
82. Taylor Hall, Edm (NR)
83. T.J. Oshie, StL (99)
84. Ville Leino, Phi (77)
85. Andy McDonald, StL (NR)
86. Matt Moulson, NYI (93)
87. Mikhail Grabovski, Tor (81)
88. Ryane Clowe, SJ (82)
89. David Booth, Fla (87)
90. Jason Spezza, Ott (NR)
91. Patric Hornqvist, Nsh (85)
92. Shawn Horcoff, Edm (NR)
93. Ales Hemsky, Edm (NR)
94. Travis Zajac, NJ (89)
95. Brendan Morrison, Cgy (NR)
96. Jason Pominville, Buf (84)
97. Brian Rolston, NJ (96)
98. Mason Raymond, Van (91)
99. Martin Erat, Nsh (NR)
100. Max Pacioretty, Mon (100)

Rising and Falling

James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins (down 18 spots): I get the excitement surrounding a 30-goal winger being added to a Penguins roster that tends to lack scoring punch on the flanks. But remember that Evgeni Malkin is out for the remainder of the season and Sidney Crosby may have the same fate if he can't shake his concussion symptoms. Right now, Neal goes from riding saddle with one of the top three playmakers in the NHL in Brad Richards, to possibly skating alongside, at best, Jordan Staal. That is a huge demotion if Crosby doesn't return to the ice in the very near future. Neal just broke a 10-game goalless drought on Saturday, his second 10-game drought of the season. Neal looses a ton of value here, at least until the Penguins come out and say Crosby is symptom free and working his way back into shape. I don't think Neal reaches 30 goals this season with the trade and his value may not be more than what Brett Sterling's is as a Penguin. Still, with the chance good news about Crosby could still emerge, he can't be completely written off. There is also a possibility for current Neal owners to act fast and capitalize on the good press that comes with moving to the Penguins. I may well be in the minority when it comes to people who view this deal as a negative for Neal, so if you buy my argument there may be a market out there for Neal right now. ... As a parting shot I will mention that there is also the fact that Chris Kunitz is due back this week and Sterling has five points in five games as a Penguin, so Neal may not even be a lock to play with Staal as long as Crosby is out.

Brad Richards, Dallas Stars (down 15 spots): Speaking of Richards, this fall in the rankings is not due to the loss of Neal. No, Richards has concussion-like symptoms and may miss a week of action. Considering that a week of action is just short of 20 percent of the remaining season at this point, it's significant. I don't think Neal was as important as Loui Eriksson when it comes to Richards' linemates, so expect the same old Richards when he returns to action. Actually, new acquisition Jason Williams could be the beneficiary of the absence Neal leaves. Jamie Benn is also due back from a shoulder injury this week. The bottom line, it seems, is that the Stars' roster is in flux with the loss of Neal and injury to Richards. Hope for the best for Richards and monitor who will play with him when he returns. Richards is an elite playmaker. He'll make any new linemate have fantasy value. Williams or Benn could be a steal off the waiver wire as early as next week.

Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers (down 12 spots): Speaking of concussions, there is no timetable for Gaborik's return from having his bell rung at an undetermined juncture of Sunday's game. Maybe I am just getting gun shy of concussions by dropping him in the rankings so much, but as I mentioned with Richards, a week is almost a fifth of the remaining season. Bench Gabby for now and reduce your expectations for others that relied on his presence (Vaclav Prospal). Hopefully he will be back scoring goals soon enough.

Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues (up five spots): Speaking of scoring goals, that is exactly what Stewart did after being traded to the Blues on Saturday. After bouncing in and out of the doghouse for the Avalanche since returning from a broken hand, the winger was dealt to the Blues on Friday. He suited up with the first line (David Backes and Andy McDonald) and potted a pair of goals with the first power-play unit (McDonald and Patrik Berglund). How's that for a first impression? Despite the troubled season with the Avalanche, even if Stewart continued his current pace he would finish with 24 goals. Pro-rated to an 82-game season that would have been 33 goals. His season hasn't been half as bad as Avalanche coach Joe Sacco might have you believe. No, Stewart could be a huge asset going forward with a Blues first line that was already on fire before his arrival. At the very least, Stewart is lucky enough to get off the Avalanche ship before it has completely sunk. ... I should also mentioned here that Brad Boyes has been pushed out from among the top-six forwards and off the power play with Stewart's arrival. He should be let go in any sized fantasy league.

Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche (dropped from ranks): Speaking of the sinking ship, was this too extreme a move for two players that spent the majority of the season inside the top 50? Maybe, but consider what has happened in Denver in recent months: Tomas Fleischmann was lost for the season after going at a point-per-game clip with the Avs. Peter Forsberg offered hope, and then retired. A high-upside defenseman (Kevin Shattenkirk) and goal-scoring forward (Chris Stewart) were just shipped out to the St. Louis Blues. Duchene is playing through a hand injury and has just two points and a minus-5 in his past seven games. Going back eight games, Hejduk has one assist and a minus-7. Paul Stastny, with an equally bad minus-5 and two assists in nine games, gets one more week of reprieve to get things together as the most talented of the group. Though Stastny does plummet 26 spots in the rankings as well.

Olli Jokinen, Calgary Flames (returns at No. 72): Jokinen has been on and off the list a couple of times this season as his mercurial play in a Calgary Flames uniform continued throughout much of the season. Then something clicked. On a line with David Moss and Curtis Glencross, Jokinen has got his groove back. The three players have been firing on all cylinders since they were put together. There is no reason to think this cannot continue for Jokinen going forward. While he had some hot and cold streaks before, Jokinen never really found the right linemates with the Flames. This time he has.

Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings (returns at No. 74): Bertuzzi is back on the list after a long absence thanks to the new lines that coach Mike Babcock cobbled together after Daniel Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk returned from injury. The added bodies allowed Bertuzzi to line up with Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. With Hank and the Mule together, a 12-year-old would be able to have fantasy success as the third member of the line. Luckily, Bertuzzi has a little more left in the tank and he has managed six goals in the seven games since Datsyuk's return.

Scoring Lines

Devin Setoguchi, San Jose Sharks: It really does look like Setoguchi has settled back onto a scoring line for the Sharks and I was almost comfortable enough to include him in the top 100 this week. Almost. There is still the possibility of coach Todd McClellan shuffling lines on a whim, but Setoguchi is in the clear for now. On a line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, Setoguchi had a hat trick on Saturday. He also had a nine-shot performance in a game last week and also had a hot streak going at the start of the month. Setoguchi may not be all the way back, but he is definitely worth a pickup in a few leagues now.

Blake Wheeler, Atlanta Thrashers: Skating with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little is probably the only place on the Thrashers' depth chart where Wheeler could have captured our attention, and he did exactly that. It is best to wait a bit to see if Atlanta oach Craig Ramsay actually intends to use him there, or just wanted to see what he's got in his new forward. Wheeler, as would be expected, managed an assist in the game and bears watching if he continues to get called alongside Ladd and Little.

Power Plays

Toronto Maple Leafs: No offense to Brett Lebda, but the Maple Leafs' power play has taken a significant step back with the loss of Tomas Kaberle on the point. The ultimate puck distributor on the blue line, Kaberle was replaced by Lebda on the first power-play unit after his departure to the Boston Bruins. This is the second setback for the Leafs' man advantage in consecutive weeks. When I highlighted the Leafs' power play a few weeks back, Kris Versteeg and Kaberle were due much of the credit for turning around what was, at one point, the worst power play in the league. Now both players from the point are gone. The Leafs could absorb the loss of Versteeg by using Dion Phaneuf, but Kaberle being replaced by Lebda is a giant step backward. The added power-play numbers for Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin was really helping their value. This could spell trouble for the weeks ahead if the Leafs don't add a power-play specialist at some point.


Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild: Koivu is expected to miss the next three weeks with a broken hand. He drops right off the top 100 because even if he misses only 10 games, that is almost half of the 23 remaining for the Wild. In his absence, consider looking at some under-owned Wild that have already solidified a role in the top six: Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. Going back a month, Brodziak has 12 points in 13 games and a plus-6. Clutterbuck has 10 points in that same span. Neither player is owned in more than 4 percent of ESPN leagues.

Derick Brassard, Columbus Blue Jackets: A terrible time for Brassard to hurt his hand as he had been streaking along with linemates Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek. Since the Jan. 1, Brassard had 16 points in 19 games. He, like Koivu, might miss as much as three weeks. In his stead, Antoine Vermette moved to the top line (and had a goal), while Matt Calvert stepped into the top six with Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger and managed a goal and assist. Calvert likely doesn't have any sustainable value, but I would look at Vermette for as long as Brassard is out.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Hockey Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him here.