Trading in the NHL and fantasy hockey are two wildly different ballgames in many ways. While fantasy leagues frequently come with cash rewards for the top teams, I have a feeling that none involve multi-million dollar decisions. (It wouldn't be shocking if there were a few leagues where thousands were at stake, though.) Fantasy owners are competing with several other owners without an audience (seriously, the people you tell about your leagues aren’t listening or interested) while professional hockey teams always need to keep the box office in mind.
I’d say that trades in the two respective universes are also different because NHL ones affect more than just the season ahead of us, but keeper leagues throw a wrench in that argument.
And in a way, the latest robust trade rumor is the equivalent to a frustrated keeper league owner broadcasting a fire sale on a message board. In case you haven’t heard, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray essentially said that rival GMs could go after all but two players: Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
(Deep down, even that duo of aging Finns isn’t as “untouchable" as Murray claims; he listed them mainly because they are the two guys on the team with no-movement clauses. Obviously Murray would prefer to avoid moving the Finnish Flash, but considering his impending retirement and superior value to all but the team’s best young stars, he’d be crazy not to entertain offers if Selanne gave him the go-ahead.)
RYAN, PERRY AND GETZLAF MIGHT GO
Anyway, Murray’s announcement means that the Ducks’ biggest assets are all available for the taking. Yes, that means that the big three of power forwards could be had: NHL teams could try to come up with an offer to land Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and/or Bobby Ryan. One can also assume that the Ducks’ two most valuable defensemen (Lubomir Visnovsky and Cam Fowler) are fair game, along with their struggling franchise goalie Jonas Hiller.
Again, fantasy and NHL trading are different enterprises, but I cannot help but equate Murray’s statement to a desperate (sometimes drunken?) late night trading block message by a losing fantasy owner.
If you look at the history of sports dealings, blockbuster trades are rarely anywhere near equal. Most of the time, a general manager can take comfort in saving money or gaining dice-roll prospects, but the team that lands the star almost always wins. That’s especially true if you’re not trading from a position of strength; if everyone knows that you’re desperate then you should expect everyone to exploit your urgent needs.
In a way, the keeper league model should probably be Murray’s guide. If nothing else, he should protect three players like most fantasy owners do each summer: Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan. Those are three players who can help the Ducks compete in the long term, even if they’re underachieving this season. (One important and mostly non-fantasy factor is cost; the Ducks are a cash-strapped franchise and that trio makes a lot less per season than they’d receive if they were on the unrestricted free agent market.)
Of course, Murray could simply be using juicy media headlines to get through to his struggling players. For the sake of the Ducks’ future, let’s hope that he isn’t really considering a trade that would strip away one of the franchise’s few remaining strengths. Yet if there wasn’t a sly ulterior motive to the announcement, then he’ll probably regret laying out all his cards on the table through the media, much like a fantasy owner usually regrets begging for a goal-scoring LW with the hindsight of sobriety.
All that aside, if there are any big trades, I’ll joyfully discuss them and undoubtedly find them endlessly entertaining. It just seems highly plausible that the moves will be treated like an ill-advised message board cry for help.
Complain about the return of inconsistency in disciplinary rulings if you want, Brendan Shanahan and the league handed out some big-time verdicts on Wednesday. Let’s take a quick look at the trio of decisions (including one that might have been Colin Campbell’s call) that were announced on Jan. 4:
- Dan Carcillo received a whopping seven-game suspension for his reprehensible boarding check on Tom Gilbert. Some will argue that there is some karmatic payback in the fact that Carcillo might miss quite a few more games since he hurt his knee on the play anyway (there are murmurs that he might need surgery), but his wallet will be significantly lighter because he’s a repeat-repeat-repeat etc. offender. It’s tough to feel bad for Carcillo, as only his owners will probably be disappointed since he’s still capable of collecting massive amounts of PIMs (82 in 28 games this season). My advice is to drop him unless you’re willing to wait for him to go on the IR and then waste that spot on the troublemaker.
- Speaking of players who are finding themselves in the principal’s office far too often recently, Rene Bourque was punished for another startlingly foolish hit. Bourque’s elbow on Nicklas Backstrom enraged the Washington Capitals and will cost him five games. Hopefully losing Bourque (16 points in 38 games) isn’t a big deal for any fantasy owners, because he’s been a disappointment in more ways than just his lack of discipline this season.
- This one won’t likely have a fantasy impact, but the NHL handed John Tortorella a whopping $30,000 fine for critiquing officials during the Winter Classic. Ouch.
One other situation to watch is Krys Barch’s potential suspension for an alleged racial slur, although it’s doubtful that will have any fantasy impact since it’s, well, Krys Barch.
Shea Weber practiced with the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, but it’s probably just a baby step rather a giant leap … Alexander Steen had a setback in his concussion recovery … Tyler Myers and Ville Leino might be back soon for the Buffalo Sabres … Add Ottawa’s Chris Phillips to the growing list of concussion victims … Ryan Malone is banged up with some sort of leg injury/lower-body issue … Brian Gionta could be back by Saturday for Montreal … Travis Zajac is still fighting off his Achilles injury a bit. (Click here for the full injury list.)