? F Brad Richards, Dallas Stars
Although Richards has scored a respectable 51 points in 62 games with Tampa, the forward was still considered to be underachieving. Never able to recreate the success he had two years ago, Richards found himself on the trade block and was shipped to Dallas on deadline day. With room for another scorer on the team, Richards should fit in quite well with Dallas and will become a dominant power-play man for the club. Richards has all the talent in the world but struggled to find offensive success in Tampa Bay. With less superstars on the team, Richards will be counted on to provide another scoring presence, which in turn should increase his point total.
? D Brian Campbell, San Jose Sharks
Having another solid year in Buffalo, Campbell now finds himself in San Jose on a team that desperately needs a defensive scorer. Not only can Campbell provide points from the point, he also gives San Jose veteran leadership and solid blue liner. Scoring 43 points in 63 games with Buffalo, Campbell will most likely be inserted on San Jose’s top power-play unit as well as being San Jose’s top defenseman. With plenty of goal scorers on the team, expect Campbell’s production to increase as he attempts to lead San Jose to a Stanley Cup.
? G Mike Smith, Tampa Bay Lightning
Smith has received only a handful of starts over the past two years but has already shown that he can be a successful goaltender in this league. In his first career start in the NHL, Smith posted a shutout and went on to win five out of his next six starts. Finishing that year with a record of 12-5 with a 2.23 goals against average and three shutouts, Smith gave the Stars a chance to win without Turco in net. This year, Smith has posted 12 wins and nine losses to go along with a 2.46 goals against average. Although Dallas is a much better defensive team than Tampa Bay, Smith will be used as Tampa’s starting netminder which raises his value instantly. Expect some hardships for the second year goaltender but nonetheless Smith will gain a valuable learning experience and could become an elite goaltender in a few years. For any fantasy team needing help in goal take a look at Smith who will be given his first chance as a #1 goalie.
? G Cristobal Huet, Washington Capitals
Willing to go into the playoffs with Carey Price as their starter, the Habs felt that Huet was expendable and shipped him to Washington on Tuesday. Going from a Stanley Cup contender to a team fighting for a playoff berth won’t be an easy transition to make, but Huet seems to be up for the task. In Washington he will battle with Olaf Kolzig for starts, which will almost assuredly affect the star netminder’s stats. Owners of Huet have to be upset with this deal due to the fact that Kolzig will command more starts than his previous backup, Carey Price. Expect Huet’s goals against average and save percentage to dip a little, as well as his win totals. Washington is clearly not as talented as Montreal and Huet has his work cut out for him trying to lead the Caps into the playoffs.
? F Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes
Bursting onto the scene with 44 points in his rookie season, Ruutu was considered to be a savior for Chicago. With fellow young teammates such as Tyler Arnason and Kyle Calder, the three of them were to lead Chicago out of mediocrity. Unfortunately, that never played out as Arnason and Calder were shipped out, and Ruutu could never stay healthy for an entire season. Disappointing fantasy owners year in and year out, Ruutu has been given a second chance in Carolina. Scoring a point in his first game as a Hurricane, Ruutu has been blessed with incredible talent but has never achieved more than 44 points in a season. With several talented players on Carolina, Ruutu should be able to increase his scoring and may even become relevant in the fantasy world once again.
? F Vaclav Prospal, Philadelphia Flyers
Prospal was enjoying a bounce back year in Tampa, needing only 60 games to surpass the 55 points he put up last season. It being his contract year, Prospal is extremely motivated into duping some GM into giving him another multi-year deal in the off-season. Some might remember Prospal’s first stint with Tampa Bay where he broke out to score 79 points in 80 games. Quickly signed in the off-season by Anaheim, Prospal never fit into their system and was labeled a bust after only posting 54 points in all 82 games played. Now in another contract year, Prospal has been playing great which is no surprise. He is clearly motivated by the thought of another lucrative deal and will continue his success in Philadelphia. Yes it’s true that Prospal had a dream situation in Tampa Bay, but don’t expect his production to tail off too drastically.
? F Marian Hossa, Pittsburgh Penguins
Making the biggest splash of the day, the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up Marian Hossa in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Angelo Esposito, Erik Christensen and a first round pick in next years draft (Pittsburgh also received forward Pascal Dupius). Clearly looking to win this year, the Penguins sacrificed a lot for Hossa as they believe he is the missing piece to their quest for the cup. Although the acquisition of Hossa has some calling Pittsburgh the favorites to win the cup, they are still less superior to those more balanced teams such as Anaheim, Detroit and New Jersey. Hossa will give Pittsburgh added scoring, and although its absurd to think he will set a higher scoring pace with the Penguins, expect Hossa to do just that. Playing with Malkin and Crosby boosts Hossa’s value incredibly, as the forward should reach 85 points this year.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Jonny Remis