If the latest popular scuttlebutt evolves into reality, a couple of promising young NHLers would soon be on the move. Here's a speculative look at two figures who feature prominently in ongoing trade gossip -- forward Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto -- and the fantasy fallout from a couple of potential transactions.
While the 22-year-old center isn't being actively shopped, TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Flyers have "quietly" informed other teams that Brayden would be available if the "right deal" is on the table. First and foremost, Philly craves quality blue-line help (one good game from an aging Kimmo Timonen doesn't cure all that ails). If GM Paul Holmgren can gain a good, young puck-moving defenseman, and possibly also offload salary cap burden and roster dead weight Andrej Meszaros as part of the package, the loss of Brayden should prove worthwhile.
Pursing that thread, Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos proposes a deal sending the younger Schenn brother to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Jake Gardiner. Considering the lack of depth at center (see: Dave Bolland on LTIR) and excess of offensive defenseman (see: Morgan Rielly, and John-Michael Liles in an emergency), the Maple Leafs might be willing to make this move. Especially since Leafs management has reportedly been sweet on Brayden since before he was even drafted (2009).
From a fantasy perspective, such a move does Schenn's owners no favors, at least in the short term. Skating at left wing on a Flyers line with Vincent Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds, the natural centerman has been all a-blaze, particularly of late (three goals and three assists in five games). A move to Toronto, for example, may result in Schenn battling Nazem Kadri for the second-line centerman's role (assuming Tyler Bozak is fit enough to play on the top unit). However, in the long run, Schenn projects to be a top-six center just about anywhere. Otherwise, center Sean Couturier is likely to most benefit from Schenn's prospective departure.
As for Gardiner (owned in five percent of ESPN.com leagues), a move out of Toronto would undoubtedly bolster the young D-man's fantasy value. Ranked behind Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson on the Leafs' fantasy depth chart, the 23-year-old would benefit from playing a more prominent role elsewhere, predominantly with the man advantage. A team like the Flyers wouldn't pay the price necessary to snag Gardiner unless they had big plans.
Moving on to Del Zotto, our own Pierre LeBrun reports the Ottawa Senators are among a group of five or six teams that have interest in acquiring the struggling Rangers blueliner. Unsatisfied with the play of Patrick Wiercioch and, well, any other offensive defenseman not named Erik Karlsson, the Senators are understandably willing to roll the dice on somewhat unpredictable talent.
Such a move would do wonders for the 23-year-old's tumbling fantasy value. Failing to impress new coach Alain Vigneault, Del Zotto has spent significant time in the press box this season, and his role has been diminished when on the ice. The former first-round draft pick (2008) could undeniably use a change in address, whether that involves joining the Sens, Edmonton Oilers, or another squad altogether.