While most hockey fans are beginning to focus their attention on the upcoming Winter Olympics, which begin two weeks from Wednesday, there's an even more important date on the calendar for fantasy owners to remember: The March 9 trade deadline. (That's the NHL trade deadline; incidentally, this year's FHL deadline is March 10.)
Already in the past week, we've seen two teams -- the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues -- making trades to prepare themselves for the stretch run and the future. The Oilers, currently seventh in the Western Conference (62 points), acquired defensemen Jaroslav Spacek from the Chicago Blackhawks and Dick Tarnstrom from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blues, the NHL's worst team in terms of points (32), turned the page to 2006-07 by shipping forwards Doug Weight to the Carolina Hurricanes and Mike Sillinger to the Nashville Predators.
Weight's trade is the most significant to fantasy owners. He joins the NHL's best team in terms of points (76) and second-best team in terms of goals per game (3.71). Carolina actually boasts four players among the league's top 50 scorers -- Eric Staal (66, sixth), Justin Williams (50, 27th), Cory Stillman (48, 35th), Rod Brind'Amour (47, 39th) and Erik Cole (46, 48th) -- and only Cole is short of a point-per-game pace. Carolina is a young team, with an average age of 26.6, but there's key veteran experience in Brind'Amour, Stillman and Ray Whitney. Weight can only help in that department.