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Sundin This, Shanahan That

Mats Sundin will improve the value of some fantasy players...but who?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Chances are that if you have been anywhere near a hockey website, print magazine or television show since June, you've heard about Mats Sundin and Brendan Shanahan - two players who have not played a single minute of this hockey season. Neither has even signed a contract.

So why is there so much press about two guys not in the NHL?

Simple.

If/when either signs, they instantly change a team's dynamic and their standing in the division and playoff races. The addition of one of these two future Hall-of-Famers can rework an entire roster and line combinations from top to bottom.

Think about how much more valuable the Sedin Twins would be in Vancouver if Sundin was suddenly centering them on the first line and on the power play unit. Or how many more power play points Evgeni Malkin would tally if the Penguins added Shanahan.

The reason for the increase in production is simple and complicated at the same time. The simple answer is that when you add a great player to the mix, his talent makes all the good players around him better.

The formidable abilities of Sundin and Shanahan are certainly a reason why the value of the surrounding players rise, but there are also a few other things that occur to add into the formula.

First and foremost is how opponents react when they see a Sundin or Shanahan on the ice. Their attention immediately gets diverted from everyone else and all eyes are focused on the superstar. This allows the other players a bit of an edge in the offensive zone. As the defense is watching Sundin or Shanahan as closely as possible, their linemates are able to get into better position to score.

There is also the opposite affect of this scenario, where teams realize they are paying too much attention to the star and try to focus on the supporting cast, only to see the star bury the puck in the back of the net.

A third reason why players statistics improve when a star is added is because of a newfound chemistry between the new linemates. One of the most memorable examples of this in recent years was when Peter Forsberg joined the Flyers after the lockout and was put on a line with Simon Gagne.

Gagne was a good player in his own right before Forsberg came to town, but Gagne hit a whole new level once he was paired with the Swede, reaching the 40- goal plateau for the first time in his career.

The list of reasons goes on and on. And to be honest, it doesn't really matter why they improve, all that matters is that they do.

Over the course of the next few weeks we hope to know where these two players will be calling home for the remainder of the season. Although, truth be told, we've been saying that for months. Once we know where, we'll also know who to look at for a significant bump in their production.

So keep an eye out when they sign and try to get an idea of who they'll be skating with, it may help you out more than you would think.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Tim Godfrey at tgodfrey@sportsnetwork.com.

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