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Apparently all the free agents got together and decided that today was the day to sign a deal. Also, everyone had to sign with a central division team. Or demand a trade to a central division team. If I’m a fan of the Wings, Blue Jackets or any other team lucky enough to have escaped the west, I’m counting my lucky starts tonight because baby, the central is loaded. Normally I’m used to hearing news about a big contract here, a big name move there, but since the draft there have been tons of moves that sent ripples through the fantasy hockey world like so many pebbles being tossed into a still pond. Zen! Anyway, it goes without saying then (though I’ll say it) that y’all need to know who went where and for what and why. When? Yesterday! Today? Who’s on first?! The biggest non-contract move so far has to be Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson going to Dallas for Alex Chaisson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, a 2015 second round pick and a bag o’ pucks. Couple that with Ales Hemsky inking a 3-year, $12M deal with the Stars today and they might have found a recipe for success in the west! When I initially found out about this deal I saw it as “Spezza/Karlsson traded to Dallas” and my damn jaw dropped. Come to find out its some guy named Ludwig. Really? People are actually named Ludwig? That’s too bad. Anyway, these moves should make the Stars an offensive powerhouse and I’d say Spezza (if he can stay healthy) and Hemsky (if he can stay healthy) get a decent boost in value for next season. Kari Lehtonen (if he can stay healthy) might be a goalie to target in 2015 now, too. I’m sensing a theme here. Huh, anyway, here are the rest of the big moves that matter so far this offseason…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Who says there’s no hockey now that the playoffs are done? The season starts in less than four months! Schedules are being released next week! Hockey will be back soon, and we will be prepared and to be prepared we must look to the future. Enter the the NHL entry draft, not only a time for young hockey players to make their initial foray onto the big stage, but also into fantasy owners’ hearts and minds. While most of any draft class doesn’t pan out and even fewer still become productive enough to garner fantasy attention in their first few seasons, there are a handful of prospects here you should absolutely be aware of and tracking closely. It’s not every year that a Nathan MacKinnon comes into the league, but tracking guys like MacKinnon make the difference between fantasy champ and fantasy chump. Are you a chump?! Then you’re reading the wrong blog. Or maybe the right blog given I’m trying to teach you how to be a champ! In either case, champ or chump, it’s a thin line and fantasy hockey is a fickle mistress, but we love her just the same. Personally that makes me lover her more, but I’m a glutton for punishment. Anyway, over the next few weeks I’m going to be profiling top prospects in this year’s draft and we’ll start my top prospect for this year, defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

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Suddenly there’s lots of talk of some 22-year-old KHL winger getting lots of offers from NHL teams, twelve offers in fact, and it makes me wonder, who is Jiri Sekac? Jiri is a 22-year-old, 6’2”, 190lb left-winger from the Czech Republic who has recently become a hot commodity in a relatively shallow 2014-15 free agent pool. Why, you might wonder, is this guy seemingly the next big thing? First, he isn’t. His popularity has spiked just recently after a solid 2014 season for the KHL’s HC Lev Praha. How solid? Well, if you consider the KHL a step above the AHL and one below the NHL, not exactly mind-blowingly solid, but solid in a fundamentals sort of way. Ah yes, those valuable fundamentals. The fundamentals that lay the groundwork for future success in any activity one might engage in! The key term here is future, and it isn’t tomorrow yet. This year Sekac put up a line of 11 G, 17 A, 28 P, 18 PIM, + 12 in 47 GP in the regular season and followed up in the playoffs with 1 G, 7 A, 8 P, 24 PIM, + 1 in 21 GP. Wow, this is the guy that has “more than a dozen solid offers” from NHL teams? Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye? Lets take a deeper dive…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This has to be one of the busiest deadline days that I’ve seen in a few years with 19 trades getting completed today and  32 deals going down since the Miller to St. Louis deal kicked everything off post Sochi. We saw ten goalies change hands, two captains trade places and guys like Vanek and Halak who were traded for the second time just this season! I went through the list and picked out what I thought which moves had the biggest fantasy impact and highlighted those. If you’re looking this over and think I missed a few, check out these posts from yesterday for more trade analysis;

Roberto Luongo Back To Panthers, Add Lack!

Ilya Bryzgalov To Wild, Fasth To Oilers, Penner To Caps

Ryan Miller To Blues For Halak, Stewart, Picks

Martin St. Louis (F-TB) for Ryan Callahan (F-NYR), 2014 conditional 2nd-round pick, 2015 1st-round pick

In what was perhaps the biggest deal of the day the Rangers and Bolts swapped captains moving two guys who had never played anywhere else, well, elsewhere! This move creates a few fantasy ripples and they tend to center around the return of goal scoring machine Steven Stamkos. When Stamkos broke his tibia a lot of folks though Marty’s production might slip at a bit and that’s a fair assumption to make, however, it didn’t happen. He has 61 points in 62 games with a plus-12 and 167 shots on goal and a shift to the Rangers isn’t going to slow him down either. The move could lead to a possible reunion on a line with Brad Richards, but considering how bleh Richards has been this season even St. Louis might not be able to snap him out of it. But fear not, St. Louis owners, there are plenty of places Alain Vigneault can slot in his new weapon and get the usual point-per-game production from him. Stamkos, on the other hand, may see a dip in production without Marty on his wing, and Cally isn’t going to be able to fill that gap, so expect a few fewer assists from Steve-o, but the goals should continue to pour in. In the end, both St. Louis and Stamkos are so good that their production will more or less stay the same, but Callahan becomes an intriguing option. Owned in just 44% of Yahoo leagues and ~84% of ESPN leagues, if Cally ends up playing alongside Stamkos he’s going to see a scoring boost for sure. He isn’t without offensive ability, but everyone knows he’s a grinder more than anything else. If he’s out there in your league and you need a scoring boost, you could get that on the cheap from Callahan. Anyway, here’s the rest of the deals that I thought would make a splash in the world o’ fantasy hockey:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

At the end of the 2011-2012 season Roberto Luongo demanded a trade out of Vancouver and made it quite clear he wanted to go back home to Florida. The Panthers initially balked at the idea due to his sizable contract, but the Canucks kept trying to make it work and finally shipped him back to South Florida today for top goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom and a player yet to be named. Aw, it’s a dream come true for Lu! He goes from a team that was playoff bound to a team that’s bound for golfing and watching the playoffs at the bar. Maybe he just doesn’t want to work that hard? Who knows. What I do know is  now that he’s headed down to Florida it will relegate Tim Thomas to the bench and I can’t be the only one who is pumped to see that. Regardless of being the undisputed starter for the Panthers Lu’s value takes a pretty sizable hit here as the Panthers aren’t much different than they were when he was traded a few years ago. He’ll go back to getting peppered every night by opposing teams and struggling to keep his peripherals in the healthy ranges and wins? Hah, don’t get me started there, you can expect his wins to fall right off the table. This might make Lu very, very happy, but it makes his fantasy owners cry in their beers. If you own Lu or Thomas, go grab Eddie Lack right this moment as he becomes the de-facto starter for the Canucks. Lack is owned in just ~34% of ESPN leagues and 21% of Yahoo Leagues so you can bet he’s going to be one of the hottest wire grabs down the stretch. So go go go! Add add add!

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The Oilers started the season with Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera in net and that didn’t work out so well, so GM Craig MacTavish signed Ilya Bryzgalov for the reminder of the sesaon, shipped Dubs off to the Preds, traded HannaBarbera to the Hawks for “future considerations” and traded for Ben Scrivens. After letting the dust settle a bit, Scribbles bubbled up to become the Oil’s starter and that didn’t sit too well with Breezy. With fears that he wouldn’t resign in the offseason mounting MacTavish assured his tenure with the team was rather short and shipped him off to the Wild for a fourth round pick. Hey, it’s better than nothing, right? Wrong! The Ducks quickly turned that fourth-round pick around for the Stars’ Stephane Robidas. Robidas has no fantasy value and that doesn’t change here, so back to the matter at hand. Considering how well Darcy Kuemper has been playing I’d be surprised to see Breezy supplant him as the Wild’s starter, but it may quickly develop into a 1A / 1B situation. If you’re dying for goaltending help and Breezy is available, he’s worth a speculative flier add, but don’t expect much until the situation with him and Kuemper becomes a bit more salient. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s the trade Blues fans have prayed for, Sabres fans have dreaded and fantasy owners have been dying for; The Sabres traded Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick tonight. Clearly the Blues are going all in for the cup this season and this move makes a team that was a serious contender to begin with seem like a near lock for it now. So, what does this do to their respective fantasy values? Miller goes from middle of the pack to top 5 with a huge spike in value. You can expect fantastic peripherals and, finally, loads o’ wins from the former Vezina winner. Jaroslav Halak’s value goes in the exact opposite direction and man, it’s bummersville for him as he joins Jhonas Enroth on the league’s worst team. If you own Halak you shouldn’t drop him, but I’d bench him to see how he handles the onslaught of shots he’s going to face now. Obviously he’s not going to give you many more wins, so if you’re a Halak owner in a H2H league, you need to start looking at the wire and seriously considering who you’re going to be comfortable streaming when Halak’s numbers inevitably tumble down, down, down into the deep, dark waters of mediocrity. Man, that’s some Edgar Allen Poe shiz right there! It’s appropriate, can you imagine what it’s like for Halak? One minute he’s on one of the league’s best teams, poised to be strong for years to come, and the next he’s in nowheresville, New York. Ouch. Anyway, here’s how the rest of the guys in this deal shake out:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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