With the league entering the All-Star break, it’s been a dead time around the league. Thankfully, we have something major worth discussing. The #1 player on trade deadline boards moved early, with Elias Lindholm moving to the Vancouver Canucks. In return, the Flames acquired Andrei Kuzmenko, Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo and a conditional fourth round draft pick. Let’s take a look at the fantasy impact for this move in this season and beyond:
From Vancouver’s perspective, Lindholm is the perfect addition. He’s a former 40 goal scorer and Selke finalist. He thrives offensively without dominating the puck, which is ideal if he’s playing with Miller or Pettersson. Lindholm can play on the wing or at center. There’s nobody better that was guaranteed to be moved by the deadline, so it makes sense for the Canucks to get ahead of everyone else and make the move now.
This season, Lindholm hasn’t been as good as we’re accustomed to. He’s sitting at 9+23 in 49 games, largely because he’s only shooting a not-so-nice 6.9%. There’s just no way that continues getting to play with that talent in Vancouver. There’s a clear opening on PP1 for Lindholm to step into, whether he moves to the net front or drops into the bumper spot. Lindholm was pushing 21 minutes per game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he can match that in Vancouver.
Lindholm is owned in about 90% of leagues, so I don’t expect him to be available in your league. If you’re lucky enough to have him, I’m expecting a big finish to make up for the slow start. This might ruin the chance to trade for Lindholm, but I would definitely buy low if you could. I’d project him for a tad below a point per game for the rest of the season with the potential for more if he goes off on the power play. The shot rate should be a bit below three per game. Tha t puts Lindholm on the fringe of being a top 100 player.
For whatever reason, Kuzmenko hasn’t worked with Tocchet this season. After scoring 39 goals and 35 assists as a rookie, Kuzmenko only had 8+13 in 43 games this season. He was always going to regress because nobody can shoot 27% forever, but I didn’t expect him to fall off a cliff. It was clear that Kuzmenko wanted to get a reset, as he waived his NTC to go to Calgary.
While some recent acquisitions for Calgary haven’t worked, Sharangovich’s breakout has to be Calgary’s hope with Kuzmenko. He should slide right into their top six and top power play unit. They have every reason to try to get Kuzmenko back on his game, whether they keep him past next year’s trade deadline, or they boost his value back to being a positive asset. Since he has a poor shot rate, I’m not running to pick Kuzmenko back up, who is available in almost 50% of leagues. That said, the bigger role is enough to make him a solid streamer again. He’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Brzustewicz is the more notable prospect in the trade, especially from a fantasy perspective. Brzustewicz is a great puck mover who has put up insane offensive stats at every level. He put up 111 points in 66 games in U15 hockey before suffering a bad shoulder injury at the U.S. National Development team. Now, he’s playing for Kitchener, where he has a nicer 69 points in 47 games, 61 of which are assists. The problem for Brzustewicz is that he’s on the small side and his skating, while good, isn’t elite. He was a great lotto ticket for the Flames to target. I’m not a prospect expert, but for me, a best case for Brzustewicz is a Tyson Barrie earlier in his career, or Erik Gustafsson. He ends up on a second pair running a power play putting up points. A more realistic goal seems like a third pairing PPQB that get sheletered minutes, but puts up a fair amount of points. Worst case, he ends up a tweener, someone that can put up plenty of points in the AHL but doesn’t stick in the NHL.
Jurmo, while also a third round pick, has a much lower ceiling as he’s three years older than Brzustewicz and hasn’t done much since being drafted. He’s got great size and very good skating ability for his size, but Jurmo has poor hockey sense. For those of you in super deep banger leagues, Jurmo could end up having some value if he does make the league on the third pair somewhere. I’m not counting on it though.
Overall, this seems like a slam dunk for the Canucks, even if Lindholm only ends up a rental. I don’t really understand the rush in making this deal if you’re the Flames. The first round pick is going to be very late, Kuzmenko is close to a neutral asset on his contract, if not a negative, and there isn’t a top prospect coming back. I admit that it’s not hard to see this deal working out for the Flames. They can rebuild Kuzmenko’s value, establishing himself as a top six winger again, and Brzustewicz hits his ceiling, becoming a top 4 PPQB defensemen. That said, I can’t imagine this offer would be off the table a month from now when the trade deadline comes. If anything, Conroy can get more teams involved and presumably increase the price, especially if the new team wanted to talk extension for Lindholm. I’d rather have acquired a top end piece than a bunch of smaller ones.
That’s all for now guys. With no games over the weekend, I will probably update my hold/stream list for Monday. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!