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…
James Neal traded to Nashville for Patrick Hornqvist and Nick Spaling
In keeping with the theme, the Preds added Neal. That means James Neal is playing in the same division as Matt Cooke. I pity all the knees and temples in the central. Woe be upon you, for Neal’s knees cometh for you! I’m not really sure what the Pens were doing when they moved Neal to the Preds. They don’t really gain anything or lose anything, I suppose the dirty play was just too much and they wanted to clean up their image? Seriously though, Neal is a bonefide finisher and one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the league. That’s something that the Preds desperately needed and this shift does nothing, positive or negative to Neal’s value. It’s just bloody bizzare for the Pens who needed to get deeper this off season. If only the Pens had signed Regis Pierre McGuire to be their GM none of this would happen, and all would be well in Pittsburgh. Right? Uh, yeah! Keep your heads up, Pens fans.
Tomas Vanek signs with Minnesota (3 years/$19.5M/$6.5M AAV)
He probably wanted a longer deal but finishing the playoffs on the 4th line for the Habs didn’t help his value much. Still, Vanek’s talent is not indispute and it netted him a cool 20 mil, give or take 500k. Hey, whose counting? Everyone. Everyone’s counting, and the Wild are going to count on Vanek to score gooooooals like he didn’t in the playoffs. I think he’ll rebound from the poor performance and get along well with Mikko Koivu, or failing that Mikael Granlund who seems to fit quite well feeding pucks to Zach Parise. See what I’m getting at here? Wild are kinda stacked in the top six, but they get weaker quick after that. What’d the Kings teach us? Depth, ya’ll. It’s all about depth. Anyway, Vanek’s value remains high. He’s going to hover around a point per game, though his days of 40 goals are long gone, 30-plus is expected.
Ryan Miller signs with Vancouver (3 years/$18M/$6M AVV)
I love Ryan Miller. I was lucky enough to get to watch him play at Michigan State when I was a freshman there (Go Green!) and I’ve followed his career closely since then. So it pains me to admit that Miller definitely fell on his ass in the playoffs winning just two games and coughing up 3 or more goals a whopping 10 times for the Blues. Somehow I doubt that’s what they had in mind when they traded for Miller at the deadline last season; I know I figured that basically put a lock on pushing the Blues to at least the Western Conference Finals, but what do I know? Anyway, it’s no wonder the Blues decided to ink Brian Elliot to a 3 year deal for significantly less than Miller would demand and then put that money into someone like, say, Paul Stastny to help up front. What does this do for Miller’s value? Well, it could be worse. He’s not the premier netminder that he once was, but he’s still hanging around in the top 10-15 range. The real winner here is Elliot, who will be a full time starter for the Blues and could be one of the best goalies in the league next year.
Paul Stastny signs with St. Louis (4 years/$28M/$7M AAV)
Man, the Central is brutal isn’t it? Stastny signs a big deal and I think he’s going to play up to it mostly. He’s streaky, but he’s a slick center with a ton of talent that could find some serious chemistry with second year beast Vladimir Tarasenko on his wing. Sprinkle in a bit of Jaden Scwhartz on the other side and you could have one of, if not the highest scoring line in hockey next year. There’s a lot of ifs there, but the talent is definitely not in question. This move bumps Stastny’s value up a bit, but don’t go too crazy and draft him in the first round or anything.
Jarome Iginla signs with Colorado (3 years/$16M/$5.3M AAV)
Not to be out done the Avs brought in Iggy from Boston to cushion the blow of losing Stastny to the Blues. I feel for you Avs fans, fo’ serial. I love Iggy. You love Iggy. We all love Iggy. He’s like ice cream. Ice cream is great at first, when it’s cold and hard but not too hard, soft enough to bite into without hurting your pearly whites. Ah yes, new ice cream. Then it starts to melt and even then, it’s still pretty damn good. I’m not really sure where this is going; I think I just want some ice cream. Iggy will score 30 goals again, anyway.
Marian Gaborik stays with LA (7 years/$34.3M/$4.9M AAV)
I couldn’t help but wonder if Gaborik’s unreal playoff scoring streak was going to bite the Kings down the line and with the ink dry on this one, I think it will. Gabby has a habit of going on some intense scoring streaks and then evaporating for long stretches if he can stay healthy and on the ice at all. The term length is nonsense for Gaborik, but the price per year is about right. I’m not sure whether Gabby has found a good home where he fits in the right system and isn’t being relied on to carry the team or he was just on another one of his streaks. When you draft him just remember, there’s a good chance he won’t play more than 60 games next season. Ah but some folks have short memories and you can expect Gabby’s 2015 draft day price to be inflated like whoa. Don’t get sucked in.
Matt Niskanen signs with Washington (7 years/$40.25M/$5.75M AAV)
The Caps needed some defense and heard Pittsburgh was a good source, so they sunk $68 million into Niskanen and Orpik today. When you compare this deal to the Orpik deal it’s a steal, y’all! Niskanen can easily top the 50-point mark next season for the Caps, I expect him to at least match his 46 from last season. Really this doesn’t hurt or help him, or you, and you should draft him as you would have before. That’s as an elite scoring defenseman, by the way. Yes, it’s only been one season, but if I ended up with Niskanen as my no. 2 blue liner, I’d be a’okay with that. That all being said, this is a horrible deal and the length keeps the AAV down and masks just how bad it is. This also means that Mike Green is likely on his way out of Washington sooner than later because baby, the Caps really need a center.
Brooks Orpik signs with Washington (5 years/$27.5M/$5.5M AAV)
And the worst deal o’ the day goes to… the Washington Capitals! At least with Niskanen you can argue that he has 50-point potential and that’s keeping company with the likes of Shea Weber, so okay then. Is Niksanen Weber? Hells no. But if that’s the case, what’s Orpik? Bleh, that’s what. He’s big. He’s mean. He brings dem fundamentals. But he isn’t going to score and that makes him mostly worthless in most mixed leagues.
Ryan Callahan stays with Tampa Bay(6 years/$34.8M/$5.8M AAV)
Cally signed with Tampa last week but the deal is significant. $5.8M per season. For Ryan Callahan. That seems like a bit much. Only Stamkos makes more for the Bolts now. Does that make sense to you? It really doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t see Cally’s value in the real world or fantasy changing much unless he ends up on Stamkos’ line. You can expect around 25 goals, 20 assists and those delicious intangibles, but not much more. It ends up being a big contract for not that big a deal. Yawn. I’m more excited about Ondrej Palat and what he’ll do next season after signing his 3-year deal.
Anton Stralman signs with Tampa Bay (5 years/$30M/$5M AAV)
And the revolving door between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning continues to spin with Stralman headed down south. The Rangers offered about the same terms but Strals was pretty vocal about not wanting to stay in New York so it didn’t matter. That, and Florida’s cost of living and lack of income tax make that money go a lot further. Brian Boyle also inked a deal with Tampa today. Really? This is getting out of hand. It used to be the Arizona Coyotes that the Rangers did this with, but apparently Stevie Y is Sather’s new dance partner. At any rate, the New York Lightning are starting to look pretty solid on real ice, but Stralman is yawinstpaing offensively and not worth owning in most mixed leagues despite his fairly sizable deal. Same goes for Boyle. And really, I’m not a huge fan of Callahan either. Jonathan Drouin, now him I like. The rest of these guys? Reality yes, Fantasy meh.
Matt Moulson signs with Buffalo (5 years/$25M/$4.5M AAV)
I don’t know what’s more difficult to believe; that anyone would voluntarily sign with the Sabres right now or that any team would pay Matt Moulson $4.5M per year to do his thing. Sure, he’s a talented, young guy that has the potential to be a solid second liner, but with just 3 points in 10 games in the post season for the Wild last year and we’re all left to wonder just how good Matty can be without John Tavares feeding him the puck. The Sabres are betting $25 million that he can be better, but I’m not on board. Buffalo isn’t going to rise from the ashes next season and become an offensive powerhouse, more likely they’ll end up an offensive out house. Moulson’s value takes a hit with his return to upstate New York; so don’t go grabbing him until the late-mid rounds in drafts.
Dave Bolland signs with Florida (5 years/$27.5M/$5.5 AAV)
This might be worse than than the Orpik to Washington deal, honestly. $5.5 AAV for Bolland whose career amounts to about one goal? This is why I hate the Panthers. I mean, hockey in Florida still makes about as much sense to me as nipples on a breast plate, but why on earth would anyone sink that kind of money into a guy like Bolland? Yeah, I get it, he’s talented when he’s not hurt. When exactly is that? Toronto, breath a sigh of relief, the Panthers just did you a solid. What do I think of Bolland’s value going into 2015? I think this deal screams future buyout.
Benoit Pouliot signs with Edmonton (5 years/$20M/$4M AAV)
Had some marginal value going into next season if he resigned with the Rangers, but instead he went up north and signed with the Oil who, theoretically should be offensively stacked, but just keep falling flat. I wouldn’t draft Pouliot with your team. Also, 4 million per for Pouliot? Sorry Oil fans, that stings.
Mike Cammalleri signs with New Jersey (5 years/$25M/$5M AAV)
This deal honestly makes me yawn. I’m yawning. Cammalleri is as yawnstipating as player come and now he’s gone to Jersey, could it get any worse? 45 points max. 20 goals, 25 assists. Yawn.
Jaroslav Halak signs with NY Islanders (4 years/$18M/$4.5M AAV)
Chad Johnson also signed with the Isles for 2 years/$2.6M/$1.3M AAV and suddenly the Isles are pretty damn solid in goal! I’m usually pretty critical of Garth Snow, but he definitely sewed up the New York crease pretty well for the next few years. Now if anyone else decent would sign there when an offer was made they might actually build a decent team. Or so John Tavares hopes. The Isles are a bit of a mystery going into 2015. They honestly could be pretty good, and if they are, Halak will be a big part of that. He’s the undisputed no. 1 now and he’s got a comfy contract, so he makes a risky no. 2 and a baller bargain no. 3 goalie going into 2015.
Jussi Jokinen signs with Florida (4 years/$16M/$5.3M AAV)
The Juice heads down south to play in hockey hell with Dave Bolland. I’m far less critical of this signing because Jokinen is a pretty solid guy to have. Honestly, the Panthers are putting a pretty good team on the ice considering the mix of veteran talent and youth they’re rolling out. After drafting top defensive prospect Aaron Ekblad, they also have Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau so anything is possible for the Cats next season. This doesn’t do much for Juice’s value, he’s going to score around 50 points or so, but he won’t match his 2014 campaign again. A lot of Juice’s, well, juice, came from playing with Geno.
Dan Boyle signs with NY Rangers (2 years/$9M/$4.5 AAV)
It looked like the days of Glen Sather signing aging vets past their prime to large deals was over, and then this. Now, to be fair, 2 years/$9M is nothing but the $4.5 per for a guy who is going to be 38 next season and clearly, rapidly declining makes little sense. The Rangers weren’t an overwhelming offensive team last season and while the addition of a full season with Martin St. Louis in the fold, it remains to be seen what the rest of the Rangers lineup is going to look like come October. Rick Nash evaporated in the playoffs and really never looked quite right after suffering a series of concussions earlier in the season. I don’t really expect Boyler is going to come alive for one more 50 point campaign, he’s most likely been signed to help mentor the up and coming defensive prospects the Rangers’ farm system is chock full o’ like Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei and Mat Bodie. If you can get him on the cheap in later rounds as a 4th dman, do it, otherwise you over paid.
Jonas Hiller signs with Calgary (2 years/$9M/$4.5M AAV)
This move makes a lot of sense for everyone involved and the deal is solid. I think the Flames are going to get good value out of Hiller and fantasy owners should do the same. It’s not a step up from the Ducks, that’s for sure, but there were worse destinations for Hiller to land. There is the risk that Kari Ramo could challenge Hiller for the no. 1 job, or at least push a 1A/1B situation that limits the already somewhat limited value of both keepers.
Justin Peters signs with Washington (2 years/$1.9M/$950K AAV)
It looks like Cam Ward is going to stick around in Carolina. Joy. That means Anton Khudobin’s value will always be threatened by Ward who you can expect will stay just good enough to nip away at Khudobin winning the no. 1 job outright for another season. That also meant that Justin Peters was the odd man out and he’s just too good to go nowhere, so he went to the second best place after nowhere, Washington D.C.! The only other goalie on their roster right now is Braden Holtby and if it stays that way Peters is looking at a huge boost in value. That’s relative to his value in Carolina, of course, so he’s not the next Martin Brodeur, but he is in a good place to impress and even warn a 1A/1B situation with Holtby next year. Peters is really good and he’s going to get a chance to showcase that talent now, so be aware! This was a steal for the Caps and it could be a steal for you, too.
Kimmo Timonen stays with Philly (1 year/$2M/$2M AAV)
Seriously, when is this guy going to retire?