Hey everyone! Before things start going full swing in a few weeks, I figured I’d post an article summarizing the biggest changes that have taken place this offseason around the NHL. It’s been a crazy last few weeks between the draft and free agency so let’s get right to it!
Jake Allen – Arguably the biggest winner of the summer, Allen finally enters the season as the clear #1 with Brian Elliott traded to Calgary. As long as he avoids injury, Allen is a slam dunk top 10 goalie who more than likely pushes the top 5. It’s still a bit too early to know what his ADP will be but I’ll guess he becomes a top value in early drafts.
Kyle Okposo – Okposo moved from Brooklyn across the state to Buffalo on a 7 year deal. Compared to the other contracts signed around the league, Buffalo did well here. While on the surface this may look like a step back for Okposo, I disagree. First, he barely played with John Tavares last season; Frans Nielsen was his main center. While Nielsen is a solid hockey player, Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel are both upgrades. Add in the fact that Dan Blysma gave his top 6 massive minutes last season with the Sabres being on the rise and Okposo slides into a great situation. He should crack the top 100 since he hits all of the categories at an above average rate.
John Gibson – If the Ducks hadn’t fired Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Randy Carlyle, Gibson would be the biggest winner of the offseason. Despite the big coaching downgrade, Gibson still finds himself in the winner’s column. With Frederik Andersen traded to Toronto, Gibson now has firm control of the starting job for a strong team. He’s going to be a bottom end #1 goalie or elite #2 goalie in 2016-17.
Brian Campbell – Campbell won’t move the needle even in the middle of drafts but as far as filling out the bottom of your roster goes, Soupy should be a nice bottom end defenseman. He’s moved back to the Blackhawks which should all but guarantee him very good assists, plus-minus and power play points.
Thomas Vanek – After being bought out by the Wild after a disappointing season, Vanek gambled on himself taking a 1 year deal with the Red Wings. I love his chances to bounce back. The Red Wings always have an above average power play where he does most of his damage. He’ll also have a decent chance to play with Henrik Zetterberg at even strength and if not, Frans Nielsen, who’s an upgrade over his Wild linemates.
Milan Lucic – While I hate the signing in real life (I have no idea what Peter Chiarelli is doing), Lucic’s fantasy stock gets a nice boost. Since the Oilers inexplicably traded Taylor Hall to the Devils, the vacated left wing slot on Connor McDavid‘s line will be filled by Lucic. Expect him to add his usual 100+ PIM while pushing 30 goals.
Adam Henrique – He should get first crack at having Hall on his wing; the two played together in Windsor. Henrique is coming off a terrific season and now has upside to be even better. It’s been a long time since upside and New Jersey can be said together.
Patrick Laine – Everyone will be focused on Auston Matthews but for this year and in dynasties, I prefer Laine. He’s an amazing offensive talent (think poor man’s Alex Ovechkin) and goes to an ideal situation in Winnipeg. He’ll step right into the top 6 on a team that I expect to bounce back in a strong way this year. In leagues that draft rookies, Laine should be the first pick. In redrafts, I think he’ll end up cracking my top 100.
Loui Eriksson – He had a great year last season in Boston but it was one that I didn’t expect him to repeat. However, Eriksson significantly increased those chances by going to Vancouver. Even though the Canucks are terrible, Eriksson will play with the Sedins, who are cyborgs who don’t slow down due to age. There are few situations better than playing with the Sedins and Eriksson only had 17 power play points last season so there is some upside here.
P.K. Subban – I have no idea how David Poile talked Marc Bergevin into making the big trade but Nashville fleeced Montreal in the most lopsided hockey trade in years. The Predators shipped out a rapidly declining Shea Weber (more on him later) for Subban, one of the best players in the league who is locked up through his prime. Nashville already had far more offensive talent than Montreal and a much better power play; it’s only going to get better with Subban. With this move, I think Subban passes Brent Burns and Kris Letang and is now the firm #2 defenseman behind Erik Karlsson.
Roman Josi – He gets to play with Subban instead of Weber; it’s just that simple. Josi was already a #1 D but now he gets a slight boost towards the top 5.
Teuvo Teravainen – While going to Carolina from Chicago looks like a downgrade, Teravainen never received much of a chance to make an impact in Chicago. Now, he’s a lock for the Hurricanes’ top 6. The Finnish product is oozing with offensive ability and finally should get the minutes to produce on a regular basis. He’ll be one of my favorite late round fliers.
Ryan McDonagh – This is an under the radar winner but I like McDonagh to get back to where he was in 2014 instead of the end of last season. In two seasons, McDonagh dropped 60 shots and had horrible power play points. Now, Keith Yandle has left Manhattan for Florida making McDonagh the odds on favorite to get back on the Rangers’ first power play unit (their alternatives are quite limited). I think he gets back to being a D3 in 12 man leagues instead of a fringe hold.
Richard Panik – I won’t get in depth here because I’m planning on doing a sleeper post for Panik in August. Chicago has 5 guys who will clearly be in their top 6; the 6th spot looks to be Panik’s to lose. As a pick in the last two rounds of a standard draft, he could end up providing excellent value.
Carey Price – The Subban – Weber swap is a massive blow for Price’s value. People who don’t watch hockey closely won’t realize it but at this point in their careers, Weber can’t hold P.K.’s jock. Montreal is going to be giving up far more shots and those shots will have better quality now. Price is an amazing goaltender and I wouldn’t be surprised if he still had an elite save percentage but I expect the goals against average to uptick and the wins to decrease. Some people will have him as the #1 goalie or very close to it; odds are he will be just outside my top 5 now.
Shea Weber – Weber has had Ryan Suter and Roman Josi as partners for most of his career. Now he’s going to have Andrei Markov or someone else who’s a massive downgrade. I already wasn’t a fan but now I won’t be drafting Weber anywhere this year. His name value will keep his ADP much too high.
Marc-Andre Fleury – At this point, he’s still a Penguin meaning he’s relegated to backing up Matt Murray. If he gets moved to a great spot (I’m looking at you, Dallas), then Fleury becomes a big winner. It also would help Murray since Fleury will be lurking in case he struggles. For the time being, Fleury is nothing more than Murray insurance or a lottery ticket.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – There’s been a ton of rumors surrounding Ben Bishop this summer. He’s an unrestricted free agent after next season and because you can only protect 1 goalie in the expansion draft, Tampa would almost certainly lose Bishop or Vasilevskiy to Las Vegas. Assuming they move Bishop, Vasilevskiy is a massive winner and is probably a top 10 fantasy goalie. However, if Tampa decides to just keep both for this season since they’re one of the Cup favorites, it really hurts Vas for this season. In a keeper league, I’d look to take him this year regardless because he’s going to be a stud in 2017-18. However, his redraft value is completely dependent on whether Bishop leaves or stays. If he stays, Bishop is a huge winner and Vas is a loser. If Bishop moves, Vas is a huge winner and Bishop takes a slight hit depending on where he goes.
Ducks Defensemen – Even though it’s been widely assumed, they still haven’t moved anybody for forward help. The Ducks have so many guys cutting the value of each other right now. Hampus Lindholm is outstanding but doesn’t get PP1 time; that goes to Sami Vatanen who gets a lower amount of minutes than Lindholm and Cam Fowler who’s stuck in the middle. For fantasy purposes, I hope they move Fowler because I’d love Lindholm in all leagues.
Petr Mrazek – The Red Wings always find a way to make the playoffs but their streak could be in jeopardy this year. Pavel Datsyuk leaving for Russia is a brutal loss. Mrazek was dreadful the last couple months of the season and while I don’t think it’ll be that bad, I won’t be targeting the Wings goalies like last year.
Frederik Andersen – I mentioned the trade above but obviously going from a top 5 team to the worst team in the league is going to hurt his stats. He might get around the same number of wins because he will get additional starts but Andersen is more of a bottom end #2 or elite #3 instead of a strong #2 or, combined with John Gibson, a #1.
Roberto Luongo – I want to be clear that I love Luongo and what the Florida Panthers are doing. This is more of a disclaimer that he needs to be handcuffed with James Reimer this year. Reimer got a big money deal for 5 years to be the heir apparent to Luongo. Luongo didn’t have a massive workload last year starting 62 games but I bet that number is closer to 55 this year now (he plays twice to Reimer’s one game). Together, they will be an elite #1 goalie. Without Reimer, you’re going to be short too many starts. They will be my favorite tandem to draft this season.
That’s all for now guys. In two weeks, I’ll be posting again on a regular basis with some contributions from others. The start of the season and the World Cup of Hockey are rapidly approaching! As always, feel free to ask any questions and leave any comments below. Hope everyone is having a great summer so far, take care!