Hello everyone! After spending most of the last two months in Vegas (including during the Stanley Cup Finals), I’m back home and ready to start writing again. I’ll be picking up things in August when I’ll be writing multiple posts a week, including my rankings early on in the month. I have a few questions I would like the readers to answer in terms of what they’d like me to write besides my rankings, but I’ll leave that for the end of this post. For now, I’m going to write a quick blurb on the five biggest moves of the offseason and what their impact is for both real life and fantasy. Let’s get to it!
1) John Tavares signs a 7 year, $77 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Early on in the process, it looked like Tavares was going to stay with the Islanders. Then, it looked like Dallas and San Jose were the main contenders otherwise. In the end, Tavares decided to go back home and play for the team he grew up rooting for. This contract could eventually put the Leafs in a brutal cap situation, but that’s not a focal point of this discussion. Toronto adds a top 25 player (conservatively) in the NHL to a team already on the rise. The Maple Leafs scored the third most goals in the league last season and had the second best power play. Now, they add Tavares, who is in his prime, to an already-lethal top six. Does this help Toronto? Immensely. Does it change Tavares’ fantasy outlook? Not really. The potential gain of being on a better team will probably be cancelled out by slightly less ice time (Babcock doesn’t play anybody big minutes). I think the biggest beneficiary of the signing will be Mitch Marner, who should slide onto Tavares’ wing assuming William Nylander stays with Auston Matthews. Tavares remains in the 25th overall range coming into this season.
2) James van Riemsdyk signs a 5 year, $35 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Remember the Flyers traded JVR to Toronto for Luke Schenn? Woof. No reason to dwell on the past when we project for the future. JVR will almost certainly play on Nolan Patrick‘s wing so the former second overall pick’s growth will have a big impact on JVR’s totals this year. I’m excited about JVR in Philly for a few reasons. One, he played only 14:54 per game last season, yet he scored 36 goals. That’s more than two minutes less than anyone else who was a top 20 goal scorer last season. Those minutes will surely go up. Second, even if Patrick isn’t great, he should be better than Tyler Bozak at the very least. The big question is whether or not the team keeps Wayne Simmonds to be the other member of the top six, and more importantly the fifth member of the top PP unit. My assumption is that JVR will be on the top PP unit regardless, but keeping Simmonds would help them at even strength. Perhaps Simmonds would play on the top line and Jakub Voracek would slide down for balance. His playmaking would be excellent with JVR. JVR will probably be just outside my top 50, but I feel like his floor and ceiling are both higher now that he’s back in Philly.
3) St. Louis Blues acquire forward Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres for Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, a second-round pick in 2021 NHL Draft, and a first-round pick in 2019 or 2020 NHL Draft. This was not the package I expected the Sabres to get in an RoR trade with the Blues, but it’s an interesting one nonetheless. Let’s look at the Sabres side first because it’s simple. Berglund and Sobotka are streamers depending on how they’re playing and the opposition. This trade will look good or bad depending on the development of Thompson. His shot is spectacular and he has a frame that should fill out rather easily without costing him his speed (not a great skater but more than passable). He’s a nice dynasty target because if he pans out, he’ll be with a great young center. For RoR, I see him the same way as I did in Buffalo. He’ll be on a better team, but that will be cancelled out by less minutes and being on the second power play unit (more than likely). O’Reilly looks to be just outside of the top 100 in standard formats that is fairly safe.
4) Calgary Flames acquire forward Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin from the Carolina Hurricanes for Micheal Ferland, Dougie Hamilton and prospect Adam Fox. Boy do I love this trade for Carolina. Hamilton has proven himself to be a top pairing defenseman who hasn’t even entered his prime yet. Hamilton for Lindholm and Hanifin alone would be a fairly even trade, albeit slightly in Calgary’s favor. However, they get Ferland, a decent middle sixer who could be a streamer depending on how he’s used, but more importantly, Folx was included in this deal. Fox was absolutely incredible for Team USA in the World Juniors this season and also for Harvard. He’s planning on returning to Harvard this fall, but he projects to be a top four defenseman sooner than later. Hamilton remains a #1 fantasy defenseman, while Hanifin could see a boost with more minutes. Those minutes aren’t a guarantee though, and we’ll have to wait for preseason to see how things are shaping up in Calgary. The story is the same with Lindholm. The Flames signed James Neal so he will presumably take Ferland’s spot on the top line. Does Lindholm go onto the second line in Michael Frolik‘s spot or does Bill Peters keep the MMM line together and put Lindholm on the third pair? Too hard to say at this point but that will drastically change Lindholm’s value. For now, it’s a wait and see game for the guys in this trade from a fantasy POV, but a big win for Carolina.
5) Paul Stastny signs a 3 year, $19.5 million deal with the Vegas Golden Knights. Stastny was a nice get for Vegas, especially considering that they avoided most of the downside signing him to only three years. The problem is that they lost a bunch of wingers in free agency and have a bunch of players due for regression. The situation for Stastny isn’t going to be great from a fantasy perspective, especially compared to how he ended last season in Winnipeg (it appears worse than St. Louis as well). Stastny was fine last season, but he looks to be more of an elite streamer than anything. Perhaps he’ll be a bottom end hold in 12’ers, but I wouldn’t expect more.
If I can get some feedback from you guys, I would greatly appreciate it. As of now, my thoughts are the following:
I start off doing rankings by position (forward, defenseman, goalie) instead of just one massive ranking list like in the past. Similarly to what Grey does with baseball, I will do a top 20 at each position, then top 40, etc. Once I’m done with that, I will still post a big overall list that will be more useful during drafts. Additionally, I will mix in some sleeper posts, and then others posts on prospects for those in dynasty leagues. I feel like the individual team previews didn’t provide a ton of value anyways besides the prospect portion, so I’ll leave the team previews to podcast form.
If there is anything else you would like me to write about, please let me know in the comments section below. The plan is to get going on a regular basis in the next two weeks, so I’ll have plenty of time before the season starts to cover a wide array of topics. Any other comments or suggestions that you have, let me know as always. Also, if you have any interest in writing for Razzball this year, please let me know below and I will reach out to you. It’s great to be back on Razzball, and I look forward to writing on the regular again very soon. Thanks for reading, take care!