I hope all you loyal Razzballers are doing well! We’re just over a month away from the NHL season starting, and with football starting tonight (Go Bills!), it’s time for people to transition to fantasy hockey drafts. I’m going to start my rankings next week, but for today, I’m going to look at every team’s offseason. Some teams made massive changes and will have a longer write up e.g. Calgary, and others who did minimal will have a short blurb e.g. the Islanders. Today, I’ll cover the Eastern Conference with the West coming Friday. Let’s get to it!
Boston Bruins: The return of David Krejci headlines Boston’s offseason moves. I’m not sure how much he has to give, but I expect Krejci to get 40 assists still with room for more. With all of the players they have missing to start the season, Krejci should step into PP1 and be a quality source of PPP and A right away. Pavel Zacha is their only other addition. We’ve seen signs from Zacha in the past, but he hasn’t put it together yet. Maybe he will now? He’s a decent late round flier.
Buffalo Sabres: The only move that has fantasy impact is the signing of Eric Comrie. He’s barely played in the NHL, but has been very good in his small sample. He was a great gamble by Buffalo compared to a lot of the other goalies there were free agents. The volume should be there for Comrie to be a solid #3 goalie target in drafts with upside to be a #2.
Detroit Red Wings: Yzerman sure kept busy this offseason. In net, they signed Ville Husso to a three year deal. I like the move for them as if last season was real, he’ll be in his prime when the rest of Detroit starts to peak. I like him as a middling #2. David Perron and Andrew Copp should both go on the second line right away. Perron should go in the middle rounds where Copp is more of a late round pick. Dominik Kubalik is a potential late flier. They signed some defensemen, but Simon Edvinsson is the new blueliner who should be good in fantasy (Ben Chiarot will have hits and blocks value). I’m a big fan of Edvinsson in dynasties, but for redrafts, I’d probably leave him undrafted to start.
Florida Panthers: Florida had the blockbuster of the summer acquiring Matthew Tkachuk. Expecting him to repeat last season’s 104 points is a stretch, but getting to play with Barkov will still be great for him. I need to dig in still to see if I have him as a late first round pick or a second round pick. Gustav Forsling gets a big boost now to where he should be drafted in all formats. They signed a bunch of cheap forwards but at this point, it’s too hard to say who will get an opportunity in the middle six.
Montreal Canadiens: This team is going to be horrible. It’s one of the worst defensive groups I’ve ever seen. They acquired Michael Matheson who could actually be pretty good for fantasy if he plays 22+ minutes. Evgenii Dadonov should get a lot of ice time with the hope for Montreal to flip him at the deadline so I have him as an elite streamer to start with upside. We’ll have to see if Juraj Slafkovsky will make the team out of camp but I’m not that excited about him for this season even if he’s up game one.
Ottawa Senators: For the first time in 5+ years, Ottawa has excitement around the organization. Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux are the big additions up front. They should play together with Stutzle and be a formidable second line. I think both of their values stay the same as before, but Stutzle gets a boost. Jake Sanderson should get solid ice time right away and has plenty of long term upside. Not sure about this season though. Cam Talbot should be a bottom end #2 goalie, although I don’t expect massive volume with how well Forsberg played last season.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Nothing but minor additions, with players moving out. We don’t know who will take Palat’s place in the top six yet, but that player (Paul?) could be a decent last round pick. Mikhail Sergachev could finally have the breakout with McDonagh leaving, opening up more minutes.
Toronto Maple Leafs: It’s all about the changes in net here. Out goes Campbell and Mrazek, in comes Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. I can’t understate how much I hate this for Toronto. Admittedly, goalies are voodoo, but Samsonov has shown nothing at the NHL level over 97 games, and Murray has been bad for three straight years. Yes, he had a good 10 game stretch last season, but he should be a downgrade from Campbell. Murray can probably be a #2 solely from piling up wins, but I’d be quite surprised if he was better than Campbell’s 2.64/.914 last season. I would be surprised if I own either on any teams this year.
Carolina Hurricanes: Carolina made two big moves this offseason, getting Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for nothing, and acquiring Brent Burns from the Sharks. The bad news is Patches is out until early 2023. He’s worth taking late just to stash. I like Coghlan, but he won’t get much of an opportunity. On the other hand, this could rejuvenate Burns. TDA is gone so Burns should go right onto the first PP in a setup where he shoots a ton like they did with Dougie. Also, he should play with Slavin meaning he’ll play with the puck a lot more than he has with the Sharks. I think Burns gets back to being a #2D again.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The stunner of the offseason was Columbus signing Johnny Gaudreau. The team in the NHL playing the most wide open offensive games will push it even further! Gaudreau takes a slight hit, mostly because he simply wasn’t going to repeat last season anyways. He should get a ton of points feeding Laine, but let’s just say the +64 won’t be repeating itself. This move helps Laine quite a bit and also should help Werenski in terms of PPP.
New Jersey Devils: Ondrej Palat was brought in to complement the young stars on the Devils. I’m not really looking to draft him, but there’s definitely a path to him being a bottom end hold. I generally shoot for the moon late in drafts, but if you want to play it safe or are in deep leagues, I think he has a high floor. Vitek Vanecek was the other big move. I see him as a #3 but don’t see a lot of upside. The Devils play an open game, and if they fire Ruff, Brunette will take over and they’ll play even more open.
New York Islanders: Their only move was trading for Alexander Romanov. I have no idea why they thought he was worth the 12th pick in the draft. No new fantasy developments.
New York Rangers: Vincent Trocheck signed a 7 year deal replacing Strome as the 2C. I like Trocheck as a middle to late round pick getting the boost for playing with Panarin. Their only other move of note was signing Jaroslav Halak to back up Igor. He’ll be worth streaming almost every game he plays.
Philadelphia Flyers: Besides bringing in Torts, Tony DeAngelo will now run PP1 in Philly. Philly looks destined to be quite terrible, but TDA’s PIM + SOG combo gives him a great fantasy floor. I’ll probably have him around 20th overall for defenseman off the top of my head.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Pittsburgh is basically running it back. They made some minor blue line swaps getting Jeff Petry and Ty Smith, but I don’t see much fantasy impact outside of deep leagues.
Washington Capitals: Darcy Kuemper comes in to be the #1 in Washington off a Stanley Cup victory. It won’t be as good as it was in Colorado, but I can’t see a Grubauer-style collapse either. I have him more in the bottom end #1 range now, although I can see upside for better. Dylan Strome signed a one year deal to fill the void Backstrom left due to injury. If we find out he’ll be on PP1 to start the year, I like him as a late round flier. Erik Gustafsson should be on the third pair and PP2 for those of you in deep leagues.
That’s all for now guys. It’s great to be back and I hope you all stick around for another great season. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below. I’ll be back tomorrow looking at the Western Conference. Thanks for reading, take care, and Go Bills!