Which free agents and traded players will have the biggest impact on your fantasy hockey league? Our expert Darryl Dobbs weighs in with his opinion.
Lots of movement last week and not just the free agent signings. There were some pretty big trades going down as well. Here are the biggest – and what they mean to fantasy hockey:
Steve Downie, Pittsburgh Penguins
The only reason Downie isn’t a heavy buy right now is because of his constant injuries. However, when he does play he will be gold on this team. With mentor Rick Tocchet as one of the assistant coaches, Downie should have his act together and better pick his spots. And because of the occasional spot start on a Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin line, his production will increase as well. Mostly he’ll be on the Brandon Sutter line, but in the end if he can play 65 games he should be good for 35 points and 150 PIM.
Christian Ehrhoff, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ehrhoff will go from 33 points and minus-27 last year to 45 points and plus-20 in 2014-15.
Mikhail Grabovski/Nikolai Kulemin, New York Islanders
The fantasy impact here is not so much what these players will do offensively, but how it impacts the lineup. Two more forwards will make it more difficult for Anders Lee and Ryan Strome to see quality ice time. And Cory Conacher’s brief window of hope lasted just under 24 hours. He looked good for a roster spot when he signed on July 1, but the next day when Grabovski and Kulemin were signed Conacher looks like the odd man out.
Jonas Hiller, Calgary Flames
Karri Ramo’s hot finish to the season was all for naught, as Hiller is now the de facto No.1. Not that it will be any big prize, since they play in Calgary. But Hiller should still eke out 25 wins.
Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins
The highest-impact fantasy move in the last year, let alone the last week. Hornqvist just went from being a steady 50-point player to a possible 70-point player or more. In my rankings this month he shot up 96 spots thanks to his trade, as he will be earmarked for the Evgeni Malkin line.
Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche
Iginla finds himself in a more offensively friendly system than what was in Boston, with a more talented linemate in Nathan MacKinnon. Then again, he didn’t do a whole lot on a line with Sidney Crosby a couple of seasons ago, so nothing is guaranteed. But he should improve upon his 61 points from 2013-14. And his guidance will prove to be very important to MacKinnon’s development into a superstar.
Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks
The Miller signing actually has a negative impact in fantasy hockey. It kills the fantasy value of both Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, to the point where Markstrom is looking to move to another organization. Vancouver is in rebuild mode, so Miller is looking at 25 wins and not much more than that. Lack could win the same amount of games, had the team just stuck with him. But now he’ll be lucky to win 10.
James Neal, Nashville Predators
From Malkin’s linemate to Colin Wilson’s. That’s quite the drop. Just as Hornqvist shot up 96 spots in my fantasy rankings, Neal dropped 40. He’ll help Wilson and whoever else is on the line (Craig Smith?). But his own point total will drop. Think 60 or 65 points now.
Brad Richards, Chicago Blackhawks
Richards is a shadow of the player that he once was, but his name still holds a lot of value in fantasy hockey. Add that to the fact that he has joined the mighty Blackhawks and he is most definitely overvalued. Richards is probably not going to tally much more than 50 points, so treat him accordingly. Meanwhile, his signing impacts youngsters such as Teuvo Teravainen and Jeremy Morin, who are on the cusp of being NHLers.
Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars
Now that Spezza is the third-best forward on the team (and possibly the fourth-best, given how quickly Valeri Nichushkin is developing), he should be able to flourish. He’ll get back up to being a point-per-game player, which would give Dallas three of them. Don’t count on 80 games, as he’s a little fragile, but when he does play he will help boost the totals of those around him such as defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Paul Stastny, St. Louis Blues
Stastny’s arrival represents a big shift in the line combinations for the Blues. But Stastny is coming off of a 60-point season and with St. Louis it will be more of the same. So his impact is more on the lineup changes. Suddenly, Vladimir Sobotka sees less of the ‘prime’ ice time. And will Patrik Berglund get a sniff of the power play now?
Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild
Like Stastny, Vanek’s personal point totals will remain virtually unchanged, but his arrival impacts others. In the case of Mikael Granlund, this is a good thing. Granlund is the likely linemate for Vanek and that duo could do some great things. On the negative side, Jason Zucker was looking to make this team for good and get himself on a scoring line. That quest just became pretty formidable.
Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks
Jason King, Anson Carter and Alex Burrows. Not a true sniper among them, yet all spent significant time on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who in turn gave them a nice production boost. This could have been in short spurts (as with King), or over the long haul (as with Burrows). Well now they have Vrbata, who tallied 35 goals two years ago without their help. The potential for career highs for Vrbata is pretty significant.
Worth a mention
Matt Moulson returns to Buffalo, where he just left four months ago. Impact will be minimal because he is a 50- or 55-point player regardless of his team, and, the Sabres pretty much held his spot for him…The Blues signing Jori Lehtera will turn out to be an underrated move. It says here he will top 40 points right off the bat, and show potential for more in another season or two…Mathieu Perreault will probably see more opportunity in Winnipeg than he did in Anaheim. He will top his career high of 43 points that he just set last season…Ales Hemsky is a player on the decline, though he was on a 68-point pace when he ended last season on Spezza’s line. That’s where he will be again this year. Hemsky does not play a full season as he is very injury prone, so assume a 65-point pace but only over the course of 65 games (so 50 or 55 points).