Trades and signings aren’t a boon to every player’s fantasy value. Which guys stand to decline in production because of off-season roster changes?
On Monday I explored which players have gained fantasy value based on off-season trades and signings so far. Some NHLers, however, lose value based on roster moves, whether it’s because they’re pushed down the depth chart by a new addition or because they’ve lost their key linemate to a trade or free agency.
Which players stand to produce less in 2015-16 based on summer transactions so far? Consider these names.
1. KARI LEHTONEN & ANTTI NIEMI, G
Ugh. The fantasy hockey world mourns the loss of two workhorses. In the past five seasons, only Carey Price has appeared in more games than Niemi and Lehtonen, who rank second and third, respectively. Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill stated publicly he has no intention of trading Lehtonen after signing Niemi, as Nill believes a timeshare will keep his goalies fresh and help his team overcome its difficult travel schedule. He may be right, but that’s no consolation to fantasy GMs. Goaltenders are going the way of the NFL running back, with committees increasingly common and bellcows becoming an endangered species. Niemi leaving San Jose for Dallas eliminates two stoppers from slam-dunk fantasy starter status, as both will play far less in 2015-16.
2. TYLER BOZAK, C & JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK, LW
Phil Kessel’s spike in fantasy value after a trade to Pittsburgh is a no-brainer, and the same goes for Toronto’s Bozak and van Riemsdyk tumbling in value. Bozak, Kessel’s best pal and longtime center, stands to suffer the most. Van Riemsdyk is a good enough goal scorer to have standalone value, but both Leafs are slated to regress without No. 81. A trade could help or further hurt Bozak’s value depending on where he lands.
3. DUSTIN BROWN, RW
Brown was still receiving sporadic opportunities to play on L.A.’s top line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, alternating with Justin Williams, so there was a hope Brown would get a much bigger shot if Williams left in free agency. Williams did leave, but the Milan Lucic trade knocks Brown down two lines on the depth chart. Lucic, a true left winger, was acquired to play with Kopitar and allow Gaborik to play on the right side. Brown will likely shift back to the third line, as coach Darryl Sutter likely won’t want to break up ‘That ’70s Line’ in the No. 2 spot. Brown is mighty useful in hits leagues, but his days as a front-line fantasy contributor are over. His bruising style has also rendered him an “old” 30.
4. T.J. BRODIE, KRIS RUSSELL AND DENNIS WIDEMAN, D
Don’t get me wrong. These three are integral parts of the Calgary blueline. But each is at risk of losing minutes after the Dougie Hamilton acquisition. Hamilton will join Mark Giordano as the team’s do-it-all, 25-minutes-a-night workhorses. If coach Bob Hartley decides to bust out the big guns and pair Giordano and Hamilton together, Brodie is most likely to lose major fantasy value, as Russell and Wideman have worked well together, meaning Brodie would slide to the third pairing. Hamilton could also cut into Wideman’s big chunk of power play minutes.
5. RYAN O’REILLY, C
I’m not saying O’Reilly will struggle as the Buffalo Sabres’ first-line center. He has perfectly solid projected linemates in Evander Kane and Tyler Ennis. But lest we forget who O’Reilly played with most often in Colorado: Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. Sorry, Kane and Ennis, but you are not Landeskog and MacKinnon. The Sabres are a team in transition and will still have their struggles in 2015-16. O’Reilly is a solid two-way player, but he’s not an elite offensive talent who makes everyone around him score more. Points will be a bit harder to come by.
OTHER FALLERS TO WATCH
Blake Comeau, LW: Likely Colorado’s third-line left winger. The run on Evgeni Malkin’s unit was fun while it lasted in Pittsburgh.
Ben Scrivens, G: The Cam Talbot trade all but ends Scrivens’ days as an NHL starter. The Anders Nilsson signing even puts Scrivens’ backup job in jeopardy.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin