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NHL Fantasy Hockey Hot Takes: Off-Season Trades

While everyone’s focused on dollars and terms during free agency, the trade market often gets overlooked and flies under the radar. Here’s a look at some key player movements and their fantasy values going into the 2022-23 season.
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While everyone’s focused on dollars and terms during free agency, the trade market often gets overlooked and flies under the radar. A few surprising deals were made – Hot Dorion Summer, anyone? - and quite a few involved goalies as teams scrambled to find starters in a market well short of quality options.

Here’s a look at some key player movements and their fantasy values going into the 2022-23 season.

Alex DeBrincat, Ottawa Senators

Not only is DeBrincat in a contract year, he now has more than one player – Patrick Kane, in case they were any doubts – to help him generate offense. The Sens’ top six is downright scary with the amount of talent they have, and though they’re still very young, they have some interesting options at center including Tim Stutzle, Claude Giroux, Josh Norris and Shane Pinto. DeBrincat scored 41 goals twice without much help; imagine what he can do now. Value: Up.

Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche

Of all the players to switch addresses, Georgiev benefits the most as he will no longer have to fight Igor Shesterkin for playing time. The Rangers are expected to ride Shesterkin like they did with Henrik Lundqvist; i.e. they’re not going to play their backup very much. In Colorado, Georgiev gets a chance to battle for the starting job with Pavel Francouz, who is six years older and has far less long-term upside. This is Georgiev’s big chance to prove himself, and note he played very well in early December and early April last season when he got consistent playing time. He should be taken off the draft board quickly given his potential as the starter for the defending champions. Value: Way up.

Max Pacioretty, Carolina Hurricanes

Vegas jettisoned a quality player for the second straight year for essentially nothing. Pacioretty battled injuries all season but remained a point-per-game player and a high-volume shooter when healthy. That’s a rare and valuable asset in fantasy, and though he won’t share the ice with Mark Stone and it remains to be seen who will center him, Pacioretty has proven to be a reliable scorer anywhere he plays. If anything, he’s just made everyone else on the Canes a lot better. Value: Even.

Connor Brown, Washington Capitals

Brown is an ideal fit to play with Alex Ovechkin, who will not have Tom Wilson on his opposite wing as he recovers from injury. That alone will give Brown a huge boost in fantasy, not to mention Brown is in his contract year. The Sens have made huge improvements so it’s a bummer Brown isn’t sticking around, but compared to last season, Brown is still going into a situation where he stands to improve his scoring output. Value: Up.

Brent Burns, Carolina Hurricanes

Burns’ supporting cast will be better and he’s finally free from a moribund franchise that still needs to shed a lot of big contracts before they become a good team again. Burns fills a huge need in Carolina for a right-handed defenseman and gives them a proper power play quarterback to replace Tony DeAngelo. He’ll help a power play that struggled in the postseason and performed below expectations during the season, and may also push his production back into the 60-point range with his first positive plus-minus in four seasons. Value: Way up.

Cam Talbot, Ottawa Senators

The writing was on the wall when the Wild elected to bring back Marc-Andre Fleury, who was acquired at the trade deadline and – controversially – named the starter for Game 1. Talbot now heads to Ottawa where he will be the 1A ahead of Anton Forsberg, and the Sens are primed to make a playoff run. Talbot’s increased playing time gives him a fantasy boost and he’s also in a contract year. Value: Slightly up.

Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs

You never quite know what you’ll get in Murray. The Leafs made a gamble after declining to make a long-term commitment to Jack Campbell, and time will tell if this is the right move. Ilya Samsonov was signed as an insurance policy and he will push Murray for playing time, and goaltending – once again – is the biggest question mark for the Leafs going into the season. Until Murray, who was demoted to the AHL last season, can regain his form, he remains a high-risk, high-reward fantasy asset. Playing on a good team will help him win games, but he seems to be always on the verge of imploding. Value: Up, because Murray’s back in the show and playing on a good team, but it’s cautious optimism.

Tony DeAngelo, Philadelphia Flyers

I’m not sure how DeAngelo and John Tortorella will get along, but note that Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov are still around, and they’re both better options at 5-on-5. Chuck Fletcher is a mixed bag when it comes to building a team, and they were quick to nab DeAngelo the moment the Canes were ready to move on from him. He surely won’t get the same quality of players to work with in Philly as he did in Carolina. Value: Down.

Vitek Vanecek, New Jersey Devils

Training camp will likely dictate who will be the 1A and 1B between Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood. Blackwood is the incumbent so he has the inside track as Vanecek waits to ink his new deal, but both goalies have had stretches where they’ve looked excellent and stretches where they look like they’re on the verge of washing out. A fresh start should help Vanecek, and unlike the Caps, who are staying afloat if not trending down as their Cup window closes, the Devils are on the upswing and present an opportunity to really surprise. Value: Even.

Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings

Husso will push Alex Nedeljkovic for playing time with a chance to take the starting job, considering how many times Nedeljkovic – and Thomas Greiss, now in St. Louis in what was essentially a goalie swap – had to get pulled, sometimes in the same game. Husso took a backseat in the playoffs after Jordan Binnington regained his form, but it’s clear Husso has the chops to be a starter for small stretches. Look for an even split while the Wings continue to find their footing, but on a young roster with lots of new pieces, they won’t be nearly as consistent as the Blues, especially with their defensive structure. Value: Slightly down until the Wings prove to be a competitive team.

Petr Mrazek, Chicago Blackhawks

The clear upside is that it’s Mrazek’s crease, win or lose. The Blackhawks will not be a good team, so Mrazek will be a good option for fantasy managers who want to rack up the saves, but just about everything else – win totals, save percentage, goals against – will be a total disaster. And that’s even if Mrazek manages to stay healthy. Value: Way down, because he’s probably not worth the trouble.

Kirby Dach, Montreal Canadiens

Entering his fourth full season, one of which was cut short by injury, it’s time Dach broke out. The former third overall pick gets a fresh start with a coach that has gotten a lot out of his players so far, so that’s a really good sign. Other than Cole Caufield, who will play with Nick Suzuki, the Habs don’t have any other elite wingers to pair with Dach – not counting first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky – but getting out of Chicago already counts as a win. A move to the Habs puts Dach into late-round value pick territory in deep leagues. Value: Up.

Pavel Zacha, Boston Bruins and Erik Haula, New Jersey Devils

Zacha and Haula were swapped for each other and it represents more of a stylistic change as Zacha plays a much heavier game, but he’s far more inconsistent. Zacha’s fantasy value is capped if the Bruins bring back both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, as has been rumored, and Haula will take some pressure off Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. It’s a change of scenery for Zacha and a bigger checking role for Haula, which means both players remain marginal fantasy assets. Value: Zacha, even; Haula, slightly down.

Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders

Romanov is an effective defenseman who has yet to really make an offensive impact. The Isles blueline is a bit crowded and they already have a premier puck mover in Noah Dobson. At best, Romanov is a No. 4 behind Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, which will cut into quality playing time. Romanov goes from a potential top-four on a young team to a team that will rely on veterans as they challenge for the Cup. Value: Down. 

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