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The best fantasy hockey signings from the 2010 summer....
Every year fantasy hockey poolies pay very close attention to the movement on July 1st (and July 5th this season). Big names change teams all over the league. This not only has a significant impact on the production of these players, but on their former and future teammates, as well.
With that being said, let’s look back at some of the best fantasy hockey signings from the past few years. Not all of them were among the best players available in their respective free agency class – finding the right fit is often just as important as overall talent. A change of scenery, more ice time, less competition, a better team, a different coach – these are just some of the factors that can impact the production of a player.
At the time, many thought the Senators were bringing in a soon-to-be-washed up veteran. Pittsburgh didn’t want to pay Gonchar $5 million, and they were content with Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang as their offensive defensemen.
Gonchar proved his doubters wrong, putting in three strong seasons with the Senators. He is now signed up for two more years in Dallas.
The lesson here: don’t write off veteran players just because they are old. Those who stay in shape and maintain their passion for the game can play at an elite level for a long time. And I found the forum post from back in 2010, too.
Toni Lydman wasn’t a fantasy stud in Buffalo, and he didn’t become one in Anaheim, either. However, he is a very good defensive defenseman, and the Sabres REALLY missed him on the back end. Call it residual fantasy value – without Lydman, Buffalo’s overall team defense (and the fantasy value of its goaltenders) suffered.
The lesson here: just because a player isn’t a fantasy stud himself, he can have a significant positive impact on his new team (or negative impact on the team he left).
Kevin Bieksa never ended up getting traded, but the writing appeared to be on the wall at the time.
Hamhuis was an established two-way stud with the Predators, but his offensive numbers had taken a hit after he was placed in a shutdown role. He didn’t play much on the PP in Nashville. With the Canucks, he was given more offensive minutes, and has quietly developed (or maintained) his status as one of the best two-way defensemen in hockey. Hamhuis doesn’t get much PP time with the Canucks, but they are a more offensive team than Nashville.
The lesson here: going to a more offensive team can help a player’s production, even if his role doesn’t change all that much.
Parenteau would go on to establish himself as one of the best playmaking wingers in hockey, but not many people batted an eye at this signing. He even had to share his press release with three other Islander signings.
The lesson here: the best signings aren’t always the biggest. Keep an eye on the depth guys, and look to see where they will fit in with their new team. We will do our best to provide this type of coverage with our instant fantasy analysis of every signing/trade. Once in a while the odd signing (like this one) slips through the cracks, though.
It took Martin a season to show why the Penguins were smart to give him a lot of money. He tried to do too much in his first year, as he had the massive expectations of his long-term contract to live up to.
The lesson here: some players can’t handle getting the big pay day. At least not right away. They try and change their games. Be patient. Martin was Pittsburgh’s best defensive defenseman in 2013, and he moves the puck well, too. He has fantasy value in multi-category leagues, but he was a write-off in the eyes of many after really struggling in year one with Pittsburgh. Martin spent his entire career in New Jersey, where his steady and unflashy playing style kept him out of the spotlight. He wasn’t ready for it.
The ageless Ray Whitney going to Phoenix wasn’t a move that received a lot of attention. It should have, though. Whitney went on to have a very productive couple of years in the desert – 57 and 77 points, respectively.
The lesson here: as I wrote above with Gonchar, age is just a number (and I was wrong in my analysis of this move at the time). Pay closer attention to who the player is, and how his career has developed/progressed. Whitney was a late bloomer, and there is no questioning his passion for hockey. He went to a non-offensive club in Phoenix, but he was given a lot of ice time in scoring situations. Sometimes that matters just as much.
2011 and 2012 will be coming over the next few days, and Dobber, Mike Amato, and I will be around to provide comprehensive free agency coverage on July 5th (and beyond).