Now that the dust from the UFA season has pretty much settled, many of the rosters around the league are beginning to take form. There is still one big fish left in the open market (Mats Sundin), but who knows when he will decide whether he wants to eat poutine or sushi next season. There are numerous players whose fantasy values have risen and fallen based on what has happened since July 1st. Here are a few of the players who will benefit from new situations or teammates.
First off, the news of Alex Radulov departing back to Russia was extremely shocking. This was not the player you would expect to go back. Radulov came over to North America to play his junior hockey and by all accounts was very open and engaging with the Canadian culture in Quebec. His decision to bolt from Nashville opens up a huge hole on their right side, and negatively affects every player on their team – save two. Martin Erat can play both wings (although he is more effective on the left side), and will now get a long look at the top line spot with JP Dumont and Jason Arnott. He is very skilled, but lacks the consistency to get to the next level. He could surprise with 75 points if everything works out for him. Another potential candidate for that line is unheralded Swedish scorer Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist has looked great at all international competitions recently, and he can score goals in bunches. He is a natural right wing and by far the best in the Predators prospect pool. He is a big time sleeper with 45-50 point upside next season.
Miroslav Satan hopes to corral his one-year deal with the Penguins into a big payday. If he earns the spot on Crosby’s right wing, he can expect to see some serious coin next summer. Satan is no Hossa, but he has top end skill and a deadly wrister. He is prone to lackadaisical stretches, but a one-year deal and Pittsburgh’s talented pivots may provide enough motivation for him to rekindle some old magic. Satan could sniff 65-70 points if he sees enough offensive minutes.
Steve Bernier has found himself the perfect situation in Vancouver. He is big, skilled, and shoots right, something that the Canucks have been after for quite some time. He is an obvious candidate to skate with the Sedin twins, who can spin magic with almost anyone skating on their right wing. Unlike previous line mates (Trent Klatt, Taylor Pyatt, Markus Naslund), Bernier complements the Sedins’ game both in terms of skill and physical play. He has a great shot at doubling his goal total from 2007-2008 (16).
The Rangers will have a very new look for this upcoming season, as both Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka have moved on to European clubs. Markus Naslund will get one of the top line spots with Scott Gomez, but the other is up in the air. Expect Nigel Dawes to earn it and be a big-time contributor in the Big Apple. Much like Gomez, Dawes can skate like the wind. He has a snipers shot and could blaze his way to a 25-30-goal season. Another sleeper to watch out of New York is Ryan Callahan. Callahan plays a feisty, two-way game but he has untapped offensive upside. He could see second line minutes this season.