Fantasy Impact: The Nashville Predators added their best player today. Alexander Radulov, out of the league for three seasons for the greener pastures of the KHL, has been released from his contract by his KHL club. He will now join the Preds for the stretch run - and the postseason.
The Predators get: a player who is probably a Top 20 forward in the world. It's tough to translate KHL success to the NHL, but we've seen Radulov's growing skillset at the NHL level before he left - and he was on track to becoming a Top 20 guy. One can only assume that he's reached that point. But potentially he could be as good as a Top 10 superstar, or a 'bust' that would rank him as low as, say, a Martin Erat-type (that is to say - serviceable, reasonably productive, but not great).
Fantasy Players Impacted: Two forwards are going to see a nice little boost. Which two? That's where the guesswork comes in. I would imagine that Coach Barry Trotz keeps the line of Sergei Kostitsyn, Mike Fisher and Martin Erat together. That would imply that David Legwand and Andrei Kostitsyn are the Lucky 2. At least, those two would get first crack. Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist are also candidates. Or Radulov could replace Erat, which would make Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher the Lucky 2. But at this point my money is on Legwand and A.K.
Two players who will definitely see an uptick are defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The added goals should notch each of them an extra couple of assists down the stretch.
At this point, the Radulov addition would probably remove Smith from the power play. But he was losing time there anyway. Hornqvist and the Kostitsyn brothers will also see a small reduction in PP time, but I think that would be counteracted by the added PP goals.
Radulov prediction (he is expected to play Thursday against Pittsburgh): 9-6-4-10
A bold prediction to be sure, but Radulov tends to make a splash when an big early impression is needed.
Playoff impact: Playoff pools around the world have just been transformed. Personally, I was targetting Predators regardless. Their trade deadline moves I thought were fantastic, and last year's experience (winning a round) also helps. Now they inject a 40-goal scorer into the mix and that's precisely what they were lacking. Be serious - would you be as quick to take Detroit Red Wings in your playoff pool now? The Red Wings and Predators are on a collision course and the pendulum just swung the other way.
Possible line combos:
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alexander Radulov
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Colin Wilson - Paul Gaustad/Craig Smith - Patric Hornqvist
G. Bourque/M. Halischuk - Nick Spaling/Smith - Jordin Tootoo
The Healthy Scratch Rotation:
In order of scratch likelihood - Brian MacGrattan, Jack MacLellan, Brandon Yip, Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
1. Wilson (depending on scratch situation)
2. Smith (depending on scratch situation)