Taking the week off from my Offseason Game Plan series, I am shifting focus to bring you a recap of moves that each team made from about July 1st (give or take) onward, and what the accompanying fantasy relevance is. Let’s get started!
Boston give Rask a short term contract at an affordable price that actually does two things from a fantasy perspective – (1) allows Rask the opportunity to prove he is worthy of a starting role and (2) provides the projected backup Anton Khudobin enough room to take over as the starter – if he can actually prove himself worthy. Khudobin taking over is certainly an uphill battle, but it is not entirely out of the question. Khokhlachev is one of the Bruins’ top prospects, so when the KHL talks started coming this offseason, it was beginning to look like he might be a risky investment from a fantasy perspective. Not to worry though as he has signed his ELC and is apparently committed to playing with Boston in his future. The year in the KHL could work well for his development, especially since the team he is rumored to join is managed by his father, Igor Khokhlachev.
The departure of Derek Roy should do marvels for the entire team’s performance. In a very simplified elaboration, the locker room is much happier when the stars on the team are made up of players who actually want to be on the team. This wasn’t the case for Roy and while the Sabres will have to find ways to make up for the drop in performance, they’ll be better for it long term. Steve Ott can play center, but apparently prefers to play on the wing. While Buffalo has stated they will continue to look for depth at center, the big winner in this circumstance is Cody Hodgson who is now penciled in for top line duty. Ott will slot into a second or third line role and provide the same type of production he did in Dallas, while Porter and Mancari are simply depth signings, and David Leggio is secured as the team’s third string goaltender. Bringing in John Scott gives Buffalo two defensemen who are 6’7” or higher (the other being 6’8” Tyler Myers). Regardless of how skilled a player is, it’s tougher when you have to maneuver against bodies that big. The end result could be a few less goals scored against and a moderate rise in plus/minus for the team.
Carolina Hurricanes – Traded away Brandon Sutter and Brian Dumoulin for Jordan Staal, then inked Staal to a 10-year contract; signed Joe Corvo and Brett Sutter to one-year contracts and Justin Peters to a two-year contract.
The biggest news is obviously Jordan Staal coming in to town. There have already been rumors that the Staals will play on the same line and Jordan would be in the middle, pushing Eric to the wing. Eric had a very hard time finding chemistry in the first half of last season, so assuming he and his brother click fairly early, both could be in line for significant fantasy increases, although their positional eligibility might shift value a bit depending on your league structure. Regardless of which line Skinner plays on (the Staal line or second line), he should see a benefit as well – more talent in the lineup to defend could be the difference between a few extra points. Corvo is back in Carolina, a city where he has seen some of the best years of his career, and he should definitely slot into the top four, perhaps manning the top power play unit, depending of course upon the health of the oft-injured Joni Pitkanen. Brian Boucher recently had surgery and will miss 4-6 months, making the Peters signing that much more important. As of now Peters will start the year as backup, and if he performs well enough, Boucher may just be out of a job.
Florida had been rumored to be the front-runner for Luongo, so the re-signing of Clemmensen was an interesting one. They had success last season with the Theodore-Clemmensen duo and it appears they are ready to go with that same mix next year. Both goalies still hold a fair amount of value and since Theodore is not likely to play over 60 games, Clemmensen will carry more fantasy value than most backups. Parros does not have any fantasy significance as he will not get in the lineup enough to even be a consistent PIM contributor. Kuba is the man Florida will attempt to replace Garrison with, and although he is 35 years old, he has scored at least 30 points in four of the last six seasons (remember Garrison only had 33 last year). Locking up Ellerby rounds out the defense. This team is chalk full of up and coming prospects, and because no additional forwards were acquired, it is looking like the mix of guys like Huberdeau, Shore, Howden, etc. will have plenty of opportunity to make the team.
Montreal Canadiens – Signed Carey Price to a six-year contract, signed Travis Moen and Brandon Prust to four-year contracts, signed Alexei Emelin, Lars Eller, and Brendon Nash to two-year contracts, signed Colby Armstrong, Petteri Nokelainen, Cedrick Desjardins, Ryan White, Mike Blunden, Francis Boullion, and Frederic St-Denis to one-year contracts.
The Canadiens were quite busy the last couple of weeks, but they locked up their starting goalie for six years and solidified their depth by bringing in Desjardins (on a two-way deal). They also worked very hard at solidifying their forward depth by re-signing guys like Moen, Nokelainen, and White, and bringing in Prust and Armstrong. For a team that finished third-worst in the league (and worst in the East), the forward depth will go a long way in turning things around. Their top six/top nine could probably use some improvements in the skill department, but for now they appear to be happy with who they have – and for the record they are not buying out Scott Gomez. This club will need to find more ways to score next season, but for now they have effectively addressed their defensive/shut down forwards and locked up their goaltending.
The Devils effectively bought themselves some time on finding a replacement for Brodeur post-retirement, and will run with the proven mix of Brodeur and Hedberg for the next two years. There were rumors Salvador might walk, but he ultimately chose to stay in New Jersey. Janssen and Barch are fairly irrelevant fantasy signings, but important depth moves. The biggest move came with the departure of Parise, and the question that follows is what will happen to the offense in New Jersey. The biggest person slated for a bigger role will be Adam Henrique, who has proven himself to be worthy of ice time in critical situations with clutch performance. That being said, Zajac is most likely to line up with Kovalchuk and unless Henrique gets a star winger to skate with, his performance will not be nearly as high as it could be. He is still going to be a solid player, but he’ll need some support to reach that next level. The danger for New Jersey is that opponents will have fewer stars to cover now, but it also opens the door for guys like Tedenby and Josefson to finally elevate their game.
NY Islanders – Acquired Lubomir Visnovsky, Signed Matt Carkner to a three-year contract, signed Brad Boyes, Eric Boulton, Matt Watkins, Jon Landry, Colin McDonald, and Brandon DeFazio to one-year contracts. Lost PA Parenteau to Colorado.
The two big moves in Long Island were acquiring Visnovsky and losing Parenteau to free agency. Visnovsky had an atrocious year last season, but is well aware and has even called it the worst year of his career. He is certainly eager for a strong rebound and is just one year removed from a 68-point campaign. Having Visnovsky and Streit on the blue line will certainly help, but the team desperately needed some grit on the back end as well, which is why they targeted Matt Carkner. Up front, there is an opening on the top line with Parenteau gone and Okposo is most likely to see a big production increase. If the Isles keep Nielsen centering the third line, it is possible that they might have two scoring lines, depending on the development of guys like Niederreiter, Grabner, Bailey, and Strome. Regardless, the Islanders have made subtle improvements and appear to be in a position to finally convert some of their prospects into NHL assets.
The Biron signing solidifies the goaltending in New York for two more years. Lundqvist has and will continue to be the man in New York, but Biron has proved to be a reliable backup who can provide breathing room in small doses while Lundqvist carries the bulk of the workload. With his new contract, Arron Asham will now have played for all five of the Atlantic Division teams. He will bring some grit and occasional offense. Pyatt is an interesting addition, as he will likely slot in for bottom minutes, but may get a look or two with Brad Richards or Derek Stepan, depending on the Rangers’ injury situation. Haley and Bickel are merely depth additions. Although they still need to re-sign Del Zotto and/or Stralman, they have over $15M in cap space and have most of last season’s 109-point roster still intact. Regardless of what they do in the playoffs, this Rangers team will have plenty of fantasy relevant players next season.
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