Fantasy Hockey 2013: Offseason Moves Making Headlines
The 2013 NHL Draft is in the books, Free Agency is in full swing and players are off to new homes, which warrants the immediate attention of fantasy analysts everywhere.
Yes, I know it’s July and Fantasy Hockey isn’t exactly the most talked about sport, but there have simply been too many offseason moves already to ignore. I figured it would be an ideal time to highlight some of the more significant signings and trades, and discuss which ones will have the biggest fantasy impact.
1) Bobby Ryan traded to Ottawa Senators
This trade really grinds my gears. Mostly because I’m a Flyers fan, and there have been ongoing rumors about Ryan and Philly for months now. Sigh… Anyway, Ryan is headed to Ottawa now, so the trade rumors have finally been put to bed. After the Sens watched captain Daniel Alfredsson leave via free agency, they went out and acquired one of the best young wingers in all of hockey. Ryan is a perennial 30-goal scorer, having reached the mark in four straight seasons, prior to this year’s shortened one. However, Ryan can do more than just score. If your league gives out points for PIMs (penalty minutes), Ryan can provide value there as well. He is a physical, gritty player that has accumulated 195 PIMs from 2009-2012. I think Ryan will mesh well with the Senators, assuming their core can stay healthy. This powerplay unit will be deadly, consisting of a sniper like Ryan, the best offensive defenseman in hockey in Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza. From 2009-2012, Karlsson has posted point totals of 26, 45 and 78. Ryan will benefit from Karlsson’s offensive touch. Meanwhile, Spezza can score too, posting four 30-goal seasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan saw a career high in assists next season. However, with two pass-first players on the same man advantage as him, Ryan could also flirt with 40 goals, which would make him an elite option in fantasy land.
2) Tyler Seguin traded to Dallas Stars
Not many people expected Seguin to be a trade option, but the Bruins shipped their young stud off to Dallas, in exchange for Loui Eriksson and a few other pieces. It was interesting to see Seguin get dealt, considering he is only 21-years old and isn’t anywhere near the prime of his career. But the Bruins must have felt like they had plenty of weapons without him, and got something for him. Seguin will likely center Dallas’ first line alongside Jamie Benn. I think his fantasy value takes a hit because Dallas just doesn’t have as many capable weapons as the Bruins do. Meanwhile, I love the move for Eriksson. Playing in Dallas, he was a vastly underrated winger. He’ll switch over to right wing and replace recently departed Nathan Horton, a major upgrade if you ask me. Eriksson is a guy who will post 70-point seasons (three in his career) and has a very versatile skill set. A two-way forward that should fit well into Boston’s unit. Which line he will play on remains unseen, but whether it’s the first or second, he’ll have more talent around him than he ever did in Dallas.
3) Philadelphia Flyerssign Vincent Lecavalier
After the Flyers let one veteran winger go (Danny Briere), they wasted no time going out and acquiring another. Despite having a list of ten or so teams, Lecavalier liked what the Flyers had to say best, and now, he’ll be joining the Orange and Black. The Flyers have plenty of depth at the center position, so it’s expected that he will slide over to a wing position on the team’s second line. Lecavalier still has a lot left in the tank, and despite many people thinking he is too old, the former Lightning captain is only 33. He has the pedigree and offensive touch that Philadelphia has needed at the winger position since they lost Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk. He’s scored at least 20 goals in every season besides his rookie year and last year’s shortened season, including one 50-goal campaign. While Lecavalier stated that he would love to play on the first unit with burgeoning superstar Claude Giroux, it seems more likely that he’ll be slotted into the team’s second line. Playing in a city like Philadelphia, expect him to play even more physical, which could result in some added penalty minutes. I think the veteran is in line for a very productive season. I have him projected for 25 goals and 31 assists, making for a fantasy relevant option.
4) Cory Schneider traded to New Jersey Devils
How many times have we heard trade rumors regarding both Schneider and former teammate, Roberto Luongo? Too many to count, I presume. Well, the first significant trade on draft day involved Schneider, as he was sent to the Devils for the 9th overall pick. The funny thing about this trade? Other teams were offering more than just a pick. Anyway, Schneider is in New Jersey and will be their goalie of the future. A guy by the name of Martin Brodeur is still in the picture, but who better for a relatively young Schneider (27) to learn from? From Vancouver’s end, this solidifies that Luongo will be “the guy” if he does in fact return to the Canucks. There is still no guarantee yet, as he is still looking at his options. Meanwhile, Schneider has always had a ton of upside, and it’ll be exciting to watch him whenever he is officially the number one option between the New Jersey pipes.
5) Mike Ribiero signs with Phoenix Coyotes
Ribiero will go from a team with elite goal-scoring weapons, to an unattractive offense in Phoenix. The Coyotes signed him to a four-year, $22 million deal on the first day of free agency. It’s a good move for the Coyotes, but not a great one for Ribiero’s fantasy prospects. An elite playmaker, Ribeiro has accumulated 423 assists throughout his career. He’ll help some of Phoenix’s younger guys get opportunities, but won’t have nearly the same outcome as he did in Washington. Alongside Alexander Ovechkin and company on the power play, Ribiero scored more than half of his 2013 points on the man advantage. I’m not convinced that Phoenix’s offensive core can provide nearly the same skill and numbers that Ribeiro saw in the nation’s capital. He’s still a guy to draft next year, but don’t expect out-of-this-world point totals.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.