So much has happened around the NHL over the past 72 hours that to effectively analyze the impact on fantasy-relevant players, I’ll be breaking it into three columns.
Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning
Callahan has been playing on a line with Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards. With Tampa, he could get an early look with Steven Stamkos. But the consolation prize is either Val Filppula or Tyler Johnson at center and Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat on the far wing. Either way, I consider it an upgrade offensively. His current pace this season suggests that he will post 11 points in the final 20 games. Instead, look for 13 or 14 plus a big bump in hits. My guess is that Callahan will play with Stamkos and Killorn, with Palat and Johnson staying together on another line.
Jaroslav Halak, Washington Capitals
From good to bad to good again, Halak’s pendulum-like fantasy value has swung wildly over the past week. But now it has landed on ‘good’ and there it will remain unless and until he gets injured. The Capitals are in a place now where they want to ride a No.1 goalie hard down the stretch. Halak will start 15 of the 19 remaining games, as the team has four back-to-backs which Brayden Holtby will start one game in each. Halak sits at 24 wins right now and winning 11 of those 15 games to get him to 35 on the season is feasible, though challenging.
Ales Hemsky, Ottawa Senators
Hemsky was seeing time on the third line in Edmonton, as well as second unit power play time. In Ottawa, that will change. It didn’t change in his debut Wednesday night, but it will change – trust me. As a bonus, he gets to play with Jason Spezza. And with all due respect to Sam Gagner, this is a serious upgrade. Granted, Spezza did not click at all with Bobby Ryan and who’s to say that it won’t happen again. But at least Hemsky gets a shot there.
Matt Moulson, Minnesota Wild
Mikael Granlund had a problem. He was clicking very nicely with Zach Parise, posting 12 points in his past 10 games. But with Mikko Koivu back in the lineup, that spot was in jeopardy. They did keep the line together Monday, but as soon as things slowed Granlund would be out and Koivu back in. Now that the Wild have added Matt Moulson, Koivu has a legitimate sniper on his wing (all due respect to Dany Heatley, who left his sniper scope in San Jose). The domino effect – Granlund’s spot is safe. As for Moulson, I don’t think Koivu and Charlie Coyle make for a huge upgrade on Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis (his Buffalo linemates), but it is an upgrade. With 20 games left, look for eight goals and 15 points.
Martin St-Louis, New York Rangers
I think poolies look at this situation wrong, thinking that St-Louis will suffer without Steven Stamkos. But the reverse is true. St-Louis continued his point-per-game pace without Stamkos. He produced whether he was on a line with Stamkos or with Vincent Lecavalier. But take St. Louis off of Lecavalier or Stamkos’ line and those two players took a hit in their production of about 10 percent. That being said, Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards are a step down from Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. If you lower the quality of his linemates enough, it will eventually start impacting the production. With 19 games left, look for 17 points.
Lee Stempniak, Pittsburgh Penguins
Currently, with Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett sidelined long term, the Penguins are employing Brian Gibbons on the wing with Sidney Crosby. That’s not ideal and we all knew that he was a placeholder. Well now we know who the place was being held for – Stempniak. While Stempniak isn’t going to shoot the lights out, he does make a splash when he joins a new club. We remember Phoenix in 2010 when Stempniak was traded there at the deadline and scored 14 goals in 18 games. His odds of doing that again on Crosby’s line are decent. With 21 games left, I’m thinking at least 12, but potential or more. Risk/reward here.
Tim Thomas, Dallas Stars
Thomas’ numbers behind a weak team were adequate. Behind a strong team his stats would be well above average. He’s still a starting-caliber goaltender at 39. But now he’s behind Kari Lehtonen who is arguably better. And regardless if Lehtonen is better – he’s the Golden Boy so he’ll get the bulk of the starts. Thomas’ value is now useless in fantasy leagues.
Thomas Vanek, Montreal Canadiens
No longer playing with John Tavares (which was the case anyway, thanks to JT’s injury) and Kyle Okposo, Vanek is looking at lining up with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. That’s a pretty steep downgrade, but I just don’t see the Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher line breaking up. So Vanek will play with a couple of 50-point players. He was better off in Buffalo! Sorry Vanek owners, but all I see here is an initial splash that a player often has with a new team that tapers off. With 18 games left, his current pace indicates that he’ll get another 16 points. Look for 14 or 15, though, with much of that coming in the first week. The loser here is Alex Galchenyuk, who will see a decrease in power play and ice time.
In Part 2 (Monday), we’ll look at the rest of the key players moved – David Legwand, Martin Erat, Roberto Luongo, Marian Gaborik, Tuomo Ruutu, Cory Conacher, Michal Neuvirth, Dustin Penner
In Part 3 (Thursday, March 13) I’ll run through the key prospects who changed organizations: Hudson Fasching, Sebastian Collberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Brayden McNabb, Chris Brown and David Rundblad.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.