Anterno Niittymaki joins a powerful Sharks squad in San Jose. (Jamie Hodgson/THN)
As usual, a slew of players changed addresses July 1 as unrestricted free agency kicked in. While some of the moves made fantasy owners cringe, others made us pump our fists – assuming we owned the player involved, of course. Here are several players who got a big boost in fantasy value thanks to their new team.
1. Antero Niittymaki, San Jose Sharks – His numbers have been reasonable the past three seasons behind rather weak defenses. He had the wins in Philadelphia thanks to a strong offense and he managed 21 wins behind a non-playoff Tampa team. In San Jose, behind the seventh stingiest defense in the league, his goals-against average and save percentage will improve in a big way. Not to mention that if the team nets 50 wins again, Niittymaki will claim 40 of them. Yes, going from a fringe fantasy goaltender to one who could possibly lead the league in every category constitutes a bit of a step up.
2. Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins – When Martin wrapped up the 2008-09 campaign with 21 points in 32 contests, he looked poised to have a major breakout. And why not? Martin, 28 at the time, was entering his prime and was New Jersey’s best quarterback option. A terrible wrist injury put those plans on the shelf for a season and now that he’s healthy, it will be the Penguins, not the Devils, who stand to benefit. Not only is Martin ready for his delayed breakout season, but his numbers will be further padded by dishing the puck to two of the NHL’s elite in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Martin’s career high is 37 points and adding 15 to 20 more in 2010-11 represents a mighty jump.
3. Alex Tanguay, Calgary Flames – He was left for dead on the fantasy market, but suddenly the Flames pick him back up and put his value on life support. Just three years ago he was averaging 70 points a year with Calgary and GM Darryl Sutter envisions him playing with Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla. Granted, he only managed 37 points last campaign playing half of his shifts with Vincent Lecavalier, but the news is still promising. Pencil him in for a conservative 50 points with upside and if another GM in your league is willing to give you more than that to take him off your hands, do it.
4. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, New York Islanders – Matt Moulson was a career minor leaguer approaching 26 years of age. He had some NHL cups of coffee, but continued to light up the scoreboards at the American League level. Then the Isles came calling and he played his first full NHL season, tallying 48 points. Parenteau, 27, is also a career minor leaguer who dominated in the AHL and has had several NHL appearances. He has signed a one-way deal with the Isles and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finish in that 45- to 50-point range, too. The key thing to remember is Moulson had 18 points in 21 games to kick things off and made huge waves in the fantasy world back in October and November. That early season success could be in store for Parenteau, so it may be good strategy to get in on him early and deal him by November.
5. Jeff Tambellini, Vancouver Canucks – He’s the winger’s version of Kyle Wellwood. Not overly physical or defensive, but can be very streaky when it comes to offense. A frequent healthy scratch on the Island last year, nobody needed a fresh start more than he did. With the top six in Vancouver already set, he’ll need an injury to free up a spot there for him. With ice time and consistent opportunity, he could get 30 points on the third line and 50-plus on the second line. Look for him to finish somewhere in the middle as he bounces back and forth. Of course, in the one-in-a-million chance he steals the spot on the Sedin line, all bets are off.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.