Marc-Andre Gragnani led the Sabres with seven points in seven playoff games this past season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Now that the free agent frenzy dust has settled, let’s take a look at some of the players who saw their value jump or slip dramatically, despite not having done anything. These players sit idly by while they watch a key teammate leave or a new teammate arrive. Suddenly, they are up or down the depth chart, or they’re feeding the puck to somebody new. Here are the players impacted most.
10. Jason Pominville, Buffalo
Not only was he often on the point of the power play, but he was entrenched in the Sabres’ top six. The arrival of Christian Ehrhoff and the emergence of Andrej Sekera and Marc-Andre Gragnani have removed him from that plum PP spot. The arrival of Ville Leino has kicked Pominville off the top two lines.
9. Jason LaBarbera, Phoenix
Backing up Mike Smith is a lot different than backing up Ilya Bryzgalov. Even if Smith is happy, LaBarbera will see much more action - and just think of the potential if Smith gets hurt which, let’s face it, happens a lot.
8. Shawn Matthias/Jack Skille, Florida
In February, these two youngsters were looking like steals in the fantasy hockey world. Matthias was playing the best hockey of his career and Skille, a first round draft pick of GM Dale Tallon’s when he was in Chicago, was being treated as a top-liner. Injuries derailed the end of their seasons and the trades and free agent signings by Tallon have threatened their spot on the roster, let alone on a scoring line.
7. Viktor Stalberg, Chicago
Moving out Troy Brouwer sure helped Stalberg’s prospects for 2011-12. But then GM Stan Bowman had to go and acquire Rostislav Olesz, Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo and Jamal Mayers. Instead of fighting for a second-line spot, Stalberg will battle with John Scott to stay out of the press box.
6. Matt D’Agostini, St. Louis
D’Agostini gets no respect.
“Almost a point-per-game player the last 20 games? Well, T.J. Oshie is healthy now, so back to the fourth line with you.”
“Fourteen two-point games? Bah! Andy McDonald has returned, so back to the fourth line with you.”
D’Agostini was there for the Blues, providing offense when their supposed big guns were injured. He’s there for them again at a discounted rate and what do they do? Sign vets Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott. With David Perron possibly coming back from a concussion, can D’Agostini even get into the top nine? If so, at whose expense?
5. Dustin Jeffrey, Pittsburgh
The impressive, overachieving youngster is a natural center, but with the Penguins he is being converted to the wing. So when the team re-signed Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy and added Steve Sullivan, Jeffrey’s promising shot on a line with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin disappeared.
4. Loui Eriksson, Dallas
It doesn’t matter which side of the chicken-or-the-egg fence you sit on, losing Brad Richards hurts. I happen to believe Eriksson made Richards more than Richards made Eriksson, but even so, the chemistry they shared will be hard to duplicate. Fortunately, it looks like Jamie Benn will get the first shot as Eriksson’s center and that’s a pretty solid replacement.
3. Michal Neuvirth, Washington
Whew! They got rid of that pesky Semyon Varlamov! Now Neuvirth owners can watch him get 65 starts and probably flirt with an NHL record number of wins. What’s that? Tomas Vokoun signed with the Caps for how much? D’oh!
2. Brandon Dubinsky, N.Y. Rangers
Dubinsky won 459 of 875 faceoffs this past season en route to a career-high 54 points. Now that the Rangers have Richards, Dubinsky can’t play center. Derek Stepan is going to be a top center in this league, so keeping him as the No. 2 is essential. Artem Anisimov provides enough offense and two-way play to be an effective third-liner. So Dubinsky will probably be bounced around three different lines as a left winger. Barring huge chemistry with Richards, Dubinsky is looking at a big drop in production.
1. Marc-Andre Gragnani/Andrej Sekera, Buffalo
Buffalo’s leading playoff scorer (Gragnani) and the man who tallied 17 points in his final 20 games (Sekera) each looked like solid dark horses for next season. Then the Sabres added Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff and the dream is dead.
And be sure to check out last week’s column on the top fantasy-impact free agents who were signed.
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 and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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