With the 2018 trade deadline in the books, here’s a brief view of several fantasy-relevant transactions from around the NHL.
Finally. In bolting Buffalo for a legit playoff contender as a top-six rental, Kane is in excellent shape to wrap up 2017-18 on a high note. With an expiring contract, the 26-year-old pending UFA better hope for as much. Whether he slides in on the left side of temporary center Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton (once healthy) or Logan Couture, Kane is going to score, and a role on the Sharks’ top power play with Pavelski, Couture and Brent Burns suggests he’ll score a lot. Needing little encouragement to shoot on net, the streaky sniper has 20 goals to date, including four in his past seven contests. With Kane’s addition, 21-year-old sophomore Timo Meier appears in most danger of losing his top-six role.
In joining the Jets, Stastny is expected to center one of the most dangerous third lines in the league, splitting wingers Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. The experienced veteran is also projected to skate on the Jets’ power play. With 40 points in 63 games, Stastny should maintain that pace to close out 2017-18 while enjoying an uptick in plus/minus (minus-five). Back in St. Louis, Patrik Berglund projects to fill the void at center on a second unit with Alexander Steen.
In acquiring the power forward from the New York Rangers, the Bruins now present a formidable one-two punch up front with Patrice Bergeron/Brad Marchand and David Krejci/Nash. Replacing Ryan Spooner on Boston’s second line with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, Nash is also skating on a B’s top power play with Bergeron and Marchand. He could be in for a strong finish to this campaign in shots, scoring, plus/minus and time on ice, as should his new linemates. Rostered in 31.4 percent of ESPN leagues, Nash merits investment in most competitive groups, while DeBrusk (7.2 percent) should be a consideration in deeper leagues.
Going the other way, Spooner initially loses fantasy value as the Rangers’ new fourth-line centerman. However, that role isn’t necessarily carved in stone. The 26-year-old RFA-to-be collected 25 goals in 39 games for the Bruins this season.
Projected to improve a top-six line that includes Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson, Vanek is also expected to inject some scoring oomph into the second-worst power play (14.6 percent) in the league. Thirteen of Vanek’s 17 goals through 61 games in Vancouver have counted with the extra skater. Having a tough time of it this season after last year’s 59-point showing, Wennberg — rostered in only a fifth of ESPN leagues — in particular should benefit from some fresh scoring blood on his wing.
While failing to land the perceived top available prize of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, the Lightning are still improving their defensive corps with the addition of the former Rangers captain. Beyond skating in the top four, McDonagh could also bump rookie Mikhail Sergachev from Tampa’s secondary power play. Nine of McDonagh’s 26 points have counted with the extra skater this season, while Sergachev has run rather cold of late. If that’s how it unfolds, the experienced 28-year-old should see a bump in fantasy value with the highest-scoring team in the league. Currently rostered in 74.9 percent of ESPN leagues, McDonagh should have his managers liking this move. Those invested in Sergachev, not so much.
As for other relevant figures in the multipiece deal, former Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov earns a fresh start with a possible top-six/secondary power-play role in New York. The 2011 first-round draft selection had been recently demoted to Tampa’s bottom six. Heading south, J.T. Miller has the potential to fill a top-six slot, perhaps on a line with center Steven Stamkos. If so, the 24-year-old forward could be worth targeting quickly in most ESPN leagues. As a Ranger, Miller collected 40 points in 63 games.
Moving from Ottawa to Pittsburgh, Brassard gains fantasy value as third-line center alongside Phil Kessel (who’s averaging 1.11 points per game). The former Senator should benefit from skating on the Penguins’ secondary power play as well. It’s also worth noting that Brassard was on a nice little scoring roll before the trade, collecting five goals and four assists in seven games. Available in about half of ESPN competition, the 30-year-old certainly merits fantasy consideration in most leagues.
Supposing he slides in on the Knights’ third line alongside center Cody Eakin and fills a slot on the secondary power play, we can anticipate a boost in scoring from Tatar, who’s endured a rather ho-hum campaign in Detroit to date. But look out if the 27-year-old is ever called upon to fill a top-six role in the case of injury befalling either David Perron or Reilly Smith. Despite only 28 points to date, Tatar collected 29 goals and 27 assists only three seasons ago, and he scored more than 20 goals in both seasons since. Rostered in 18.3 percent of ESPN leagues, he could be worth a roll of the dice in deeper leagues.
Bound for New Jersey to fill a supporting role, Maroon loses significant fantasy value away from Connor McDavid. It’s as simple as that. Some power-play minutes with the Devils won’t nearly make up for no longer skating with the elite centerman. Back in Edmonton, Anton Slepyshev (rostered in 0.2 percent of ESPN leagues) is currently skating with McDavid and fellow winger Milan Lucic. Slepyshev has a goal in each of his past two games.
Michael Grabner, RW/LW, New Jersey Devils
To start, it appears Grabner is exchanging his versatile role in New York for a similar gig in New Jersey. The 28-year-old speedster made his Devils debut on Saturday on a unit with Kyle Palmieri and Pavel Zacha but could see time on a third line with center Travis Zajac. As it stands, don’t expect a jarring increase in scoring fireworks from the 25-goal scorer, especially if he doesn’t manage to crack the power play in New Jersey.
A fantasy afterthought in Arizona, Rieder gains prominence as a top-six skater in Los Angeles. Competing on a No. 1 line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, the 25-year-old scored on six shots in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Rostered in only 1.8 percent of ESPN leagues, Rieder could make for a valuable pickup down the stretch in deeper leagues — as long as he keeps a grip on that top-line role, of course.