Fantasy Impact: The New York Islanders have signed Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to four-year deals.
The Islanders get: in Kulemin, a defensive forward who once scored 30 goals, funny enough while playing on a line with Grabovski. And in Grabovski the Isles have a fancy-stats favorite, a player who drives possession (do a search on Twitter “Grabovski possession” for 100s of examples). Kulemin gets $16.75 million and Grabovski signed for $20 million.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Where to begin. Let me start with this statement – The Islanders already had their forward lines. They have John Tavares as the No.1 center, Frans Nielsen (coming off of a 58-point season) as the No.2 center, and sophomore Ryan Strome as No.3. Casey Cizikas is a great checking-line forward, and Brock Nelson converted to the wing because he was terrible at the dot. And the Isles already have a Kulemin – his name is Michael Grabner.
Bottom line – you have to think that some shuffling will happen. Because Strome isn’t going back to the AHL, nor is Anders Lee – who showed he more than belonged. And even if they cut and waive recent signee Cory Conacher, career minor-leaguer Colin McDonald and veteran Eric Boulton…it’s getting pretty tight. Let’s take a stab at some potential line combinations:
Lee/Conacher – Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Nelson/Grabner – Nielsen – Bailey
Cal Clutterbuck – Grabovski – Kulemin
Matt Martin – Cizikas – Strome
Strome on the fourth line? Maybe swap he and Clutterbuck. Rumor has it that Josh Bailey is on the trading block. If he is moved, that makes things fit a little better.
Taking a look at the above, you have to believe that both Strome and Nielsen will lose some power-play time and regular ice time. I’d bet quite a large sum of money that Nielsen has already seen his career high. Both Lee and Conacher will feel the pinch, although I think in the long run Lee will turn out just fine.
Grabovski’s fantasy value isn’t any different than it normally is, but I get the sense that Kulemin will see a small boost in offensive responsibility.