The fantasy breakdown of the Buffalo-Florida trade involving Dmitry Kulikov and Mark Pysyk …
The Buffalo Sabres acquired Dmitry Kulikov and the 33rd overall pick (Rasmus Asplund) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Mark Pysyk, the 39th overall selection (Adam Mascherin) and the 89th selection (Linus Nassen) in the 2016 Draft Saturday, June 25.
Kulikov has been in the trade rumors for a few weeks, as the 25-year-old rearguard is set for unrestricted free agency following the 2016-17 season and has been somewhat squeezed out in Miami.
Pysyk is just a year younger with a year remaining on his contract, however, Pysyk will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current deal.
This deal fits on a number of levels, but perhaps the simplest is Buffalo had an abundance of right-handed shots on their blueline, and Florida has just Aaron Ekblad following the departure of Erik Gunbranson.
Three draft picks also switched hands in the deal. Buffalo acquired the 33rd overall selection (Rasmus Asplund), and the Panthers added selections No. 39 (Adam Mascherin) and No. 89 (Linus Nassen).
Kulikov's development hit a plateau after his breakout 2011-12 season (28 points in 58 games). Since, he has posted just 68 points through 262 games over four seasons. However, his power-play time has dropped in each season since the 11-12 campaign.
It's also interesting that he was a positive possession player from 2012-13 through 2014-15, before posting a 46.8 CorsiFor percentage at five-on-five last season. He was also a possession drag at five-on-five on each teammate he played more than 200 minutes with.
A new start in Buffalo should help Kulikov, though. He has a plus-shot and owns all the intangibles to return to fantasy relevancy. Second-pairing minutes and time with the No. 2 power-play unit are within reach.
Buffalo's defense corps will be able to shelter Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe slightly now, and the Sabres won't have to lean on Josh Gorges and Cody Franson as much. This is a nice move to strengthen the blue line overall, but Kulikov is still nothing more than a wait-and-see option in the majority of seasonal leagues.
Pysyk will be given an opportunity to grab second-pair minutes with a dash of power-play time. His game is mostly a low-risk, low-reward approach, and entering the league, he was billed as a low-ceiling, high-floor prospect.
He shows well in the possession department after leading Buffalo with a 5.1.2 CorsiFor percentage, which was highest among skaters with at least 100 minutes at five-on-five.
Pysyk's fantasy value is extremely limited, as he's likely to slot behind Ekblad, Keith Yandle and Michael Matheson. Pysyk projects to be a defensively responsible rearguard who could approach 20 points if things fall into place correctly.
Pysyk's acquisition likely hurts Jakub Kindl's chances to be anything more than a depth contributor.
C Rasmus Asplund: A solid two-way center with offensive creativity and strong hockey sense, Asplund will fine-tune his craft and bulk up to be a potential mid-line center in the future.
LW Adam Mascherin: While an undersized winger with skating concerns, Mascherin owns a goal-scorer's shot and was the second overall selection in the 2014 OHL draft. He'll have work to do, but the offensive upside is there.
D Linus Nassen: An off-the-board flier, Nassen is a wait-and-see project for Florida. He has no fantasy value at this point and projects to remain in Sweden to develop his game.