Fantasy Take: Minnesota Signs Eric Staal

Michael Clifford

2016-07-01

The fantasy slant on Minnesota signing forward Eric Staal. 

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After seeing his production decline in recent years, it would make sense that Eric Staal was going to be getting significantly less than he thought he might even a year ago once free agency rolled around. This was the case when he signed with Minnesota:

The production took a sharp decline over the last few years, as noted above. In the lockout-shortened season, Staal was over a point per game. Since then: 61 points in 79 games, 54 in 77, and just 39 points in 83 games last year. Now, playing with the offensively inept Hurricanes over the last few years certainly hurt: his two lowest on-ice shooting percentage seasons were the last two seasons. I am not so sure that things get better in Minnesota, though.

In recent times, Staal has been playing both at centre and on the wing. For now, were he to play at centre, it seems likely he slots in behind at least Mikko Koivu, if not both Koivu and Mikael Granlund. So while Staal does get out of Carolina (and yes, the Rangers), I’m not sure this helps too much.

Who does this affect positively: Kreider, Niederreiter, Hayes

I have Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes helped here because Staal leaving opens up at least one more spot in the top-six, and I have to think this goes to Kreider. This should also mean that Hayes is locked up on the third line, but I’m much less confident in that.

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Kreider actually set a career-high in five-on-five goals last year, which I think would surprise some after the deathly slow start Kreider was off to. He ended up playing about a quarter of the season on the third line, which really hinders offensive upside. With Staal gone, I would wager that Kreider is now locked into the second line left wing slot, and that’s good news for fantasy owners.

For now, Nino Niederreiter would get a boost from me, assuming he and Staal both play on the third line next year. That is a huge assumption for now because there’s no real telling how the top-nine will work out for the Wild beyond Zach Parise on the top line left wing spot.

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