Looking at the three UFA signings in the West with limited fantasy upside – and two more that are just plain bad…
After looking at the best free agent signings from a fantasy hockey perspective this week the focus turns to the worst of the fantasy relevant signings. These signings are largely cases where the player in question moved to a situation that is at best a horizontal move and at worst a significant step backwards. A player may move to a good team, or even a potentially good situation, but it must be measured relative to the situation he is coming from. A player going to a good team from a bad team may not be afforded the same usage as he was on the bad team, good teams have more quality options after all. For high-end players the quality of the power play on the new team and the availability of power play time will be especially important. Furthermore, the propensity of the new to use odd line combinations, maybe even nonsensical, must be considered. For example Patrick Roy loves using Cody McLeod on the power play and as an extra attacker, not to mention that only one line combination saw even close to 300 minutes together on the season.
Loui Eriksson – Signed in Vancouver
The Canucks signing Eriksson could go very well, but that is almost entirely contingent on him playing with the Sedins. While Eriksson is much better than Radim Vrbata, and his contract gives the Canucks tons of incentive to use him in a prime role, the struggles of Vrbata this past year, in sub-optimal usage, are worrisome. Last year Vrbata played primarily on the second line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi and only managed 27 points. The season before that Vrbata played primarily with the Sedins and finished with 63 points. In Boston there were two good scoring line options as Eriksson could skate with either Bergeron or Krejci that option does not exist in Vancouver, as there is a severe drop off from Sedin to any of Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund or Horvat. This makes the best case scenario for Eriksson in Vancouver a horizontal move and there is a sizeable chance that he could drop by 20 points.
The possibility of a drop off is even greater considering that the Bruins had one of the best power plays last year whereas the Canucks power play struggled at its best. Given that Eriksson got 27% of his 63 points while on the power play a move to a less successful power play, even if he does play with the Sedins at even strength, would probably cost him at least five points on its own as the Bruins scored 6.75 goals per 60 minutes at 5 on 4 whereas the Canucks managed just four goals per 60 minutes at 5 on 4. The lack of general offensive talent in Vancouver will make it tough for Eriksson to break 60 points if only because of the Canucks’ horrible power play. Furthermore, given how well Jannik Hansen played with the Sedins, while the Canucks certainly have incentives to play Eriksson on the first line it is not guaranteed. Remember it