Fantasy Impact: Winger Jiri Hudler has signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars worth $2 million, per Dallas beatwriter Mike Heika.
The Stars get: a skilled winger who offers a bit of upside, but also requires a bit of clever fine-tuning on the part of Coach Lindy Ruff in terms of how he is used. Hudler's points took a steep drop last season from 76 to 46, which is concerning to poolies. Digging deeper into the numbers, his CorsiRel and QoC weren't terrible – which indicates that he wasn't overly sheltered and yet he still drove possession okay. And his offensive zone starts were actually up (58.3% from 54.3%). His shot percentage in 2014-15 was a higher than normal at 19.7% (so a drop was expected) and his PPTOI last year dipped from 2:57 to 2:34 (obviously causing a further dip).
To compare the point totals equally, let's take last year's 46 points and prorate it over 79 games (which is how many he played in 2014-15). So he had 50 points compared to 76. In 2014-15 his goal total should have been closer to 24 (15% SH%) from 31, meaning his point total would have been 69 had he not had a few extra bounces. Last year's dip in PP time probably cost him about four points, bringing that number up to 54. So all things being equal, his production dropped from 69 to 54. Still pretty steep, but it's more of a gradual dip that we can attribute to age as opposed to a sudden and shocking drop that would suggest he's close to done as an NHLer.
Fantasy Players Impacted: I think that 54-point number is pretty sound, and you can probably take another two or three points off of that due to another year old (he's 32). In Dallas, this number could go further up or down depending on where he plays. If he's on the first line and things click – he'll jump back up to surprising heights and become the sleeper of the year. If he doesn't click on the first line and slips to the second line, then he won't even reach 50 points. I say this because his being on the second line early in the season tells me that he may not be fit to hold down a top-six spot at all (similar to Ales Hemsky). And that would mean that he'll bounce from the second to the third line all year, resulting in something closer to 42 or 43 points.
Patrick Eaves, in between injuries, has enjoyed a lot of success on that first line. He had six points in nine playoff games there, but also had some real big streaky runs over the past couple of seasons thanks to his chemistry with the Big 2 of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Eaves loses pretty much all of his sleeper status now. Not that he was draftable in the first place (maybe in the final round as a Hail Mary in some deeper leagues). This signing also puts a dent in Valeri Nichushkin's outlook. The youngster is champing at the bit, just waiting for his big chance. I still think that he'll be a star in this league and Hudler's arrival certainly decreases the odds of that happening this season. Prospect Brett Ritchie also loses out, as well as the aforementioned Hemsky.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
1. Hudler (see his profile, game log and recent articles about him here)
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
1. Eaves (see his profile, game log and recent articles about him here)
2. Nichushkin (see his profile, game log and recent articles about him here)
3. Ritchie (check out our scouting profile on this prospect here)
4. Hemsky (see his profile, game log and recent articles about him here)