Colorado signed Nail Yakupov to a one-year, $875,000 contract Tuesday.
What the Avalanche Receive
A highly skilled winger with offensive upside that is just entering his offensive prime. Yakupov already has 292 games of NHL experience, and despite failing to meet expectations of being the No. 1 selection from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he still has an entire career ahead if he can fine-tune his game. His hockey IQ has warranted the criticism it's received over the years, and Yakupov is also guilty of disappearing both during games and for long-standing spells. In particular, he's struggled to play without the puck in all three zones at the highest level.
Still, at this term and salary, there is no risk for Colorado. Yakupov should also be handed a long leash to find his game with the basement-dwelling Avalanche.
Yakupov is immediately back on the fantasy radar because if nothing else, Colorado does have some capable offensive weapons. Additionally, having Yakupov buried down the depth chart and playing outside of a scoring role to start the season is illogical.
Remember, too, this is a player who scored at an 82-game pace of 53 points as a 19-year-old rookie. It's also worth noting that in a limited role — 10:39 of ice time per game — last season, Yakupov posted a 51.3 Corsi For percentage.
He's still well within flier territory, but Yakupov should see top-six minutes and power-play time out of the gate.
Assuming, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Mikko Rantanen and Yakupov are given top-six roles to start the season, it leaves Sven Andrighetto, Tyson Jost, Blake Comeau, Colin Wilson, Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto to fight for a scoring role.
Jost's prospects are obviously the most important in fantasy circles, and his pedigree should enable him to carve out a middle-six role to start the season. But he's far from a fantasy guarantee. He's stepped up in class quickly, and making the jump from the BCHL to NCAA and straight to the NHL in three seasons will probably yield some peaks and valleys. Yakupov's addition is also a potential short-term hit to Jost's fantasy stock.
The most concerning scenario would be if the Avalanche looked to balance the limited offensive punch they have over three lines. Unfortunately, it's also something that has been common for Colorado over the past few years. In the majority of fantasy settings, there are only a handful of players that move the needle on this roster, so it certainly would be helpful if they weren't split up all over the depth chart.