Fantasy Impact: Oilers Land Aberg From Nashville, While Letestu Goes to Columbus
Fantasy Impact: Another three-way trade has gone down with the Edmonton Oilers acquiring Pontus Aberg from Nashville, sending Mark Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Predators landing Columbus’ 2018 fourth-round pick.
The Oilers get: A speedy 24-year-old winger who has scored at every level outside the NHL.
The Blue Jackets get: A fourth-line centerman and special-teams specialist who can help their power play and penalty kill.
The Predators get: A modest draft in return for giving up a player who was once a second-round selection, but more importantly they get the roster space for when they inevitably sign Mike Fisher.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Aberg is on the older side for a prospect at 24 but fills two immense needs for the Oilers. He’s cheap and pro ready but more importantly he fills a need for speed on the wing. The dream scenario is that Aberg slots in alongside Connor McDavid (which could happen) but it is more likely that Aberg pitches in on a middle-six line.
While Aberg’s production in Nashville has not been particularly impressive (10 points in 52 career games), he only skated 11 minutes per game, while frequently left out as a healthy scratch. We shouldn’t necessarily hold it against Aberg for failing to crack a lineup loaded with talented wingers like Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Kevin Fiala, Craig Smith, Calle Jarnkrok and even Scott Hartnell. While it is a bit disconcerting that Aberg failed to take advantage of opportunities to play in the top six when they were provided, he should get a longer leash in Edmonton who has nothing to play for and incentive to see what they have in Aberg.
Aberg has scored 35 goals and 58 points in his last 60 AHL games, which is the sort of dominance you want to see from a player looking to make a leap.
Aberg will challenge youngsters like Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto for top-six minutes in the coming years but shouldn’t be considered much of a threat. Instead, it’s depth guys like Ryan Strome, Iiro Pakarinen and Anton Slepyshev who have fallen out of favour and will lose out the most.
It will be interesting to see if Aberg gets a crack at top PP minutes in Edmonton out of the gate. Letestu was used as their right-hand shot for much of the past two seasons but is now out of the mix. Strome has been used in that spot of late but has never had much success. Puljujarvi should be the long-term (and present) solution given his right-handed shot, ability to fire the puck and overall skill, however he has yet to gain traction.
If Aberg winds up succeeding as a third-line/second PP option, he can be a 40-50 -point guy. And that would be a boost to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, unless the centerman is moved out in another sell-low move from GM Peter Chiarelli.
Letestu doesn’t have much fantasy value but did manage to score 11 PP goals last season. That fell to just three this season as the Oilers have struggled significantly in that phase. He could offer a similarly weak Columbus PP a boost, but it is worth acknowledging that in his last go around with Columbus he fell out of the PP rotation. More importantly, the Blue Jackets boast a couple of big righty shots already in Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin. He can still provide value as a fourth-line faceoff specialist and penalty killer, but his fantasy value is unlikely to climb back to where it was last season.
Letestu’s arrival coincides with Jussi Jokinen being placed on waivers. This is now the third team that Jokinen has fallen out of favour with this season. It seems safe to presume the veteran is cooked, although Brian Gionta landed a contract to return with the Bruins, so someone may look for Jokinen as a “veteran presence”.
In Nashville, Aberg’s absence is one less hurdle for Eeli Tolvanen whenever the top prospect comes over. Though it’s unlikely Aberg would have offered much resistance. What’s more important is the room cleared out for Fisher to sign in advance of Monday’s deadline.
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