Usually, by July 6th, the dust has settled on free agency. Most players are already back in the weight room. The insiders, General Managers, scouts and basically everyone else are off to the cottages. It’s officially the quiet time around the NHL.
Except that it isn’t. The Erik Karlsson saga continues to rage on and the hockey world waits around with baited breath. It’s truly been a story for the ages. A prime-aged, generational talent being dangled out to the wolves by his woefully inept organization.
First, it’s the Dallas Stars who are pegged as the front-runner. The apparent hitch being whether or not Karlsson would sign an extension. And if not, would the Stars be willing to sacrifice their top prospect in Miro Heiskanen?
The next moment, the Tampa Bay Lightning have pulled on their big boy shorts and appear to be inching closer to the finish line. TBay appears to be the one spot that can assuredly extend the wildly consistent Swedish blueliner.
Regardless of who lands Karlsson, the fantasy implication will be far-reaching. Let’s break down the top contenders and what it would mean to their respected squads if he pulled on their sweater next fall.
But first, let’s just get this out of the way: whichever team Karlsson ends up on (including Ottawa) the forward corps will all see a major boon.
During all situational play, expect boosts for Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point (unless he’s headed the other way of course), and JT Miller. Ditto for Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alex Radulov. Just insert the top forwards from whatever team and assume they’ll each see a healthy uptick.
The same should go for the goaltenders as well. While Karlsson gets tabbed as an offensive defenseman, that shouldn’t indicate that his defensive prowess is troubled. He possesses the puck at an extreme rate. The more your team has the puck, the fewer opportunities the opposition will have against. The 28-year-old has never posted a negative relative CorsiFor percentage at even-strength. In his previous four seasons, he’s clicked at three percent or higher.
He’s also pretty good with some other possession metrics too.
The real kicker comes via the top fantasy defenders. This is where it may get ugly.
The Bolts already own a Swedish, Norris Trophy winner and are looking to add another. Victor Hedman has been a fantasy stalwart for several campaigns now and much of that has been predicated on his prime deployment.
Hedman led all Lightning skaters with 3:24 time on ice during the power play last season. He scored a tidy 63 points in 77 games – 26 of those points coming on the man-advantage. He averaged 3:01 in 2016-17 when 33 of his 72 points came on the powerplay. Never before had he cracked more than 44 percent of the team’s powerplay deployment and consequently his PPP high was 14.
Hedman and Karlsson appeared in-sync during their pirate-themed partnership at the NHL All-Star Game last spring. It's conceivable that they could form a ridiculous top pair at even-strength. Yet, on the power play, there’s really only room for one with the KucherStamkos duo. Leaving the other (likely Hedman) to see his five-on-four deployment slip below the 50 percent margin. He'd be left to work with a combination of Johnson, Palat, Killorn, and Gourde – not nearly as ideal.
The Lightning may decide to employ a top unit with Karlsson, Hedman, Stamkos, Kucherov and say… Miller. Leaving Point, Palat, Johnson and Killorn to team up with Anton Stralman on unit two. That's assuming Sergachev is moved in the deal. Someone has to be going back, right?
There are many moving parts, but the risk to Hedman’s elite power play production is tangible.
Take everything I just said about Hedman and double it for John Klingberg. Klingberg would immediately tumble-down draft boards if Karlsson came strutting into Big D. The fourth-year NHL'er recorded 67 points a season ago and has never paced below 50 points in a full campaign. However, the 24-year-old would instantly become the team’s second pairing right-shot defender at five-on-five. Additionally, he would all but assuredly lose his spot on the top powerplay unit.
Even furthering the blow is the fact that Dallas doesn’t have the assets or depth to roll out a dangerous second unit like Tampa can.
If Karlsson heads to Dallas, be sure to dangle Klingberg out before people take too much notice. Either that, or pray he or EK move over to the left side and the Stars run a 3+2 top unit.
The team that stands to benefit the most and suffer the least fantasy implications are the Golden Knights. As we know, the Knights were a team of misfit toys that came together to pile up 268 goals – fifth most last season. They employed a balanced powerplay deployment with Shea Theodore leading all skaters with 2:31 per contest.
Theodore, the team's best offensive defender plays the left-side with Jonathan Marchessault working the right point. If Karlsson came to town, Theodore likely is apart of the package going the other way, but if he's not, he'd surely see his deployment and production dip. That's not the end of the world as he's been a tantalizing prospect for some time, but not an elite contributor.
Marchessault would be re-jigged to a different spot on the top unit, so his owners don't need to fret.
After all of these words, we may not even have a deal to break down as it appears the Sens' management group has receded to the shadows to contemplate all the options. If and when it does happen though, the fantasy implications will be pronounced.
The Chicago Blackhawks most recent first-round selection, Adam Boqvist has signed with the London Knights of the OHL for next season. Boqvist was a high selection for the Knights in the 2017 Import Draft but decided to stay in Sweden last season. There, he ended up bouncing around between the top junior league (SuperElit), the second tier (Allsvenskan) and the top professional circuit (SHL). Boqvist struggled to gain traction in the pro ranks but dominated his age group at international events.
This move is terrific for London and OHL fans in general and also for the Hawks. They get to have their top prospect marinate on the small ice, in a tremendous program and close to the organization where they can have more influence.
The 2018 eighth overall selection has infinite potential as a point-producing defender. It's a the type of player that Chicago is desperately searching for now that Duncan Keith’s tooth has gone long.
23 years ago, Eric Lindros won the Hart Trophy. Will we ever see another power forward of his ilk again?
"From 2009 through 2013, Burrows played 3,239 even-strength minutes with Henrik. In those five seasons, Burrows scored 109 even-strength goals, the sixth most in the NHL and just two behind Ilya Kovalchuk.
And in those five seasons, Henrik had the second most points in the league and Daniel was fifth. Their line was ridiculous, incredible and, on so many nights, unstoppable."
Burrows was hated by 29 other clubs for much of his career. However, he was beloved in Vancouver. He scored the biggest goal the organization has ever seen. He embodied everything it means to never give up on your dream. And he fought tooth and nail for every inch he ever received.
It was immediately announced that Burrows would be taking over an assistant coaching role with the Laval Rockets of the AHL. All the best in coaching, Burr.
There were a couple of minor signings on Friday. First up, the Maple Leafs dipped into the bargain bin and grabbed Tyler Ennis.
The former long-time Sabre was recently bought out by the Wild recently and will act as a low-risk option at the bottom of the lineup for Toronto. The diminutive winger has a history of offensive production and should be considered a smart bet to chip in on a second unit powerplay.
Next, the Oilers re-signed restricted free agent, Ryan Strome to a two-year deal worth 3.1 million per. He’ll remain a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the contract.
Strome has struggled mightily since recording 17 goals and 50 points as a sophomore in 2014-15. Since then, he’s lived in the 30-point range while contributing little in the way of any other fantasy category.
Last season in Edmonton, the 24-year-old was bounced around the lineup with impunity. With his most frequent linemate combination being just 10.7 percent while skating with Leon Draisaitl and Jujhar Khaira.
The expectation is that the former Islander will be the team’s third line centre. He's likely to see deployment on the second units for both power play and penalty killing duty. With some more stability in the lineup, a 20/20 season seems doable.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson