Fantasy Take: Hornqvist shipped to Florida for Matheson, Sceviour
We knew Pittsburgh would need to clear some cap space this summer, and part of this apparently includes trading Patric Hornqvist to Florida for defenceman Mike Matheson and forward Colton Sceviour. At the least, they clear it up front.
Matheson saw a big hit in ice time this year, dropping from 21-22 minutes the previous few seasons down to 18 this past year. Sceviour has 22 goals over the last three years with a declining shot rate. Hornqvist, meanwhile, hasn't played more than 70 games in a season since 2015-16.
Hornqvist may not be able to stay healthy but he's still very useful in the fantasy game when he's on the ice. His 82-game paces for the last three years are as follows (rounded): 28 goals, 23 assists, 263 shots, 169 hits, 59 blocks, and 18 power-play points. Those are very stout totals for almost any winger in a multi-cat league. But again, the problem is he won't play 82 games, he might play 65-70. Fantasy owners will need a replacement handy.
One thing Matheson can do is score. Over the last four years, he has the same goals/game mark at even strength as Matt Dumba, Roman Josi, and Morgan Rielly. That's good company to keep. Two of his last four seasons have also produced marks exceeding two shots/game, and he had three straight seasons of triple-digit blocks before falling off this year with the lost ice time.
That last part is the key here with Matheson. He's a left-shot defenceman. As it stands right now, the team has both Brian Dumoulin (who is stapled to the top pair) and Marcus Pettersson (who is solid defensively) also on the roster. The only way Matheson sees an immediate TOI bump is if they move him to the second pair over Pettersson, and I personally don't see that happening. At least not right away.
However, even if he's stuck on the third pair, we all know about Kris Letang's extensive injury history. Matheson would presumably be the next-man-up should Letang get injured sometime in the 2020-21 season. At that point, Matheson would have much more fantasy value.
For that reason, I am a bit bullish on Matheson in Pittsburgh, but at least right now, it seems an instance where I would pick him up off waiver wires rather than draft him. He really doesn't bring much in the fantasy game without significant TOI as long as Letang is healthy. He needs peripherals, and he needs ice time to accumulate those peripherals.
As far as Sceviour is concerned, this is bottom-6 depth and likely not much of an impact for anyone, fantasy-wise. He needs an injury to one of the top-6 wingers to really have any hope of fantasy impact. He can play in banger leagues with enough ice time, but if he's playing 13-14 minutes a night, it's not enough. It shouldn't impact anyone on the Penguins too much, though it now gives them another option if Kasperi Kapanen doesn’t mesh well instantly.
Hornqvist going to Florida indicates to me that at least one of Dadonov/Hoffman will not be returning, if not both. Should that be the case, then Hornqvist is a lock for the top PP unit as long as he's healthy. That Florida power play, by the by, has scored at a higher rate on the power play (8.8 per 60 minutes) than Pittsburgh (8.1 per 60 minutes) over the last two years. Past performance doesn't guarantee future results, but if Dadonov is gone, there's a spot on the top line and the top PP unit for Hornqvist. Leaving Pittsburgh is generally bad for fantasy value, but if he goes to a line with Sasha Barkov and top PP unit with Barkov/Huberdeau/Yandle, how much worse is it, really?
And it's not as if Florida is deep on the right if Dadonov signs elsewhere. There's Brett Connolly, young guys like Tippett and Denisenko who could push for a roster spot, and defenceman/winger Mark Pysyk (should they re-sign him). As far as I can tell, that would be their RW depth without Dadonov. That's why I am assuming Hornqvist goes straight to the top line/top PP unit. And Hornqvist had often found himself on the third line in Pittsburgh over the last couple seasons (by my count, about 40 percent of his TOI was with neither of Crosby/Malkin). Honestly, this could be seen as an upgrade if we're certain of his security on the top line.
Strictly speaking, fantasy-wise, this could be viewed as an improvement in circumstances for both players. I think Hornqvist has a better chance of being a viable fantasy option, but all Matheson needs is a break or two for him to re-assert himself in multi-cat leagues. This isn't great news for Juuso Riikola, however, as he may not have a roster spot barring injuries. It also makes me wonder if we’ll see Pierre-Olivier Joseph because this makes a lot of LHD and not many good enough to play on the off-wing. Also, Hornqvist is a downgrade from Dadonov, so it may hurt Barkov a bit, but it's not a huge issue.
My hope is Matheson being moved out gives some time to Riley Stillman. I think he could be an under-valued multi-cat asset. Though it may not directly affect him, I also wonder if this doesn't help get Chase Priskie to the NHL next year. On the flipside, it may keep someone like Tippett from getting a top-6 role in 2020-21.
Hornqvist had often been on the top PP unit but now I wonder if that role won't go to Bryan Rust. Jason Zucker didn't lock down that role as Rust/Zucker/Hornqvist basically shared the fourth forward role. My lean goes to Rust here.
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