With Steven Stamkos off the free agency list, is Milan Lucic the most impactful free agent in terms of fantasy leagues?
It’s strange that the Steven Stamkos (re)signing underwhelmed when compared to two other Wednesday NHL news stories. So can Friday’s free agency rush possibly come close to matching Wednesday’s drama?
None of the available unrestricted free agents will match Stamkos, Taylor Hall, Shea Weber, or P.K. Subban in terms of star power. Yet there is still a lengthy list of players who will help teams in both the real-life and fantasy realm.
The Dobber editing crew has collaborated to provide its top 25 UFAs from a fantasy hockey standpoint. Don’t forget to check back on the site starting Friday July 1 for the instant fantasy takes on the major signings (and a few of the minor ones too).
Update – because Laidlaw ranked his players differently (see below), we have broken out his ranking onto it's own chart. The following is a ranking of free agents based on their overall fantasy value:
These are my top free agents based on fantasy interest. I'm assuming that Radulov did not sign in the KHL.
My own list ranks players according to their fantasy value at the moment. In other words, which signings will mean the most to those in fantasy leagues. These projections may change once a player is signed to a new team.
Stamkos was in a league of his own at the top of my list (until he resigned with the Bolts). So now Okposo is a secure number one to me based on scoring numbers and upside.
Lucic and Backes are further down my fantasy list than they are for real-life top UFA name lists that you’ll see. But mark both of them higher in fantasy leagues that count hits and/or penalty minutes.
Veterans Hudler and Vrbata are both interesting cases who could both be ranked much higher or lower on this list. Both posted career-high point totals in 2014-15 while stumbling dramatically the following season. Both Czech forwards – particularly Vrbata – will be in tough to recapture that fantasy value unless they find linemates as high-level as the Sedins or Johnny Gaudreau.
“Doan” forget about Shane Doan, who is also technically a UFA at the time of this writing. Expect him to sign with the Coyotes for the umpteenth time, although it wouldn’t be inconceivable to think that Doan may not be back in the desert if new management decides to go in a different direction.
Update: Below are Laidlaw's rankings. He ranked players based on their potential to move up or down in fantasy value based on the team they sign with:
Who are the most intriguing free agents from a fantasy hockey standpoint? It’s not necessarily the biggest names, but rather the ones capable of causing the biggest ripples.
Lucic is rumored to be signing in Edmonton, which may be the reason behind the Hall trade. Will Lucic himself be a hit for Edmonton or someone else? I’d bet against it, at least in the long term, but it’s the fallout of such a signing that could spark the fireworks of the silly season.
The next several names to fall high on my list aren’t necessarily the biggest names but rather the ones capable of having the biggest swings in value. Okposo is probably the biggest name on the NHL market, but for fantasy purposes he is probably scoring somewhere between 55 and 65 points no matter where he lands. Eriksson is a similar story.
Boedker, Hudler, Perron, Vanek, Schultz… these are players who could be tremendous hits or waiver wire fodder depending on where they land. For a guy like Hudler, the possibilities can stretch from 45 to 75 points, all resting on where he fits with his new club. Where and how these players fit is far more interesting than wondering what will become of a fading Staal, for instance.
Campbell is a bit of an outlier on this list. He himself is unlikely to have a huge swing in fantasy value and realistically doesn’t have a ton to offer on that front any longer. He can, however, elevate the play of those around him. Aaron Ekblad likely doesn’t have the same immediate impact without Campbell’s presence.
Montoya and Johnson are goaltenders that made my list. Both have shown flashes of brilliance. On the right contender either one could be a heck of a value play as a handcuff or for spot starts. And, of course, a backup is always one injury away from prime time.
My list is rounded out by the big-name veterans who just won’t see a huge movement in value, though they could impact NHL wins and losses.
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