Which players gained the most from getting moved at the trade deadline?
Even though this year’s trade deadline was seen as a letdown by most, the action still had a major impact on the fantasy hockey landscape. Now more than one week past the deadline, we can begin to look at how each player is adjusting in his new environment and also the importance of his new role. Today we will cover nine players from the Eastern Conference who were involved in transactions on February 29 or in the days leading up.
Jiri Hudler (Florida)
Hudler has had a rough start with the Panthers, failing to register a point in two games with his new club while being minus-five before finally getting on the board last night. So far he has seen time on a line with Nick Bjugstad and has been a fixture on the power play. The biggest area of concern is, like in Calgary before the trade, Hudler’s overall ice time (13:56 and 16:34 heading into last night) is not great even for a second-line player which limits offensive upside significantly. Look for this trend in ice time to continue as the Panthers have added several pieces to their already-impressive roster. Adding depth usually hurts players individually and ice time could become even scarcer when Jonathan Huberdeau returns from injury.
Jakub Kindl (Florida)
For years Kindl has shown glimpses of being fantasy-relevant with an average of 23 points per 82 games over the last five years. The 29-year-old fell out of favor in Detroit this year and after being buried in the minors received a second chance at life in the NHL, this time in Florida. So far the outlook is very bleak as Kindl has seen his ice time drop by close to 25 percent from his season average of 16 minutes and has not seen any power-play action. Previously he had some value in deep leagues but so far it appears the move to Florida may push him to the free-agent pile in those leagues as well.
John-Michael Liles (Boston)
Liles has seen his ice time increase in each of his three games in Boston and has also seen secondary power-play time. That said, he has only been worth owning in deep leagues since his 46-point effort back in 2011 despite second-pairing minutes most years. The Bruins’ power play was ranked first in the NHL for much of the year but has come back down to earth which means Liles is unlikely to see much of a boost in this area as well. He still holds some value as a puck-mover in the NHL but it simply does not translate well to fantasy hockey.
Shane Prince (New York Islanders)
Prince is an interesting player to follow for the simple fact he has spent time on the John Tavares line since being acquired by the Islanders. He has had a decent NHL rookie campaign but prior to making the big jump to Ottawa Prince was a highly-successful AHLer for three years, including 65 points last year. Ultimately opportunity will be the biggest hurdle as the Islanders have many capable bodies up front with more experience and Prince could be pushed to the press box once Mikhail Grabovski returns from injury. He may not be of much value in one-year leagues but is definitely worth a look in keeper leagues if you want to take a chance on him climbing up the depth chart over time.
Teddy Purcell (Florida)
Purcell has bounced back nicely this year after a disappointing 34 points last season. The increase in production made him coveted at the trade deadline and the 30-year-old now finds himself in Florida. There are encouraging signs including a spot next to Bjugstad on a scoring line and a spot on the power play but, like Hudler, the overall ice time has been rather limited thus far relatively speaking. To make matters worse, Purcell has just two points in his last 10 games and was a scratch last night. With depth up front in Florida he could find himself in a difficult position if he cannot get going soon. He is still worth owning in a lot of leagues but his value is certainly teetering at this point. If he happens to be on the wire in your league wait for him to show signs of life before taking action.
Justin Schultz (Pittsburgh)
So far Schultz’s time in Pittsburgh has been a very mixed bag. After sitting in the press box for four games, he finally dressed and had an assist in 16 minutes. Unfortunately nothing is guaranteed for Shultz moving forward as the Penguins have seven healthy defensemen on their roster. Ultimately, getting out of Edmonton should help the 25-year-old blueliner produce better numbers than he was with the Oilers prior to the trade. However, in a limited role with scarce overall ice time his offensive ceiling will be greatly reduced. Leave him off of your roster unless you are in a league deep enough to include depth power-play specialists.
Devante Smith-Pelly (New Jersey)
Smith-Pelly has responded well to his trade to New Jersey, posting three points over his first two outings while earning his way into some power-play time. Now is the time to move in on Smith-Pelly as the 23-year-old power forward has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career so the current stretch of good play might not last. With Lee Stempniak having moved on to Boston, Smith-Pelly will likely get a longer look in a favorable role than he has in the past. While it is unlikely he will ever put up a lot of points, it is worth noting some bigger forwards peak later in their careers after years of frustration.
Eric Staal (New York Rangers)
From a fantasy standpoint, Staal’s move to New York has produced plenty of red flags. With Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan already established as the top two centers, Staal has slotted in behind them on the third line. As a result, he played less than 16 minutes in each of his first three contests after averaging more than 19 minutes in Carolina. Of course, Staal’s fourth game with the Rangers saw him net a goal and an assist. This could be a sign of things to come but given his rapid decline over the last few years any significant production is far from a certainty.
Lee Stempniak (Boston)
Stempniak has been red-hot since joining the Bruins and is currently on pace to beat his career-best of 52 points set back in 2007. His five points over his last three games is an unexpected development as his strong play in New Jersey was in part due to finding great chemistry with Mike Cammalleri and Adam Henrique. In Boston he has found similar chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. If he happens to be on the wire in your shallow league he should be picked up now to take advantage of his momentum. This could be one of those special years where everything goes well for Stempniak from start to finish.
Follow me on Twitter @DH_EricDaoust.
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