On June 29 the hockey world experienced the craziest 23 minutes in NHL history as three major transactions took place at about the same time. In each instance, the aftermath has a significant impact on the teams involved, and at least for the latter two, the hockey world as a whole was shaken.
Here were the three big stories:
3) Steven Stamkos signs eight-year contract with Tampa Bay. AAV of $8.5 million.
Today, we will look into the three players landing on clubs in the Eastern Conference. In addition to analyzing each player’s current situation, the impact of these stories also changes the outlook for many of their teammates.
In a nutshell, the move to New Jersey hurts Hall’s fantasy value. He should be able to reach his totals from the last two years (60-65-point pace), but his upside is certainly not what it would have been playing alongside Connor McDavid. With that said, Hall is by far the best forward on the Devils’ roster and will be treated as such with top opportunities in offensive situations. In the end, the ones to benefit from Hall’s acquisition are his new teammates.
For starters, having Hall in the mix helps the Devils’ centers. Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri had some outstanding chemistry this past year, so look for the duo to be kept together, at least initially. This would give Travis Zajac the inside track to center Hall’s line. Zajac has been an up-and-down offensive contributor over the years, but with a high-end producer at his side, he has more value next year and could even hit 50 points for the first time since 2010.
In the more distant future, former sixth-overall pick Pavel Zacha should be the setup man on the Devils’ top unit. Hall’s arrival increases Zacha’s fantasy value significantly. Prior to the trade, the Devils lacked a sure thing up front to help its young center generate offense. The move also makes Zacha an interesting dark horse in one-year leagues. He should be available late and could be one of the top rookies in the NHL should he earn his way up to the top line early.
Hall’s arrival is also going to help Kyle Palmieri, who surprised in his first year with the Devils, as he reached the 30-goal mark. A step back is always a possibility for the unproven Palmieri, but Hall’s added offense should help Palmieri keep his numbers up. It may not lead to another career-high showing, but it makes him a safer bet.
Mike Cammalleri, a fellow left-winger, is the only notable forward who will likely be hurt by this major acquisition. The 34-year-old had a great year with 38 points in 42 games but should be bumped down to the second line because Hall comes in with golden-boy status. Additionally, Cammalleri was very lucky as his personal shooting percentage, his on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage along with other metrics were higher than normal. Not to mention, the magic he had with Henrique was at a level that will be difficult to replicate. He was already due for a drop in production and Hall’s arrival makes it more of a certainty.
One last note to further complicate the top-six group, Hall and Henrique were linemates in the Ontario Hockey League with the Windsor Spitfires and also Team Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championship. It could also be a Hall-Henrique combo to start the 2016-17 season.
The biggest shock of the day was Montreal trading Subban, who was both extremely popular and polarizing in Montreal, for Weber. In fantasy leagues, not much changes for Weber. The Canadiens and Predators were separated by just eight goals, and the Canadiens made a significant addition in Alexander Radulov who should help the team produce more offense. Weber’s arrival via such a blockbuster trade ensures he will log a ton of ice time like he did in Nashville. And in the event the Canadiens decide to go with four forwards on the power play, Weber will likely always get the nod on the top unit over Andrei Markov.
Weber should also add some value to the Canadiens’ power play which sank to 25th in efficiency last year. Weber’s shot has been more effective in generating goals over the years. While Subban’s career-high sits at 15 goals, he had just six last year, whereas Weber has topped 20 goals on three occasions and has scored 10 or more power-play goals four times.
Those in multi-category leagues should be mindful of shot-blocking. The Predators ranked 10th in blocks while the Canadiens ranked 17th. It is difficult to project how Weber will fare in his new environment, but it would not be a surprise if he sees a small decline in this area.
While Weber does not possess Subban’s speed, hands or playmaking ability, he has also been a more reliable defender over the years. Having his strong presence on the ice should give the team’s goalies a bit of a boost.
Much to the disappointment of all fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Stamkos ended up re-signing in Tampa Bay after his status had been a top story for more than a year. In fantasy circles this has tremendous implications. With Stamkos, and later Victor Hedman, locked up for eight years apiece, this could spell the end of star goalie Ben Bishop’s time with the Lightning for cap reasons.
At this time, the logical destination for Bishop would be Dallas, a top team in the West in dire need of goaltending help. The move would allow former 19th-overall pick Andrei Vasilevskiy to become the team’s starting goalie. It remains to be seen when a trade with Dallas — or another team — will be completed, but both of the current Lightning goaltenders will be major fantasy players in drafts this fall.
Shifting back to Stamkos, it should be noted that he has not been the same player the past two years. The former 60-goal scorer has been hovering around 40 goals of late and has been well below the point-per-game mark. Line combinations have played a role in Stamkos’ reduced production, as both Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, the team’s two best wingers, have played primarily with Tyler Johnson over the past two seasons. This year, Stamkos was most frequently with the declining Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn. Thankfully, Vladislav Namestnikov is developing well and could be in line for a promotion to Stamkos’ side next year. Jonathan Drouin is another high-upside winger who could aid Stamkos' production.
As noted in the Lightning offseason outlook, had Stamkos departed it would have allowed Valtteri Filppula to assume a larger role with better linemates. In turn, this would have given him a chance to return to his usual 50-point ways after a terrible 31-point effort. With Stamkos staying put, Filppula will remain the team’s third center although he should continue to see a lot of minutes on the power play.
Follow me on Twitter @DH_EricDaoust.
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