Now that we’re over two weeks into the free agency period, the dust has begun to settle such that we can envision the ramifications, both good and – as will be the focus of today’s poll – bad, of the trades and UFA signings. Yes, this week you’re tasked with voting on which players will be most negatively affected by those added to and/or subtracted from their teams via free agent signings and/or trades.
Negative effects can come in many forms, such as a goalie who lost one or more key defensemen, a forward who now might have to compete for a top line or PP1 spot, or a player who lost a linemate or defensive partner. The key is these are players for whom expectations for 2019-20 will be lower than had things remained the same as they were last season.
As far as rules for the poll, you can vote for as many players – or as few – as you want. I’ve even included an “all of the above” choice in case, somehow, you think each of every one of the 19 will be significantly worse off for 2019-20 due to free agent movement or offseason trading that has occurred. As always, remember that although these polls are meant to be enjoyable, you should vote objectively so your fellow Dobberites can look to the results to help them shape decisions they’ll be making in terms of keepers or come draft day for 2019-20. Onto the choices, which as usual will be in alphabetical order.
Cam Atkinson – Even as he was closing in on age 30, Atkinson set a career high with 69 points last season. That’s the good news; the bad news is 49 of those 69 points came while the now departed Artemi Panarin was on the ice. The fact that Atkinson had previously tasted 62 points in a season might mean he can still produce on his own; however, with his peak likely behind him and Panarin no longer in town, it might be tough for Atkinson to hit even 60 points again.
Will Butcher – As if dropping from 44 points as a rookie to 30 last season wasn’t bad enough, the Devils go out and trade for P.K. Subban, who is all but assured to step right into PP1 in place of Butcher. And while in some cases that might not be a huge deal, the Devils are likely to stack their PP1, such that PP2 will be the equivalent of table scraps, which is a problem for Butcher since more than half of his points to date have come on the PP.
Corey Crawford – After coming back from a concussion to play 16 games with a 2.43 GAA and .919 SV% in the fourth quarter, Crawford’s reward is his team signing a Vezina nominee. With Robin Lehner out to prove himself and Chicago likely wanting to recoup its $5M investment, Crawford might have a difficult time becoming – let alone staying – a clear cut #1 this season.
Louis Domingue – Yes, Domingue was never going to be more than a back-up; yet he won 21 of his 26 starts last season, making him a valuable third goalie for spot starts in some fantasy line-ups. But the arrival of UFA, Curtis McElhinney means that Tampa Bay might have other plans for the back-up role going forward.
Pierre-Luc Dubois – On the one hand, the departure of Matt Duchene will recement Dubois as the #1 center on the Blue Jackets. But this time it’ll be without Panarin, who was on the ice for 46 of Dubois’ 61 points in 2018-19. Now’s when we find out if Dubois is for real or was just a coattail rider.
Alex Edler – As if the splash young Quinn Hughes made late last season wasn’t enough concern for Edler, the team goes out and signs Tyler Myers, who does pretty much everything Edler does except is several years younger, doesn’t get hurt as often, and is inked to a much longer deal. Edler’s $6M price tag will ensure he isn’t put out to pasture; however, he might see his deployment become less favorable due to Myers now being in the fold as well.
Aaron Ekblad – As if the presence of Keith Yandle wasn’t an impediment enough, Florida goes out and signs Anton Stralman, who can do it all and will likely be counted upon for big things by the team – big enough to perhaps impede Ekblad from even maintaining his 2018-19 production level.
Lars Eller – He’s not a huge fantasy name by any means; however, Eller quietly put up 36 and 38 points over the past two seasons with 2 SOG per game, good hits and FOW, and even some PPPts. The thing is, he did so while stapled to Brett Connolly, who’s now departed, and while also spending most of his time on the ice with Andre Burakovsky, who’s also on a new team. Eller’s spot is not in jeopardy, but his days of producing well enough to round out deep rosters might be over.
Thomas Greiss – Why is this season any worse for Greiss, who had to contend with Robin Lehner last year? Easy – unlike Lehner, Semyon Varlamov is signed for four years, and Greiss just for this campaign, making it likely the team will do what it can to pave a path to success for Varlamov, and in the process turning Greiss into a full-fledged back-up, rather than the 1B he was in 2018-19.
Connor Hellebuyck – What do you get when an NHL team loses its two top defenders in the same offseason? If you’re Hellebuyck, the answer is probably an ulcer, or at least nights waking up in a cold sweat imaging how many 5-4 and 6-5 games you’ll now be playing. While no one will question how good of a goalie Hellebuyck is, the simultaneous loss of Jacob Trouba and Myers should do a number on Hellebuyck’s stats, or at least his GAA and SV%.
Evander Kane – After finding a home in San Jose and seemingly putting his health and attitude concerns behind him, now the true test for Kane might come, as his two most frequent even strength linemates (Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi) have left town. Moreover, who’s to say how important the presence of Pavelski – who was captain of the Sharks – was to keeping Kane in line. Without him, and also maybe Joe Thornton, the leadership void might mark the return of Kane’s past shortcomings.
Mikko Koskinen – On the one hand Koskinen is signed through 2021-22, so the team has every reason to try and have him take the #1 job and run with it; however, signing veteran Mike Smith was not exactly a huge vote of confidence in the former KHL standout. What might happen, especially given Smith’s superb playoff track record, is the team turns to Smith this season and hopes Koskinen uses 2019-20 to further work out kinks in his game and then become “the guy” in 2020-21.
Chris Kreider – Set to be a UFA next summer and a career Ranger, Kreider was likely looking forward to building on his career high 52 points to earn a big payday while helping the Blueshirts. Enter Panarin, who’s clearly “the guy” in town based on his salary and is likely to encroach on Kreider’s playing time in a major way. A silver lining is it might lead to Kreider being dealt before the deadline, where he can hopefully find a more favorable situation than the one which awaits him this season for the Rangers.
Mike Matheson – What I said above about Ekblad basically applies here too.
Kyle Palmieri – Not only did New Jersey grab Jack Hughes with the first overall pick, which will likely push Palmieri off the top line at even strength, they also signed Wayne Simmonds, who just so happens to be second in PPGs in the entire NHL dating back to 2013-14. And considering PPGs are Palmieri’s bread and butter, with him having scored an average of ten per season over the past four campaigns, that’s a double whammy for sure.
Nolan Patrick – It seems already a lot longer than two years ago that Patrick was the second overall pick in the entry draft, as since then he’s failed to top even 32 points in a season. And whereas most players in his shoes are either already hitting their stride or are being positioned by their teams to succeed, the Flyers went out and signed UFA, Kevin Hayes to a big contract, and in the process look to have relegated Patrick to the bottom six indefinitely.
Morgan Rielly – Last season Rielly became one of just 11 rearguards to post 70+ points in a season since 2010-11. Of the other ten, only one had a fellow d-man top even 35 the same season. And in fact, it’s been a decade since two rearguards on the same team posted 55+ points in the same campaign. What that means is either Tyson Barrie’s production will nosedive, or Rielly’s will; and with Barrie by far the more one-dimensional player, chances are Rielly’s deployment won’t be as favorable for 2019-20 due to the addition of Barrie and, in turn, Rielly’s scoring will suffer.
David Rittich – After racking up 27 wins in only 45 games and thoroughly outplaying Smith in the process, you couldn’t blame Rittich if he thought he might be given the keys to the kingdom so to speak and be installed as the clear #1 for this coming season. But Calgary has other ideas, having signed Cam Talbot, who’s hungry to prove he’s the goalie he was in 2016-17 more so than the past two seasons. Rittich might well emerge as the #1 again, but having Talbot there and earning $2.75M means the team won’t just anoint Rittich as #1 without giving Talbot something to say about it.
Kyle Turris – Since coming to Nashville Turris has been blessed with 65% of his starts in the offensive zone yet managed only 65 points in 120 games. Now that the Preds have a one-two punch of Duchene and Ryan Johansen at center, Turris looks to be nothing more than an afterthought and his scoring is likely to suffer even further.
You can cast your votes by clicking here. As noted above, you can vote for as many or as few players as you think deserve to be chosen. Or you can pick “all of the above” if you think all 19 players will indeed be significantly worse off due to the offseason trades and/or signings that have occurred thus far.
Be sure to come back next week for a special “Bubble Keeper” week edition of my Goldipucks and the Three Skates column. Then in two weeks, I’ll go back to my mailbag, which would’ve normally appeared next week.
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