Ten players who benefited the most from trades on draft weekend
This past weekend was one of the most exciting weekends in recent draft history, and it had nothing to do with the draft.
NHL general managers made some major moves shaking up the core of their teams. From June 25 to 28, there were 24 trades, with 31 players and 44 drafts picks changing hands.
Of course, with so much action, a lot of fantasy GMs saw their teams affected. Hopefully no one was hoping for a bounceback season from Brian Gionta or Cody Hodgson, for example, as both of those guys dropped down Buffalo’s depth chart a lot. (As a side note, Matt Moulson should see a huge boost, now that the rest of the top six will have some combination of: Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Tyler Ennis, Jamie McGinn, Sam Reinhart and Zemgus Girgensons.)
Goalie owners were the big winners, as seven goalies were dealt, with four of them possibly taking over the top netminder’s job on their new teams.
What trades had the greatest fantasy impact? Not including players selected in the draft through traded draft picks, here are the top 10 players that were impacted in deals this past weekend.
10. Antti Niemi
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Niemi. I wanted him to win the Vezina in 2013, and thought the Sharks threw him under a bus by not starting him in Game 6 of the first round series a couple of years back when the Kings made their historic comeback. Niemi is also pretty underrated fantasy-wise. Despite his struggles this past year, and a Sharks team that didn’t give him much help, Niemi still ranked 19th in Yahoo rotisserie and head-to-head leagues (ahead of Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson, Sergei Bobrovsky and Kari Lehtonen). Now, if he signs with Dallas, he gets a chance to be the number one goalie on a team that scored the second-most goals per game last year. The only reason he isn’t ranked higher is because of the uncertainty he signs in Dallas, and if he does, whether he splits starts with Kari Lehtonen. If he goes into next season as the certified number one, he jumps up to number one on this list.
Probably no player has ever been as happy to get away from a team than Grigorenko is to get out of Buffalo. It may be too hasty to say the team ruined him, but it would not be surprising for a 21-year-old to very dejected after his few years there. But things are looking up for two reasons: First, the trade to Colorado re-unites him with his former QMJHL coach Patrick Roy. Roy will know how to get the best of Grigs, and the player should already feel more confident knowing someone on the bench. The second aspect is the talent surrounding him. When he does make the club, he will be playing with better quality linemates than he did in Buffalo.
Maybe it seems like a trade from Anaheim to New Jersey isn’t a great thing, as Palmieri would sometimes see ice time with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The problem is, a lot of guys saw ice time with the Ducks top two players, and Palmeiri only averaged 14:05 ice time a game, and just 1:42 on the power play. In New Jersey though, Palmieri has a chance to see an increase in both, which could lead to more points. After all, who is his toughest competition? Patrick Elias? Mike Cammelleri? Ryane Clowe? A consistent top-six role for the 24-year-old could see a spike in production.
It may seem like a bad move, but in the space of four months, Wisniewski has gone from a team that didn’t want him to a team that didn’t use him to a team that desperately needs him. Carolina doesn’t have much in the way of defencemen. There’s Justin Faulk, and possibly Ryan Murphy some day. But for now, Wisniewski ‘s fantasy upside is probably as high as it’s ever been. He’s going to be used in all offensive situations. He’s going to be on the top power play unit. He’ll be out there when the team needs a goal late. His plus-minus will take a huge hit, but he’s never been a good plus-minus guy anyway.
6. Carl Hagelin
All of this is dependent on where he slots in Anaheim, but he will probably take the place of Matt Beleskey, who is leaving Anaheim to test the free agent market. During the playoffs, Beleskey played mostly on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. But in the regular season, while his most frequent linemate was Ryan Kesler, his second most frequent line combination was he with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. If Haeglin can become that first line/second line tweener, he should set career highs in points (he’s never cracked the 40-point barrier).
Despite just starting his third full season, Soderberg will begin the season as a 30-year-old. Soderberg, who has averaged 46 points in each of his two seasons, will get to play in a faster up-tempo system in Colorado than in Boston. Instead of playing with Loui Eriksson and Chris Kelly, he has the opportunity to play with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. He’ll be trusted more, and given more of an offensive role in Colorado.
4. Eddie Lack
Lack must be getting tired of playing backup. He was backup to Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, and when Lou was dealt, it looked like the starting job was all Lack’s until the Canucks signed Ryan Miller. Now Lack gets dealt to Carolina, where he will be backup to Cam Ward. Well, at least at first. Ward is an unrestricted free agent next summer, and the Canes are rebuilding. It may take awhile, but Lack will eventually be the top guy in Carolina.
3. Milan Lucic
While most of the Bruins struggled last season, nowhere was it more apparent than with Lucic. He scored just 18 goals, 44 points and 81 pims (his second lowest amount of the last five seasons). His shots, shooting percentage and power play goals were all also his second-lowest of the last five years. But Lucic is built for the Western conference, and should be a good fit for the Los Angeles Kings. The left winger should be on the top line in L.A., playing regularly with Anze Kopitar (I expect Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson to stay together as That 70s Line to at least start the season). Playing regularly with Anze Kopitar, Lucic should get back to 60 points. And in the rougher Western conference, he should get back to 100 pims.
2. Cam Talbot
Talbot goes from the being the backup on one of the best defensively-minded teams in the league to potentially being the starter on one of the worst. While his numbers may suffer from what he had as a Ranger, things are looking positive. All he has to do is be decent, and it will seem like a big improvement in Oiler-land. He’ll get the opportunity to be the number one guy, and anytime a goalie goes from backup to number one, that signals a potential huge boost to his fantasy numbers.
1. Robin Lehner
Some poolies have soured on Lehner the last few years, but the newest Buffalo Sabre always felt like he should be a number one guy in the league. And now he’ll get a chance to prove it. And the thing is, he’ll do better than many are expecting. The Sabres majorly upgraded their team this weekend, and going into next season, there will be new faces in the lineup, such as Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn, David Legwand and Evander Kane. All this bodes very well for Lehner. Better quality offence up front will mean more goals, which will give him more of an opportunity for wins than any Sabre goalie had last season.
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