Fantasy Impact: The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired defenseman Calvin de Haan and prospect winger Aleksi Saarela from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for goaltender Anton Forsberg and Gustav Forsling.
The Blackhawks get: a very good and dependable veteran defenseman who unfortunately is one of the most injury prone players in the entire league. On the plus side, de Haan has been mostly healthy in two of the last three years. But if you're a gambler, you'd put your cash on his missing at least a dozen games in the coming season. Last year de Haan set a career high with 187 Hits. He's a solid penalty killer, but his 20-minute TOI days are probably behind him despite being only 28. Over his last three seasons he has averaged about 19 minutes per game, and that's just his coach trying to keep him healthy and in the lineup. Pushing him harder than that would be risky.
The Hawks also got a solid prospect in Saarela, who I have ranked 79th on my Fantasy Prospects list with a wait time of one to two years, reasonable NHL certainty and an upside in the high-60s for points in the right circumstance. The 22-year-old led the Charlotte Checkers with 30 goals last season (69 games) and you can read his scouting profile here. He can play both center and either wing, so he offers versatility. He can be sent to the minors for one more season without having to clear waivers.
The Hurricanes get: Cap space. de Haan was making over $4.5 million per season and Forsling is an RFA who likely won't make a whole lot more than the minimum. Forsling has yet to make his mark at the NHL level and until he proves otherwise, he will be a bottom-pairing defenseman with a bit of upside. He's still only 23. You can read our scouting report on Forsling here.
In Forsberg, the Hurricanes have landed themselves a superstar. An AHL superstar, that is. Despite his consistently great numbers in the American League, the 26-year-old netminder has had plenty of shots at the NHL and seems to collapse under the pressure. With Carolina reportedly having trouble signing Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney (I'd like to ask why…but that's another article), Forsberg could get another kick at the can. If so, it would be as a backup. We have him scouted for you as well – here.
Fantasy Players Impacted: With the extra money freed up, the Hurricanes have the cap space to go FA hunting on July 1st. They can land themselves a good starting goalie and they could even take a run at a star forward. But that aside, both Forsling and Forsberg get fresh starts and that can only help. The team was quite deep in terms of prospect forwards on the cusp of making the NHL within two years, and now that logjam opens up a little (Julien Gauthier, Nicolas Roy, Janne Kuokkanen, Martin Necas and Morgan Geekie).
In Chicago, Saarela kind of gets buried and will need to make a big impact in Rockford this coming season. He joins a team with a lot of forwards vying for a roster spot, even more than in Carolina, and that's a double-edged sword. A lot of spots are available, but players are penciled in already – with many more champing at the bit. Saarela won't get his chance until 2020-21, so he needs to stay more than relevant in 2019-20.
de Haan adds some experience to the defense corps. He, along with fellow Band-Aid Boy Olli Maatta, upgrades the back end for Chicago while at the same time helps out the medical staff with some added practice and/or training. Chicago's back end looks like this:
Olli Maatta Calvin de Haan
Carl Dahlstrom Connor Murphy
Slater Koekkoek Adam Boqvist
I listed the above defensemen based on which way they shoot. As you can see, de Haan's arrival makes things complicated for Boqvist – the eighth overall draft pick in 2018 who nearly made the team last year. This may be a minor deal for fantasy owners at a glance, but you can pretty much rule out Boqvist making this team now. Even Jokiharju will have a difficult time, if everyone is healthy.
Fantasy players this helps, in order:
2. Forsberg, Delia
Fantasy players this hurts, in order:
1. Boqvist (just delays him by one year, no big deal)
2. Saarela (somehow gets even more buried)
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