Fantasy Impact: The New Jersey Devils acquire Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers for Yegor Rykov and a second-round pick.
The Devils get: A proven depth goal-scorer and penalty killer.
The Rangers get: A decent draft pick and a highly intriguing defensive prospect.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Grabner leaving New York removes him from what was one of the league’s best rope-a-dope lines with Kevin Hayes and JT Miller. That’s a nice mix of skillsets on what amounted to the Rangers’ shutdown line. They excelled at transitioning from defense to offense, particularly when protecting leads. Grabner’s speed was a key to that as highlighted by his seven empty-net goals this season.
Grabner will likely fill a similar role with the Devils skating on a shutdown line with Travis Zajac, but it’s hard to see him having quite so much chemistry. That likely pushes aside Blake Coleman or Stefan Noesen, who have quietly offered value as speedy, physical checkers. For most fantasy owners this is no big loss. This may also suggest that the injury situations for Marcus Johansson (multiple concussions) and Brian Gibbons (broken hand) aren’t progressing as the Devils would like.
There is no timeline for Johansson, because that’s the way it goes for concussions.
Gibbons’ timeline is 4-6 weeks from January 20th, so he should be returning soon but there has been no update. Gibbons was a poor man’s Grabner before his injury scoring 12 goals on just 61 shots for an obnoxious 19.7% shooting percentage. That included three shorthanded goals.
Grabner doesn’t have to box out Gibbons, however. They may just be quadrupling down on speed. They can roll Taylor Hall on line one, Grabner on line two, Jesper Bratt on line three, Gibbons on line four, and never go without a player whose speed can put the opponent in crisis. Not a terrible idea.
As for what Grabner leaves behind in New York, he wasn’t used in a particularly offensive role despite the 25 goals he piled up. Grabner saw no power play time. Someone will lap up a few of his empty-netters, but not at the same pace. Also, with the tank in effect, how many will be available to the remaining Rangers? It’ll be tough to replicate his production.
Rykov is an intriguing defense prospect for the Rangers, especially because they are a team that has had success wooing Russians to come over. The scuttlebutt is that Rykov is a long way out from leaving the KHL, but they are no doubt familiar with him as he plays for the same club as top goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin. It was a little over a year ago that Rykov had a strong performance at the World Juniors with seven points in seven games. Read more about Rykov here.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
Marcus Johansson (the health implications)
Michael Grabner (chemistry questions)
Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.
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