Undoubtedly, the biggest weakness for the Coyotes last year was their forward depth. Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan were pretty good but things got real thin after that. They’ve started to address by trading Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk and continued in free agency by signing Michael Grabner to a three-year deal with an AAV of $3.35-million.
Grabner has scored 27 goals in each of the last two seasons, his first back-to-back 20-goal seasons since 2010-2012. He now has six seasons with at least 60 games played and he’s scored at least 20 goals in four of them.
A lot will be made of the abundance of empty-net goals he’s scored, but for fantasy purposes, that doesn’t matter to us. As long as the coach keeps using him in those late-game situations, hopefully the goals continue to pour in.
Who This Hurts
It’s tough to say exactly who this will help and hurt. Grabner is a player who can play both wings and beyond Keller, there’s no one winger in a committed situation. Even Galchenyuk, should he end up back on the wing at some point, could be on the first or second line. Grabner could legitimately be on any of the top three lines and on either wing except top-line right wing. He may even move to left wing with Max Domi gone.
Most likely, Grabner slots on the right side on the second line. That is going to hurt both Christian Fishcher and Nick Cousins because one of them will then be playing in the bottom-6. And this isn’t a team with the depth (yet) where a third-liner can carry much fantasy-relevance.
Who This Helps
Grabner isn’t a player who drives possession so it’s not as if he’ll be a huge boost to someone like Galchenyuk if he’s indeed his centre. Yes, his speed is unbelievable, but he’s not great defensively. He is good on the PK, though, as he’s helped his team limit shots against while on the penalty kill relative to his teammates over the last few years. This signing may not actually help the forward crop in terms of generating goals and assists, but it could help Antti Raanta in limiting goals against while short-handed.
Grabner is kind of an island player. He won’t help generate much fantasy value for others because of the nature of his game but as long as his role in Arizona is consistent as his role with the Rangers, there’s no reason to think he can’t replicate close to the seasons he has in recent years. Pencil him in for 20 goals and two shots per game for now until we get clarity on the lineup, and maybe some other trades/signings come down the pipe.
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