Fantasy Take: Williams Back In Carolina

by Ian Gooding on July 1, 2017

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed winger Justin Williams to a two-year contract worth a total of $9 million.

Williams returns to the place that he called home from 2004 to 2009 and won a Stanley Cup. He has been a known commodity in fantasy, ranging between 41 and 52 points over each of the last four seasons. The 35 year old is also very dependable when it comes to setting your lineup, as he has missed only three games over those last four seasons. This is in stark contrast to the lengthy injuries that he experienced earlier in his career.

The Hurricanes appear to be a team on the rise, signing super backup Scott Darling to be the starting goalie and possessing a young, up-and-coming blueline. Williams also has the reputation of coming through during the playoffs, so he is one player to target should the Hurricanes manage to push themselves over the playoff line in a fierce Metropolitan Division.

Williams most likely isn’t a top-line option at this point in his career, as Sebastian Aho should be the Canes’ first-line right wing at this point. But he’s a dependable second or third-line option at this point in his career. The Hurricanes have a number of forwards who play several different positions, so who his linemates will be isn’t exactly easy to predict. Also, the Canes’ lines didn’t stay consistent for more than short stretches last season, as evidenced by their most-often used combination and the percentage:

6.62% EV MCCLEMENT,JAY – NORDSTROM,JOAKIM – STALBERG,VIKTOR

It’s worth noting that the Canes don’t have an offensive option with the same ceiling as Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was Williams’ most frequent center last season (even-strength line combination below). So it’s entirely possible that Williams loses a bit of value by moving to the Canes, which could project him at the lower end of the 40-50 point range rather than the higher end.

59.9% JOHANSSON,MARCUS – KUZNETSOV,EVGENY – WILLIAMS,JUSTIN  

Williams’ departure from the cap-stretched Capitals was expected. The question for the Capitals is who moves up. One intriguing possibility is Brett Connolly, a former high first-round pick of the Lightning. Connolly scored 15 goals and 23 points in 66 games while averaging just over 10 minutes per game with very little power-play time, so there’s some post-hype sleeper potential here. Lars Eller is another option to move up, should the Caps decide to move him from center. Jakub Vrana (36 points in 49 AHL games last season) also seems like a good bet for full-time NHL duty this coming season.

Fantasy owners are weighing in now – give your take here!