Fantasy Impact: The Islanders sign veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky to a one-year contract.
The Islanders get: A right-handed veteran power-play quarterback with a long history of underrated fantasy value. Zidlicky was mostly a dud for a punchless Devils team last season but he scored big with 11 points in 21 games while in a Red Wing uniform to close the year. Of those 11 points, eight came with the man-advantage, which tells you something about where Zidlicky’s primary skills lie. Zidlicky is old at 38 but if deployed as a power-play specialist he will still offer plenty of value, especially for an Islander team that finished middle of the pack in power-play efficiency despite all their firepower up front.
Fantasy Players Impacted: With a full season on a good team Zidlicky has the chance to produce a point every other game like he has for going on a decade.
The biggest hit taken here is Johnny Boychuk who had a breakout season thanks to his booming slap shot being featured on the top power play unit. He more than tripled his career high for power-points netting 15 last season. Zidlicky pushes Boychuk down the pecking order and likely drives his scoring back to where it was in Boston.
With Boychuk getting pushed down the depth chart the other right-handed shots on the team take hits as well. Travis Hamonic has demonstrated some offensive potential despite being mostly a shutdown guy. He now has little hope of producing offense on this roster.
Meanwhile, promising defense prospect Ryan Pulock goes from a near guaranteed roster slot to a likely return to the AHL. That isn’t the worst fate for Pulock as there are still some aspects of his game that he can work on. Offense probably isn’t one of them, however as Pulock’s 17 goals in 54 AHL games can attest. He’s one of the best prospects out there and remains the future power-play quarterback. His arrival will simply be delayed.
It’s hard to imagine Tavares improving on the 31 PPP he accrued last season but if the Islanders can get their power play from middle of the pack to elite level that’s five to 10 extra points Tavares might uncover, which would push him up another tier. The rest of the forwards on the club may follow suit.
There’s a slight chance that Zidlicky doesn’t knock any of the defensemen out of their established spots but instead unseats Frans Nielsen on the top unit. More likely, he helps Nielsen but this could go either way depending on how things shake out. It’s more likely that Zidlicky shuffles the defensive pecking order than Nielsen, however.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.
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