Fantasy Impact: The Rangers have acquired Eric Staal from the Hurricanes in exchange for two second round picks and prospect Aleksi Saarela.
The Rangers get: A former superstar centerman who is still an effective possession player but doesn’t offer as much scoring punch as his reputation might indicate.
The Hurricanes get: A couple of good draft picks in the next couple of years plus a quality prospect in Saarela.
Fantasy Players Impacted: The Hurricanes have officially announced themselves as sellers, which means anything not bolted down may go. Stay tuned on that front. Kris Versteeg, frequently a Staal linemate, may also be on the move. The Hurricanes could conceivably have an entirely new “top line”.
The line of Jordan Staal, Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil has taken over a lot of the top duties for the Hurricanes over the past couple of months, however, with Nestrasil hurt recently, this line doesn’t have the same punch. At this point, losing an effective possession player as Eric Staal will probably do more to hurt Jordan Staal’s production than help it.
With the Hurricanes in sell mode we may also see them take a safer approach with injured star defenseman Justin Faulk. Perhaps he stays on the shelf longer than anticipated. No real winners in Carolina beyond the middling prospects who make grab larger roles.
One player to monitor is Victor Rask who had a great start to the season but got caught up in inconsistency. Perhaps he’ll find a larger role with Staal headed to New York.
Saarela represents a great return for the Hurricanes. The 2015 third round pick arguably has more value than the late first the Hurricanes were hoping to acquire. He is further along in his development than anyone the Hurricanes might have drafted and has showed well with 31 points in 46 games playing against men in the top Finnish league this season. He also flashed some excellent offensive skills in helping Finland to win the 2016 World Junior Championship. He could have Jeff Skinner-like upside.
For the Rangers, Staal becomes a third line center, which won’t really do anything for his dwindling fantasy value but is a great fit. Staal in a depth role can be very effective in helping the Rangers become a stronger possession team and lighten the load on their expensive defense as well as star netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
Staal will also help third line scorers Kevin Hayes and Oscar Lindberg who both had hot starts to the season thanks to some unsustainable shooting percentages. Staal’s possession game will help these guys get more chances.
One interesting possibility: if/when Rick Nash returns, would the Rangers go with a power line of Staal, Nash and Hayes?
The Rangers have been on a roll lately without Nash in the lineup and Nash’s scoring has been replaced by the emergence of JT Miller. Would the Rangers risk breaking up the Miller/Derick Brassard combo that has worked so well? Perhaps they turn Staal and Nash loose together against the opposition’s best in an effort to shut them down.
Players this helps, in order:
Players this hurts, in order:
Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. You can follow him @SteveLaidlaw.
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