The Oilers and Flames each decided to take on the other’s salary cap issue on Friday, with Milan Lucic moving to Calgary for James Neal. The Oilers will also retain 12.5% of Lucic’s salary, while Calgary will receive a conditional third-round pick in next year’s draft. Although Neal’s contract is anything but desirable, this trade has to be considered a win for new Oilers’ GM Ken Holland. It seemed as though the Oilers were going to get stuck with Lucic’s salary, or at least be forced to add a significant sweetener (ie. Jesse Puljujarvi) to move it somewhere. Not only that, but the Oilers also end up with the player who seems more likely to turn things around, at least offensively. If you're an Oilers' fan, it probably feels nice to think your team might have won a trade.
For more on the trade from a fantasy perspective, you can check out the fantasy take. I realize that neither player will be a hot commodity in leagues over the coming season, but this was an interesting one to write anyway. Both players are now 31 and have seen better days. However, it will be interesting to see if the trade sparks either player.
FWD Projected #Oilers lines:
Draisaitl McDavid Kassian
Neal Nuge Nygard
Chiasson Granlund Gagner
Khaira Haas Archibald
Extra: Brodziak Jurco
— The Oilers Report (@OilersReport) July 19, 2019
It’s amazing how little the Oilers have to show after years of high first-round picks, although the real problem has been the lack of success after the first round. Thinking about this some more, I have no idea how Neal ends up outside of the Oilers’ top 6 – and he may even end up on the top line (is Zack Kassian really a first liner?) And if Neal does end up outside of the top 6, his fantasy value is dead in the water. Neal’s value could be helped big time with this trade, and he might be a player of interest in more than just the 20-team, 35-player megaleagues.
Lucic will have a tougher time climbing the ranks in Calgary, with their first and second lines already fairly set. I think the Flames are one of those teams that looked at the St. Louis model and assumed that they would need to be tougher to succeed in the playoffs. With the NHL being a copycat league, we knew this would happen.
Just to update that piece, the trade with Winnipeg now looks very good on the Rangers’ side, as it wasn’t guaranteed at the time that Trouba would sign with the Rangers past this coming season. In addition, it hurts the keeper value of fellow offseason acquisition Adam Fox and Anthony DeAngelo even more, in case you’ve been waiting on them (like me for parts of DeAngelo’s career… I have him lined up as one of my bubble keepers for next week).
Trouba scored a career-high 50 points (8g-42a) with the Jets, which without regard for future production has been an outlier so far. I say this because Trouba’s previous career high was 33 points, with the rest of his point totals over his six-year career all falling under 30 points. With what he is being paid and by the looks of the Rangers’ defense, he should no doubt receive top-pairing minutes and first-unit power-play time. No Rangers’ blueliner averaged more than 21 minutes and change (Brady Skjei, the since-traded Neal Pionk) in 2018-19. He didn’t always receive those kind of minutes in Winnipeg – particularly the power-play minutes.
The Colorado Avalanche have signed fourth overall pick Bowen Byram to a three-year, entry-level contract. As a defenseman, Byram scored 71 points (26g-45a) in 67 games for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. For purely selfish reasons (the Giants only play a few miles away from where I live), I’m hoping he’ll stay in junior for another season. He was absolutely dynamite to watch, particularly during the Giants’ run to the WHL Final this spring. However, the Tyson Barrie trade improved the odds that the 18-year-old Byram could crack the Avalanche roster for at least a nine-game trial this fall. If not, he’s a must-own blue-chip keeper with significant fantasy upside.
The Montreal Canadiens avoided salary arbitration with Charles Hudon, signing him to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000.
Hudon, a onetime standout in the QMJHL, is another player on a “prove it” contract. After scoring 30 points in 2017-18 (his first full season), Hudon was held to just five points in 32 games while mainly being used on the fourth line. It won’t get any easier for him to move up the lineup this coming season, as Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki will be battling for roster spots. (For more on where prospects such as Poehling and Suzuki rank, pick up your Prospects Report.)
Leading up to Bubble Keeper Week, which is just over a week away, I’m going to cover players who are potential bubble keepers in shallower leagues (ie. don’t fit the criteria of Bubble Keeper Week).
“Easily bump [Matt Dumba] over Schenn, among others.”
There seems to be a lot of love for Dumba, which is justified. I will give serious consideration to adding him to the Roto Rankings in August. I’m not sure who the “others” are, but I’ll focus on Schenn here.
Schenn was one player I was targeting two seasons ago as a multicategory beast. He had also just been traded to St. Louis where he was expected to be used on the top line with Vladimir Tarasenko. He was able to deliver on that potential, scoring a career-high 28 goals and 70 points while taking over 200 shots and over 150 hits. His power-play points slipped a bit (19 PPP), but overall I was happy with my selection of Schenn in multiple leagues.
The 2018-19 season wasn’t so kind to Schenn, even though it ended as well as it could for Schenn and his teammates. Schenn’s production had fallen from 0.85 PTS/GP to 0.75 PTS/GP (54 points), he had taken 50 fewer shots, and recorded just 12 power-play points. Those aren’t bad results, but definitely not what I would be hoping for had I kept Schenn. Some good signs were that he didn’t experience any slumps that were nearly a quarter of the season in length, and he was still being used often on the first line and the top power play.
I tend to go back further than one season when making forecasts on players. Sometimes a player can have an off year. However, a point total somewhere in the late 50s could be more of the norm for Schenn than the 70 points of 2018-19. So Schenn’s days in the top 100 may be numbered. You’ll have to wait until next month to find out for sure, though.
If you are in a pure points league, you probably expected more from Marchessault than his 59 points, which was a 16-point drop from his initial season in Vegas. Among players who had played at least 40 games, Marchessault’s 0.72 points per game ranked him 96th among skaters. Tomas Tatar, Ryan Dzingel, Anthony Mantha, and teammate Reilly Smith were among the players who posted similar point-per-game totals as Marchessault.
Marchessault was one of those players who performed better in roto leagues, particularly because of his shot total. With 278 shots, Marchessault finished just outside of the top 10 in that category (11th). That was 10 more shots than his total from the previous season, when he also finished in 15th in the NHL in that category.
That high shot total might be the sign of a goals increase, right? Not so fast. Marchessault shot 9 percent in 2018-19, which was not that far off from his career average of 10.9 percent. A shooting percentage increase might be good for a few more goals, but it’s worth mentioning that his 30-goal season in Florida in 2016-17 was the result of a 15.5 percent success rate from taking under 200 shots. Maybe the Panthers allowed him go to Vegas because they thought he was more lucky than good.
His point total drop was mainly from assists, which decreased by 14 in 2018-19. For whatever reason, he simply wasn’t as involved in the play in 2018-19, when he recorded more secondary assists (18) than primary assists (16). Compare that to 2017-18, when 33 of his assists were primary compared to just 15 secondary assists. So his assist breakdown really bucked the trend.
The point total drop didn’t have to do with a change of linemates, as he was mainly lining up with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith again. But that may have been exactly the problem. Karlsson dropped from 43 goals in 2017-18 to 24 goals in 2018-19. We knew that drop was coming with Wild Bill shooting an unsustainable 23 percent, but we were perhaps still expecting Karlsson to score around 30 goals. So when we project a significant goal decline from one player (19 goals), maybe we should also plan for a corresponding decline in assists from his regular linemate (14 assists).
I won’t get into Karlsson in as much detail today, but I’ll say it’s safe to assume he’s closer to a 25-goal scorer than a 40-goal scorer going forward. That should mean that we should expect something closer to 60 points from Marchessault than 75 points.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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