The 2013 NHL offseason has been nothing short of spectacular so far. Since free agency opened on July 5, we've seen 87 players sign NHL contracts and eight NHL trades take place. This excludes the Tyler Seguin-Loui Eriksson swap that took place on July 4.
Nearly every team has experienced change in the early parts of this summer and that means fantasy owners will need to adjust accordingly heading into the 2013-14 season.
NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen broke down this summer's two biggest trades -- Bobby Ryan heading to the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins-Dallas Stars blockbuster -- but I'm here to discuss the biggest player signings and how their fantasy value may change with their new team.
While Iginla's production seems to be on a steady decline (43 goals and 86 points in 2010-11; 32 goals and 67 points in 2011-12; 14 goals and 33 points in 44 games in 2012-13 -- projected to be 26 goals and 62 points for an 82-game season), the 36-year-old veteran could actually see a boost in value with the Bruins. I expect him to play on the team's second line with playmaker Patrice Bergeron and sparkplug Brad Marchand. If that's the case, there's reason to believe Iginla can eclipse the 60-point plateau for the 13th time in his career.
Let's also not forget that Iginla posted five goals and 11 points in 13 games playing for an elite Pittsburgh Penguins squad after being dealt at the Trade Deadline. The fact that he's not in Calgary anymore should help his plus/minus rating; he was a minus-7 with the Flames and a plus-2 with the Penguins. Add in his willingness to put the puck on goal and his penalty minute production, and you're starring at a third- or fourth-round draft pick in fantasy pools this coming season.
2013-14 projections: 29 G, 39 A, plus-7, 42 PIMs, 21 PPP, 249 SOG.
An underrated fantasy player, Ribeiro (13 G, 49 points, minus-4, 53 PIMs, 27 PPP, 63 SOG in 48 games) might actually regress a bit moving from D.C. to the desert. In his one season with the Capitals, Ribeiro often found himself centering a line with Alex Ovechkin on his wing, although towards the end of the season and in the playoffs Ovechkin was on a line with Nicklas Backstrom. Ribeiro was also featured on a lethal power-play unit that included Ovechkin, Backstrom, Mike Green and Troy Brouwer.
In Phoenix, the surrounding talent won't quite be the same. Ribeiro should line up as the team's No. 1 center, but his wings and the power-play unit won't be nearly as helpful as in Washington. Playing under Dave Tippett, his coach from his Dallas Stars days, could bring the best out in the talented puck distributor, and while 60-plus points is attainable the point-per-game numbers he posted with the Caps will likely be a thing of the past.
2013-14 projections: 20 G, 47 A, minus-3, 48 PIMs, 22 PPP, 154 SOG.
The former Devils agitator came out of nowhere in 2011-12 to score 30 goals while adding plenty of penalty minutes (138). Many fantasy owners weren't sure whether those 30 goals were a one-time fling or if Clarkson would develop into a goal-scoring, penalty-minute machine similar to guys like Milan Lucic, Scott Hartnell or Wayne Simmonds. However, Clarkson showed last season that his big 2011-12 season wasn't a complete fluke by posting 15 goals and 78 PIMs, which projects to 25 goals and 133 PIMs in 82 games.
What can you expect from him in Toronto? I think last season was an excellent gauge -- around 25 goals, 40 points and 130-150 penalty minutes. And don't forget that his 180 shots on goal were fourth in the NHL, so he definitely helps in this category as well. All of this makes Clarkson a valuable fantasy asset that should be selected in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
2013-14 projections: 22 G, 17 A, minus-3, 147 PIMs, 13 PPP, 244 SOG
Essentially, the Devils brought in Clowe to replace Clarkson. The question is whether he'll be able to fill those shoes or not. From a fantasy perspective, owners who had Clowe on their roster last year are likely still bitter after the veteran forward posted just three goals and 19 points in an injury-plagued 40-game season. Especially considering Clowe was previously considered a reliable player who consistently posted around 20 goals, 50 points and 100 penalty minutes.
Unfortunately, it's been a steady decline for Clowe in nearly every fantasy category since the 2010-11 campaign. The Devils are going to need him to step up his game and there's reason to believe this could be a bounce-back season for Clowe. But with his concussion history, he makes for a very risky fantasy player to own in 2013-14. If you choose to select him, make sure it's late in the draft.
2013-14 projections (I'm predicting he appears in less than 60 games): 16 G, 21 A, plus-2, 70 PIMs, 10 PPP, 137 SOG
While Horton mostly stayed healthy last year and played 43 of 48 games, he wasn't all that productive during the regular season (13 G, 9 A, plus-1, 22 PIMs, 1 PPP, 114 SOG). Of course, he likely received a big pay day and long-term contract with Columbus thanks to his showing during Boston's playoff run, during which he recorded seven goals, 19 points and a plus-20 in 22 contests. So do fantasy owners draft Horton based on his playoff performance or his regular season? The answer is likely somewhere in between.
Horton certainly has the talent to score and he'll be expected to with the Blue Jackets, but he also has a history of injuries and has seen his penalty minutes decrease. He received just over two minutes of power-play time per game in Boston last season, collecting just one point on the man advantage. But you can expect him to hover around the three-minute mark on Columbus' power play. There's definitely some risk in selecting Horton on draft day, but the reward could be 25 goals and 50-plus points if he manages to stay healthy.
2013-14 projections (I'm predicting he appears in around 65 games): 24 G, 25 A, plus-1, 40 PIMs, 16 PPP, 190 SOG
Lecavalier got off to a tremendous start last season with six goals and 16 points in his first 15 games, but cooled off and finished the year with 10 goals and 32 points in 39 games. The 33-year-old spent all 14 of his previous NHL seasons with the Lightning and at one point was one of fantasy hockey's premier players. However, his production had slipped for three straight years (in part due to injury problems) prior to last year's resurgence in the shortened season and he certainly comes with risk on draft day.
He could find a new spark playing for the Flyers, especially if the rumored switch the wing on Claude Giroux's line works out. But with exactly 1,100 games, including playoffs, under his belt, Lecavalier's career might be on the downslide.
2013-14 projections: 23 G, 26 A, minus-4, 48 PIMs, 15 PPP, 199 SOG
Alfredsson isn't the flashiest player to own in fantasy leagues, but he can still be pretty productive and a move to Detroit could put him inside the top-100 fantasy forwards going into next season. Alfredsson wrapped up his Ottawa career with 10 goals and 26 points in 47 games last year and then chipped in 10 points in 10 playoff games. Had the 40-years-old returned to Ottawa, we wouldn't have expected much more than 40-50 points with a decent plus/minus rating, a few penalty minutes and around 2-2.5 shots on goal per game. But with Alfredsson likely finding a place among Detroit's top two lines, there's reason to believe he could exceed these expectations, which is why the Swedish star is a good fantasy sleeper for 2013-14.
As for Weiss, he should also end up among Detroit's top lines, possibly centering the second unit with Alfredsson on his wing. Weiss is actually a pretty similar fantasy player to Alfredsson. In my opinion, both players are better in real life than in fantasy, but they are still draftable in fantasy leagues, although Weiss is a more likely target in deeper leagues. Known as a pass-first player, Weiss could be good for around 20 goals and 45 points with decent peripheral stats after struggling in just 17 games last season in Florida (1 G, 3 A).
Alfredsson's 2013-14 projections: 24 G, 32 A, even, 34 PIMs, 17 PPP, 188 SOG
Weiss' 2013-14 projections: 19 G, 29 A, plus-4, 42 PIMs, 13 PPP, 168 SOG
Briere will get a fresh start in Montreal after having back-to-back disappointing seasons with the Flyers in which he combined for 22 goals and 65 points in 104 games. Will a new team help him? I don't think so.
At 35, fantasy owners simply cannot rely on Briere for production. In 2010-11 he had what could've been considered his most productive season as a Flyer, posting 34 goals, 68 points, a plus-20, 87 penalty minutes, 15 power-play points and 246 shots on goal. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse since then, thanks partly because of injuries. If you select Briere in the later rounds of your draft, it won't kill you, but be ready to cut him if he struggles out of the gate for the Canadiens.
2013-14 projections: 18 G, 27 A, minus-3, 40 PIMs, 16 PPP, 189 SOG
Other free agent signings that could be potential sleepers in deep fantasy leagues: Valtteri Filppula (Lightning), Michael Ryder (Devils), Karri Ramo (Flames) Derek Roy (Blues), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Islanders)
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