The trading, signing and drafting frenzy has brought some top-tier fantasy players to new homes, but how it affects their new teammates can't be lost on fantasy owners. Here are some of the beneficiaries of some of the biggest moves made in the offseason:
The Senators lost captain Daniel Alfredsson left, but gained Bobby Ryan in a multi-player deal with the Anaheim Ducks. The person that stands to benefit the most from those moves is Spezza, Ottawa's top-line center. The 30-year-old already was on the radar as a perfect candidate for a bounce-back season after back surgery limited him to five regular-season games, but he did return for three Stanley Cup Playoff games. And put a healthy Spezza on a line with four-time 30-goal scorer Ryan and Spezza rises to serious contention to be the sixth-best center option for fantasy players. Spezza has 30-plus assists in eight of his 10 NHL seasons, with four of them being 50-plus assist campaigns. Look for him to reach those numbers easily if paired with Ryan.
The addition of free-agent centers Derek Roy and Maxim Lapierre puts Backes in a good territory for fantasy owners. Already known as a top-flight center that can help a team in most fantasy categories, there is talk of him now moving to the wing. This change could be music to the ears of any fantasy owner as center is a deep position in fantasy. If Backes gets dual eligibility, his stock would rise even more. With this change in mind, the two-time 30-goal scorer, who has 663 career penalty minutes, is a player to keep your eye on as a fantasy All-Star next season.
The 23-year-old could have the chance to play alongside Mike Ribeiro in 2013-14. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, who coached Ribeiro for three seasons in Dallas, including his two biggest offensive outputs as a pro, already has said he could see a top line of Ribeiro centering Boedker and Shane Doan. That would make the eighth selection of the 2008 NHL Draft a great option for this season. Boedker played the most minutes of any Coyotes forward last season (886:53), and was tied for second among the team's forwards with seven power-play points; put that production with Ribeiro's 230 career power-play points and we could see an upswing in Boedker's production.
The Stanley Cup champions did some house cleaning, though not as much as after their 2010 championship. Departing this offseason have been Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik and Viktor Stalberg, who combined for 47 points in 127 regular-season games. Into one of those holes likely will step Pirri, the 59th pick of the 2009 draft. Pirri led Rockford, the Blackhawks' American Hockey League affiliate, with 75 points, and also had 22 goals (seven on the power play) and was a plus-11 in 76 games. The 6-foot, 183-pound center has seven games of NHL experience, including the last game of the 2012-13 regular season. He will get competition from other young Hawks like Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes and Jeremy Morin for ice time, but he could grab the second-line center job and have a similar impact on fantasy teams as the Calder Trophy finalist Brandon Saad had in 2012-13.
The Wild said goodbye to veterans Matt Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Devin Setoguchi, opening spots for some of their top prospects to take more prominent roles in the offense this season. The biggest hole to fill will be at second-line center, and two in-house candidates are Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund. Coyle had the more productive season (14 points in 37 games) playing mostly on the wing, but has been told he could be in for a position change. Granlund, the ninth pick of the 2010 draft, will get another chance to prove he's NHL-ready after he totaled eight points in 27 games. Both of these talented players will be fantasy factors in 2013-14, but the player that wins the battle for the second-line center spot will be the more effective one for fantasy owners.
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