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Fantasy spin: Vatanen, Henrique trade impact

Defenseman gives Devils power play added depth; forward can help depleted Ducks in short term

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

All season long, NHL.com's fantasy hockey staff will have you covered with daily lineup news, production trends and injury notes from around the League. We will identify how these developments affect fantasy owners in year-long (Yahoo) and daily (DraftKings) formats.

 

Impact of Vatanen trade to Devils

Right-shooting defenseman Sami Vatanen has been traded to the New Jersey Devils from the Anaheim Ducks, boosting one of the most surprising teams in the League at its position of greatest need.

Vatanen (12 percent owned in Yahoo) received heavy power-play usage in his NHL career with the Ducks, averaging at least 2:24 per game in each of his six seasons (2:48 this season). Despite sharing power-play time with defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, Vatanen scored 17 power-play points in 2014-15, 19 in 2015-16 and 14 last season; his 50 PPP in 209 games over that span were tied for 18th among defensemen. His total exceeded that of elite defensemen Duncan Keith (49 in 227) of the Chicago Blackhawks and Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets (48 in 230) in fewer games played.

The 26-year-old missed the start of this season because of a shoulder injury and has been held to four points (one goal, three assists), two PPP and 22 shots on goal in 15 games. He gets a fresh start in New Jersey, where he will definitely see top-four minutes and power-play time, possibly even on the first unit with left-shooting rookie defenseman Will Butcher (65 percent owned; 124th in Yahoo).

Video: LAK@ANA: Vatanen wires wrister past Quick

The Devils are in Stanley Cup Playoff position past the one-quarter mark of the season largely because their rookie trio of Butcher, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt has made an immediate impact. They are still without forwards Marcus Johansson (concussion; nearing return) and Kyle Palmieri (foot; injured reserve) and have also been without center Travis Zajac for much of the season. Vatanen could make an offense that already ranks among the top 10 in goals per game (3.17; T-9th) and power-play efficiency (23.0; T-6th) even deeper.

This trade should also help the fantasy stock of goaltender Cory Schneider, who has a much-improved defense compared to last season with Butcher and now Vatanen. Schneider's .918 save percentage is already nearly in line with his NHL career average (.922), and the Devils have added a defenseman who has played at least 21:00 per game in each of the past four seasons. Vatanen's 41.83 Shot Attempts percentage this season is the worst of his career, but it's worth noting the Ducks have been without their top two centers, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, among other forwards and defensemen, for large chunks of the season.

Fantasy owners in deeper leagues should consider adding Vatanen, who could see exposure to Taylor Hall, Hischier, Bratt and Butcher if New Jersey goes with a two-defenseman power-play look. The only way this trade could hurt Butcher's fantasy value is if Vatanen replaces the rookie on the first power-play unit.

Vatanen's 26 blocked shots give him a high floor in DraftKings contests, and his 24 hits give him added appeal in such leagues.

READ: Fantasy top 50 defenseman rankings after Vatanen trade

 

Impact of Henrique to Ducks

The Ducks have acquired forwards Adam Henrique (C, 13 percent owned in Yahoo) and Joseph Blandisi in the trade for Vatanen, giving them short-term help during the absences of Getzlaf (face), Kesler (hip), Rickard Rakell (upper body; day to day), Patrick Eaves (illness) and Ondrej Kase (concussion).

Video: NJD@MIN: Henrique deflects one home in front

Another top forward, Jakob Silfverberg, did not play in the third period against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, potentially adding to Anaheim's long injury list. The Ducks were also without defenseman Brandon Montour, their leading scorer at the position, on Wednesday because of an elbow injury.

Henrique, 27, is a three-time 20-goal scorer (career-high 30 goals in 2015-16) and two-time 50-point scorer (51 in 2011-12, 50 in 2015-16). He has never been a high-volume shooter, but could help the Ducks survive these injury circumstances. He has the third-highest career shooting percentage (15.0) among active players with at least 800 shots on goal behind Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning (17.0) and Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins (15.6).

Anaheim still has a strong defensemen corps with Lindholm, Fowler, Josh Manson and Montour (once he returns) after the Vatanen trade. Manson (37 percent owned) already has value in leagues that count points (11), plus/minus (plus-7), hits (58) and penalty minutes (28) and could potentially take on a power-play role in the short term. Manson has played 1:00 or more on the power play in two of his 25 games this season.

 

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