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Fantasy impact of coaching changes for 2018-19

Trotz gives Islanders hope after losing Tavares; Capitals, Flames, Hurricanes, Rangers, Stars also affected by moves

by Fantasy Hockey Staff @NHLFantasy

NHL.com examines how coaching changes for the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals could impact their team fantasy value in 2018-19.

Players affected are also listed below in order of NHL.com fantasy rank.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings for 2018-19 | Cheat sheet

 

Video: How real-life coaching changes affect fantasy teams

 

Calgary Flames -- Hired Bill Peters on April 23

Peters spent the past four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, going 137-138-53 and missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs each year. The Hurricanes were a strong possession team during his tenure, ranking second in shot attempts percentage (52.43) behind the Los Angeles Kings (54.16) from 2014-15 to 2017-18. The Flames core is expected to remain intact for Peters' first season and has recent postseason experience in 2015 and 2017. Calgary has traded for two of Peters' young players from Carolina in defenseman Noah Hanifin and versatile forward Elias Lindholm and also signed goal-scoring wing James Neal since the hire.

Calgary's season was derailed by injuries to top-line center Sean Monahan (shut down in late March; four surgeries), left wing Matthew Tkachuk (upper body) and starting goaltender Mike Smith (lower body). Prior to Smith's injury Feb. 11, he was 23-16-6, with a .921 save percentage and two shutouts in 47 games and a top 10 fantasy goalie. But after missing one month, the Flames' playoff hopes all but diminished, and Smith went 2-6-0 with an .880 SV% over his final eight games.

With better health, a new system and the elite duo of Monahan and left wing Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames should contend for a playoff spot and have renewed fantasy value. One concern is that Calgary ranked 25th in power-play percentage (18.0 percent) over the past four seasons and hired a coach whose previous team ranked right behind them at 26th (17.9). That said, the Flames did hire assistant coach Geoff Ward (previously with New Jersey Devils) to improve in that area.

Players affected: Johnny Gaudreau, LW; Sean Monahan, C; Matthew Tkachuk, LW; Mark Giordano, D; Mike Smith, G; James Neal, LW/RW (NEW); Elias Lindholm, C/RW (NEW); Noah Hanifin, D (NEW); Mikael Backlund, C

Video: Hurricanes name Rod Brind'Amour next head coach

 

Carolina Hurricanes -- Hired Rod Brind'Amour on May 8

Brind'Amour was an assistant coach with Carolina for the past seven seasons, serving under Peters and previous coach Kirk Muller. He is best known for being captain of the Hurricanes when they won the Stanley Cup in 2006 and is a familiar face hoping to make the tweaks necessary to end Carolina's nine-season playoff drought.

The Hurricanes have a bright future with impact forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, who are coming off NHL career highs with 65 and 64 points, respectively, and thrived on the same line for Finland at the 2018 World Championship. Carolina's forward group could be poised for greater success with young forwards ready to compete for a full-time NHL spot in Valentin Zykov, who skated with Aho and Teravainen at the end of the regular season, and Martin Necas, the No. 12 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Hurricanes added another fantasy-relevant wing by selecting Andrei Svechnikov with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft. Left wing Jeff Skinner, who can become a UFA on July 1, 2019, could be traded this offseason.

Areas of concern for Brind'Amour and the Hurricanes are their defense and goaltending, each of which has been addressed this offseason. Carolina upgraded its No. 1 defenseman by acquiring Dougie Hamilton, who has excelled in even-strength points, goals and shots on goal in recent seasons, from Calgary on June 23. They also signed Calvin de Haan to strengthen the defensive end. Jaccob Slavin has shown upside at even strength, but Justin Faulk was one of the biggest fantasy disappointments at the position, finishing 229th overall in Yahoo after being drafted on average at 97.2. Although Faulk was productive on the power play (19 power-play points), he was held to 12 even-strength points and failed to reach double digits in goals (eight) for the first time since 2013-14. Goaltender Scott Darling failed to solidify his role as Carolina's starter, a big reason it signed fantasy sleeper Petr Mrazek in free agency. The Hurricanes' changes have improved their chances of finally breaking through.

Players affected: Sebastian Aho, LW/RW; Dougie Hamilton, D (NEW); Teuvo Teravainen, C/LW/RW; Andrei Svechnikov, RW (NEW); Jeff Skinner, LW; Petr Mrazek, G (NEW); Justin Faulk, D; Valentin Zykov, LW/RW; Martin Necas, C

 

Dallas Stars -- Hired Jim Montgomery on May 4

Montgomery spent the past five seasons coaching University of Denver and won the NCAA championship in 2017. He joins the Stars, who have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. The Stars have a top-heavy group of skaters with star forwards Tyler Seguin (NHL career-high 40 goals; 78 points), Jamie Benn (79 points) and Alexander Radulov (career-high 72 points) and defenseman John Klingberg (career-high 67 points).

But the biggest issues for the Stars were a late-season injury to goaltender Ben Bishop and their lack of secondary scoring; their next-highest point total was forward Mattias Janmark (34). Montgomery will need to find more production from the bottom six and will have the opportunity to mentor top defense prospect Miro Heiskanen (No. 3 pick in 2017 draft), who represented Finland at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and World Championship.

If Heiskanen makes the roster, it will give Klingberg and fellow defensemen Esa Lindell and Julius Honka an immediate boost in fantasy value. Right wing Valeri Nichushkin (played past two seasons in Kontinental Hockey League) is returning to the NHL (two-year contract) and should rejoin Dallas' top six. Montgomery's experience with college players could accelerate the Stars prospect development and finally help them reach their ceiling.  

Players affected: Tyler Seguin, C/RW; Jamie Benn, C/LW; John Klingberg, D; Alexander Radulov, RW; Ben Bishop, G; Valeri Nichushkin, RW (NEW); Esa Lindell, D; Jason Spezza, C

 

New York Islanders -- Hired Barry Trotz on June 21

The loss of elite center John Tavares (signed with Toronto Maple Leafs) in free agency is a huge blow to the Islanders offense, but their overhaul of the front office gives them plenty of hope for the future. New York has made the biggest coaching splash in the NHL by hiring Trotz, the guiding force behind the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup title, to replace Doug Weight, after already bringing in Lou Lamoriello to be president of hockey operations May 22. Lamoriello has replaced Garth Snow as general manager.

Trotz brings defensive and neutral-zone expertise from his 15 seasons coaching the Nashville Predators and four in Washington to the Islanders, who allowed the most goals in the NHL (293) this season. New York had one of the most-dynamic forward groups in the NHL, finishing tied for seventh with 261 goals. But despite breakout performances from Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal and wings Josh Bailey and Anders Lee, New York missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

Their defense and goaltending struggles were too much to overcome, and their best defenseman Nick Leddy took a big fantasy hit over the course of the season. Leddy ranked tied for second among NHL defensemen with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) and was plus-2 through his first 24 games, but had 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) and an NHL-worst minus-44 over his final 56 games. The addition of Trotz makes Leddy a bounce-back candidate and gives defenseman Ryan Pulock and goaltender Robin Lehner (signed one-year contract) sneaky upside in late rounds.

Even without Tavares, Barzal remains a fringe top 50 overall fantasy asset, and Lee and/or Eberle (potential 2019 UFAs) could flank the emerging center in their contract years. Bailey, who played frequently with Tavares over the past two seasons, loses the most fantasy value from the center's departure. New York's future is bright with young players in Pulock, top-six left wing Anthony Beauvillier, forward prospect Kieffer Bellows and a strong 2018 draft class (led by wing Oliver Wahlstrom, defenseman Noah Dobson).

Players affected: Mathew Barzal, C; Anders Lee, LW; Jordan Eberle, C/RW; Nick Leddy, D; Ryan Pulock, D; Anthony Beauvillier, C/LW; Robin Lehner, G (NEW); Josh Bailey, LW/RW

 

New York Rangers -- Hired David Quinn on May 23

Quinn spent the past five seasons coaching Boston University, making the National Championship game in 2015 and winning an NCAA championship as an assistant in 2009. During his college coaching tenure, he developed forwards Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres), Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes) and defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins) into premier young NHL players. Quinn also coached Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has bounce-back potential after missing most of the second half because of a torn meniscus.

Right wing Pavel Buchnevich, who had mixed usage under coach Alain Vigneault, and No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad could have breakout seasons as linemates for a coach that will prioritize young talent. The Rangers should also incorporate rookie centers Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson, one of whom could become their second-line center on a line with Mats Zuccarello (potential 2019 unrestricted free agent). Although the influx of young offensive talent could give goaltender Henrik Lundqvist more goal support, the Rangers defense remains a weakness that could hinder the 36-year-old's bounce-back appeal.

Players affected: Chris Kreider, LW; Mika Zibanejad, C; Henrik Lundqvist, G; Pavel Buchnevich, LW/RW; Kevin Shattenkirk, D; Mats Zuccarello, RW

 

Washington Capitals -- Hired Todd Reirden on June 29

Trotz led the Capitals to a Stanley Cup championship in 2018 but stepped down after four seasons. Reirden has since been promoted, which could lead to younger Capitals wings Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky getting more playing time than the 12:30 and 13:50 each played in the regular season, respectively. The Capitals have re-signed John Carlson to an eight-year contract, but young defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Christian Djoos could still take on different (and potentially greater) roles under Reirden.

Backup Philipp Grubauer has been traded to and signed by the Colorado Avalanche, giving 21-year-old Russian goalie Ilya Samsonov the opportunity to learn from and work with starter Braden Holtby. The Capitals will again be a top team to target in fantasy drafts, led by the duo of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the top two scorers in the playoffs.

Players affected: Alex Ovechkin, LW; Evgeny Kuznetsov, C; Braden Holtby, G; Nicklas Backstrom, C; John Carlson, D; T.J. Oshie, RW; Tom Wilson, LW/RW; Jakub Vrana, LW/RW; Matt Niskanen, D

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