It has been a career year for veteran forward Patrick Eaves. Now we get to see if he were merely a product of the offensive weapons around him.
Eaves (RW, 26 percent owned in Yahoo) was acquired by the Anaheim Ducks from the Dallas Stars on Friday. He hopes to debut for the Ducks against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, FS-W, PRIME, NHL.TV). Through 59 games, Eaves already has set NHL career highs in goals (21), points (37), power-play points (16) and shots on goal (154).
With solid standard-league coverage, the 32-year-old is ranked 117th overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings and among NHL.com's top 100 forwards. He's also averaging more than one hit per game (60) for those in such leagues.
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But although Eaves joins a contending team prior to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline (March 1, 3 p.m. ET), this change in scenery removes him from the favorable spot alongside elite fantasy forwards Jamie Benn (LW, 14th) and Tyler Seguin (C/RW, 11th). Eaves played more often with Benn at even strength, but was on the first power-play unit with each for most of the season.
The Ducks have plenty of offensive potential as well, and the trade for Eaves gives them added right wing depth behind Corey Perry (43rd in Yahoo) and Jakob Silfverberg (111th). Anaheim remains in Stanley Cup Playoff position despite a step back with the man-advantage (19.5 percent, 14th) compared to last season (23.1, 1st). Eaves should help their power play, whether on the first or second unit.
That said, with the Ducks already having two strong players at his position alone, with talented forwards Ryan Kesler (C, 25th), Ryan Getzlaf (105th), and Rickard Rakell (185th) also in the mix, it will be tough for Eaves to play in a top-six and first power-play role.
The most likely scenario would put Eaves next to Getzlaf on the third line in the hopes of returning the latter to his prior elite form. Getzlaf has 46 points (11 goals, 35 assists) in 55 of a possible 62 games, but has taken steps back from 87 points in 2013-14 to 70 in 2014-15 to 63 in 2015-16, with 77 games played each season. He has seen less time with Perry at even strength in recent years, and is on pace for 63 points again in 75 games this season.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle could also move Silfverberg to left wing to make sure Eaves is among the top six, but that would break up the frequent trio of Kesler, Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano. Perry and Rakell are linemates at 5-on-5.
It's not unheard of for a second- or third-line player who sees power-play usage to be fantasy relevant, but no longer being a fixture next to Benn makes Eaves open to regression in points and/or PPP. Those who own Eaves in fantasy should hold onto him, hoping he finds instant chemistry with Getzlaf and/or Kesler. Even if Eaves covers three categories well instead of four the rest of the way, he has a chance to spark the Ducks offense and be worth owning in a standard, 12-team league.