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Fantasy: Projecting value of new faces in new places

by Sergei J. Feldman

There's no place like home ...

There's no place like home ...

And after an NHL offseason filled with signings and trades galore, many players -- superstars included -- will have to get acclimated to a new team, system and group of teammates, for they, too, are not in Kansas anymore.

As such, fantasy insider Sergei Feldman examines the new fantasy hockey landscape and looks at some key new faces in new places that owners should be aware of as they prepare their strategies for upcoming drafts.

NOTE: The following players were reviewed in tiers (descending order).



2012-13 Team: New York Rangers

Rick Nash
Rick Nash
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 30 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 59
SOG: 306 | +/-: -19
One of the game's brightest stars has taken up residence under the bright shining lights of Broadway and fantasy owners will hope the streets make him feel brand new and the big lights inspire him.

Despite finishing 2011-12 with yet another 30-goal season (his seventh), the still-young and in-his-prime winger failed to meet lofty fantasy expectations. Nash amassed 59 points -- his lowest output in four years -- and a minus-19 rating in 82 games.

His former club and the Rangers' trade partner, Columbus, had the League's worst record and scored the fifth-fewest goals, so Nash certainly had little help. Sharing the same ice with the likes of Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards could elevate the former "Rocket" Richard Trophy co-winner to new heights.

Something to consider about Nash: Nash was 'THE' show in Columbus and the offense went as he went. Now that Madison Square Garden is his playground and with talents all around him, will his production be partially sacrificed?

Conclusion: A potential 30-plus goal, 80-plus point, 300-plus shot stat line is just too much to ignore. Nash should finish 2012-13 as one of the Top 5 wingers.


2012-13 Team: Minnesota Wild

Zach Parise
Zach Parise
Left Wing - MIN
GOALS: 31 | ASST: 38 | PTS: 69
SOG: 293 | +/-: -5
Unlike the other players who went through the summer frenzy, Parise is actually headed home after signing a 13-year, $98 million contract with Minnesota. The former New Jersey captain, who came within two wins of hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup last season, was the biggest fish in the free agent pond and decided to take a Wild dip.

Owners should be drooling over this signing, as Parise not only brings a resume which includes five-straight 30-plus goal seasons (he missed 69 games in 2010-11), a 94-point season in 2008-09 and at least 247 shots in the same five seasons (2010-11 the outlier), but the talented, yet gritty 28-year-old also joins a crop of productive forwards (Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu).

Simply put, the guy gets it done across the board and, with creative players around him, can keep up his scoring touch while becoming more of a playermaker in the process.

Something to consider about Parise: While Columbus, for instance, was the fifth-lowest scoring club, Minnesota was THE lowest scoring club last year. What's more, the defensive-mindedness that has become the modus operandi of the franchise might yield a less-than-desirable output for a forward like Parise.

Conclusion: A stud is a stud is a stud is a stud. Parise is a no-brainer. His signing figures to be more of a sign that Minnesota is looking to be more offensive-minded. And if not, his talent, coupled with the top-six Wild crop, will get it done themselves.

Ryan Suter
Ryan Suter
Defense - MIN
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 39 | PTS: 46
SOG: 134 | +/-: 15
Meanwhile, after signing an identical contract, joining Parise in Minnesota is the uber-gifted blueliner, Ryan Suter. After spending his first seven NHL seasons with Nashville, Suter chose to move on.

Despite playing under the shadow of one of the game's most gifted defenseman in Shea Weber, Suter held his own and improved in one category or another year in, year out.

Since his rookie go-around in 2005-06, the 6-foot-1, 198-pound blueliner has never played fewer than 70 games and played in all 82 three times. His ironman durability as a perk, Suter averages over 5 goals, 28 assists and 34 points a year, all while still contributing in hits, PIMs, shots and plus/minus, too.

Something to consider about Suter: As mentioned, Suter played alongside Weber and a few times on Cup contending teams. That's typically a recipe for more room on the ice and inflated stats. Whether or not Suter is capable of and ready to be the anchor in Minnesota remains to be seen.

Conclusion: Whatever Suter has already accomplished is just a glimpse of what his future will bring. The Wild are restructured and while Parise will get a great deal of the attention, much will start and end with Suter. The blueliner is poised for a breakout season.



2012-13 Team: Carolina Hurricanes

Alexander Semin
Alexander Semin
Right Wing - CAR
GOALS: 21 | ASST: 33 | PTS: 54
SOG: 183 | +/-: 9
From Russia (Washington) with love, sniper Alex Semin joins Carolina on a one-year, $7 million deal. One of the more polarizing options in free agency this past summer, Semin brings with him a nearly unrivaled shot and a bag full of dazzling dekes.

When scoring 21 goals and collecting 54 points is considered a disappointing season, for most fantasy owners that's a good problem to have. That's how Semin exited the 2011-12 regular season. But while he went through a subpar season (21 goals was a career-low), at least to his standards, Semin is still a more-than-serviceable option as you consider your wingers.

Tossing aside last season, Semin has put up terrific numbers. He has scored 30-plus goals three times in six NHL seasons (scored 26 in 63 games in 2007-08; 28 in 65 games in 2010-11). In addition, while known mostly for his scoring prowess, Semin has been a reliable playmaker too, notching over 30 assists in four seasons. His shot totals are average and PIMs are scarce, but he can be a plus/minus asset for your roster.

Something to consider about Semin: It's hard to tell which Semin you'll get from season to season, if not game to game or sometimes shift to shift. He's had plenty of talent around him in Washington to complement his game, but he also had comrade Alex Ovechkin by his side. Whether he'll feel comfortable with new teammates and whether he can maintain consistency remains to be seen.

Conclusion: True, Semin left Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom but he'll be welcomed by Eric and Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner, so there are options to feed and get fed. Expect a 30-goal, 65-point season. Have at it.

Jordan Staal
Jordan Staal
Center - CAR
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 50
SOG: 149 | +/-: 11
The Hurricanes' other new addition, Jordan Staal, is almost a complete opposite of Semin. A prototypical two-way center, what you see is what you get from Staal game in, game out. As consistent as he's been, though, he joined brother Eric and the Hurricanes to expand his role.

In his time as a Pittsburgh Penguin, Staal was a third-line center behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but still made the most of his opportunities, netting 20-plus goals in four of his five NHL seasons (he scored 11 goals in 42 games in 2010-11). In just 62 games last year, Staal put up 25 goals and 25 assists in his most dominant offensive season.

With the added -- and welcomed -- responsibility of being a fixture as opposed to a complement, Staal could be ready to be a surprise fantasy stud in 2012-13.

Something to consider about Staal: While playing behind Crosby and Malkin may have set Staal back a bit, it surely freed up some space on the ice and enabled Staal to see less-gifted defensive pairings. When the Penguins were riddled with injuries in recent seasons, Staal stepped up, but can he do it throughout an 82-game season?

Conclusion: Offensively, Staal has improved every year and is coming off a career year. He was also the most dominant Penguin on the ice in the playoffs, scoring six goals in six games against Philadelphia. He's as ready as he'll ever be to tackle his new challenge. For fantasy owners, 25 goals and 50 points should be expected, but he won't dominate the stat sheet like other centers might.



2012-13 Team: Dallas Stars

Joining Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson in Dallas are veterans Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney and Derek Roy. Individually, they can put up between 40-60 points. Collectively? How they all piece together will be an interesting storyline for owners to follow. Ultimately, there's plenty of talent to go around and a healthy combination of grit, goal-scoring and playmaking.

Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr
Right Wing - DAL
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 35 | PTS: 54
SOG: 170 | +/-: 5

2012-13 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

Size, strength and skill accompanied James van Riemsdyk to Toronto via trade with Philadelphia and contributions will accompany your rosters by drafting the young power forward. He was on pace for his third-consecutive year of increased production, but injury cut his season short to just 43 games. Though tentatively penciled in as a center between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel, the transition to a new position should work nicely given the talents flanking him.


2012-13 Team: Calgary Flames

Anyone in the market for productive offensive defensemen should look no further than Dennis Wideman. The new Flame should burn brightly as the go-to option behind the blue line in Calgary. Coming off an 82-game, 46-point season with the Capitals, Wideman -- good for 35-50 points each year -- gives you decent hit, PIM and shot totals too.



2012-13 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

Tomas Vokoun
Tomas Vokoun
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 25-17-2
GAA: 2.51 | SVP: 0.917
Goaltending can make or break seasons for fantasy owners, so solidifying that position is paramount. Often times, backups do the trick and Tomas Vokoun is a perfect option. With starter talent, Vokoun figures to play between the pipes around 30 times behind Marc-Andre Fleury and a formidable Pittsburgh club. With at least 22 wins in each of the past nine seasons, Vokoun can get it done and post low enough numbers to help your lineup.


2012-13 Team: Columbus Blue Jackets

The new Columbus Blue Jacket has improved his goal, assist, point, hit and shot totals in each of the past three seasons and is coming off a career year in which he netted 15 goals, 47 points, 124 PIMs, 196 hits and 153 shots. Similar, if not better numbers can be expected of a guy looking to establish himself as a consistent top-six forward.

Follow Sergei Feldman on Twitter: @NHLFeldman; Join in the conversation: @NHLFantasy

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