MORE COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings
Fantasy spin: Kraken | Offseason tracker
Sabres trade Reinhart to Panthers
The Florida Panthers upgraded their already strong forward group by acquiring Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Reinhart had his best NHL goals-per-game average (0.46) this season and was among the League leaders in goals (25 in 54 games; T-11th) playing frequently as Buffalo's No. 1 center down the stretch during elite option Jack Eichel's injury absence.
The Panthers have one of the best top-nine forward groups in the NHL with three strong centers in Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett and Reinhart to go along with a potent wing group of elite scorer Jonathan Huberdeau and valuable options Patric Hornqvist, Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, Frank Vatrano and Owen Tippett. The Panthers also now have three of the first four picks from the 2014 NHL Draft in elite defenseman Aaron Ekblad (No. 1), Reinhart (No. 2) and Bennett (No. 4).
The best-case fantasy scenario would be for Reinhart to play first-line right wing with Barkov and Verhaeghe or second-line right wing with Huberdeau and Bennett. But Florida could also have Reinhart play third-line center, and he would still have a linemate of Hornqvist's caliber. Therefore, Reinhart will get a bump in fantasy value from joining the Panthers, who have a much better supporting cast than the Sabres, and join the top 75-100 range in the overall rankings.
Power to Sabres at No. 1; Kraken pick Beniers at No. 2
-- The Buffalo Sabres selected defenseman Owen Power with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on Friday. Power scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 games during his first season at University of Michigan and had three assists and 17 shots on goal in 20:07 per game for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship. It's unknown whether Power will play in the NHL next season, but he remains a valuable choice in keeper and dynasty leagues, projecting to eventually play on a young defense with Rasmus Dahlin (No. 1 pick in 2018 NHL Draft) for rebuilding Buffalo.
-- The Seattle Kraken selected forward Matthew Beniers with the No. 2 pick on Friday. He scored 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 24 games for University of Michigan this season and two points (one goal, one assist) in six games for the United States at the World Championship. Beniers could play for Seattle as early as this season and is a safe choice in keeper and dynasty formats considering he has a great chance of playing in the top six upon his NHL arrival.
Flyers acquire Atkinson from Blue Jackets for Voracek
The Philadelphia Flyers continue to make offseason moves, landing right wing Cam Atkinson in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for right wing Jakub Voracek on Saturday. The move gives each forward fantasy bounce-back appeal for next season with the change of scenery, especially for Atkinson, who will likely play on one of the Flyers' first two lines with a valuable center in either Sean Couturier or Kevin Hayes.
Voracek, who played his first three NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets, will join Atkinson among the fantasy top 250 rankings after the trade, and the best-case scenario is if Voracek plays on the top line with fellow bounce-back candidate Patrik Laine and emerging center Jack Roslovic. Voracek was tied for the Flyers' scoring lead this season (43 points in 53 games) and is a two-time 80-point producer (85 points in 2017-18; 81 in 2014-15); Atkinson is a two-time 35-goal scorer (NHL career-high 41 in 2018-19).
Voracek is projected to be Columbus' fifth ranked fantasy player behind defenseman Zach Werenski, consistent wing Oliver Bjorkstrand, Laine and goalie Elvis Merzlikins. Atkinson will likely be Philadelphia's fifth ranked fantasy player behind Couturier, goalie Carter Hart, defensemen Ivan Provorov and Ryan Ellis (acquired from Nashville Predators on July 17).
Jones acquired by Blackhawks from Blue Jackets
The Chicago Blackhawks acquired Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Adam Boqvist on Friday. The move makes Jones a top 10-15 fantasy option at the position for next season with even-strength and power-play exposure to elite right wing Patrick Kane and valuable forwards Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach.
Having showcased his fantasy potential in the past by scoring 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists) for Columbus in 2017-18, Jones could reach or even exceed that total with Chicago. Jones should be targeted among the top 75-100 overall players in a standard fantasy draft with the ceiling of finishing among the 50 best.
The Blackhawks, who traded veteran defenseman Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers on July 5, will likely be back in Stanley Cup Playoff contention after upgrading at their position of greatest need. Kane can be considered a top 10 overall player again, DeBrincat among the top 40 overall and goalie Kevin Lankinen among the top 15-20 at the position after this significant upgrade to his supporting cast.
Boqvist and Jake Bean (acquired from Carolina Hurricanes) are promising young defensemen with deep sleeper appeal ahead of bigger roles with Columbus. Boqvist scored 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 35 games this season, a 37-point pace over 82 games. With Boqvist's pedigree (No. 8 pick in 2018 NHL Draft), he could score 35-40 points next season with the Blue Jackets, especially if he plays on the top pair with Zach Werenski. Bean (No. 13 pick in 2016 NHL Draft) scored 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 42 games last season on mostly Carolina's third pair, giving him untapped potential as well.
Canucks acquire Garland, Ekman-Larsson from Coyotes
The Vancouver Canucks are suddenly one of the most intriguing teams in fantasy again after acquiring wing Conor Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. Each skater gains significant fantasy appeal from the move to the Canucks, who still have one of the best young cores in the NHL despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
Garland will likely capture a top-six spot with exposure to a valuable center in either Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat, a clear upgrade compared to his linemates with the Coyotes, and is a safer fantasy wing option compared to the younger Nils Hoglander and rookie Vasily Podkolzin. Garland scored 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 49 games this season, the best points-per-game average (0.79) of his career. Garland could feasibly exceed that scoring rate (65-point pace over 82 games) next season given the elite exposure Vancouver provides.
Since scoring an NHL career-high 55 points (21 goals, 34 assists) in 2015-16, his second consecutive 20-goal season (23 in 2014-15), Ekman-Larsson has struggled to maintain fantasy relevance but now has renewed upside with the Canucks. Even though Ekman-Larsson likely won't see time on the top power-play unit because of elite defenseman Quinn Hughes, the veteran is still an intriguing late-round fantasy pick in standard 12-team drafts with even-strength exposure to valuable forwards Pettersson, Horvat, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser and Hoglander.
Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, who had a .915 save percentage in 35 games this season, also gets a big fantasy boost from the addition of Garland and Ekman-Larsson.
Rangers trade Buchnevich to Blues for Blais
The St. Louis Blues acquired right wing Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers for forward Sammy Blais on Friday. Buchnevich, a fantasy breakout player last season with an NHL career-high 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games, will remain a fringe top 100 overall player after the trade with a chance to play on one of the first two lines with a valuable center in either Ryan O'Reilly or Brayden Schenn.
Buchnevich is coming off his best points-per-game average (0.88; 72-point pace over 82 games) playing on mostly the top line with elite center Mika Zibanejad. Buchnevich could see his rate of production decline at least slightly with the Blues but could still score 60-65 points next season. But there's also a chance Buchnevich could lose more significant fantasy appeal if the Blues don't trade valuable right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, who has two seasons left on his contract. The Buchnevich trade strengthens St. Louis' wing depth regardless, but his fantasy value would change for the worse if he lands on the third line behind Tarasenko and David Perron (led St. Louis with 58 points in 56 games this season).
Blais has an outside chance to factor into the top six for New York but joins one of the most crowded wing pictures in the League with the Rangers having elite left wing Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, young wings Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov under new coach Gerard Gallant (hired June 16 to replace David Quinn). Blais can be viewed as a deep sleeper or early season waiver-wire target unless he starts training camp on one of the top two lines.
NHL.com's Pete Jensen and Rob Reese contributed to this analysis.
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