The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired valuable center Matt Duchene from the Ottawa Senators on Friday, boosting the fantasy value of a player already ranked among the top 50 overall and making them a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Elite left wing Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, like Duchene, can become unrestricted free agents July 1, so Columbus appears to be going all-in on a deep postseason run, significantly improving its rest-of-season team fantasy value.
Impact on Duchene's value for rest of season
Duchene had 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games for the Senators, who are at the bottom of the NHL standings. He now goes to a forward group where he will likely play on a first power-play unit with valuable skaters in Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and defenseman Seth Jones.
At even strength, Duchene may start on the top line with Panarin and Atkinson but could also play on the second line with valuable wing Josh Anderson, who has an NHL career-high 21 goals to go along with 163 shots on goal and 154 hits. It would be a much more favorable fantasy scenario for Duchene to be stacked on the top line with Panarin, who has a chance to play with the most skilled center of his NHL career.
Video: OTT@WPG: Duchene finishes nice passing play for PPG
Impact on Panarin, Bobrovsky, Jones
If the Blue Jackets decide to keep Panarin past the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET, they could feasibly stack their top line with Duchene at center and Panarin and Atkinson on the wings. This potential line combination would boost the value for each forward in season-long and DFS formats. Atkinson is on pace for an NHL career-high 45 goals and would be a near lock to reach that total playing with elite forwards in Panarin and Duchene. A stacked line scenario could lead to a dip in fantasy value for center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has been a fixture with Panarin and Atkinson this season but has been moved to the second line with Anderson and Boone Jenner.
Regardless of line combinations, Jones should see a significant boost with Duchene in the lineup, especially on the power play. Jones, who has 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists), nine on the power play, in 52 games, will likely become a top five fantasy defensemen for the rest of the season.
Duchene's boost to Columbus' offense should have a trickle-down effect on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has underperformed from a fantasy standpoint this season. Bobrovsky has been playing better recently though (5-2-0; .922 save percentage in past seven games) and will join NHL.com's top 10 goalies based on renewed upside after the Duchene trade. Defenseman Zach Werenski may also experience a slight increase in ROS value, but this boost would likely come from even strength if the Blue Jackets decide to use four forwards and one defenseman (Jones) on their top power-play unit.
Impact on CBJ secondary forwards
While it may take several games to sort out the new line combinations, it's possible right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand could gain value if placed on a line with Duchene. Fantasy owners should also monitor Anderson, Jenner and Alexander Wennberg as potential beneficiaries of this trade. Anderson, Jenner and Nick Foligno, who provide strong category coverage in standard leagues, would gain significant value with any exposure to Duchene.
If Columbus stacks its first line with Panarin, Duchene and Atkinson and constructs a second line with Jenner centering Foligno and Anderson, Dubois could end up on a third line with Bjorkstrand, which would hurt his fantasy value.
UPDATE: Duchene has two points (one goal, one assist) and four shots on goal in two games with the Blue Jackets on a line with mostly Panarin and Atkinson and remains a must-own player in all fantasy formats. It's worth noting Columbus has also acquired wing Ryan Dzingel, Duchene's former Senators linemate, in a separate trade, giving these potential UFAs high fantasy upside as a duo for the rest of the season with a contending team. Dzingel has already scored an NHL career-high 44 points (22 goals, 22 assists) in 57 games this season.
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