The trading, signing and drafting frenzy has brought top-tier fantasy players to new homes, but how it affects their new teammates can't be lost on fantasy owners. Here are some of the beneficiaries of the biggest moves made in the offseason:
Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill made a big splash this offseason acquiring center Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators and signing right wing Ales Hemsky. These moves are good news for forward, Valeri Nichushkin, who is now expected to either play the wing on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin or the second line with Spezza.
FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS
The 2014-15 NHL season is drawing closer by the day, so NHL.com has you covered with all the fantasy hockey advice you'll need come draft day.
The 10th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft started his rookie campaign slowly with only two goals and eight points in his first two months playing in North America. From Dec. 1 onward, he had 12 goals and 26 points, which was tied for the sixth-most by a rookie during that span. We expect him to improve on those late season numbers and be a late-round steal in fantasy drafts.
Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has been outspoken this offseason about how excited he is having centers Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera added to the offensive mix. The biggest benefactors will be the young tandem of wings Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. The two combined for 18 goals last season where each had a point, and that was despite Tarasenko missing the last 15 regular-season games because of a hand injury. Several line combinations are possible with the additions of Stastny, Lehtera and Joakim Lindstrom. The two young forwards will gain a significant fantasy bump with the additions of those centers.
Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Canucks coach John Tortorella tried 12 different wings with the Sedin twins last season in even-strength situations, and the results were a big dip in their production. Tortorella has since been replaced by Willie Desjardins and the Canucks signed right wing Radim Vrbata from the Arizona Coyotes. The 33-year-old is a four-time 20-plus goal scorer and a six-time 40-plus point producer. This season will be different for the twins with a steady wing playing alongside them and we should expect a return to 70-plus point production for each of the Sedin brothers.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Defense - TBL
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 42 | PTS: 55
SOG: 170 | +/-: 5
The Tampa Bay Lightning
will be a trendy team when it comes to fantasy drafts with young players on the rise. One of those players is the second pick of the 2009 NHL Draft. Known as the player picked between John Tavares
and Matt Duchene
, 22-year-old defenseman Victor Hedman
had a breakout season in 2013-14 with 13 goals and 55 points. His regular defensive partner, Sami Salo
, is not returning, but incoming are two very capable defenders in Jason Garrison
and Anton Stralman
. Hedman (53.9 Corsi-for percentage) could form a great Corsi-for pair with Stralman (56.5 percent Corsi-for percentage), or an offensive driven pair with Garrison (33 points last season). Either way, expect the stock to rise for this up-and-coming defender.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
The good news last season for the Capitals goaltender was he tied his career-high of 23 from the previous season. The bad news, though, is he finished 41st among goalies with a 2.85 goals-against average. With that in mind, new GM Brian MacLellan went out and spent money on improving the Capitals' defense, with the signings of former Penguins Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Washington brass also showed faith in the 24-year-old Holtby by only signing backup goalie Justin Peters with other starting goaltenders on the market. This season Holtby will have Barry Trotz behind the bench and new goalie coach Mitch Korn, who worked wonders with goalies for years with the Nashville Predators. We expect those additions to positively affect the goalie with a career .919 save percentage and he's a good candidate for a bounce back fantasy season.
Other players to keep an eye on: Tyler Ennis (Buffalo Sabres), Craig Smith (Nashville Predators), Travis Zajac (New Jersey Devils), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers) and David Perron (Edmonton Oilers).